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Help! I’m so frustrated with trying to use coupons that I’m thinking of giving up!

I’m giving up on coupons! Kroger accused me of “fraudulently” printing a coupon for a free package of Kings Hawaiian Bread, which was sent to me via a Facebook offer. Then today at Walart, they refused three of my coupons that were printed from Coupons.com because they didn’t have the right bar code.

Is this a common occurrence for users of coupons? Is there something I need to be doing differently with my coupons. I just wonder is this is something that happens to others. Hints, tips, and suggestions as to how to avoid these issues in the future? -Cyndi

I think most all of us couponers have had a bad experience or three while using coupons, so we feel your pain and frustration.The bad experiences are usually very minimal in comparison to the good experiences, but they happen to all of us at one time or another.

A number of years ago, I was accused of cheating and firmly asked never to come back to a store by a manager. Truth be told, although I replied kindly and left the store, I was shaking and wanted to give up coupons then and there.

Instead, because I knew that the manager was misinformed on coupons and had overstepped his bounds in the way he had treated me, I went home, wrote out all of the details of what had happened, and placed a call to that store’s corporate office the next morning.

You know what? They apologized profusely, reiterated the fact that I was using coupons in accordance with their policy, and were very concerned with how the manager had treated me.

In fact, they asked me if I’d like for them to have him call me and personally apologize! I said that wouldn’t be necessary, but I just wanted to ask if they could make sure the manager was better informed as to what their coupon policy was so that I and other couponers who shopped there in the future wouldn’t have such a difficult time using coupons.

I never found out exactly what happened, but I do know that from then on, that store became a much more coupon-friendly store and the manager never gave me or my other couponing friends who shopped there any issues.

So don’t give up — even when you feel frustrated! Your wallet will thank you and I promise that not every experience using coupons will be so bad in the future.

Here are some suggestions as to ways to prevent as many bad couponing experiences as possible in the future:

1. Make Sure You Know the Deals & Store Policies Well

Get a copy of the store’s corporate coupon policy and bring it with you when you shop. Know it backwards and forwards. That way, if there is any question regarding your coupon use, you are well educated and can make a clear case for why you are using coupons in accordance with the store’s corporate coupon policy.

2. Look for Efficient and Cheerful Cashiers

I always scan the checkout lanes before heading into one and look for a cashier that is speedy, efficient, and cheerful. For some reason, I always seem to have better success in using coupons with these types of cashiers.

In addition, I’ll look for people who are using coupons and checkout and if I see that the cashier is running them through cheerfully, I’ll head to that line. As the cashier is usually what makes or breaks your coupon-shopping experience, finding cashiers who are coupon-friendly go a long way toward a pleasant checkout.

3. Be Polite and Courteous, But Firm

Unfortunately, many cashiers do not know the store’s coupon policies. I can’t count the number of times a cashier has told me they can’t accept a coupon for one reason or another.

While their reason might be 100% true and valid, more often than not, I’ve found that they will tell me something that I know is not right per the store’s coupon policy. When this happens, I politely, but firmly explain what the store’s coupon policy is. More often than not, this is all it takes and they willingly accept all of my coupons, no questions asked.

Be a polite and informed customer, follow the store’s coupon policies to a tee, and you’ll usually earn the respect of the cashiers. When they respect you, they are much less likely to question your usage of coupons.

4. Don’t Make a Big Stink

In some instances, I’ve cordially explained the coupon policies and a cashier won’t budge. Instead of getting frustrated or upset, I just calmly ask them to remove the item from my transaction and return my coupon.

Yes, I miss out on some deals, but I’d rather leave the store without the deal if it means I avoid holding up the line and making a scene at the cash register. Plus, in many instances, I can use the coupon at another store to get a great deal.

5. Work on Lowering Your Grocery Bill Without Using Coupons

While I’m a big advocate of using coupons, I think they are just one piece of the grocery-savings pie. If you live in an area with few coupon-friendly stores, you might find that you just aren’t going to see the savings that someone with a lot of store options and stores that double or triple coupons is going to see.

Don’t be discouraged by this! There are many, many other ways to save money without using coupons. Pick a few of these to implement each month and determine which ones work best for your family.

Not everything that works for someone else will work for you, but I’m sure you’ll find many simple ways to lower your grocery bill without using coupons. Paired with the savings you can also obtain by using coupons, you can eventually really see significant savings!

What advice do the rest of you have for Cyndi? I’d love to hear your suggestions and tips!

photo courtesy of Big Stock

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  1. says

    I am 100% with you on number 2. I find this helps especially at my local Walmart. I have began to make mental note of which cashiers are coupon friendly and which are not. If I run into a problem with one cashier I try not to go through her line again. If someone ran my coupons through with ease I will try to remember her face so that if I see her next time I know to step in her line. Also if I have had numerous problems in a row I allow myself to simply take a coupon breather, I have been on one for 2 months now and am now feeling ready to get back to it.

