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How to Deal with Not-So-Friendly Cashiers

Guest post by Stephanie from Couponing101.com

“Back in the day,” the customer was always right. These days though, it is fairly common to be argued with, be treated rudely, or even be accused of stealing — all because you’re trying to save money by using coupons.

There are, of course, some great cashiers who can make your store experience pleasant. This post, however, is about how to deal with the ones who make it not so pleasant.

When you have a bad experience at a store, you can always call or email customer service later. However, that can only take place after your experience. Here are some tips to deal with rude cashiers during your encounter.

1. Follow the Rules.

If you are purposefully trying to use a coupon wrongly, then you won’t get any sympathy from me. Make sure you know the store’s coupon policy and comply with their rules. If that store does not accept printable coupons, don’t try to “sneak” one in the stack. Just because every other store you shop at accepts them, doesn’t mean you should be able to use them at a store that does not.

2. Have a Conversation.

Cashiers are people too, and deal with the same things you do. They have bad days, deal with grumpy bosses and get stuck in traffic. Treat them the way you would want to be treated. Make polite conversation and make them realize that you are a real person too, not just a customer.

3. Be Polite and Confident.

When you sound like you truly know what you are talking about, they are much more likely to believe you. There is no need to be rude though. Becoming angry will likely cause them to become defensive and less likely to want to come to an agreement.

4. Ask for Help.

If the cashier is insistent on not allowing a coupon that you know should be allowed, ask to speak to a manager. They are just doing their job and they don’t want to get in trouble with their boss for accepting a coupon they shouldn’t. Also, asking to speak to a manager may make them rethink their reasoning for rejecting your coupon.

5. Ask for Proof.

If the cashier claims they have a new policy for not accepting printable coupons (or anything else), then ask to see a written copy of this new policy. Let them know you don’t mind waiting right there in line while they look for it.

You could also ask to use their telephone so that you can call corporate and find out for sure. If it is truly a new policy, they will be able to locate written proof quickly and won’t mind if you call corporate to verify.

It is helpful to carry a copy of the store’s coupon policy with you to the store in case a cashier is not familiar with it. Some policies are available on the store’s website, but if it isn’t then you can email them and ask for a copy.

Above all else, don’t let rude cashiers discourage you! In the long run, the benefits of couponing far outweigh the inconvenience of a few rude cashiers!

Stephanie is a stay-at-homeschooling mom of two young children. She blogs at Couponing101.com about coupon strategies and money-saving techniques that will make your cashier encounters far more interesting.

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91 Comments

  • Rachael says:

    Love the ideas. How about the people waiting behind you, though, as you are asking to call a corporate office? In my experience, people waiting for me to use coupons are generally a little impatient.

    • Melodie says:

      @Rachael, I usually ask if I can step aside and let others go while I work things out at the customer service desk. Cashiers are often ignorant or misguided concerning coupon policies. Customer service has all the info needed at their elbow and it is their job to take the time necessary to solve dilemmas. Other cashiers are simply paid to get me checked out as quickly and smoothly as possible without losing money for the store.

      In my experience, if the cashier needs to be trained better about coupons, customer service will take care of it so they don’t have to deal with me at the counter every week.

      • Rachael says:

        Good suggestion! Thanks!

      • chantal says:

        @Melodie, Loved your comment. The reality is that those who are the best at couponing often have more than the straightforward scannable coupons and it is time consuming for other people in line.

        If I plan to do anything out of the “ordinary” while shopping (price match, return an item, etc.), I try really hard to do it outside of the busiest hours so I’m not holding up the mom or dad just trying to grab a gallon of milk after work or the person on lunch break.

        Consideration of others is a value I try very hard to practice in a variety of ways and not holding up the line is one of those ways! (when possible of course)

  • Agnes says:

    nice article. i do the above but learned something new: asking for proof. Excellent idea! By applying the above my transaction usually goes smoothly. I do get comments like “But, you’re getting this for FREE” And i say ‘yes, that right.” With a confident / pleasant voice.

  • Christy says:

    I agree with Rachel, what about the people in line behind you who sigh and roll their eyes, when you pull out your coupons?

    • Janelle says:

      @Christy, Whenever I get a cashier who looks carefully at coupons (which is only her job) and I get the impatient people behind me, I tell the cashier to take her time there is no rush, If I have time to shop then I must have time to wait! That usually stops the foot tapping behind me and they get the message most of the time!

      • Aimee says:

        @Janelle, I can definitely understand your desire to stop the foot tapping but the reality is some people really do need to just run in and run out. I like to use the approach others have mentioned which is to smile nicely and apologize or to let someone go in front of me if they have few items or seem to be in a hurry.

      • Christine Lauren Walker says:

        I think the express lanes are there just for those people! 🙂

  • Jessica says:

    Thanks for this! I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who has experienced this. It’s so discouraging to be treated like a criminal for trying to use coupons legitimately. There seems to be a rash of coupon fraud in my area and this has made many cashiers and managers suspicious of anyone with a handful of coupons.

    • Melodie says:

      @Jessica, If they are concerned about a particular coupon, offer to put your contact info or copy of driver’s license on that coupon. If there is a problem, they can contact you.

      I’ve offered that before and they have usually been happy to let me use it without my handing over the info. It sort of makes them feel better to know that I am willing to be up front with them like that.

      Also, I teach them about recognizing fraudulent coupons. I tell them what to look for on a printable: water mark, fine print around the edges, separate barcodes, etc. I explain what coupon websites to expect to be posted on the coupon so they can check it out for themselves. They get used to my openness about coupon usage and start to trust me that way. I usually tell them about coupon websites that post warnings about fraudulent coupons. That way they can have a head’s up about what to watch out for before it crosses their counter.

      I also correct them when they make mistakes in my favor. The honesty makes them more comfortable with accepting my coupons.

      • Crystal says:

        Excellent advice on correcting mistakes in our favor. That is not only the honest thing to do, but it also goes a long way in proving yourself as an ethical couponer.

        • @Crystal,

          I always try to point out errors in my favor too. Usually I’ll be told to keep the extra money because their register made the mistake. I’ve also noticed when I don’t take the time to go back to customer service it always comes back around that I lose out more somewhere later.

