I have learned a lot about responsible coupon use in the last year from visiting your site. You have told us how to use coupons ethically and legally, but what do you do when people in line behind you get grouchy? -Jackie
We live in a fast-paced society where patience is often a long-lost virtue. Most people are in a hurry when going through the checkout lanes and less than thrilled if they get hung up for 15 minutes due to another shopper’s stack of coupons.
Here are a few suggestions for streamlining the checkout process and avoiding irritating other shoppers:
1. Shop During Off-Hours — If you can, try to hit the stores when few others are shopping — usually earlier in the morning or late at night. I’ve found that rush-hour shoppers are notoriously impatient.
2. Be Organized — Before you even get in line, make sure you have all of your coupons together and in order and your store cards and cash at the ready. Spending three minutes fishing through your coupon box or purse for a missing coupon is likely going to frustrate everyone. This is why I recommend double-checking all your coupons before getting in line to pay to make sure you’re not missing any.
3. Choose an Efficient Cashier — I always “scout out” cashiers before picking a checkout line to go through. Choosing an efficient cashier not only saves you a lot of time, but it usually makes for a much smoother checkout.
4. Be Courteous and Confident — Invariably, you’ll have some shopping trips where the cash register or cashier is refusing to accept some of your coupons. Politely and quickly explain the store’s coupon policy or why they should accept the coupon. If a cashier is unwilling to budge, don’t become frustrated; it’s not worth having a fight over a few dollars. Just ask them to remove the item from your transaction and give the coupon back to you. In most cases, so long as you are polite and courteous, it’s not a big deal.
5. Let Others Know You Have Coupons — If you have a lot of coupons and think there’s a possibility that your checkout might be a bit tedious, don’t hesitate to politely tell anyone who gets in line behind you, “I have a stack of coupons I’m using today, so it might take me awhile to checkout.” If you’ve warned them of this upfront, it’s their decision if things ended up taking awhile.
Those are a few of my suggestions on how to avoid irritating others when you use coupons. I’d love to hear your ideas, as well!
I love the idea about putting B1G1 items or free items at the end. I am sooo going to start that! I do shop at different stores with different types of coupons though. Our local grocery stores do not have anyone blogging to tell me the deals so I have to rely on the ad and walking around the store. Here are my stories:)
For almost a year I didn’t shop at Walmart because they were not accepting internet coupons or it was hit or miss if the cashier would take them. Then I went there with a bunch and was very successful. Since then I have found myself there when there were only older lady cashiers and I thought I was done for…well I found a women that loves seeing people get deals from their coupons and now try to remember who she is when I go there…granted I only go there once a month so I don’t always remember who she is but I think I have her pictured in my head now! I will take my coupons for items that I know rarely go on sale at other stores because they will have a standard price at Walmart…at our locate stores I only buy things that are on sale because if it is not the price is too outrageous.
Target-that is where I take internet B1G1 Free or Free coupons. Their cash registers know the price of the free item so the cashier does not have to type in the price. Makes it go very fast..the downfall…we do not have a Super Target so our food choices are limited and many times they are out.
Walgreens-many times they are out of whatever is on sale. Since I can’t go multiple times per week I am out of luck if they do not have it when I am there. They are pretty good with coupons however the check outs always fill up right after me!
I love this blog and others about coupons. I would never be able to get the deals I get if someone else was not behind the research. I am a mom of 3, 2 of which are 3 and under, work full time, and own another business. So thank you, thank you, thank you!!
I’d love to be able to go later at night, but at my local Meijer, the only lanes open are the self check out, & a cashier has to be called for every coupon….which can be time consuming! Also, I’ve had problems with cartalinas not printing (Meijer will often print a list of items to buy & what catalinas you’ll receive on the back of their flyer), when I pointed out that I had purchased the required products & my catalina didn’t print, they had no idea what I was talking about! I had to educate them and walk them through the back of their own ad to explain to them how they worked! Crazy….but I was patient & positive & it worked! Great tips to eveyone above!
Haven’t read all the comments so sorry if this has been posted already!
If I have coupons for free items, those are the first (or last) items I load onto the conveyor belt at the grocery store. That way when the cashier is ringing up my coupons at the end of my order, it’s easy for them to find on my receipt the free item to fill in the price on the receipt instead of looking through a ja-jillion items looking for where they rang it up.
I usually organize my basket with coupoon things grouped together. I’m kinda particular about how I like my things bagged, so I group those together, too. I do tend to put the coupoon items last so if they need to find anything, they can fairly easily.
I, however, don’t worry about other people. I’ve had to wait my turn in line more then once, so I don’t feel bad. Once you stop worrying about what other people think, life gets much easier.
I try to make the stack neat and keep the store/manf. coupons for the same item together. Young guys and gals definitly don’t care usually and will scan anything.
Tami laughing! says
Oh, this is SOO funny! I love all the war stories! If I have a big ol’ stack of coupons I always smile and say, “I’m gonna give you trouble today!” and wave my stack. They usually laugh at that and then almost always get into discussion of “every little bit counts.” Only a couple times have I had much trouble…always at Kmart. I don’t darken Target’s rude doors anymore…(shiver). I try to head for the young guys if I see them. They are usually fast and friendly. At Walmart I check out a lot in the garden center cuz they are usually bored and glad for something to do. Funny how much strategy we use to get a good deal. And of course, always, always be polite and friendly, even when others are rude. Be the better Mom.
I let people with just a few items step ahead of me in line. I also give people in front or in back of me coupons if I have them for an item they are buying. I shop early in the morning right after dropping my kids off at school so there are very small lines if any. Most clerks in this town know me and there are now only a few whos lines I will not go into.I have also given many of the clerks coupons if i have extras, or tell them where to get them. Treating others the way I want to be treated goes a long way.