    • Brittainny says

      I haven’t had trouble w/ coupons at our walmart, but my mom has trouble all the time! I think it might be her printer. I rarely shop at walmart anyhow. I prefer Lowes Foods and Harris Teeter. They have a limit of 3 like coupons and only double 20 coupons; any others will be face value. Lowes Foods has a similar policy. They also will only take a certain number of internet coupons in a visit. I get most of my coupons from a clipping service in TN. I do use coupons.com and couponnetwork.com. I also keep up with my store card cpns and savingstar.com. I have not had trouble w/ internet cpns yet. I also love our CVS’s and Rite Aid! They are great and allow me to split up orders. I only do easy deals at our Walgreens. They always make me feel terrible about using cpns. I honestly don’t spend a ton of time cpning though. I look at ads 2 times a week,Wed and Sun afternoon. I only look at things that we are in need of. If I have several in our mini stockpile, then I don’t go for it unless it is free or for a gift. The only time it takes more than a few minutes is when a store does super doubles or triples. I only coupon during naptime, before kids wake up, or after they are in bed. I am a busy mom of 4 kids ages 6 and under. I don’t like to take time away from my family for coupons. I don’t go couponing every week. I do a main grocery trip once a month w/ another produce/staple run 2 wks later. If a deal happens between those times, I go out on a Wed. We go to church on Wed. So, it is on the way. If nothing cold is involved, I go before. If I get cold food, I go after church. Keep in mind, that when I go shopping, I always have all 4 kids w/ me. My hubby has a brain injury from being blown up in Iraq. I save 50%-70% on my grocery trips and even more on a “stockpile” trip. Don’t get discouraged! Maybe find a coupon partner who can go w/ you for moral support.

    • Kimberly S. says

      I’m actually surprised at the number of problems people have using coupons. I’ve never had any issues at my local chain grocery store, Target, or WalMart (knock on wood, next time I go, I’ll have issues now that I said this). I love my local Target because they are so accommodating. I bought a toy that was on clearance the one time, but the clearance sticker was missing, so I wasn’t sure if it was 50% or 70% off as half the aisle was one amount off and the other half was the other amount off and this item was located in the center of the shelves. I said so to the cashier and let her know it was the only one of this item on the shelf. I even let her know that I looked in other aisles to see if someone had picked it up from elsewhere and then changed their mind and just left it on the clearance shelf, but I didn’t see it anywhere else. She told me not to worry and that she’d just give it to me at 70% off. Then another time an item around $4 rang up as no longer in the system. The cashier called the manager over and she asked me the price. I told her I wasn’t positive, but I know it was around $4. The manager told the cashier to just ring it up for $0.99. And any time I’ve used coupons, if they don’t scan, the cashiers have always hand entered them, no questions asked. A couple times an item has been on sale or it’s one of there “buy this amount and get a Target $5 gift card” and for some reason the sale price doesn’t come up or it doesn’t generate the gift card. I’ve brought it up to the cashier and they’ve always taken my word and made the change. The cashiers are always super friendly and even get excited when I save a good amount of money with my coupons. I always enjoy going to Target as they always seem to be the most accommodating and easy-going about coupons and their prices. But maybe it’s just the Target’s near my house and work as it seems so many other people on here have lots of problems.

  2. says

    I get overwhelmed with coupons. Over the past few months I have only been clipping coupons for products that I use or want to try; reduce the amount of duplicate coupons by limiting them to only two or three of the same kind; and use price matchups from websites such site as this one. By doing these things I have reduced the my frustration, the amount of time spend organizing my coupons, and the amount of time I spend in the store.

  3. says

    I have pretty much stopped shopping at Walgreens for this reason. I am not a person who handle confrontation well (I start to cry- no joke) and every time I went in I would end up being told I couldn’t use a coupon even if I showed them in the coupon policy that they were wrong and they would make me feel like I was a criminal. I even called to complain (which was really scary for me) and they told me they would look into it but my experience never changed. I might be missing out on some deals here and there, but I decided it was worth my sanity and self respect to not be giving them my money.

  4. Justinsmommu says

    I like addressing the cashier by their name. I recently had a refusal of a $3 off Kiss My Face product coupon at a Kroger store. The cashier refused it because “it’s a high-value” coupon and the soap I was purchasing was on sale for $3.79 and she didn’t want to get in trouble. She suggested that it looked like it had been copied, when in fact it had not. It was printed from their Facebook page using black ink instead of color. I kindly asked for my coupon back and to have the item removed. This was a store I shop at all the time and a cashier I go to all the time. I went to another Kroger later that day and used 2 of the coupons for the same soap with no issues. I agree, don’t make a big stink of it. A big smile and kindness goes a long way.