      • Jessica says:

        @Melodie, @melodie,
        thanks for the extra info…that is some really helpful advice. I absolutely agree about pointing out errors in our favor! The last time I had a problem using several printed coupons I asked the cashier to void the items, which she did. Then ,as I was leaving, she was distracted and handed me back the shopping bag full of voided items. I could have walked away with about $15 of free groceries. Instead, I handed them back.

  • celia says:

    I have been getting the stinkeye at our local shop rite. It makes me not want to go there.

  • Sarah says:

    Don’t worry about the people in line behind you. I am a cashier and have been for 3 years and if I have a customer who is taking longer than usual or needs extra help etc. we almost always move the guest to another line. But just a tip it helps the lines out alot if you have your coupons ready to go and know or believe they are correct. also if you can do your grocery shop at a time of day thats not as busy it will get you through so much quicker and you don’t have to get those sighs or stares from other guests. In my opinion the best times to shop are during the week before 11:00 am and then about 2:00pm to 4:00pm and later in the evening after 7 or 8!!

  • Whitney says:

    The way I handle repeated bad experiences? I don’t harass the cashier (it’s usually not their fault), then express my complaint to the store’s manager by email or website. They usually call me and say they will take that into consideration the next time they train their employees.

    But one store in particular (my big, new Walmart) was so bad, I’ve stopped going there completely for anything. Target is pleasant, not overly crowded, and they welcome my coupons. They have my business!

    • Bree says:

      @Whitney, I had this horrible experience at Family Dollar. I teared up and finally broke down once I got home. The cashier AND the manager were both extremely rude and called me a liar when I pointed out the details of the coupon policy on their website. I emailed corporate and never received a response. (phone call didn’t help much either.)
      If I see a Family Dollar special in my mailbox it immediately goes to the recycling bin. If spending a few extra cents at another store means getting treated like a human, then so be it.

    • Dana says:

      @Whitney,

      Wow. Our WalMart is great. They used to have competitor specials posted right in the store so you could price match and they always meet competitor prices and accept their coupons.

      I’ve even had them inform me of deals at other stores and take off the extra.

    • @Whitney, I have problems with my WalMart too. They wouldn’t take the recent $5/5 Kraft coupon. The cashier was just being lazy and was extremely rude. I didn’t have time to wait for a manager or call corporate cuz I had a very tired baby that needed to go home. I just calmly took back the coupon. She quoted my price and I completely ignored her as I rifled through my bags. Finally I came back up with the 5 bags of cheese and asked her to remove them from the total. She huffed and puffed about it. I think she realized it would have been easier for her to just done the extra work to make the coupon go through than to have to take them back off my total. I’m actually glad I returned it anyway, cause I saw as she was removing them that I had been overcharged! I go to Target whenever I have coupons. It’s just not worth the trouble WalMart ALWAYS gives me.

  • Well-written post! It’s true that there ARE people out there who will try to take advantage of coupons, so it is important that we use them appropriately. You know what they say about one bad apple — so don’t BE that apple! :o)

    P.S. I’m going to share this on my blog.

  • chelsea says:

    Great article!

    Totally, totally agree with Rule #1 about following the coupon standards for each store. Besides the moral issue, I’ve found that if you frequent a store often enough, the cashiers know you. And if you’re trying to sneak expired coupons by them a lot or whatever, they will REALLY remember you! I personally do not want my reputation to be the “customer who’s always trying to cheat the system.” That’s why coupons standards get tighter, which effects everyone else!

    I do find that if you sound like you know what you’re talking about, the cashiers usually listen to you. But if they want to check up on a particular coupon (especially the freebie ones, since they see a lot of scams) I try to be as polite and gracious as possible. They are just doing their jobs, after all, and don’t want to be yelled at later by a manager.

    Above all, it is so NOT worth getting into a fight with a cashier over one or two coupons. Especially if its an isolated incident. I simply finish out the transaction and pick somebody else to ring me up next time I’m in that store. If I find the store to not be customer-friendly after several tries, I take my business elsewhere. Simple enough.

  • leah says:

    oooh great article – ditto the above responses though that state that part of the “coupon discrimination” is from those behind us in line! I get alot of dirty looks and foot tapping.

    I have the most trouble at Target – they have the worst customer service of all the store I go to – and there I get treated like I am robbing the store when I use the coupons – I have almost decided never to go back – but I am not quite there yet 🙂

    • Allison says:

      I hear you. I stopped shopping at Target months ago. I have never had a good shopping experience using coupons there…. It’s too bad, too, because so many couponers post such great deals there. But it’s too much of a hassle for me.

    • Heidi says:

      @leah,

      Same here, Leah. My Target does the same thing to me.. and it’s amazing how many coupons ring up at the wrong price, giving $.50 off when it’s really $1.00 off, so it’s a bummer you have to watch so closely. A lot of times, I just ignore it, mostly because of the angry mob building up behind me!

      • Cherie says:

        @Heidi, I’ve had that happen to me at Target, too. I asked them to match the price on a carseat from the Target on the other side of town (exactly the same but $20 less) and price matched and used coupons on some organic baby food. They made me feel like I was stealing. Then when I got out to the car and scanned my receipt, I saw that they only took off $.50 for each of my $1.00 coupons.

        • Heidi says:

          @Cherie,
          It has happened the last 3 times I’ve been to Target! I’ve keep the receipts. It’s kind of like they’re stealing from the companies that give the coupons, because Target will get reimbursed for that full $1, but they only took off $.50. 🙁

        • @Cherie, You can price match one Target to another? Do you have to have an ad? I have 2 Targets near me. One is really close, but almost everything is MUCH higher ($.70-$2 more per item) than at the other store, which is only a couple more minutes away. However, the closer store is usually better with coupons (or was, before the recent coupon troubles at all Targets).

          I recently bought a pair of boots on clearance for one of my daughters at the normally higher-priced Target. I went back to get another pair for another daughter, only to see that they were now on clearance for 75% off, but they didn’t have the size and style that I needed (3 styles were all the same price clearanced at the same time). I went to the other Target, which is usually less, to see if they had any left. They had TONS of them–and they weren’t on clearance at ALL! I asked about it, and they double-checked the price, but they were certain that they weren’t on clearance at their store.