I use post-it flags to mark the items I plan to price match. It saves time for everyone (the cashier, customers in line, and me). You can use the flags again and again. Actually I think I bought them months ago with a coupon.
Jenni @ Life from the Roof says
I’m not one for confrontation, so I usually go in with the expectation that my transaction might not go that well. But I echo the others – I try to go w/o kids when possible, go to cashiers who are usually friendly about it, and have all of my coupons organized and ready to hand over. I also try to keep the number of coupons down when possible, but usually my experience has been that if they have UPC codes on them, it doesn’t take very long to scan them.
Whenever I’m at CVS, it seems like there will be no one in the store and then EVERYONE will rush to the checkout at the same time! I hang back, double-check my math, and wait for the lines to die down. Also, if there is someone behind me, I let them go first. It’s a small CVS, so I am forever getting rainchecks and I always try to go to the same girl for them because she is fast and knows what she is doing!
Andrea Q says
@Catherine, This always happens to me, too! The checkout will be empty and then all of a sudden, everyone wants to leave at the same time.
To make my transactions smoother, I usually take no more than 6 or 7 coupons for my transactions. I also avoid coupons with any overages, these coupons tend to be problematic (except at CVS or Wags).
Mrs S says
I have tried to get to know some of my cashiers at Kroger, and I don’t see a specific “type” who is usually good or not good with coupons. I do have some favorites, from a 30-something single mom who loves to take notes on the great deals I get, to the 60+ gent who has worked for kroger since college. Thankfully the cashiers there are usually polite even if they dont understand the coupon policy (or coupons themselves!)
My walgreens, unfortunately is aweful. The cashiers (all of them) are very business like, but will accept no coupons for more than 1/2 the value of an item. They are NEVER friendly, but I have never experienced them being rude either.
I do like to group my coupons together, in case they beep, so say all of my juice coupons beep, the cashier doesnt have to push one through, then scan 3 coupons for pasta, diapers etc. before pushing through another juice coupon. I think most customer service folks like it when people make their job a little easier!
I am a very bubbly person so I always just try to smile big, be super friendly and appreciative for all their work & patience. I always double check my coupons and items and have my money read to go! This should be a no-brainer but just in case you haven’t gotten the memo: steer clear of your cell phone, there is nothing more obnoxious than someone on their cell phone when you are trying to help them (and that goes for going out to eat too!!) and yes, steer clear of the middle-aged or older women!!
I didn’t have any coupons but had several items and let the man who walked up behind me go ahead. Big mistake – he was using a coupon that wouldn’t work and then a gift card that wouldn’t work. No other registers for me and an incompetent cashier – I spent twelve minutes standing there.
In the last couple months I have had some very nice cashiers and some not so nice people behind me.
I went to Target one day, when the BOGO coupons for Herbal Essence was in the paper. I had everything ready to go when I go to the check out lane. I felt so sorry for the cashier, it was her first day. I politely apologized to the lady behind me that it was taking so long. She didn’t mind. The manager ended up having to come over and finish the transaction. If she had a question if I had bought an item, I dug through the bags and showed her the items. I thanked both the cashier and the manager on my way out.
I was at Staples last month, the cashier that I have a good relationship with was on shift. I politely waited for the line to shorten, I was doing multiple transactions. I had everything ready to go. At the end, we were talking and I gave here some of the meat/charcoal coupons that I was not going to be able to use before they expired.
For those new to couponing, be patient and polite and you shouldn’t have any problems. If you do, you can always finish your purchase and head to customer service.
I’ve tried the self-checkout before and when the register asked me “Do you have any coupons?” (which of course I did), it told me to give them to the cashier working at the self-checkouts and she scanned them. This was at Kroger. I thought all places were like this. I didn’t realize that you scan your own coupons at some stores self-checkouts.
If a coupon is just not working right, sometimes I’ll just ask for it back and try at a different store or on a different transaction. Last week I was using many coupons plus a Register Reward at Walgreens. The cashier was having difficulty and there were a few people behind me, so he called for a backup cashier. After calling up the manager, even he was unable to make my RR go through. I told them just to forget it and I’d use the RR on my next purchase.
So I went back through the store (after my first purchase) and looked for a few items that my family needed anyway to purchase with my RR. This time a second cashier had opened a lane. When I got to her, she scolded me like a child and told me not to go through the “speedy checkout” with coupons. I looked over at the “speedy checkout” and didn’t see any signs indicating that it was “speedy” or that there was an item limit. I said, “Really? I don’t see a sign that says it’s a speedy checkout. Plus, that was the only lane open at the time.” Then she rolled her eyes at me and said, “Oh, sorry.”
I don’t understand why they have to be so rude about it. We are not trying to cheat anyone or ruin anyone’s day. We are simply trying to take care of our families on a limited budget by using coupons and incentives that their stores create for the consumers to use.
I”m so glad to hear that others have coupon issues at Target. I am glad it’s not just me! I’ve just about stopped shopping there unless I have an amazing deal….pretty much stick with Publix…they rock!
When I first started couponing, I noticed a woman using a binder organization system in Wal-mart. As we were leaving, the other cashiers were taking bets on how low her total would be as the cashier was scanning in the coupons. It was awesome!
I always try to shop when I have plenty of time, so that if I run into a snag at the checkout I can be courteous and allow others to check out before the cashier and I go back and try to figure out what went wrong.
I also try to utilize Customer Service for any sticky situations that arise, that way I am working with someone whose job is to take the time to solve the problem (rather than a cashier, whose primary job is to take payment and get the customers through the store).
If there is someone behind me in line who only has a few items, I will let them go ahead of me. That also gives me extra time to sort through my coupons.
I have a coupon horror story! Last week I went into Walgreens to do my couponin’. The cashier had no clue about the coupon policy and it was becoming a hassle. The lady behind me was getting obviously frustrated so I was flustered and trying to hurry. Then when I finally made it out to my car, I realized I didn’t have my keys! When I went back in to look for them, they were nowhere to be found. Finally after talking to my son and the cashier that helped me, we realized the lady behind me had taken my keys!