  5. Amie says

    I advise you to stick with it. I started couponing heavily when I became pregnant with my second child almost 3 years ago. I have saved sooo much money over these years. I was able to cut my grocery budget in half, diaper a second child, and I have so much more. I have had some bad experiences – usually at Walmart. I usually just put the item back or go to customer service. There are a few cashiers I completely avoid. There is one at my CVS who is very unfriendly with coupons, rolls her eyes and neck, and seems to take pleasure in declining coupons so I don’t shop there when she is working. Most cashiers are not nasty, just misinformed. I’ve emailed corporate after problems at Publix and Walmart and was given apologies and gift cards. I try to be polite, but assertive. I do take strategic shopping seriously. I value my coupons the same way I value my cash.

  6. Mike says

    Facebook is also a great way to reach out to the company if something bad happens. Post a cordial and fact filled post on their facebook page about what happened, how you were treated, why that was incorrect, and how it should have been handled.

    Most big companies have whole departments just for monitoring social networks and handling those complaints. But I also email the company directly via their website if I feel that something was done improperly and someone needs some further education. It doesn’t hurt if they offer me something for free to compensate me either. 😉

  7. Sean Bockstie says

    I had a terrible experience at a local grocery store and was also very frustrated because their coupon policy is different even though they are part of a chain. I was upset and wrote a letter to the chain. The Manager of the store where I had an issue called me and apologized. Turns out, I was using my coupons in accordance with their policy. They sent me a $25 gift card for my trouble. I still have had issues, particularly at Walmart, so I always try to remember, I don’t have to purchase the item, usually it is something I’m getting free or close to free, and remember all the money I have saved our family over the year! It’s worth it.

  8. Brooke says

    I am a cashier. Many times couponers DO try to take advantage of cashiers who don’t know the policy or try to find loopholes. My Kroger store does not allow stacking of a manufacturer and store coupon, which couponers try endlessly. I have a copy of the policy. Is my job worth your 30 cent coupon? No! It has gotten so bad that my store threatened to quit doubling and taking printed coupons at all. We are also told not to accept printed coupons for free items no matter what. Many are fraudulently emailed out without the company’s permission. My store closes at 1 am…I have couponers that show up with a full cart and 100 coupons 10 minutes before closing and then yell when they can’t use 30 expired coupons. Blame it on the store and employees all you want, but many couponers are rude to their cashiers and not completely honest. That’s why the rest of the legitimate couponers have issues.

  9. CJ says

    Happens to all of us occasionally. I either chalk it up to a bad day or plead my case to the manager. Most of the time it either works out or I feel its not a big deal and go on. But after Petsmart accused me twice of making up coupons that were readily available on their Facebook page and website and other coupon problems, I no longer shop there. I did complain to their Facebook page and to customer service and they sent me a $10 gift card. But that wasnt enough to make me want to go back and try again. Since then I’ve found better deals on pet food at other stores that treat me better so I’m glad to spend my money elsewhere.

    • Lana says

      Two CVSs managers in two different locations told me that all Smartsource coupons are fraugeluent. They refuse to scan it.

      • CJ says

        CVS employees have told me they cant accept a CVS coupon and any other coupon together for the same item. I verified it as incorrect with the district manager and was given a $10 gift card for my trouble. I think sometimes cashiers and managers just need to be better trained and informed by corporate and their higher ups, and I’m not sure why they arent. If we as customers can, and are expected to, remember all kinds of coupon rules, cashiers should be able to as well!

  10. Gina says

    I had this same kind of situation happen to me at Sweet Bay in Inverness FL. I went in to by BOGO on the Johnsoville Sausages with a store coupon $1.00 and a $1.00 manufactures coupon. Well, I went in to buy 16 of them and I also checked to make sure I wasn’t taking them all. They had plenty left. I went to the register to check out with my 4 year old son. I get the the register put everything on up to check out and the cashier saw what I had and call a manager over to her register. The cashier wanted to see my coupons and I said no you can’t and what was the problem? The manager said I couldn’t use the store coupon and the manufactures coupon together because there was a .35 overage and I asked if I could add a filler and she said no. I then stated she was wrong about what she was saying and that I understood her policy very well. She stood her ground and said it was store policy. I then stated to her this is why I shop at Publix all day long because they will take Sweet Bay’s and all competitors coupons and not give you a hard time about it. She then turned to the cashier and told her don’t sell to her.

    I was so angry at what the manager did so I called corporate about this store and the manager. I was told my customer service that what the manager told me was not there policy and that they should of taken both coupons and I could of used the overage for what was left in my shopping cart or just added a filler to take care of the .35 overage. I new it and stood my ground.

    The manager from the Inverness Sweet Bay store did give me a call and apologized for the way I was treated and happy for this call because it meant that no one else had to go thru this embarrassing situation again. He also assured me that he would reeducate his cashiers and this manager on the couponing policy of Sweet Bay again.