          Every time I’ve asked, I’ve been told that different Target stores have different prices on items.

          Items that are usually posted as being free or really close to it on this blog and others are SOOO much more at the closest Target. Does anyone else find that they have different prices at their Targets than what is being posted on couponing blogs, or even within a close distance from one another?

        • Cherie says:

          @Cherie, I don’t know if they’ll always match the price from store to store. I only happened to see the difference because I ran out during my lunch to the store closer to my work (there was a big sale on carseats that week and I wanted to compare a couple of them) and after I researched a little and made my decision, I went to the one closer to my house. We have 3 in my city and I’ve also noticed that one usually has the best clearance prices. I try to hit that one first! 🙂

  • Marie says:

    Great tips! Thank you! I have to agree that being polite and pleasant goes a looooong way.

    Quick question: a lady gave a presentation at my MOPS group today and said that you can use a particular coupon on any item as long as it’s the same brand. ie: you could use a golden graham coupon for cheerios. I have never heard that and I’ve been doing this for a long time. Have you found this to be true?

    • Crystal says:

      No, that is very unethical use of couponing. See this article for more: http://springsbargains.com/print-coupons/coupon-ethics/

    • shelly says:

      @Marie, That is very scary that someone did such an unethical presentation at a MOPS meeting. It is those types of people that make stores quit taking the “ethical” coupons!

      • Marie says:

        @shelly, She is a strong Christian woman, and I think she knows her stuff. It was just that particular coupon question that had me kind of wondering…

        I would by no means consider her an “unethical couponer” just maybe confused about this particular point. Let’s face it: there are lots of things that are kind of iffy so it can get confusing! ie: using a bogo coupon and a dollar off coupon on the same item. Some stores are totally ok with it and some are not.

        • Crystal says:

          @Marie, I would strongly encourage you to gently question her on this practice as it is unethical and could get her in serious trouble with her stores. In addition, it could cause problems for everyone she is teaching as well. It is very important that people understand coupon bar decoding is always wrong and abusing the intent of a coupon.

          Okay, I’ll get off my soapbox now. 🙂

    • Tammy says:

      @Marie,

      You aren’t over seas shopping at a commissary?I know the coupon policies are very different for commissaries.

  • Brittany says:

    I am a cashier at a grocery store and I can testify that there are fraudulent coupons floating about the internet, which is why we often get flustered when a customer comes through using internet coupons, I know that for my store we have to get a managers/higher authorities permission before we can accept an internet coupon for a “free” item (not bogo however just plain free) or for an internet coupon totaling over $5. A few months back there was a coca cola coupon floating about the internet that was a fake however many of them were accepted before figuring this out causing our store to lose lots of money, and there is also a Doritos coupon that does the same thing (which I actually let slip by me on accident one day.) Unfortunately one bad apple ruins things for everyone, it’s not that we (cashiers) hate coupons, we just don’t want to get written up for doing something wrong.

    P.S. I use coupons out the wazoo 🙂

    • Crystal says:

      I agree! This is why it’s so important to make sure and only print coupons from reputable sources (i.e. the manufacturer themselves or a printable coupon site). If you get an email forward from a friend with a PDF high-value coupon, I can almost 100% guarantee you that it is fraudulent.

  • Maura says:

    I’m trying to send you an e-mail for Wegmans deals and it keeps telling me that the message looks like spam. I know this comment doesnt’ have to do w/ your post, but I wasn’t sure how to let you know that I can’t send e-mail. Any suggestions how to fix this??

  • heidi says:

    I just want to encourage all your newbies to not let it get you down – you have the right to save money and eventually you will develop a thick skin and learn not to take it personally or make you feel sad from the confrontations. Try to just be as sweet as possible and if they won’t take the coupon – then take the item off and spend your money elsewhere. I have been doing this for years and just last week a lady behind me in target got mad left her stuff sitting in line and left the store, because she thought I was taking too long. I have the right to shop, use my coupons, and take as long as is necessary to do that. I am not hurting anyone – I did wait in line too. I told the checker I was sorry and she said it was ok – not my fault. Try to just be pleasant – sometimes it is hard, but if you don’t get mad you feel better about it later knowing you were nice.

    • Bree says:

      @heidi, I am going to copy and paster your comment along with this article. That is good advice. The only time I’ve ever left a store was when the cashier SLAMMED my sodas on the end of her table thingy (sorry, not sure what it’s called). My husband grabbed me by the hand and we walked out of the store. In the car we called the store to apologize for leaving, but they said they would review the tape. I’ve never seen that cashier again.
      If I seem to be taking too much time in line I always turn to the person behind and say, “I am so sorry, but in this day I think we all need to save money.” Most of these people are shocked that I apologize and nod with a “that’s okay” mutter.

  • Tami Bernard says:

    Thanks for posting this article. It seems like 95% of the time I use coupons, there seems to be a problem…I’ve been wondering if it is worth the hassle. Most of the cashiers in my area are very kind, some encourage coupons, but there are a few who treat you like a crook.

  • Katherine says:

    I love everyone’s comments! I think most cashiers are very nice and do their jobs well. A very few seem to be jealous (or something like it) and are a bit hostile. A few are uninformed. Yesterday at Staples, I purchased 2 Post-It Notes on sale for $1 each, using the coupons on their website which would make them free. The cashier handed the coupons back to me and told me I didn’t need them since the items were already on sale. (Can you believe that??) I politely requested that she run them through, which she did, and only then did she realize you could use coupons on items on sale. She was impressed that they were free. Wow, she must have been out sick on coupon training day. Bottom line: Always check your receipt before you leave the store.

    • Jenny says:

      @Katherine, Katherine, I know just what you mean. I have often thought that some cashiers seem jealous or treat you like you’re taking the money right out of their own pocket. I love, love, love the one’s who are actually excited for you when you save more money than you spend. Those are the times that I am sure to call the store manager or email the corporate office to praise the cashier.

