I have been getting e-mails from lots of you lately about your coupons not be accepted at local stores. The first few I thought were a fluke but after receiving many more I started digging around. It turns out that many stores did not properly train their employees for the bar code changes that were occurring this month.
If you are a fan on my facebook page I linked a while ago to an article from a fellow blogger that came out last month. Due to the significant number of people who have been using the UPC bar code on coupons to commit coupon fraud your coupons now look a bit different when you print them.
If you pull almost any coupon out of your book/envelope/binder you will notice the coupon most likely has two types of bar codes on the bottom. One is the UPC code (it usually starts with a 5) and a longer more complicated one. It’s called a DataBar code. The UPC code is going away and the DataBar is now going to be the new normal. Retailers that scan the DataBar will experience automatic expiration date checking, a reduced need for bypass codes that don’t require product validation, reduced cashier intervention, improved scan rates and increased speed of checkout.
“The DataBar barcode contains much more information than a UPC code does. For example, it accommodates longer manufacturer identification numbers, which check to see if you purchased the correct item. Also, since there is minimal human readable text, this means the end of barcode decoding” (source).
Because these DataBar codes are more complicated it will be harder for people to cheat the system. That’s the good news.
The bad news is, many stores haven’t prepared their cashiers for the changes. Stores have known for a while this change was coming (it was approved January 1) so they have already upgraded their computer systems. Walmart and Target cashiers have to use the hand held scanner in order for it to work- sliding the coupon the way they normally do it will not read it. If the store that you are in will not accept the coupon, ask them to use a hand scanner or manually type in the code.
Please remember to be patient with your cashiers and store managers- often times they were not given the correct information. But trust that these printable coupons are not fradulent- Coupons.com, RedPlum and The Coupon Network have all switched over to the new codes.
I hope this helps you through this switch over. In a few months all of this will be bad dream!