Supermarket Savings Tip #5: Pay Attention When They Scan Your Coupons

Elizabeth emailed in the following tip:

Both this week and last week when I used my coupons, the cashier had to manually enter a coupon — and she entered the wrong amount!

Last week the cashier entered two $3 off coupons as only $1 off! Today it was $0.10 off instead of $1 off. (and it was two different stores, two different cashiers)

Thankfully, I was paying attention and asked and it was quickly corrected. But today she fixed it in the middle of scanning my coupons and missed another coupon entirely. I didn’t catch that one until after I paid, but I went back quickly and she fixed that, too.

I am not always able to pay attention when they scan my coupons, whether it’s because of the children or because I’m loading the cart or whatever it might be, but I will definitely try harder in the future! It certainly saves money!

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  1. Melissa D. says

    Unfortunately, this seems to happen to me more often than not. Lately, I keep a running talley of my coupons on my grocery list and watch for the grand total before I present my coupons to the cashier. I then deduct the total amount of my coupons from that total to make sure that the final total matches the grand total less the coupons (hope that isn’t as clear as mud!). At least if it isn’t, I can pull my cart to the side and go over to customer service and resolve the issue before I leave the store. HTH!

    • tracy says

      I always give the cashiers the coups in batches, and I count the total off before I hand them to the cashier! Like if there’s $16 worth of coups I make sure the total is $16 less :)

  2. Jennifer says

    I always total up the coupons B 4 I hand them over & then I can quickly add up the totals saved B 4 I leave the store & I can catch it right away.

    • Katy says

      Total agreement on this one and no joking. One time my dh left all the coupons he couldn’t use with the cashier! He told me she just didn’t give them back!

    • WilliamB says

      I hope you don’t mean that as a blanket statement, because if you did that would be rather insulting. It’s hard enough to be both male and a fan of this site without such blanket slams. Unless you meant don’t send *your* hubs?

  3. Nichole says

    I think they do this on purpose sometimes, I’ve had cashiers that will scan one coupons and put 2 to the side so as to only enter about half. Not sure if they are just trying to shave time off the check-out or if they are trying to get more reimbursement from the companies.

    • Sarah says

      I used to work at a grocery store.. (and I’m not accusing any of your cashier’s of doing anything snakey) but the register keeps a running tally of each cashier that uses it and prints out a report at the end of the month.
      For whatever reason coupons count negatively towards that cashiers total.

  4. Cotton says

    I have had the same experience at two different stores last week. One store only took off one of my coupons and didn’t charge me the correct price for the item in the first place.

    The second store failed to take off three coupons and I was distracted and didn’t notice until I was home and reviewing my receipt and purchases.

    For me it seems to happen if I don’t stand and watch every single transaction.

    • Cyndi says

      My habits changed after a $5 mfr coupon auto-scanned as $.05 (do they even have nickel coupons anymore?!?) and another $5 coupon didn’t show up at all. Back then I didn’t check my receipt until after I got home. Not anymore 😉

      Making sure the coupons ring up correctly has become part of my couponing process. I’ve since adopted two practices:

      #1 I do not hand over my coupons until my cart is unloaded and I can watch them being scanned, and

      #2 if I have a high-value coupon or one where the cashier must fill-in the amount, I hand those over one at a time, rather than including them the stack.

  5. pam clouse says

    it also helps to have a calculator handy (most phones have them now too) total up your coupons before gettting in line and write down the amount that should be taken off your order…. and when your total comes up, write it down, subtract the amount you got from totalling up your coupons and you know what your total should be. this is not always exact due to the types of coupons (some free item coupons are given at the exact amount of the item and some are given at the amount of the “up to” price) but at least it is a little easier to spot a missed coupon or incorrect amount before leaving that checkout line.

  6. Heidi says

    This has happend to me a number of times, I notice it happens when they can scan some coupons and some they manually enter… thus by the end of it, they forget to manually enter. once it was over $5.00 I asked the cashier if she entered them all, she said yes, but as I was walking away looking at my receipt it was clear…. I was grateful she was so gracious when I went back and asked her a second time!