  • Christina says:

    Thanks for this post, I’ve recently discovered this site and gotten more into couponing and there are times due to a bad experience that I’ve almost found myself nervous when I get to the checkout line. Its sad that some fraud is making it difficult for the rest of us to legitimately save money. Though lately, as a couple other comments mentioned, I’ve experienced the most rudeness from other customers. I actually had one woman behind me in line comment loudly to her friend about how many coupons I had and they both had a good laugh about it. I ignored it but was tempted to hand them my receipt.

    • Allison V. says:

      @Christina, I hear ya! So often I get this sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach, because I never know what I might come against with a cashier, and I am so non-confrontational! But usually I have nothing to worry about, and everything is fine! Except for Walmart….I hardly shop there anymore! And there is one location I won’t go back to, because I was treated so rudely not only by the cashier, but by the manager too!

      • Jenny says:

        @Allison V., I think Walmart has a terrible coupon policy, too and have emailed the corporate office to voice my opinion with no response from them. I just think that company is so big that they don’t care about the customer or if they lose a little business due to their coupon policy. Since Walmart doesn’t double coupons I don’t go there for anything unless I have a coupon that’s worth more than a dollar. I find that Meijer is cheaper on alot of things anyway.

  • Corrie says:

    May I propose that there is also a place for just letting things go? If you are like me, you frequent the same stores. As a follower of Jesus Christ, I want to be a light to the cashiers and managers that I come in contact with on a regular basis. If it comes down to making a big deal over a coupon or just graciously returning the item OR *gasp* paying 55 cents more for the item ;), testimony should trump every time.
    Of course, that doesn’t mean I won’t write a polite email when I get home or think twice before shopping there again. And I would also add that it is RARE that one would have to make this call. But it’s definitely something to keep in mind!

    • Crystal says:

      I totally agree. This is my philosophy as well and I try to re-iterate this often on my blog. If there’s a question/problem, I politely state the coupon terms/coupon policy and if that doesn’t work (it usually does), then I just politely ask them to take it off my order, or (depending upon the item/price amount), I’ll just pay the extra. It’s not worth $0.55 to ruin my testimony!

  • Courtney says:

    Great suggestions! I have only been at this since the beginning of summer, but I’ve already managed to save a lot of money.

    I did find the people behind me in line very intimidating at first, with their glares, sighs, and foot tapping. Then one day I had an idea. Very casually, I checked out what they are buying. Just a glance to see what a few of their items are. If I notice something I KNOW I have a coupon for in my notebook, I very kindly say, “I don’t mean to be nosey, but I have a coupon for that if you’d like it.” So far I have never been turned down, and the foot tapping-sighing-glaring attitude stops! For me, giving away a fifty-cent coupon and changing someone’s attitude is worth a lot more than the coupon itself. Just a thought. 🙂

    • Katie W. says:

      @Courtney, I love this!

    • Bethany says:

      @Courtney, I do this too! It usually makes their day when I save them money too!

    • Sherri says:

      @Courtney, Great idea. I jsut normally just let them know that I have a lot of coupons that I am using. they can stay in line, but it may take a while to check out. I do this to all customers that are behind me when I have lots of coupons to use, especially at the grocery store and Target. I may have to do what you are doing if someone is kind enough to wait, especially if their is a problem with price checking or having to call a manager to see if I can use a coupon on a travel size product to get the item(s) for free.
      Thanks for the info!!!

  • Rebecca says:

    Funny I just had a bad experience with a Target Cashier today! I had everything organized and made sure all my items were correct per the coupons etc. I was courteous but she was NASTY. I think she studied each coupon so long she earned a master’s degree in coupon on top of being rude. She finally did the whole transaction but rolled her eyes and acted like I was doing something bad. I was polite and thanked her but as I walked out of the store I decided that I am going to make more of a point to recognize the cashiers that are polite and actually provide good customer service as well as doing the surveys when they don’t. If every customer took the time to do that maybe we would finally see some positive changes.

    • Heidi says:

      @Rebecca,
      Very good idea about the surveys! I’m going to start doing that, whether they’re good or bad.

      • Leah says:

        @Heidi, I do the surveys everytime…*especially* if they’re good. I’m sure that the stores get lots of complaints, but the cashiers who are friendly and do their job well deserve to be recognized, as well. If a cashier questions my coupon, but then handles it appropriately (i.e. checks for the item, or asks me if it’s ambiguous, then pushes it through if it’s legitimate), I give them positive comments.

  • Kymberly says:

    My .02 is to NOT wait until the end to whip out your coupons.

    I always hand them over at the same time I give them my customer loyalty or similar card. Many coupons, particularly any BOGO of “free” coupons require the cashier to note the price of the item and giving them the coupons and placing those “tricky” ones on top go a long way to speeding the process along.

    I may lead a charmed life but I have never noticed anyone get antsy over my using coupons. I have, however, had people ask me about the savings/deals, how much I save, etc.

    I’ve also had cashiers give kudos and kind of good naturedly “one up” me “yes well YOU Saved X much but I had a lady the other day? She saved XX much!”

    • chelsea says:

      @Kymberly,

      I place my coupons in a stack on the counter right at the beginning too. I’ve even had cashiers ask me straight out before ringing anything up if I have coupons for free items (or BOGO) so they can keep an eye out and note the price as they go along. That was helpful! I also write the price on the side of the BOGO items to help speed along the process, but they usually end up scrolling back through anyway just to verify.

    • Allison V. says:

      @Kymberly, I put any “Free” items at the end, so the cashier can easily see the prices right there on their screen instead of searching through the big long list.

  • Abby says:

    Thank you so much for this article! I do tend to avoid local stores that seem to be anti-coupon. (My Safeway and Rite Aid both have a number of cashiers that are difficult.) Fortunately, there are TONS of stores in my area, so I content myself with doing deals at our friendly Giant, CVS, and Target.