@Autumn, Oh, my goodness! Did you get them back? If she paid with a credit card the store probably had her name (I don’t know if it’s legal for them to give out that info but I’m just thinking).
Jenni @ Life from the Roof says
@Autumn, I can’t believe she did that. It’s one thing to be annoyed, but stealing someone’s keys is almost like slashing their tires or keying their car.
i have a coupon list (yes, a list of my coupons) when i go to krogers. as i go through the store, i cross them off my list, and when i’m ready to check out, i go off to the side and pull them all out. that way i’m not hogging up the aisle when i shop. the cashiers at the grocery store never seem to mind my 80-100 dollars worth of coupons per trip. at somewhere like target, i pull out coupons for what i am going to buy before i enter the store, then go around getting what i need
The other day I did 5 transactions at three different Wags. At the last one I let several people go ahead of me, and then let a few people in between transactions as well. I only had one kid with me and was in no hurry! I have never had any trouble with cashiers at Wags. The only trouble I have is at Walmart, and I have emailed corporate a few times to get clarification on their coupon policy. I will keep a copy of their response with me so I have it next time I run into an issue with them, but usually I just avoid coupons at Walmart.
I have stopped shopping at my local Walmarts all together. They have a very bad habit of raising the prices on items for not apparent reason. It is always busy (even in the middle of the night), dirty and not so nice cashiers. I think the first time I set foot in a Walmart this year was in March when I went home for spring break. I don’t know if its because I live in a military town and Walmarts here know people are going to buy the products no matter the price or what is going on, but I do not like going into Walmart.
Andrea Q says
@Kara, Most stores raise and lower their prices regularly, based on local competition. Other stores (like Kroger and Albertsons) change their prices in a cycle.
I always pull off to the side after I check out and review my receipt. I’m usually still busy with loading my stuff on the belt or supervising the bagging to watch the display like a hawk. I avoid haggling with the cashier if something didn’t come out the way I thought it should. I always shop without my kiddo, so it’s no problem at all to head straight back to Customer Service to get the price adjusted.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve saved myself some serious dough because something came up wrong! One time I saw that the cashier had charged me for all of the reusable bags I brought in. I guess she thought I was purchasing them? Beats me, but that receipt review saved my tookus.
@Sandra, That’s one of the reasons I never use a store’s bag at their store, I’m paranoid that they’ll charge me as if it’s a new one. I actually prefer the ones you can get at the home improvement stores, like Lowes, anyway. They’re so sturdy because they’re meant to cart around heavier items.
@BobbiK, I bought a bunch of the $.50 reusable bags at Walmart, and they seem sturdier/bigger than some of the other stores’. I write my last name on the inside top of each bag and then number each bag with a Sharpie. That way it’s clear (or I can prove) that I brought them into the store (even at Walmart) and I know which number bags I need to take inside right away because they’re holding cold stuff. Once, someone took my shopping cart with one of my reusable bags in it, and I found out who it was based on the fact that my Sharpie-written-on bag was sitting in their empty cart =P
I always thank the person behind me with a smile for being so patient.
I let someone go ahead of me if they have less items than me
When I go into WAGS, the cashiers WANT us to check out with them. I almost always check out in Cosmetics. They love it because it increases their productivity AND not only do I share coupons but, I explain to them how to work the deals. I’ll even help them figure out if it is more advantageous to make a purchase without their employee discount. I often times give them product I have purchased and all they have to do is write the receipt number on the product I have given them. But honestly, I think the biggest draw is my mom. They love gramma!
when i first began couponing, i thought using the self-scans would eliminate potential cashier/line problems. now i never use the self-scan with coupons. it is guaranteed that your coupons won’t scan correctly, and by the third time the self-scan cashier has to give you assistance, you’re frustrated to the point that you wish you went through a cashier line.
Mary in Ohio says
I use the you scan checkout. It tends to be alot less busy because most people do not like using them, I however prefer them. My stuff gets bagged the way I want it bagged! At the store I frequent I shop with tons of coupons each week, I avoid 2 particular cashiers because they hate coupons and always make a stink about my stacks of them (The manager has made it clear that they MUST accept them all not matter what but they still get ticked about them) and I really do not need their stress. I generally do not have problems with the people in line behind me , they tend to want to see how much I save with coupons!
@Mary in Ohio, I agree. I put things on the roller in the order/way I want it bagged- it drives me nuts when they skip around and mess up my organization! 😉
I have a coupon horror story! A few weeks ago, DH and I went to a local grocery store. His mother had sent me and email with a link to a pdf file for 2 coupons: one free aluminum foil and one free velveeta. So I go to use the coupon on our shopping trip. It showed up as “fraud” on the screen. The store manager was called. They wrote fraudulent on the coupons and then wrote my store card number on them. I was freaked out to say the least! So now I make a point to triple check my coupons and not use any email coupons there!
Just FYI, those coupons are fraudulent. Be very, very wary of coupons for free items which come via email. Unless it comes straight from the manufacturer themselves, almost 100% of the time, these are fraudulent coupons.
Good for you to triple check coupons!
Erica @ Just Call Me Cheap says
I hand over an organized pile of coupons and always put the free items together at the end of the order so the cashier has an easier time finding them. If there is an issue with something ringing up wrong I go to the service desk instead of holding up the line. I also have my form of payment ready so that I’m not searching through my purse for my debit card. Even with all of these things people still get antsy behind me but I have learned to ignore them- I am doing what is best fo my family and going out of my way to make the transaction as efficient as possible.
Kerry D. says
@Erica @ Just Call Me Cheap, I try to prevent the “antsiness” by turning around, smiling, and apologizing that I’m taking extra time, and explaining that since I lost my job, I can help out a lot by doing this. So far, every time, they’ve smiled back….
