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3 things to consider when using coupons

Things to consider when using coupons.

Couponing Thoughs

Coupons are a great money-saving tool when it comes to your cutting grocery bill. You can find coupons for just about anything nowadays, so using them to slash your grocery costs is a great idea.

However, there are a few things to consider when you go shopping. Although using coupons is a fairly simple task, things may not always go as planned and you need to be prepared.

Here are 3 things to consider when using coupons at your local drug or grocery store:

1. The item(s) you want may not be in stock

The best time to use coupons is when items are on sale, as this will get you the best bang for your buck. However, the problem with only purchasing sale items is that you may not always be able to find what you are looking for when you go shopping.

I always recommend shopping early in the morning (on a weekday, if possible), because most stores will stock their shelves overnight. This gives you the best chance of finding everything that you want to purchase.

If you shop after 12pm, or at any time on the weekend, it’s likely that some of the items you wish to purchase will be sold out. This is especially true if you have a coupon that, when matched with a sale, will get you a free product.

2. You may run into issues at the cash

Although couponing has become increasingly more popular than it was years ago, many people still don’t understand coupons and how they work. That means that it is possible for you to end up with a cashier that won’t accept your coupons.

Some issues you may run into are:

  • The coupon says “one per purchase”, so the cashier only wants to allow one coupon per transaction.
  • The cashier is sure that they can not accept printed coupons.
  • The coupon value is more than the cost of the item, so the cashier will not accept your coupon.
  • The cashier says that you cannot price match and use a coupon at the same time.

These issues at the cash can not be prevented (they happen to everyone at some time or another), but you can certainly prepare yourself for the times when an issue does arise. Familiarize yourself with the coupon policies for all of the stores you shop at, and always follow the rules. I also suggest bringing a copy of the coupon policy with you when you go shopping.

If you are unsure about something that is not in a store’s coupon policy, call your local store and ask to speak to the store manager. They will answer any questions that you have.

3. You may have people upset with you when checking out

Although couponing is gaining in popularity, there are some people that really just don’t like coupons, and having to stand behind someone at the store who is using them can really irritate those people.

I’ve noticed that I get the most amount of sighs and grumbles from the people behind me in line when I am using more than 20 coupons in a transaction. Sometimes, those customers will say things to me that are insulting.

The best thing to do in those situations is to keep your cool (as difficult as it may be, sometimes!). Try to warn people behind you that you have many coupons to use and may take you a while to check out. This gives them a chance to pick another checkout line. If they decide to stay behind you anyway, that’s their choice.

If possible, try to shop at the least busy times. Early mornings during the week are best, and late evenings are usually okay at most stores as well.

Though you may run into some bad situations (like the ones above), remember that you are using coupons to save your family some money. Don’t worry about what other people think of you. That’s not important.

Be prepared for issues to arise, and handle them well when they do. Until then, continue using coupons whenever you can – they really are one of the best ways to save money on your grocery bill.

What issues have you run into when using coupons?


  1. MaricrisMas

    i also carry a copy of SCOP…worked for me at SDM…the merchanisder didn’t want to give me my first item FREE and PM the second item…I asked him if he wanted me to show him a copy of SCOP…just had to get it in the car…I think he thought I was bluffing…of course I wasn’t…even had a copy of the SDM coupon policy in my binder with an explaination of SCOP…Cash Manager came up and said I was right…he didn’t even apologize…he didn’t even understand what he was reading…ARGH…I have passed by an RCSS…when the trainer was explaining SCOP to them…so atleast it seems they get told about SCOP!

  2. Jennifer

    I have run into many instances where stores sell out (Lawton’s when Pepsi is in sale is the worst). My Wal Mart is fantastic, and every cashier I have ever had has been well versed in their policy. I usually start there, price match and get everything on my list that I can and only go to the specific stores if I need to, not only saves time but gas as well, but I do try to go the last cash open as it usually is the least busy and I always warn patrons and the cashier up front.

  3. Betty

    I’ve had some problems with cashiers & customers over the years but nothing I couldn’t handle. If manager/owner of a store didn’t want to redeem the coupon, then they lost my business (I simply walked out & left them with a buggy full of groceries to put away). You wouldn’t think store owners would want to lose your business but you’d be surprised especially in small towns & villages. Might sound harsh to people about leaving the groceries behind but when the owners/managers don’t treat the customers right especially when the customer is within his/her rights, then that’s what they deserve as far as I’m concerned & a loss of profit as I won’t be patronizing them!! ($700./month when we had kids is nothing to sneeze at).