    I had a loonnnngggg checkout with a rookie cashier at Target earlier today. All the classics – the manager had to help, customers behind me sought other lines. But I remembered all of the great advice I’ve learned here, stayed very positive, and my transaction was processed correctly. At the end, the manager thanked ME for helping to educate his new cashier, and for being so prepared. It made all of my time worth it. 🙂

    I don’t know if any coupon bloggers would ever do this, but I’d love to have a place I could go print out a certificate for my favorite cashiers. There really ought to be a day to celebrate the diligent, courteous cashiers who help us save money.

  • Francine says:

    This tip works for me when presented with a grumpy cashier. I look the sincerely and straight in the eye and say ” Are you ok?” Either, they’ll take that chip off of their shoulder or, something is really wrong. I’ve had people open up a little and felt comforted by a stranger.

  • Becky Thomas says:

    I was also a cashier for years, and you have to keep in mind some of the things they go through. For every customer who follows all the coupon “rules” there are at least 10 that do not. This was at least 20 years ago, but to this day I still remember this customer. The store that I worked at had a system that would “beep” coupons when the item didn’t match or was expired, etc. Unfortunately, that meant we had to go through all their bags to check to see if they bought what they should have. This one customer had a coupon for cents off when you bought two items. She had only bought one. I politely explained to her that she had only bought one and the coupon required a purchase of two. Her response? “Can’t you give it to me anyway? You know your store has sold enough that they will get their money back.”

    Unfortunately, customers like this are the ones that make cashiers scrutinize every coupon against every item. It’s the sheer numbers of these that make them roll their eyes when they see that handful coming.

    I know that doesn’t excuse the rudeness. I never excuse rudeness. But I also believe in “walking a mile in their moccasins.”

    • Sherri says:

      @Becky Thomas, I had an AVON customer like that. The nerve of her!!! AND SHE THOUGHT IT WAS HER GODLY PRIVILAGE.
      Seh always wanted to purchase the special deals without a purchase, like hand creams for $1. she no longer has an AVON dealer. I hope she does not learn about couponing. she use to try to screw me to death, so I just geve up on serving her. I’ve got better things to do on a Friday night than to be treated that way.
      Thanks for listening

  • Great article. I specifically appreciate the statement not to let rude cashiers discourage you.
    My very first “coupon” experience was at Walgreens and it was horrible that I left the store in tears. They were wrong about some things, I was wrong about some things, and I attempted my first drugstore game trip with 2 toddlers (not recommended!). I almost stopped right there out of embarrassment and frustration. I came home, cooled off and when my husband came home went out to another walgreens and completed the transactions I had planned.

    When it goes right, it’s AMAZING. It’s seriously a thrill to save so much money. When it goes wrong though…don’t let it discourage you! If I had, I wouldn’t have saved all the money I have! We’re talking thousands of dollars!

  • Tina says:

    I hate when cashiers tell me “The coupon says one coupon per purchase” so if I have 2 tides and 2 coupons they will only let me use one coupon. I never know what to say back to the cashier because technically the coupon does say that. A lot of coupons says that. Does anyone know of a good answer?

    • SRJ says:

      @Tina, each item is a separate purchase, whether they are the same or not.

    • WilliamB says:

      @Tina, I point out each item is a transaction. If that doesn’t work I say, in a pleasant voice, “Sure. If you want to take the extra time and inconvenience everyone in line behind me by totalling each one up as a separate purchase and having me pay separately, that’s fine with me.”

    • Jess says:

      @Tina,

      Some cashiers new to coupons think “one per purchase” means you can only use one “like” coupon per transaction. The best way I’ve been able to explain what it really mean is to ask them, “Ok, how many am I purchasing?”

      Each item equals a purchase and all those purchases together equal a transaction 🙂

  • kriswithmany says:

    My cousin told me about customers at Walmart that would purposefully confuse the cashier into giving incorrect change. This happened to her more than once. It is a stressful job, and when you understand that, you understand the level of respect they deserve. Smile, look them in the eye, and remember it’s a real human being on the other side of that counter. 🙂

    • Sydney says:

      @kriswithmany,

      I used to work at Wal-mart, and I had people do this a lot. I also got all kinds of crazy counterfeit money. Seriously, if it’s too small, crooked, and I can see the inkjet dots, do you really think I’m going to accept your “money”? LOL

  • karen says:

    Awesome advice. I always go out of my way to compliment cashiers who make an effort and are nice about my stack of coupons. I share coupons and printable links with my favorite CVS cashier.

  • Natalie says:

    Great article with great advice.

  • Amy Lauren says:

    How ironic that the picture in the post is a Wal-Mart cashier. Our Wal-Mart is horrible toward couponers! They won’t price match if you have a coupon, and they scrutinize everything. I finally just stopped shopping there at all. I coupon the right way, but they made me feel like I was a criminal or something. Fortunately, with the good deals at CVS and Target, and the grocery stores like Harris-Teeter & Bi-Lo I can usually avoid walmart…

  • WilliamB says:

    My first rule is be polite and pleasant, even if the other person isn’t at first. Often a gentle response turns away wrath … well, grouchiness. If that doesn’t work I get forceful and stand my ground but I NEVER use bad language or raise my voice – in addition to being a stain on my soul, doing so makes it less likely I’ll win. If I know I’m right and the cashier doesn’t give, I ask for the manager or I don’t buy the item. Another trick is to take the manager’s name, this has the effect of letting them know you’re serious. Once, when a manager accused me of lying, I asked for his name and then for ID so I know he wasn’t lying.

    My usual store is very accommodating so I rarely encounter problems with coupons. The most likely problem is that internet coupons don’t ring up – I’m told that ink jet printers can print the bar code lines too thick. Most of the time the cashier can enter them manually. If not, I decide whether it’s worth the time to ask for the manager. I guess the customers are accommodating also because I rarely get the hairy eyeball over using coupons.

    I have my coupons matched and out (and cut!!) before the cashier starts on my order – some like to check coupons against purchases as they go, which I fully understand.

    This isn’t about cranky cashiers but if I have a lot of coupons I count how many I’m using and how much they should save me, and ask the cashier not to put my coupons in the envelope/slot/drawer so we have them in case the machine (*never* the cashier) makes a mistake.