I nead to know how to deal with irritating cashiers. It seems most of them always have an attitude with me when I hand them coupons! I don’t get it!! Some of them seem like it is their personal product that I am getting a discount on or as if it is being deducted from their check lol! I even had a cashier tell me at CVS this week that they no longer accept coupons (which is completely untrue). It actually made me want to quit shopping there, but then I figured that is what she wants! HELP!
When I have cashiers that are polite to me, especially if it’s one of those days where every coupon beeps, I will ask her to call her manager. When the manager gets there, I praise the cashier for her efficiency, patience, and politeness! I cannot tell you how many cashiers (and other in line) I have won over by simply speaking a few kind words! Try it!
@Kim, In addition to making it a point to compliment the cashiers to the managers, mention to managers in front of other customers that the great service at their store is why you keep coming back.
OH – I completely agree with you about shopping off hours. I’m a morning shopper, 9am or earlier. I can assure you that hardly anyone is there and then those who are there, are more like me – taking their time and trying to get a deal.
GREAT tips! I also think a humble attitude goes a LONG way. I mean, cashiers aren’t making a ton of money and they deal with the general public. Respect for them goes a long way toward future transactions as well. I also know the good cashiers in my local stores because I frequent them so often. Another thing I do is that as I’m shopping, I place the coupon on the side (say in an envelope, or paperclip them together) when the item goes in the buggy. I also be sure to to take out any coupons I didn’t use. I also try to pay cash as that is faster than using the debit card machine. But, I can’t say enough – be organized, humble, and kind.
@stephanie, i do the same thing, take my coupons out as i go along. saves time in the long run!
I feel like I have two strikes against me when I step up to the checkout counter- I’m using coupons and I have small children. Lots of times I’ve seen people get in line behind me, eye me and my children, then change lines. I do the same thing if I’m by myself, so I don’t really care! I find it helps to put my coupons on the counter so the cashier and the people behind me can see I’m using them.
You know, there are definitely the grumps about this- but I find shopping with my children an advantage. Maybe it is because I am (look) so young and don’t always have my wedding ring on, but I get a lot of help and sympathy at the register. People will talk to my kids, help me unload the cart, encourage my money saving… without kids I just have to keep apologizing for my coupons, lol! The worst is that I qualify for WIC, so I have to do 3 or 4 transactions at a time. That can get embarrassing.
We qualify for WIC as well. Sometimes it is frustrating to do WIC orders and then my regular grocery order. Sometimes, I try to do my WIC order on off weeks from my grocery shopping after I pick DS up from daycare. Other times I will wait to do everything at once. I still write the items on my grocery list (so I don’t forget them) and the price that is on the shelf and I highlight those items in a different color from my other items that I have coupons for.
I agree, young guy cashiers (teens-20’s) have always given me the least trouble when using coupons. I have even had them say to me “that was some AWESOME bargain shopping there!” 🙂 I definitely scout out the cashiers before choosing a line and will always choose a line with a young guy cashier first.
Mary in Ohio says
@Sarah, I have found the same thing here! I have the most problems with older lady cashiers, it’s like they are jealous of my savings!
@Sarah, I had a young guy cashier at Publix, though, and he was the WORST I’ve ever had! (Except for the middle aged lady who wouldn’t let my coupon double when the computer did double it.) He took every coupon, looked through the conveyor belt until he found that item(s), scanned the items, scanned the coupons, and then went on to the next item. It took FOREVER!!!!!
I just try to keep my transactions on the small side when I can, especially at Walgreens. I don’t get $100 worth of stuff for $1.97…I split it up among 2 or 3 stores that are all within a few miles of each other.
That way you don’t draw attention to yourself – you are in and out in a few minutes and you don’t strip the shelves of everything on sale. Invariably, I don’t find every item I want at every store anyway, so this gives me flexibility too, and I’m not driving all over town because we have Walgreens everywhere here!
The Coupon "High" says
When I am doing multiple transactions, if there are people behind me I finish the transaction I am on and go to the back of the line. Takes a little longer, but avoids people getting upset and gives me time to get my coupons all in order.
Blaire Ruch says
@The Coupon “High”, this is what i do too! especially at walgreens, when i sometimes do 3-4 small transactions.
I have done this at Staples and CVS. As long as the cashiers are ok with it. I always ask if I can do multiple transactions.
Milk Donor Mama says
I often shop with my 3.5 yo, and I’m currently 9 months pregnant, so I too want to get out of the store quickly! I almost always have coupons. In fact, when I go to Meijer for this week’s groceries, I have a whole bunch of them I’ll be using. To me, coupons are part of the transaction. It’s a method of payment. No different than someone using a WIC voucher that requires price inputs and verifcation for each item, or Food Stamps, or someone who’s writing a check- all those take more time than cash or a credit card. The self checkouts never seem to accept coupons properly like a human cashier does!
I do tend to choose from a few cashiers that I like the best if they’re available. If not, I also try to pick young male cashiers. They seem less picky, have less attitude and just want to get you through without the hassle. The worst seem to be the older ladies who have nothing better to do than sort through your coupons before they ring anything, verify you have the item, then do the same thing again at the end when scanning the coupons. I’ve even had them question store coupons I’ve printed from store websites such as meijermealbox.com!
Sarah's Deals says
I too will try to find a coupon or two to hand to the person behind me. I do it to give them a bit of a sense of the value of taking the extra time.
I also hand out coupons to the cashiers if they seen interested and are allowed to take them (some stores actually tell them not too take anything from customers). I like to warn people stepping in as well.
All very good tips.
The one I would add is to build a relationship with the cashiers. Stick to a few that know you, go at the times they will be there and they will be aware that you are a legitimate user and give you fewer problems. It will speed up the process for those behind you!