  4. Anita

    Had an extremely rude customer behind me one time at WalMart, was in the evening. The cashier had to get someone to do a price check & I was using a coupon on it. Customer was complaining saying it’s like 50cents, some of us have kids waiting for us at home! Even though I had them suspend it so that she could be rung through. I’m thinking to myself then why leave your kids at home to run to WalMart?! I was not happy but bit my tongue. The young male cashier on the other till apologized on her behalf after she left. I told him thank you but it was not his fault that she was like that to me! & said I have a feeling if it was her she would do the same & he agreed!

  5. Georgina

    I haven’t had really any problems yet with couponing at shops. However, this week I was getting a 5 small items all with coupons and the cashier went over them about 5 times each and then hmmm’d and ahhhhh’d a bit but I said nothing and just let her do her thing. The very first time I ever couponed was at Loblaws (not great shop for cashiers, especially older ones, accepting or questioning coupons), there was a sale on Kellogg’s cereals (but 3 for $5) and the previous week I had picked up a coupon for $3 off when you buy 3 Kellogg’s cereals. Of course, I had to snatch the deal and I was picking up food for the annual food bank so I didn’t feel bad. The coupon didn’t state one per customer or transaction or I filled my cart with 15 boxes and got them (after speaking with the store manager for 10 minutes) for only $10. What a bargain … just couldn’t let it go when 10 boxes were going to a good cause. Also, the same cashier told me I shouldn’t be allowed to do this as I was pretty much stealing from the store but in an organised way…. what a way to make you feel bad while doing something for a good cause. I just politely said if the manufacturers didn’t want you to use them then they wouldn’t make them and smiled 😀 (was angry inside since stores should tell their cashiers to keep there opinions inside and be polite while taking them).

    MaricrisMas – Thanks for reminding me about the SCOP … I always forget to find out which shops have it and print it off! I could have got loads of items for free this last month.

    Cassie – Thanks for this website and your ebook. I have saved over $350 in December alone in my first month of couponing! Can’t wait to my New Year of couponing and my couponing resolutions 🙂

  6. Poor Fat Chick

    I have on occasion run into problems like cashiers not knowing the policy and other customers sighing behind me but i do what you suggested (bring the policy and warn other people about me couponing) BUT i also do it as polite as possible. With a huge smile. People are willing to give you a break if you are nice about things. If you turn into a b*tch they wont help you or understand you at all 🙂

  7. Lindsay Davies

    Had issues every time I went out this week!

    Today Walmart decided to round down my advil cold and sinus coupon.. The supervisor told her to do that! Argued a little, but i had kiddo with me and had to go… The cashier did apologize, and i explained what to do nex time.. (she was new, and 1st time with coupons..)

    Zellers on Tuesday, They didn’t consider my sister a customer since they wouldnt take the mall gc, so i had to lend $..

    had an issue monday.. But forget what.. Lol.

    from now on, im sticking to my usual wm!!

  8. Nicole

    The biggest problem I have had, was resolved fast by store manager at giant tiger… it was the typical the coupon is more than the item so we cant use it, however the manager set the cashier streight (after he spent 5 min online pulling up the coupon policy … which I had reviewed before I went into the store!) … worked out fine (but I was also polite as i knew i was in teh right) …. aside from that Walmart upset me before Christmas but it was a visa gift card issue … who knew the cashier told me that they didnt accept them and then went on well I dont know how to do it. My response was I know Walmart does take visa gift cards and I guess the best thing to do would be call a manager or someone else ask another cash (I think he was new) but anyway his response was to pick up the phone to page for someone it didnt work the first time and “sh*t” is what he blurted right out loud (my mouth dropped was just glad i didnt have children with me or I owuld have been upset), so then the second time he picks up the phone doesnt work “F***” right out loud at that point I think my face went red, I wanted to die … couldnt believe it! Anyway someone did come over and show him how to use them …. but seriously ovbiously customer service is a thing of the past!! Still really didnt think that it was appropriate, made me feel uncomfortable and have not been to Walmart since!

  9. kisha

    sorry to ask but what is SCOP?