    I usually do fine at Target but I had to write a nastygram the other day. I was stacking mfgr coupons with Target coupons, using four coupons to buy four items and get a Target card back as well. The fourth coupon wouldn’t ring up. Cashier and manager both said that you can only use three coupons per transaction – or maybe just for that deal, they were unclear. What was clear is that this limitation is not in any written Target policy: not on the coupons, not in the flyer, not in the store, not on the website. This, in case you don’t know, is illegal. I had to use all my rules: be polite, be firm, ask for the manager, take names. We’ll see how Target responds.

  • I don’t use alot of coupons, but I have found that if i get a pleasant cashier, i go out of my way to make her/his day. find those cards that commend an employee and write it down. I go to the same store every week, and often use the same cashiers. I am sure they get tired of me……
    I have gotten my share of rude cashiers, i will even change lines if I see one that I know is grumpy…..but honey catches more flies than vinegar. (I do live in a smaller town, so there is a good chance they will know you!)
    I don’t shop at Walmart unless I absolutely have to, mainly because of their lack of customer service. It is frustrating….

  • Samantha Franklin says:

    As a cashier, I would just like to thank you for this post. <3

  • Sherri says:

    I about cracked up laughing when you posted a sales person at Walmart (I assumed that it was Walmart, because this is my number 1 store I avoid with coupons because of two reasons. Number one is that the prices are all over the place. YOu can walk into one Walmart and get charged one price, and walk into another and get charged three, even 4 times as much. Tough to save the most money possible. Second, is that every time that I have a coupon, they call out the coupon police, which adds another 15 minutes to my shopping time, with them comming up with every excuse in the book on not to accept any of my coupons. With Target just about a mile more away, I just do most of my coupon shopping there. Plus there is more of them in this area than Walmarts. Plus the cashiers are sooo much friendlier.

    Tell you what a great idea that I have been doing lately. If I have a few extra coupons, especially if I am getting things for free that I plan to give to charity, I give them some of the coupons. Hey, they work hard, and take a lot of heat from many of rude customers. I have made some great friends by doing this, ones that keep me posted on the great sales that are comming up, just by doing this. At Kohls, I have al lady that lets me know what items that I can get for $5 and for doing this, I give her a couple of $5 coupons for her to shop there. I plan to doing the same at Victoria Secret too since that I have found a store that goes out of their way into helping me, and lets me use multiple coupons, as long it is on multiple purchases.

    I never did get around to reading everybodies email, so I realy do not know what everybody is doing. It is now 1AM, so I really should be in bed. But I do plan to come back tomorrow to read everybodies response.

    Oh, I will add one comment. I avoid Dollar General in Manassas, like I avoid the plague. Only was in that store once, and the manager would not let me use my coupons there. His excuse was that the $1 coupon had on it in fine print that the coupon value was 1/20th of one cent, meaning that the coupon had no cash value. this was a manager, not an employee. It took him 45 minutes to come up with this excuse, and having me hold up the only line that was open. Over half of the customers left. (In case if you do not know this, all coupons have this statement on it. It was put on during the great depression because people were selling coupons which is technically illegal but done all the time. This is why when purchasing coupons on ebay that they must state that they get their coupons for free, but are paing for their time to find cut and sort which leagally that you can do. anotherwards, you are paying for the service of them finding, cutting and sorting them and not the purchase of them. (trickey, but definetely legal).

    Anyways, avoid Manassas Virginias Dollar General. The Manassas Park one (or is it the park one) is great. The only problem that I have with them (and I assume it is all the dollar generals) is that they do not take coupons over the amount of the item. their systems are not set up for this. so if you purchase something for 99c and wnat to use a coupon for $1, you can not use it. Even if you do not wnt the penny back. Tax does not mattter either. It is just the way their systems are set up, aned there is nothing you can do about it.

    YOu can, if you get their sale ads taek them over to Target. I believe that they will match their price so that you can use your manufacturers coupons, if it is worth the penny or if Target is closer. The only problem with this is that we do not get this sale ad in my newspaper, and I would have to travel about 20 miles to get it. If I am not over that part of town for other business (use to go to school which had one about 5 miles away… right next to one of the best “Big Lots” in Sterling that I have ever been to. But that is over 30 miles and I do not have classes over there this semester, so I willl have towait intil they have another 20% off deal at Big Lots before making the trip. (they do have the best prices on furnature.) check out the prices on their white Rod Iron patio furnature at $99 for a three piece set. This goes for over $300 elsewear. You may have to wait until the springtime for this since they go rather fast.

    Anyways, have fun shopping and remember that these cashiers take a lot of flack from people, so for us being nice to them and rewarding the ones that treat us nicely and go the distance will make shopping a whole lot sweeter for us.

    Anyways, take care and enjoy shopping and saving!!!
    Sherri

  • Sydney says:

    Thanks for this post. I strive to prepare myself for grumpy people and/or shopping trips that won’t work, but it can be so hard. I’m just a mom trying to save a few pennies.

    The other day I had a high value coupon that a local grocery would not accept that I had gotten off of their website. It was $5 off $25, and the cashier couldn’t figure out how to key it in. She was very nice, but the other employee she asked for help from was not. This other employee would not even look at me or talk to me, but only talked to my cashier. They were both standing right in front of me. She made a big deal out of how they don’t accept internet coupons (there was no sign saying that in the store), and she even went so far as to act like it wasn’t the same store name (which it obviously was — I had gotten it off of their own website — gah!).

    This infuriated me that she not only would insult my intelligence but also make me feel like I’m a thief and she didn’t even have the courtesy to speak to me. I said nothing, and I just left.

    Then I sent feedback to the website and got a personal email from the president of the company apologizing. That really meant a lot. I’m not trying to scam anyone, and I was excited about their promotion which I really needed to use that week as we were down to our last pennies. I think stores should clearly post their coupon policies by the registers for both the cashier’s and customer’s benefit.

    I used to be a cashier too, and I know what people try to pull. But it would be nice if store employees would treat customers like humans.

    I think it’s just too stressful for me to use coupons. It’s too much of a fight, and I just can’t deal with the drama.

