photo by timparkinson
Guest Post by Amy from Spin the Deal
There’s nothing worse than that sinking feeling that sometimes occurs after scoring a great deal. You know the feeling–that tiny nag that rapidly evolves into a gut-wrenching ache as it swoops in and bursts your post-bargain bubble of bliss.
You hastily scan your receipt only to find that your $5 coupon–the icing on the cake–was never credited on your receipt. Or, you’re all set to submit a rebate for reimbursement, when suddenly, after a frantic search, you realize that you’ve lost the receipt.
It’s happened to the best of us. Whether you are a novice coupon-clipper or a seasoned deal hunter, getting burned on a deal is inevitable. Here are 7 tips to help prevent getting burned followed by some advice on how to remedy good deals gone bad.
1. Read Coupons Carefully: When using coupons, make sure that you are following the purchase requirements (brand, quantity, size) to the letter. Not doing so can cause the register to beep upon scanning the coupon, and the cashier to either reject it, or to simply go on to the next coupon without noticing, thereby causing you to lose out on the value of the coupon.
2. Understand the Details of a Catalina Deal: Catalinas are coupons that generate at checkout based on purchasing qualified items and can be used on your next store purchase. Before purchasing items that generate a Catalina, be sure you know the details behind the Catalina deal (qualifying item, quantity, offer period). Also, check that there is a Catalina machine at the checkout. Some stores may only have Catalina machines at the front registers. Finally, after the Catalina generates upon checkout, make sure the cashier notices the Catalina and hands it to you before you leave the register.
3. Review the Rebate Terms: When purchasing items for a rebate offer, read through the terms of the rebate before making the purchase. Make sure it is worth your time. Some rebates are straightforward to redeem, while others require laborious efforts. Certain rebates require removing UPCs from products that can only be removed after consumption of the product. In these cases, make sure that you will be able to consume the product, or transfer it into another container, before the rebate redemption period expires. Also, whenever possible, assemble the rebate submission (cash register receipt, proof of purchase, rebate form) shortly after making the purchase, take a photocopy, and then mail it out before there is time to lose any of the submission pieces.
4. Know the Store: Having a good understanding of a store’s coupon policy is key to not getting burned on a deal. Find out in advance whether the store accepts Internet coupons, expired manufacturer coupons, or limits the number of identical coupons redeemed per transaction. Also, when shopping at stores like CVS or Walgreens, which match number of items to number of coupons, make sure that you purchase enough items so that when combining store and manufacturer coupons, the register allows all coupons to scan without beeping or manager intervention.
5. Check the Expiration: Whether using a coupon or doing a rebate, check the expiration date to make sure that the coupon or offer is valid. Most rebates have a specific purchase period as well as a separate redemption deadline.
6. Be Attentive at Check-out: Although it pays to be friendly and get to know the store cashiers, when you are working on a complex deal, it’s important to stay on top of your game and focus on the transaction. Simply flash the cashier a friendly smile followed by a warm "hello," and then get ready to focus. This tip is particularly important when you have a large quantity of items and/or coupons. It’s easy to get distracted with chit-chat or digging through your purse for your wallet, but focusing on the transaction ensures that you receive credit for everything you are entitled to. Watch prices closely as items are scanned, and watch that every coupon scans successfully and lowers your total.
7. Be Friendly: Didn’t I just mention that we need to curb the friendliness? Well, yes, and no. Being friendly to the cashier increases your chances for a positive outcome on a complex or questionable transaction.
And, finally, here are some tips on how to overcome a good deal gone bad:
1. Check your Receipt IMMEDIATELY: Before leaving the store, it is critical to check your receipt. Make sure all discounts were applied as expected. Verify that all coupons were deducted from your total. Ensure that you have your Catalinas in-hand. If anything looks incorrect, go back to the cashier, manager, or service desk for an immediate adjustment.
2. File your Receipt: Select a specific pocket in your purse or a section in your wallet to file your receipts as soon as you receive them. This prevents them from getting lost or thrown away by accident, and makes them easily accessible for returns or rebates.
3. Make Photocopies: Lastly, when sending in rebate submissions, take the time to photocopy everything in the envelope. If there is trouble with the rebate, your photocopies will serve as backup proof of purchase.
Scoring the perfect deal isn’t always easy, but being prepared and vigilant can go a long way towards making every deal, a good deal.
Amy (a.k.a. The Deal Diva) is a mother of two young boys who loves the thrill of bargain hunting and teaching others how to spot deals and save money. Her passion for writing and deal hunting come together in her new blog.