  7. says

    It is so true! I go to Safeway. For this store you can load your coupons and savings onto your card. Half the time it doesn’t work! I always check my receipt after I am done (it can be hard to watch prices, especially when you have a toddler in tow AND because savings and coupons come off at the end). Thank you for this tip.

  8. Carol says

    I don’t shop at Walmart because they don’t take the computer printed ones. I watch the other stores. I havent’ had a problem. I have had a couple cashier’s at Albertson’s complain because she had to manually add them.

    • Heidi says

      My Walmart takes computer printed coupons. They must have different policies at different stores, though that doesn’t seem right.

    • Billene says

      Walmart’s coupon policy states they accept computer printed manufacturers coupons. The policy is from the home office of Walmart Stores Inc. I used that type of coupon today and many other times without any problems.

      • Carol says

        I used to work at this Walmart and the management is real bad. They were real picky what other stores they would price match also.

        • Heather T. says

          Same here, it depends on how they feel that day seriously and I worked there for 12 years. It was very frustrating you learn very quickly which cashiers to avoid.

          • Heidi says

            I would print out the Walmart coupon policy and whip it out if they give you any problem. I did do that one day with a catalina coupon that the cashier said was no good. Pulled the policy page out and no problem!

  9. Jen says

    I have found that internet printables seem to stick together, and if the cashier is rushing they will miss one because it stuck to another. If I have both internet and newpaper coupons, I try to alternate them in my stack so nothing sticks.

  10. Michelle says

    So true! I try to watch them scan but I can’t always, but I do check my receipts afterwards….I have caught quite a bit that way. I actually got charges like $25 for a 1/2 gallon of ice cream before, I totally went back and got my money. They reimburse the full amt at my store if it scans wrong. I usually know what my totals should be when I get to the check out too and that helps catch problems too.

  11. Nikki says

    not only coupons! similarly, i went shopping the other day and bought a 3-pack. the cashier scanned 3 times. I had to call her attention to it and she deleted the 2 extra entries.

  12. April Learn says

    I hand each and every coupon to the cashier ONE AT A TIME! I have had many cashiers get upset and tell me if I give them all at once, they can get it done faster…my comment for that “I’m buying with MY money, I know my budget, if you would like to use YOUR money then we can do what YOU want with the coupons :)” yes, its a bit crass but it gets my point across! These cashiers seem to forget that if it were not for us customers, coupons or not, they wouldn’t have a job!

    My personal “favorite” is when the cashier shakes the coupons in front of the scanner and proceeds to huff & puff b/c “it won’t scan” OR when they rub the barcode on the coupon & it smears then it won’t scan!

    As with many instances nowadays, people just don’t care.

  13. says

    It also REALLY helps to remember to BRING your coupons WITH YOU!! All joking aside, you do have to really watch cashiers with coupons–and most stores will re-ring you up if you forget your coupons in the car or find them in your pocket after you’ve already paid.

    Not that anything like that’s ever happened to me (ahem).

    • Jettsmom says

      I’ve walked away from the register and then remembered the coupons. I go straight to customer service walmart and they quickly scan my coupons and give me the money back. I had this happen at a grocery store too. Cashier forgot to scan the coupons.

  14. Martina says

    I had a problem only one time at Publix, my coupon was $10 off/40 and when I checked the receipt at home I noticed only a $5 discount. But at Publix there are not problem , in the next day I showed my receipt and they give me $5 cash for the difference.

  15. Jettsmom says

    I had a BOGO coupon for some dog treats. I had purchased the two items for the coupon as well as another size without a coupon. When they scanned the coupon it scanned for the price of the smaller item not the BOGO. I told the lady and she said, that’s what the computer entered automatically. Then I showed her the difference in products and she finally manually entered the correct amount. It took quite a bit of convincing. I’m glad I was watching that was over $2 difference.

  16. says

    Good idea to be especially careful right now! Some of the cash registers here don’t like the new barcodes, and I’ve noticed cashiers having to manually enter more and more coupons. I can see how they make a mistake especially with so many coupons and when they’re tired or it’s towards the end of the shift. Never hurts to double check.