  • kimme says:

    I had the worst experience ever at my local Target a few days ago. I wanted to buy 6 Vaselines with 6 Target coupons and 6 Mfg coupons and the cashier said I couldn’t do that. I asked to speak to a supervisor and the supervisor told me no. I showed the coupon policy to her and she said “Fine, but you have to go and get back in line for every single one of them”. I said “Okay”. A higher ranked supervisor came by to see if there was a problem and I explained to her that I would like to use my coupons for the items. She said to me “The coupons say one per purchase, so you can only buy one”. I explained that that means one coupon per item, and that it does not mean one coupon per transaction per customer. I showed her the Target coupon policy. She took it from me, took a quick glance, folded it and handed it back to me. I said you might want to read it. She said, “No, I already know it”. I said, “Then you should know that I am allowed to purchase these”. She said, “BUT I”M GOING TO LET YOU BUY ONLY ONE”, then said to me “You have a nice day, okay?” and walked away while I was trying to talk. Her tone was very disrespectful and unprofessional. She belittled me in front of everyone around us. I was so unbelievably angry but still forced myself to say “Thank you, Raquel”. I almost cried. I went home, called back to speak to another supervisor in which he told me she was in the right, but apologized to me about how I was treated by Raquel. I still wasn’t happy so I asked who the store manager was. He won’t be in for another 7 days. I have been so angry for the last few days, but it is starting to subside. I still will call the store manager when he returns. I wrote to customer care in which they wrote back and completely dismissed the whole purpose of my letter. Target is about to lose me as a customer.

    • Milk Donor Mama says:

      @kimme, I had a similar experience at target recently as well. I had a printed copy of the coupon policy with me and the manager was so surprised her “rule” was not on there that she asked to keep my printout!

  • kseahag says:

    My CVS is wonderful when it comes to coupons! The cashiers are always amazed at how little I end up paying and are always couteous. I guess I’m lucky 🙂

  • Tammy says:

    The article was good to remember today when I was at Target.

    Here is my facebook staus of what I did:

    Target cashier:You are busted.I sent a copy of the $5.00 off Kraft coupon along with a letter and copy of my receipt to show the manger that you were in the wrong.Break stone 16 oz sour cream is a valid product to use on the coupon.Only in CO,LA,and ND it is not applicable.

    Cashier would not believe me that the coupon could be used for Breakstone ,in her mind all had to be Kraft.I didn’t want to keep arguing so I got 2 cream cheeses.

  • Libby says:

    As an honest cashier and a coupon user I understand why cashiers say no to certain policies and take issues with a few things that were said and what to clarify others.

    First, don’t just know their policy. Read the coupon. I have customers come through and literally yell at me because they didn’t read the back of the coupon and it excludes certain items. I don’t make the coupons. Cashiers do not have anything against them or you. Read your coupons and understand what they mean. Don’t be a jerk. We are people too and chances are, we have dealt with 20 other people that day who have decided that we are all thieves out to destroy bargain hunters plans. I am a bargain hunter so I know what you are going through. Go through a line 2 or 3 times if you can only use one coupon per transaction. If that is the policy, do it and don’t act like it is the cashiers fault because they don’t make the rules.

    I so appreciate people who treat cashiers like human beings. We do have bad days. However, just because we are having a bad day doesn’t mean that we don’t want to use your coupons. I try my hardest to use coupons but if something I am doing does not work with company policy, I literally cannot ring up a coupon. My register will stop me and have big red letters on it. This is a tough economy and stores are making it difficult for cashiers to be “nice” and just override coupons. Sometimes I tell customers I will ring their items up in separate transactions but that is the only way I can do all their coupons. If a cashier says that, don’t get mad. Be thankful that they are doing their best to provide you with awesome customer service. Be polite and confident but don’t treat cashiers like they are less of people or uneducated. Being a cashier is a tough job and takes a lot more work than most people realize. Show them some respect and common courtesy. In this economy, you never know how educated a cashier might actually be!

    Most good and experienced cashiers will call for a manager if they know that their manager will override the coupon. I have been a cashier for 3 years and know which manager will override the coupons and which wont. If they aren’t there, what is the point in asking. I don’t get commission on how many coupons I can turn away and I don’t lose money on my paycheck. Try asking a cashier if there is a manager that would be able to override the coupon instead of flustering the cashier by saying “I want to speak to a manager about this” or “I want corporate’s number.”

    It is rude to tell a cashier that you will wait in line and block up traffic while a cashier has to go scurrying around waiting on you hand and foot. They don’t get paid enough for that. Yes, bring a copy to the store! Cashiers will appreciate this!! If the cashier is not familiar with it, they will call a manager up to explain how the policy works on the machine.

    If you truly do have a run in with a cashier who is clearly stealing, talk to their manager first. I have had to do this before when I saw a cashier pocketing parts of her customer’s change. It happens all the time. Don’t embarrass a cashier, even a bad one. Always look for the manager yourself or find a different employee to get a manager for you. Life in a retail store runs much more smoothly if customers and cashiers don’t make scenes.

    I appreciate customers who respect me as a person and work hard to please them whenever I can. Don’t be rude because, trust me, the bigger scene you make, the more likely the cashier will remember you. That’s why cashier groan when you hand them a stack of coupons. It isn’t because they don’t want you to get a discount. It is only because there are people out there, you know who you are, who bring in coupons and make a huge scene every time. Be nice and the cashier will be nice to you.

  • Janelle says:

    I think most of us would have better experiences if they they had more trainings and add couponing to the list. That way nobody has their rules or misunderstandings. If you are not a regular couponer like some of us out there are, than it can become confusing, I feel bad for some and then there are people that take things upon themselves to be nasty. I used to be a cashier and never received any training on handling different scenarios. I just remembered to be pleasant no matter what and if customer was not happy, then I involved my supervisor to deal with it. Supervisors could use some trainings too! 🙂

  • Nicole says:

    I know that this is true…there ARE rude cashiers. But, as a cashier, there are a few things I wish customers knew about us….

    1. I have no control over the price of an item. I don’t determine the price, nor do we know the price of every item in the store. That is impossible. So I DO appreciate it when you graciously point out a discrepancy, like if an item doesn’t ring up for the correct price. I am HAPPY to fix that for you! Just please don’t get mad at me for it. I can’t control how an item rings up in my register.