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Wondering if you’ve read it? 🙂
Elizabeth Horton says
Read the article on http://www.consumerist.com about the lady in the Kmart in Ohio who got attacked by a fellow shopper who was frustrated by her using a coupon. I found it kind of humerous that someone could get that frustrated by someone using a few coupons
@Wendy – most of us don’t do this… nor does this site advocate that kind of shenanigans.
@Crystal – I agree with the earlier poster about putting the Cashier in a bad spot. Having worked in Retail for a big company (a long while ago) I know that it’s against most stores policy to allow you to accept anything from a customer– You can be fired for doing so. It’s better to not put the poor cashier in a tight spot by offering them something they’d like to have, but can’t. Please, been there before and it’s SO uncomfortable.
Also, about the Target cashiers — I can’t say for sure that I know this is the case, but at the main competitor for Target, there are weekly and monthly ‘scan goals’ as to how fast a cashier can check you out– and there are usually monetary incentives for being the fastest. Just sayin… coupon holders slow you down and take you out of the running. If you’re struggling to make ends meet on the crappy pay you get… you’d likely be grumpy too…
I had no idea that Target cashiers are judged by their speed… But they are definitely fast. I have never had more than 5 coupons per shopping trip there (I have small trips) and have never run into a problem, but I definitely do understand why they’d get grumpy if someone shows up with a stack that needs to be verified… In a way the coupon scanning should be taken off their “speed limit”.
Now I’m thinking that if people choose the fastest cashiers for their weekly trips – then technically for their efficiency, they are taking some money off their paychecks by using tons of coupons…. It would almost be better for the cashiers to be not as fast and they wouldn’t have to deal with that many couponers…
@Cyrisse, I worked at WallyWorld for several years. Our bonuses were partially based on “items per hour”. If a couponer was organized, it really didn’t make a difference to my speed. Also, if the cashier presses the “total” button, the timer stops and they can reorganize your items at any time and then scan some more. What really got me was the stacks of clearance clothing that never seemed to have tags and the reusable shopping bags that fall off the bag carousel and won’t stay open.
@Carol, Well, that makes me feel a bit better and I hope it works this way in other stores as well. It’s just that if you return to the same cashier because they are fast.. and then use a stack of coupons to slow them down… then it’s almost like you are “punishing” them for doing their job well 🙂
Val in MD says
When I have BOGO or free coupons, I put those items on the belt last, so they’re easy for the cashier to find and write in.
eunice b says
@Val in MD, I usually put mine first so the cashier can get them done and out of the way. 😉 One thing the cashiers seem to love is that I write the price of the free item on the coupon since I’m already in the aisle looking at it. Saves them the time of writing it, too…they only need to verify it when it scans. 🙂
Val in MD says
@eunice b, Or that works too. 😀 As long as the coupons and items aren’t mixed in with each other, it helps save quite a bit of time. I had a bit of a nazi last week that got out her calculator to figure out the sale price to write in (rather than trust my word), and would’ve been quite annoyed if I would’ve written it in. Sometimes one just can’t win. LOL
I agree with Crystal that your best bet is to make judicious cashier choices.
@Val in MD,
I think this is one of the most important things. I keep the item and coupon separate so I can hand them to the cashier up front, letting her know that the coupon is for the free item, so she can note the price as she rings it up. Then she doesn’t have to go back and try to find it on the tape afterward.
– Oh, and after having raised three sons of my own, I always look for a young male cashier. They are usually more polite and flexible.
@Val in MD, Of course this doesn’t work in every situation, but I’ve found that building a reputation as an “honest” couponer (never trying to pass an expired q, always getting the product or size specified, etc.) means that at my local Kroger I can simply tell the cashier how much the item was and they’ll write it in without looking it up. Also, in the rare instance that I mistakenly hand them the wrong coupon or buy the wrong size, I apologize and make sure they know I try diligently to make sure each match-up is correct and that I wasn’t trying to pull one over on them.
And I have to add – YES – young male cashiers are the best though young female cashiers are usually almost equally so. I once had a young male cashier thank me for being so careful with my coupons as he said it was the first time he’d ever rung anyone up and not had any of them beep!
A courtesy to other shoppers – just because you CAN buy 106 of a free or more-than-free item, doesn’t mean you should! “Free” isn’t really free – every coupon you use means the store or the manufacturer is getting that much less money for their products, and it means they have that much less budget to allot to future sales. Also, if you go through and steal all the peelies off products you’re not buying that trip, or you buy out their entire selection of tapioca pudding, the person responsible for those regional coupons will notice – and the end result will be that your favorite store will be skipped over for future peelies/shelf coupons/specials in the future.
@Wendy, You make a good point about not buying a ridiculous number of something that you don’t actually use on a regular basis. However, neither the store nor the manufacturer are losing money when a coupon (or hundreds of them) are redeemed. Manufacturers budget for the number of coupons that are released, and a very small percentage of those released ever get redeemed. Stores are reimbursed the full value of the coupon (whether they give you any overage that might apply or not) plus a handling fee ($.08 or so). Store coupons are much the same, and are often the product of a negotiation with the manufacturer (where the manufacturer is actually paying for the coupons to be released). Stores and manufactures benefit when we use coupons, so I do not ever worry that they are losing money or being taken advantage of if I am using the coupon ethically and according to the verbage on the coupon. We should limit the number of an item we purchase in order to support other couponers, but we are not taking advantage of a store or manufacture to use 20 coupons if we have obtained them ethically and legally.
Check out this post about coupon redemption and why it doesn’t hurt manufactures or stores for us to use them correctly:
As for the peelies, though, I’m right there with you. They’re meant to go home with the person who buys the product 🙂
@Adriane, Stores actually make out in the deal. The are reimbersed for the value of the coupon and receive an extra 8 cents. I know of an Indiana chain that completely funds their accouting department through coupon use.