  17. Meredith says

    I had a huge problem at Super Target around Christmas. The lady was so flustered, she scanned them and didn’t even see if they were going through. You know Target constantly comes up with “No Pick Item” so it was basically stalled on that screen while she scanned the remaining coupons. It kept beeping so she didn’t seem to look. I was with the hubby and didn’t pick up on it until about mid way through when I made her manually go back and check each one. The massive line behind me was annoyed but I didn’t care.

    On a side note, I worked PT as a cashier at a grocery store for some extra cash. Most cashiers really want to know if something didn’t go through, stuck together, or if it didn’t go through right. We were never instructed to purposely not scan them. In fact, we were written up if a customer complained!

  18. says

    Wal-Mart is bad at the scanner not scanning a coupon and the cashier doesn’t realize it. I’ve had to go to customer service more than once to get my coupon deduction. I really prefer small transactions because it’s easier to make sure all my coupons go through, but that isn’t always convenient. I definitely want my savings after I’ve gone to the work of clipping, organizing and shopping. Plus some products I am getting because of a coupon. It definitely is worth it to make sure your coupons go through.

    Also, check receipts before you leave!!!!!! I recently bought a rotisserie chicken from the deli at Dillons in the evening. The employee in the deli made a point to tell us that they would mark the chickens half price if we were interested. So, I got one. Unfortunately I forgot to check my receipt till I was home and it rang up full price even though he had put a markdown sticker on it. :( I know Dillons would’ve made it right for me if I would’ve asked them too. I let this one slide, but they’ve always been very good when I have a problem. They have let me return canned peaches when I got the wrong thing and worked very nicely with me on other flub-ups I’ve made!

  19. Teresa M. says

    At CVS yesterday the cashier was talking to me and I got distracted and forgot to hand over my coupons. They only came to $2, but it would have made 2 of the products free after ECB. I did remember to hand in my accumulated ECBs when paying so my hands were busy and that’s why I didn’t realize about the coupons until after the fact. I may go back tomorrow with my receipt and coups ( I’ll be out and about anyway) and see if they can apply them, If you see me there please talk to me after my transaction or else I may forget why I’m there!!!

  20. Carla says

    Perhaps going to the self check outs is better, because you can really check and do the coupons one by one. Our Giant has a person to bag most of the time at the self check out, so that is nice. I need to be mindful of the c moments made. Thanks everyone!

    • Laura says

      I agree I love the self scans! And I love being able to scan my own coupons, no worrying about a careless cashier quickly skipping through them! I just wish Walmart and Target had them too! I also stick to small transactions even if I have to go back through the line again. I am not going to hand the cashier a big wad of coupons, they just try to quickly scan them not caring if they really took!

    • Mary says

      I shop at Dillon’s and they have a person at the self-checkout podium that takes your coupons and scans them. I don’t like this because on more than one occasion, they didn’t even scan some of my coupons. Thankfully, the service desk is more than happy to fix the problems. So I try to avoid the self-checkouts now. :(

    • carol says

      I have been doing the self-check out myself a lot now, too. .. for the same reason. This way, I can be sure every coupon works. If I have a free coupon or a problem, someone comes and helps me.

  21. Wendy says

    I hand my coupons over in groups of four, and make it a point to say how many I’m handing them. I’ve had several bad experiences with cashiers picking up two or three and only scanning the top one, then denying missing any. So I hand them over in small groups of like items, like the yogurt coupons, then the cereal coupons, etc.

  22. Marie says

    I think it’s a good practice to always watch when using coupons. Sometimes the stores have issues with coupons not ringing right or coupons sticking together etc. I know when I have alot of printable coupons at Target I will hand those one at a time or tell the cashier there should be two of each etc.
    while it would be nice if everything would just work on it’s own I think as couponers we need to be polite and courteous if an error occurs. Many times the cashier or store is very willing to fix the problem. We have to remember everyone is human and human errors happen.
    Because of this I try to not have children in tow so that I can be more aware of what’s happening with the checkout process.