    2. I have to follow certain policies or I could lose my job. I do not have the authority to determine any policies or rules. You can ask all you want, but I have no authority to let you use a coupon that is invalid (or whatever situation you find yourself in). I certainly don’t mind if you ask for a manager, because that IS their authority. A cashier is kind of on the bottom of the totem pole in this situation. 🙂 Please don’t humiliate me just for doing my job.

    3. I am human. I need grace. I have talked to a LOT of people today, and dealt with a LOT of issues. I’m trying to be cheerful and polite, regardless of what goes on. But I may appear a little down at times. A smile would really go a loooong way for me at this point!

    I am very blessed to work at a small family health food store with a GREAT customer base and friendly employees. But that doesn’t mean we don’t run into our share of drama, either. 🙂 I KNOW there are cashiers out there that can make your day miserable as well, but the Proverb holds true that “A soft answer turneth away wrath.” This goes for both sides!

    Trust me, kindness from the customer – even if there is an “issue” – will really change the day of the cashier. Cashiers everywhere thank you for it!

  • Jlaa says:

    I’ve encountered many cashiers who simply resent the fact that some customers use coupons. They will read a coupon over and over again, hoping to find an exclusion of some sort. It is pathetic behavior. If you can’t find anything “wrong” with the coupon (no matter how hard you try) then scan it and move on. Better yet, learn to stop being anti-customer simply because you hate working as a cashier.

  • Charlotte says:

    Hello, grocery store cashier here 🙂

    I can only speak from my experience, so this may not apply to every store or cashier, but I feel pretty comfortable saying that it’s probably the same most places.

    As a general rule, we don’t mind coupons, even if there are dozens or some are complicated. We understand better than most the importance of saving every penny, because most of us make minimum wage. In all likelihood we probably coupon too.

    If you come through my line and you say “I have three separate transactions, 32 coupons and a dozen price matches.” I don’t think anything of it. I might even admire your bargan hunting skills. I’ll definitely call someone to open up another line if someone is available, but that’s about it. 99% of the cashiers I know will not hold anything against you.

    But the best thing that you can do is to come prepared. If you are going to use a pile of coupons, have them ready and out. Don’t make us wait for 15 minutes while you dig through your purse to find them. Don’t wait until after we close our drawer and bag up your groceries and hand you your receipt to say “Oh, and I have coupons!” If you are going to price match, have the ads ready. I can’t speak for all stores, but the ones I’ve worked for all required that we have a physical ad before we could price match anything, and the store I work at now requires us to call a manager to approve any price matches. The computer requires a special passcode for price changes. If you have separate transactions, please have some sort of system for which items go with which transaction. Just be prepared and you shouldn’t have any trouble.

    If you do encounter a problem, please stay polite. Our jobs come with zero power, we don’t set prices, we don’t order the stock, we don’t set the policies. We do what we are told and that’s it. It’s fine to ask nicely to see a manager, but screaming at us is not okay. I’ve had so many things thrown at me and I’ve been called so many names for things that I can’t control. Every cashier gets screamed at at least once a day by a customer and it isn’t at all unusual to find them crying in the back afterword. And most times, if the customer gets upset, the cashier gets punished, even if it wasn’t our fault, because we are expected to keep the customers happy.

    I know some people have had bad experiences with cashiers and coupons, and I’m not excusing those cashiers, because the job is to be nice, no matter what, but I do understand why it is difficult sometimes. Some cashiers have had bad experiences with couponing customers, some are tired and frazzled, some are unconsciously taking their irritation with other customers or our managers out on you and some are just inexperienced. I once had a woman throw a can of chicken soup at my head because I told her that I couldn’t accept her expired coupon (which only took $.02 off the can anyway). She demanded I call a manager and he honored the coupon and the woman proceeded to berate me for being so incompetent for a good five minutes. It states in our coupon policy that we can’t honor expired coupons, but that doesn’t matter when it comes to keeping the customer happy. Long story short she got her $.02 and I got a nasty bruise and a write up.

    That’s not a standard couponing customer, most are perfectly lovely, but just like there are some cashiers who are just not nice people, there are also customers who are not nice people, so we tend to be a little wary.

    In most cases, as long as you are nice to us, we will be nice to you. Our desire to help you is directly proportional to your attitude.

    Also some bonus tips- not related to couponing, but your cashiers will love you for them.

    Don’t ignore us when we ask how your day was and if you found everything okay. (This means hanging up your phone before you come to check out. Either call them back, or wait to check out.) We genuinely want to help you. We will be incredibly nice to you if you answer our questions, and if you ask us how we are, it makes us want to hug you. Im not kidding, one nice customer makes up for an entire week of bad ones. A little love goes a long ways.

    Don’t tell us how you just printed this $50 or $100 bill this morning. We have to take counterfeiting seriously and this could have some serious ramifications for you. It’s not even that funny of a joke. (This applies to jokes about robbing us or using a fake ID to buy alcohol as well. We are required to report this and you can get in huge trouble.)

    There is nothing that will make a cashier hate you faster or more intensely than making the “If it doesn’t scan it must be free”joke. It wasn’t funny the first time we heard it, and it’s not getting any funnier. I hear this joke at least 100 times a day. Every single day. Sometimes more than once per customer if the barcode is stubborn. When we hear it we force ourselves to smile and laugh, but we are probably fantasizing about stabbing you. Remember the time your kid went around the house singing it’s a small world nonstop for two weeks? It’s like that.

    And finally, don’t say any variation of “You must be new here.” Not to us, not to your friends or the people in line, or to the other workers. Just because we do things differently or don’t know something, it doesn’t mean we’re new. It just means we were trained differently. Training varies so much depending on the person doing the training, and everyone develops their own way of doing things. It’s like cursive writing. It’s all the same words, but majorly different writing styles. With a few exceptions, we know what we are doing. The majority of our work is judgement calls, and everyone’s judgement is different.

    Anyway, now that I’ve gotten that ridiculously long rant out of my system…

    Awesome article! These tips are great and they will most certainly make your check outs go a lot smoother.

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