  10. Glenna

    I have had issues at Wal-Mart as well as some small town businesses. The cashier was rude and insulting when I tried to use a coupon on one item. I got to use the coupon and then I e-mailed Wal-Mart directly and informed them of what happened. I also got a $25.00 gift card for the trouble I ran into at that particular location.
    I had a cashier state that they should limit the number of coupons that can be used in one transaction because she didn’t like manually deducting them. When I stated that I had saved over$35.00 in just that one transaction with my 6 or so coupons, she was actually surprised. I promised her that I wouldn’t use any more coupons if she promised to pay me what I would have saved. I now go to her every time I shop and she gladly takes my coupons.

  11. Ashley

    I too am wondering what SCOP means?

  12. Alison Govan

    SCOP is the Scanning Code of Practice. (following is copied from the Frugal Shopper)

    The Scanning Code of Practice is a voluntary code that nearly every major retailer in Canada adheres to. It promises the customer accurate price scanning at the register on all UPC scanned or Price Look Up (PLU) merchandise. If an item scans in at a price higher than the shelf price the customer gets it for free (or $10 off if the item is more than $10)

    The scanning code is endorsed by The Competition Bureau of Canada was created from the collaborative efforts of the Retail Council of Canada, the Canadian Association of Chain Drug Stores, the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers and the Canadian Council of Grocery Distributors.

    At participating retailers you should see this sign on the entrance doors and at the till that reads:

    Scanning Code of Practice If the scanned price of a non-price item is higher than the shelf price or any other displayed price, the customer is entitled to receive the first item free, up to a $10 maximum. If a Code of Practice problem cannot be resolved at the store level, please call 1-866-499-4599 to register your complaint.

  13. jennm

    I have reviewed the coupon policies for the places I shop and not all of them reference SCOP. Is there a list of places that follow SCOP?

  14. Sharon

    It was “Dollar Days” at Safeway & I was using my Coupon’s in combination with the Sales ~ there was ONLY the one Cashier available. I prefer to do my Grocery Shopping in the early Evening when it is more quiet & less people; as I was preparing to check-out ~ a few people started to form a line behind me but there was absolutely NOTHING that I could do about that because I had already started my Transaction. There was a woman about two people behind me who made a comment ~ “Oh it’s one of those Couponer’s!” I just completely Ignored Her Remarks & kept my focus on the ‘Cash Register’ – trying to keep track of each transaction to ‘Match-up’ with my Coupon’s. The “Ironic” thing was ~ this Woman was Parked right beside us out in the Parking Lot- we both got to our vehicles at the exact same time & I made sure that she heard me too as I proclaimed to my partner, “I still cannot believe that was one of my BEST Shops yet ~ we $aved over $100 between the Coupon’s & Sales!” How much do you want to Bet that Woman raced Home to check out on her Computer to “Learn” HOW to Coupon??? LoL

  15. Dawn

    I still love all your articles and I will be sharing this with my readers!!! however, I fine that you need to know your stores when it comes to the best time to shop. In my local area I find Tuesday nights are best, as they keep minimal staff overnight!!!

  16. Theresa

    I have run into cashiers who think that if the item is on sale already that you can’t use a coupon. I live in small town Ontario though, and this happens at smaller (but still big name) stores.

    Or the cashiers who are illiterate and cannot read the freakin coupon right. A few years back my husband agreed to use a coupon when picking up pictures we had developed at Shoppers. The cashier(about 16 years old) said it had expired. My husband was mortified(didn’t want to use a coupon to start with) and instead of reading the coupon, shoved it into his pocket, paid and left. He was irritated with me when he came home until I read it out loud to him. It was good for another year. SOOOOOOO irritating. Needless to say, my husband will NEVER again use a coupon.

  17. Tracey

    I have had some problems with cashiers at Walmart on some visits. They huff when I hand them my coupons, they have said if the coupon is over the price I should just get the item free and not the full value of the coupon (though they did give me the full value to me), examinining each coupon like it could be wrong especially if its of a higher value and worst was when one had me actually place each coupon with each item to be sure I bought the items i had coupons for. I don’t go to her if I see her on cash anymore. Though it does make me wonder when should you give your coupons to them? Before they start during or after jsut like you would if paying cash? Anyone?

  18. Cassie Howard

    MaricrisMas – Good idea! I should put a copy in mine, too.

    Betty – I totally agree.