@Adriane, This: if I am using the coupon ethically and according to the verbage on the coupon. We should limit the number of an item we purchase in order to support other couponers, but we are not taking advantage of a store or manufacture to use 20 coupons if we have obtained them ethically and legally.
Is the KEY–there are people out there who are counterfeiting q’s and making copies they are not entitled to and other unscrupulous things which makes it more difficult for everyone (employees and couponers)
My thought is- Last month I spent around $30 at Walgreens. Previous to using coupons, I did not spend anything at Walgreens. I purchased my products somewhere else. So not only did Walgreen get my $30, they also got reimbursed for the $80 in coupons I used. This is money I would have not spent there previously, so they for sure made money.
@Adriane, Sure, the store doesn’t lose money on a manufacturer coupon – but between the store and the manufacturer, they’re still making less money for the same product. The loss comes out of the advertising budget – stores and manufacturers agree to take a small hit on a particular item in the hopes that a) more people will come to the store and buy non-sale items, b) people will try the item and buy more later, and c) people will see the coupon, have a positive impression of the product, but then forget to use the coupon when they buy it.
When we play the “game” and get free or more-than-free items on a regular basis, we’re messing with their profit equation – we’re still costing them the money to manufacture the products, but we’re not buying non-sale items or buying the item later when it’s not on sale.
Stores and manufacturers plan for this, but in the end it *does* affect their advertising budget. If the manufacturer budgets for (random numbers here) 10,000 coupons being used, they’ll print 100,000. That’s supposed to cover 10,000 new shopper impressions. If 200 thrifty shoppers each use 100 coupons, that’s already double their planned loss – and that’s not counting the other 9,800 expected coupon-users. So the manufacturer loses more money than they planned, and the next time they decide to do a lower-value coupon or limit the distribution or only offer coupons less often.
It’s not something that any individual shopper needs to feel guilty about, but it’s something to keep in mind. “Free” coupons are NOT free – each one that you use without upholding your end of the bargain, from the stores’ and manufacturers’ point of view (“your end” being “spending more money with them later than you would have otherwise”), takes a tiny amount of money directly out of their budget to produce more coupons. So use coupons for things you’re going to use, or stock up on, or actually give away (within reason), but don’t just use them because they’re there.
From my discussions with folks in the coupon-production industry, many times, they release coupons in different areas in order to gauge how much product to allot and ship to each area. So it often has little to do with saving people money on their product — it’s just market research for them!
I work as a cashier and I want to thank you for mentioning politeness when a coupon is refused. There are an increasing number of counterfeit coupons appearing online and being emailed around. It makes things difficult for everyone.
I love this article! 🙂 I do always scout out the cashiers before getting into line. The best cashier I had was an older woman who was so friendly and even when I maxed out the coupon limit and had to have a manager come verify my purchases, she was so cheerful about it all. I felt like I was winning at Bingo or something! lol. I do think that having some confidence helps, (I ‘ve built it up over some time.) I used to get really self-conscious and worried about imposing, but now I’m pretty organized and I think if others are getting impatient it’s their problem – maybe they’re just jealous! 🙂
About giving a free item to the cashier, from my own customer service experience i’d be shocked if they were able to accept it or keep it in the end. we could never accept anything from a customer. perhaps a better idea and a safer one (as to not risk getting them in trouble) is to have business cards handy and hand them one and offer to teach them your couponing ways sometime. seriously!
and i too look at what the person in front or behind me has and see that they aren’t using a single coupon and scrabble to see if i can find them one! it surprises me every time i do give someone a coupon that i don’t need or can’t use, how hesitant they are to take it!
@Luann, I usually offer to give the cashier the receipt that goes along with the item as well….well, assuming that it isn’t a receipt that I’m using for a rebate. LoL! They’re really relaxed about that at our stores. Perhaps it is just because I’ve done it so much and everyone seems to benefit at one point or another. 😎 There is such joy in sharing!
I do run into more grumpy cashiers at Target than at any of the other places I regularly shop.
I have this one lady at the Walgreens I frequent who actually gets a kick out of me, she’s even asked me questions about coupons and how I do what I do, so it might help her as well. That makes me feel good, to somehow help someone down the line learn how to save money for their family.
My ‘pet peeve’ is when I DO shop at off times and pick a line with no one in it and all of a sudden all 6 people left in the store want to check out the same time as I do.
that’s awesome! i always feel like the cashiers are the ones who should know how this works more than anyone and should be taking advantage of it!
@Nicole, Yep, and then they have the nerve to get all mad at you for holding up the line! That has happen to me multiple times.
Heather G says
I have just begun couponing and have found that if I have a problem at Target with coupons, I just let it go through and get the coupons that are having problems & take them with my purchases over to Customer Service. Customer Service seems to be more adept at dealing with coupons and verifying that what the coupon says & what you have match & have the power to override things. Takes a few minutes longer but this week, I was able to leave with what I planned to & save the $10 that the regular cashier couldn’t put through coupons for. And worst case, if they still wouldn’t, I could have just returned it there. Got me out of the line of irritating customers potentially as people expect the wait at Customer Service and the Customer Service agent was much easier & quick to work with in terms of coupons.
Melonie K. says
I haven’t had too many problems, but if I see someone heading to line that has less than I have, I invite them to just go ahead of me. If they start to decline, I do let them know that I’ve got a bunch of coupons and I apologize in advance for any delays. Some folks have actually purposely stayed behind me (mostly women) just to see how much I was able to save. 🙂
I try to return the favor – if I end up behind someone who has a bunch of coupons, I always make a point of cheering them on….most especially if the person behind me is huffing and puffing about it. It may not change the grumpy person’s mind, but it might give a little encouragement to the shopper who is trying to coupon, rather than making them shy away from it in the future. I’m old enough (and cranky enough, maybe) that I figure if they don’t like it – oh well! But I do know other younger folks who don’t have that level of confidence and will be less likely to use more than a coupon or two in the future because they are afraid of people confronting them in a line.