  23. cheryl says

    Before I check out, I count the coupons and dollar value. After checkout, I review the receipt to make sure each item was rung up correctly and check off any coupon used on that item to make sure they were all rung in. I handle anything that’s wrong right away with customer service.

    I estimate that 10% of the time, an item is rung up wrong or a coupon is missed.

    I learned some new tips here so thanks!

  24. Staci says

    It also pays to watch the PLUs the cashiers enter for your produce. I bought some lettuce at Whole Foods yesterday. I was so focused on making sure she got all of my coupons right and that I received my case discount that I didn’t notice that she entered my lettuce as romaine ($2.49/#) instead of green leaf (on sale for $1.69). It ended up being about a $2 difference.

  25. Christy says

    A few times the cashiers have completely forgotten to scan my coupons at all! Once it was too late by the time I reminded him. I had to go to Costumer Service, but it was worth it to get handed back $26 in cash!

  26. Allison says

    When I go to Kroger I count my coupons before I hand them to the cashier. Then I count my coupons as they the cashier scans them. I’d say once a month or so, a coupon won’t scan, the cashier skips it over, etc. I point it out and they’ve always fixed it without too much trouble.

    Also, please, whenever possible be nice, or at least civil, to the person on the other side of the counter, even when he or she makes a mistake. I used to work in retail, and thinking about the handful of entitled customers who would talk down to me and/or yell and cuss when something went wrong still makes my blood boil.

  27. Gloria says

    Walmart is the worse. The cashiers get mad if you hand the coupons one by one. They will say, “give all the coupons to me at once” and then not scan all of them so now I do pairs.

  28. Emily says

    Can’t say I’m surprised at Walmart. I really hate shopping there and avoid it if at all possible. Surprisingly Sam’s Club is way way better on customer service. But considering how Walmart treats their employees maybe not so surprising after all.

  29. candy says

    This is a perfect example why I prefer stores that have the self check outs. That way I can make sure my coupons come off correctly and that they all get scanned.

  30. Courtney says

    I found writing down my coupons helps. As I shop, I pull the coupons I will use out of my binder and put them in a separate pocket. When I pull a coupon to use I also write down on the side of my grocery list what the coupon is (for example $1/1 Dole). I always use the self checkout because NO ONE knows how to bag groceries correctly (but that’s not the point of this post, is it?). After I scan all of my stuff and I give the U-scan attendant the coupons (Kroger won’t let you scan your own), I watch the coupons as they scan and compare to the list I’ve made as I shopped. If one doesn’t scan/scans wrong then having a written list really helps to say which one didn’t scan. Oh, and I always make sure the coupons are stacked in the same order as I have them listed so that they are easier to watch too.

  31. Brittany says

    Not only a coupon problem… I cannot count the number of times that I have saved $10-$20 in one day of shopping just by watching everything ring up on the cash register. One day, I was overcharged $6 at one store and $12 at the next. That adds up pretty quickly, so I always try to watch as things are being scanned. :)

    • Sarah says

      The statistics on the cashiers and registers show that for every time we go to a grocery or big store like Walmart or Target if we do not pay attention we are over charged on average $7.00. Now obviously this does not happen every time we shop but it does average to each and every transaction. Most often mistake is the item is on the shelf marked sale price of x but the price is not in the computer right so it rings up at the non sale price of y so we pay more than we expected to pay.
      The big totals help!

  32. samaree says

    Over seven years at Walmart I worked my way up from cashier to Money Center to optician in the Vision Center. I never intentially failed to scan a coupon. Coupon overage is the same as cash overage. Stealing from a customer. Yes, computers and cashiers at all stores make mistakes, but don’t blame the company as a whole. Be courteous and kind to your cashier. Walmart cashiers, as well as many other stores, are tracked by speed as well as accuracy. If a mistake is made, be gracious. By the way, if Walmart paid me or treated me badly, why would I stay?