    Dawn – Thanks for sharing!

    Tracey – I always ask the cashier when they want me to hand them over. Most want the coupons as they scan the items, but some prefer them all at the end.

  19. Liane

    Just last week , the cheese at foodbasics was on for 3.97$. I had coupons for 0.75$ off so I was getting 500 g bricks of cheese for 3.22 well the cashier said right out loud…what the sale is not good enough, you had to bring coupons. And I said yes…. I’m not sure if he was trying to make it a joke…but … whaaaaaaaaaaa…lol Other that that… no real problems.. I’ve given some coupons to customers behind me at walmart because they had to wait for me…especially if its something I kNow I will not use. I usually ask the cashier….when she wants the coupons..before , after or as the items are scanned. most are grateful just for that.

  20. Natalie Celuch

    I tried using my smartphone facebook coupon at a Zellers and the cashier would not accept the smartphone coupon display. This has never happened before.

    I thought I was saving paper and trees. Also, I don’t have a printer at home and usually ask a friend if they can print it on their computer.

    I’d recommend having a printed coupon ready, just in case they don’t honour their display your smartphone coupon which was totally disappointing. I could have bought a $100 toaster oven for $50 but I had to leave without making a purchase.

  21. K

    I AM Very Dissapointed with PRICE MART in LANGLEY BC!
    They were so awesome about 8 months ago in accepting and stacking coupons.. then all of a sudden and out of the blue they turned around and changed thier whole coupon policy in store.. even though all price marts have the same coupon policy, the One in Langley seems to make thier own rules. and it went from being able to price match and use and stack coupons, to now only being able to use one in store, and one manufacturer coupon!, They state they allow one in store, one from a kiosk and one from a manufacturer.. but its all a lie, Every single time i go to use all 3 in one they always tell me that i cant use my Kiosk with my Manufacturer coupon stating they are from the same manufacturer!.. WELL DUHHH!…??… And then theres London Drugs in Langley by Walmart, They Stack which is awesome!.. BUT!.. They claim to not stack mail in Coupons from P&G with any other manufacturer coupon??.. Even though these coupons state the extact same thing on all the other Coupons found made by P&G ( the coupons found on tear pads, flyers, inserts etc!) Which makes absolutely no sense!.. they will stack 2 P&G coupons thatt state the same thing from tear pads and flyers.. but wont use the coupon from the mail in coupon from P&G!.. that all state (LIMIT ONE COUPON PER PERCHASE)!!!…

  22. Jennie

    My very first time using a coupon (other than seeing them on a tear pad for something I was going to buy anyway) was mortifying. I’d gotten two tear pad coupons for $1 off any Vim product and saved them until there was a sale. They went on sale at Zellers the next week so I went and bought 2. I was so excited to get something for free until I went to pay. The cashier spent 10 minutes studying them, and tried to tell me it was only for the Vim gel, even though the coupon clearly said any Vim product. Then she called over another cashier and they both studied the coupons for another 5 minutes and they tried to tell me they’d had trouble with fake coupons. I could understand that if they were printed off the computer, but these were from tear pads. By now, my husband was on the verge of yelling at them and calling them both idiots and I was so embarrassed I thought I was going to faint. They finally called the manager over who after another ten minutes said they were fine.

    Not the best start to using coupons. Thankfully it wasn’t busy and the people that did get in line behind us moved to another line without complaint. It didn’t turn me off couponing, but I’ve never gone back to Zellers with a coupon again.

  23. Mel

    I was stuck in line at Zellers on NYE behind someone who had a boatload of coupons. I’m sure they read your site, because they had the Zellers coupon policy in hand. It’s a good thing they did, because the cashier tried to tell them that their $2.50 off cat food was invalid since the food was already on sale for $.49. It took TWO other cashiers and then finally a manager to get these darn coupons approved.

    I was sooo proud of the couponer for remaining firm.

  24. Liesel

    regarding when to shop: if the store does not stock shelves daily, call ahead to find out when shipments arrive and the best time to go. For example one store I go Thursday mornings because that’s when the shelves are most likely to be stocked.

  25. Christa

    Well said! Keeping cool and proud of the family savings is hard to do when there’s a line behind us …. I try to slip them a coupon or two if I spot something on the belt or on the top of their cart if possible. It’s amazing how $.50 off Charmin can buy allies!

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