@Melonie K., “I always make a point of cheering them on.” Yay!!! That’s so awesome!
With a cranky toddler boy in one hand and my coupon book on my other hand I notice people usually turn around right away to go to another line. I do have my favorite register, a quick one who also makes my son smile. I choose to go food shopping while the kids are in school and in the summer I shop early in the mornings.
I like to bring both my coupons I’m going to use and my book as well jut in case I see a manager’s special or so. I also total my balance in my head rounding to the nearest tenth and love that feeling when he register tells me how much I saved!
@Margrath, For those who don’t have kids (mine are grown) if you have time and see a family w/ a child or 2 and the parent is trying to coupon get in line behind them at check-out and chit-chat w/ the child. It keeps the child entertained which makes it easier for parent and cashier to deal w/ the transaction (which puts the cashier in a better mood to work w/ YOUR transaction.
You’re so sweet!
Anna Larson says
@kr, I have four little ones and am always so grateful when a kind person behind me talks with the kids. It helps them pass the time without destroying the checkout!
I go early in the a.m. during the week or around midnight on Friday night. The seasoned cashiers who have the “20 years of service” dangling from their tags seem to be the hardest to reason with. I usually have two or three faithful cashiers that treat me well and are excited to watch coupons take down my total, and I try to find their lines. I also give coupons away to other shoppers – ie., diaper coupons when I see someone with a package in their cart; my son no longer uses them, but I love to give them to others. Seems to make everyone’s time at the store a bit brighter.
It’s midnight and I just returned from my weekly off-hours shopping trip. Shopping after the kids are in bed is my favorite time to go! I mostly have the same cashiers every week, and I love the speedy checkouts with my coupon stack.
@Julia, Ditto. I try to do most of my shopping after the kid’s are in the bed. There is nothing worse then a cashier giving you a hard time about a Q, mean while your children are whining and pulling at your pants leg, and there is a line a mile long behind you!
i also found shopping without the kids wrecking havoc through the store makes things better with cashiers. i avoid too late at night, though, especially at walmart. everyone has an attitude about having to work at night or serving you, which is their job!!!
Becky Buckley says
I love the suggestions on offer a coupon or a free item to the cashier. Any ideas on how to deal with grumpy cashiers? It seems every time I shop at Target, no matter the cashier (I do my best to switch it up), the cashier is super grumpy and seems “put out” that I have coupons. I am relatively new at this and still figuring things out. Every time I leave Target, I am boiling from the attitude at the check out when I should be basking in my deals….. I always triple check my coupons before I get in line.
Michelle H. says
I’ve had the same experience the few times I tried to coupon at Target or Walmart in the past, so unless it’s just an awesome deal I don’t even both anymore. Which is too bad for Target, cuz they’e pretty much lost all my business now.
@Becky Buckley, I would try to get the younger cashiers. I have never had an issue at Target until 2 weeks ago. I got a cashier that was in her late 50’s. She was super nice to me…then I handed her my coupons and it was instant attitude. It seems that lately, especially at Target, almost EVERY coupon beeps…even if they are completely legit. I got a trial size Degree deodorant for .97 with a $1 coupon…she examined the coupon and they reluctantly put it thought because it didn’t say anything about no being valid on trial sizes. Then I got 2 Suave Professionals shampoos and had a $1 Target coupon and a $1 manufacturer coupon. She tried to tell me I couldn’t use the coupons because I didn’t get the green bottles that were pictured on the coupons (I got the white bottles). I politely told her that the coupons said ANY Suave Professionals, so they are good. She grudgingly put them through and then said snidely, “I shouldn’t have put that other coupon through for $1 either”. I said, “Excuse me?”. She then said that she should have adjusted the Degree coupon down to .97 instead of letting the whole $1 go though. I pointed out to her that either way, the store would get the whole $1 back from the manufacturer. I was a bit angry and frustrated when I left. I can’t understand why they get so annoyed by coupon users.
@Angie, I always do my best to be polite to cashiers even if they’re impatient. However, I have had one instance where the cashier was absolutely rude and ugly to me. I did, in that one situation, go home and immediately call their 800 number. I can understand being frustrated by my couponing, but being mean is another story entirely.
Mary in Ohio says
@Angie, I just make a mental note of which cashiers are coupon friendly and only use them at Target. It seems at our Taget they tend to be around a lot longer than the others anyway!
@Angie, I seem to have more problems at Target too, even when I go a couple hours before the store close when there is less of a line. As for the buy 1 get 1 free, using those coupons pretty much guarantee that I will be at the checkout for a while.
@Angie, I think that Target “times” their cashiers on how fast they get people through the checkout (if you look on their screen when the transaction’s complete, you’ll see a time and percentage) & coupons slow them down. I’m not saying this is acceptable (I personally think it’s a system set up to fail on Target’s part) but it explains why they get nasty when presented with a stack of coupons.
Your right Target does time there workers I have a friend that works for them.
I used to work at Target and not only do they time their workers, but there is a lot of pressure to perform perfectly, so if you’re calling over a manger 1 out of every 5 times you deal with a coupon customer you’d get frustrated too 🙂
But it still is no excuse 🙂
Heather T. says
@Megan, Walmart also times their employees and items per min/hour and gives the average at meetings.
@Becky Buckley, I know exactly what you are talking about! I now have Target Customer Care # on speed dial on my cell phone. I have had several bad experiences at Target and especially with 2 cashiers/managers in particular. The last deal I was trying to get (scrubbing bubbles) involved several different q’s. I was treated as if I was cheating the “system”. I knew each q was legit and I was using them appropriately. So I simply told them to keep my stuff bagged up and I would return later. When I got home called the customer service #, gave them details/names of cashier/manager I delt with and attitude I recieved. They then called the store and got the manager on the phone I had dealt with and informed them of the Q policy. They then called my back and told me I could return to the store and purchase my stuff with my Q’s. Needless to say, when I returned the manager was soooo very helpful!