  33. Jennifer says

    One time I had coupon actually charge me $2 instead of taking the $2 off. It appeared to scan correctly, but since I checked my receipt as I walked to the door, I saw that I had a “misc” charge for $2 that none of my items matched. Also there was no $2 off coupon applied. I went to customer service and had to take out all the items purchased to show them that nothing matched the $2 charge and that it actually should have taken $2 off. I got my money back, but that one little coupon could have cost me $4!

  34. Sarah says

    This overcharge of misc. is new also and has been a problem with gift cards at walmart often they add what they should take off. You just have to really watch !
    Know your bottom line number as best you can before you get in line that helps too. I know getting things corrected at Customer service can cost time and time is money!

  35. Ali says

    I sometimes take pictures of my coupons on my phone because if I have a bunch I may forget what they all were. I also watch the coupons being scanned closely, especially the buy one get one free coupons. On the plus side of a not so good cashier you can squeeze in a few coupons of products you didn’t buy or didn’t buy the required amount. It may not be right but I get overcharged and coupons don’t get scanned right way too many times. So it is just making up for that.

    • Lori says

      “It may not be right…” Ummm — it’s WRONG. Just don’t shop there if they don’t process your coupons correctly. Geez.

  36. says

    I sometimes apply my local grocery store’s buy one/get one free at Wal-Mart. One time, they did not apply the coupons correctly. Luckily, I caught them early enough.

  37. WilliamB says

    At the bottom of my store’s receipt is a list of how many coupons were redeemed and how much was saved. My store also has a lot of trouble with internet coupons.

    So I count & add up the coupons before I hand them over. I also tell the clerk not to put the coupons in the (unopenable) drawer till I check my receipt. Often I have to say this a couple time and watch carefully anyway. It’s a bit of a pain but it works.

  38. says

    I need to start counting the amount of my coupons before handing them in. It would only take me another minute or two.

    I also had a situation at a drugstore recently where they scanned my rewards and I heard it beep. I thought the amount I still owed seemed a bit high, but thought maybe I didn’t add it up right. Got home, checked the receipt and it beeped alright – but rang up 0.00 off. Went back later that same day and got my money back. Should have been $1.50 off each time.

  39. Kris says

    I actually prefer to use the self scan register for this very reason whether it is at a Walmart or Meijer. As i scan each coupon I make sure it is correct and has doubled. On my grocery list, I also write down the coupon price next to the item, that way if I did miss something I know exactly where I went wrong. Even after all those measures, I still look over my recipe and make sure every coupon was accounted for correctly.

  40. says

    This is why I love the U-Scan at Martins! My kids like to help me scan and bag stuff and I have no one to blame but myself if a coupon isn’t scanned.

  41. Christine says

    I have a favorite cashier at my local Big Y & when he’s not working I really have to pay attention when my coupons are being scanned. Another issue I have is when my 11 year old daughter decides THEN it’s time to tell me about something that happened days ago. I look like a rotten mother when I tell her, “Can you tell me your story later?”. What I really wanto to say is, “I really need to be paying attention to this cashier right now”. I also have a HUGE problem when the cashier & bagger start up a conversation. There is no way they can me doing their job properly if they are chatting (IMHO).

  42. Kristen Trappett says

    oh yeah, learned this the hard way yesturday. I had all three kids and when I got to the car looked at the receipt and saw I was minus 2 dollars worth of coupons. Having three cranky kids already loaded, I just left, slightly urked but realizing I need to pay better attention in the future, and try to have less kids when I go couponing!

  43. Kamani says

    It’s funny that there’s a picture of Walmart up there because I ALWAYS have to watch because they ALWAYS don’t ring up the coupon or they put in the wrong amount. I’m not kidding. If I only have 1 or 2 coupons I just go to self check out because it’s less of a hassle.

  44. Susan E. says

    Ah, the days of stores that bagged your groceries and put them into your cart for you so you could pay attention to what was going on at the cash register. I can even attest that there is still a store in my little town that does that AND hauls them to your car for you! I need to take my daughters in there more so they can say they remember when…

  45. jos says

    this happened to me at Rite aid with a 4 upr and the cashier( the manager insisted i didn’t give her $4 so what ever 4 loss but oh well what can i do

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