    Cyndi hold you ground when you know you are right and if you have to carry there couponing policy’s with you because if you doing it right there should be no problems. Do this with a smile on your face because your a good persons not trying to cheat anyone out of anything. Good Luck and hope this helps.

  11. Armani says

    Please I NEVER goto WALMART because honey it does not matter what coupon I have their register NEVER NEVER accepts it and I tell them all the time they need to change their signs..very irritation and I shop and save more at Target because it’s like double couponing, here anyway in Vegas bcz no one doubles and they are always so nice and if a coupon does scan they accept it anyway.

    Don’t give up I still get it at certain places I go,store clerks DO NOT like us coupon ppl bcz we know how to get it and not pay, it’s just a fact. Keep do what your doing :)

  12. Mish says

    There used to be a King Kullen store close to my house (they have since been sold to Stop and Shop). Their published coupon policy was explicit: they doubled 5 $1 coupons per order (whether they were clipped from inserts or printable internet) and no more than 2 identical coupons per order. They doubled all coupons .99 and under.

    Unfortunately, a couple of their cashiers interpreted this as no more than 2 internet printables per order. Almost every time I went in I had a problem, to the point where I sometimes would only use 2 printables just to avoid the hassle. But one time I got so aggravated I politely explained the coupon policy (which was actually posted at Customer Service!) to the cashier, but she still refused to take more than 2 printables. So I left the items and walked out.

    Finally I decided to e-mail Corporate, emphasizing that the cashier was very nice and not at all rude, but very convinced she was right. The district manager called me that same evening and confirmed that I was right, sent me a gift card, and contacted the store to re-educate them about the policy.

    But here’s the funniest part of the story. I was very glad just recently (more than 18 months later) that I did not complain about the cashier in a personal way. My daughter recently became engaged, and her fiance’s brother is related by marriage to this same cashier! Saw her at a family party, couldn’t remember where I knew her from, until she told me where she worked!

    So the moral is: be nice, even if it isn’t easy.

  13. Suzanne says

    This is just about a weekly occurence for me. Not a lot of people use coupons where I live and b/c of that the stores around here aren’t very accomodating to couponers. Not to mention the looks I get – the “you must be so poor” looks but that’s another story (BTW, I laugh all the way to the bank – DH and I have 0 debt, a healthy savings, money in the bank for the kids’ college educations and no mortgage!). The worst offender is Target. They must not train their cashiers on their own policies b/c they really don’t know them. I just maintain a smile (99% of the time anyhow) and ask them to remove my items if they won’t budge. If I have time, I will take the issue up at Customer Service and frequently they relent. I do miss out on some deals but the amount I do save is still worth it in the long haul! As I said, no debt and coupons are a big reason we got where we are today!!!! Anyhow, if you can, find a couponer to vent to. After a bad experience, I go home and call my sister-in-law a state away and we swap “war” stories! Keep your chin up and don’t quit – it really does pay off – I am proof!!!

    • Susan Thompson says

      Geeeze – I thought it was just me:/ My worst experiences in this rural area have been at Walmart in Centralia IL – rude remarks by cashiers and CSMs alike – even when eventually accepting the coupons, and there’s ALWAYS an issue with at least one. I wouldn’t go back there, but sometimes they are the only place in town I can get the coupon-item I want. So thankful for this post – and now learning I can print coupons in ‘grey-scale’ to save on the ink is fantastic! In the alternative, I love our CVS store. Walgreens is good, but quite frequently don’t have their advertised sale items I have coupons for. Never had a problem at Schnucks, cashiers are always friendly, but they limit you to 15 coupons.

  14. Brittany says

    I work at customer service at a grocery store in florida that is open till midnight, and there is nothing that irritates me more then when someone starts to check out at 12:05 with their 2 overflowing carts of groceries, and a stack full of coupons. I don’t have a problem with coupons, geez I use them myself all the time, just be aware of when the store closes, and how long your transaction is going to take!!!

  15. Grammy Darlene says

    Unfortunately I have given up on couponing. I was so excited when I first got started, read every word on this site (still do) and followed every tip and every strategy. And yes I did get many great deals, but rarely the greatest deals everyone was talking about here, and always with a lot of trouble from all the places I tried to use my coupons. First of all I live in northern California not exactly a coupon friendly area…no double coupon days, and always a very small limit on how many coupons you can use and how many you can get with each coupon. And all those special deals that are going on from time to time…nope not here. With that and all the rude unknowledgeable cashiers and managers that make me feel like an idiot is just not worth it to me no matter how much money I could possibly save. I will still use a coupon from time to time when I know it’s a no brainer, but my binder is now collecting cobwebs. More power to all of you that continue to use coupons and save…way to go.

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