@Beth, Wow! I’m so glad it worked out for you!
@Beth, Now that’s the way to handle a problem! I’ll have to keep that in mind the next time I run into a difficult cashier! I would also agree that the worst cashiers seem to be women around my age (50ish). But, my favorite Rite Aid cashier isn’t too much younger than that.
From the other side of the register as to why cashiers get frustrated with couponers ( yes I use coupons also). 1. The store add lists a limit of three per customer so you get nine and want to do three seperate transactions. 2. While you shop your children are pulling down toys, etc. and you ignore the behavior. 3. You use a buy one get one free coupon then complain when the cashier tells you you can’t use a second coupon on your free item. 4. You want to do several transactions in one visit to use bonus bucks or rebate dollars. 5. Sorry but most cashiers know their store coupon policy and often the register dictates what the cashier can do so don’t tell them their job.
I can’t ever seem to make it out of a Target shopping trip without something not going well. I used to work as a cashier there years ago, and the whole time they are ringing up our transaction, they are being rated on their speed. If the transaction includes multiple free items they have to search through to enter the price for, their rating drops significantly. Every week their supervisor goes over their weekly ratings and goals for the upcoming week. It’s not fair that they are reprimanded in order to help us couponers with a successful transaction.
Becky Buckley says
@Amanda, Fascinating, I didn’t realize the Target cashiers would be timed in the transaction. Good to know and certainly explains a lot. Seems a faulty corporate policy if you ask me. Thanks for taking the time to explain this to me!
I have found that young male cashiers are the BEST! Quick, and they never question me or make me feel like I’m stealing, like many other cashiers seem to do! And being polite even if a cashier won’t accept a coupon is very important!
@Amber, I agree…though I find any young, male or female, cashier is best. I seem to have the most problems when the cashier is older…in the past, they have missed coupons or given me a difficult time over a completely legit coupon!
Jessica @ This Blessed Life says
@Angie, This is so funny! Couldn’t agree more. 🙂 Top choice: young guys – they will scan all that you have without any question. Second choice: young girls – usually no problems, either. *Worst* choice? Female cashier middle-aged or above – they typically give me the “you’re trying to rip off our store!” attitude. lol
@Jessica @ This Blessed Life,
me too! One nice (cute!! Can I say that?) cashier told me “I have to be standing here anyway, so it makes no difference if I’m scanning coupons or food”
i don’t know about that, i’ve had middle aged females being better about saving money/using coupons. they have asked me my secret! however, there was this one lady, about 50 i think, she was a bear! i dropped everything i had and left the store. it was at wags. i’ve never went through her line again, i go to the cosmetics or photo counter if she’s up front!
@Jessica @ This Blessed Life,
i love this!! the other day the line was pretty long and they opened another register with an older female cashier. they offered to take me over there, but i said ‘no thanks’. gotta stick with the young guy!!
yes, yes, yes!! I literally laughed out loud when I read your comment. I have first-name relationships with 2 or 3 young male cashiers at every store I go to. They ALWAYS take all my coupons; no questions asked. NEVER go to mid-to-older women! They usually seem to bitter about life.
I have to agree with Amber and Angie about older cashiers. It seems I always have difficulty with them. I bought 4 of the same item once, and used 4 coupons, and she accused me of owning a grocery store!
@Amber, Agreed that young male cashiers tend to be easygoing about coupons.
When it comes to female cashiers, I personally haven’t noticed a correlation between age and attitude. I’ve dealt with at least as many snotty young female cashiers as I have crabby older ones. The unpleasant ones are few and far between, though, thankfully! 🙂 In general, most of the cashiers at the stores I shop at are friendly and helpful.
Rachel K says
@Amber, I totally agree! I have some of my favorite younger male and female cashiers at my local Target. They do not pay attention, all the time, to the coupon, so sometimes I get overage! 🙂 I already know the worst cashier/manager to get and surprisingly she is mid-20’s early 30’s. I also know the slowest one there, so I try to avoid her line if I have many coupons.
@Amber, I always try to get a young, high school or college-age looking male cashier if I can.
Laura Jane says
@Amber, I’ve heard this, but this totally has not been my experience. In my local Rite Aid, the younger female cashier (who is actually a manager) is the worst and scrutinizes all my coupon purchases and makes up rules about how I can’t use a certain coupon. But the middle aged women are the nicest and best there.
Angie Wilson says
I always glance at what the person behind me is buying and if I can, I hand them a coupon for something in their cart. It’s fun, and always brings a surprised smile. Also, if I’m getting a lot of something for free, I might give one to the cashier, depending on what it is…..or give him/her one of my coupons to do their own deal later.
Wow! I would never had even thought of doing that! Just wondering, are cashiers allowed to take those items? I mean, they are working – so, would it be considered like a “pay”?
Blaire Ruch says
@Angie Wilson, I am going to start doing this! what a great idea!
@Blaire Ruch, I always do this if I have a lot of items. People appreciate it.
That is exactly what I do too. At our CVS and Walgreens stores, I usually get the same cashiers. We are now on a first name basis!! I always give them things that I am getting free. I don’t NEED 6 bottles of body wash, but I DO need to help others and make them feel appreciated. So, a bottle here and there and lots of kindness really helps when you’re “one of those coupon people!”
I have noticed that older people greatly appreciate coupons for any medications that they are purchasing. Most medication coupons are $1+, and that really changes a sour attitude when handed over with a smile!
@Angie Wilson, Our grocery cashiers are not allowed to accept items or coupons from customers but I do tell them where I get my q’s and tips for saving on their own shopping. Maybe it is because I am in that 50yo demographic but I’ve not had issues w/ older cashiers.
Great tips for newbie’s. The Jedi cashier is a must for efficient check outs.