How To Deal With A Coupon Challenged Cashier
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Using coupons can be confusing. Even more seasoned couponers can occasionally mix up store policies or the location could have changed their rules and not notified anyone (don’t get me started). This can lead to money being lost at the register and frustrated shoppers.
Every once in a while the biggest obstacle of them all can appear- a coupon-challenged cashier. It can be for lots of reasons- insecurity, lack of training, fear of being yelled at- and is incredibly frustrating. I have been using coupons for almost a decade now and few things disrupt me more than when I have everything as organized as can be and the cashier still can not process my order.
In an ideal world cashiers would have extensive training on how to accept and handle coupons within their particular company’s policies. In reality new cashiers have so many things to worry about that coupons may have just been a passing glance in their training. Less than 3% of coupons available in the paper each year are actually used so while coupons may be a very normal part of your life, they aren’t for most people. This means that only a small percentage of purchases at the store will have coupons above and beyond the shopper card.
Still, as a shopper, there are some things I can do before, during and after my shopping trips that can help me know How To Deal With A Coupon Challenged Cashier.
Before You Get To the Store
- Review and print the store policy and bring it with you to the store. Most store chains publish their coupon policy. Print a copy and stick it in your purse or coupon binder. That way you can reference it easily. Also there is a chance your cashier has never seen it before.
- Develop a relationship with your favorite stores’ cashiers. On your visits to your favorites stores develop relationships with the cashiers (even when you aren’t using coupons). That way you can go to a friendly face and perhaps have an easier time.
How To Deal With A Coupon Challenged Cashier
- Have your coupons ready and double checked before you get to the register. Before I check out I pull my cart over into an empty aisle and review everything. I make sure the coupons I want to use have not expired. I double check that I have the proper amount of items necessary (i.e. if the coupon is $1 off of 2 that I grabbed both). I put away any coupons I was planning on using but decided against. I want to be 100% ready when I get to the register.
- Practice cashier profiling. Yep I said it. What are you looking for at the register is a young, male cashier. Not because you want to do anything dishonest but because they will be quick. My worst experiences have all been with female cashiers older than myself.
- Smile and be friendly. I know you might be nervous. Your kids might be screaming. Your phone might be ringing (please don’t be on it). But take two seconds, say hello and ask how the cashier is doing. Establish eye contact.
- Be nice to the people around you. The people in line behind you probably are not terribly excited about your stack of coupons. Especially if you are shopping at a less than ideal time (say 5:30 p.m. on the 1st or the 15th). Be aware of who is around you. This will make your cashier more at ease to help you if the other customers are okay.
- Be patient. Because of the rise in coupon fraud some cashiers are extremely cautious. They may stop and examine every coupon you have. Don’t lose your temper. It might take a minute more of your time but if you are being honest they will zip through them and you will be on your way.
- Ask for the manager. The manager on duty can clarify for both you and the cashier how a particular store interprets company policy. Many chains do leave some components of couponing up to a store manager’s discretion. The manager may not agree with your vision of how the transaction should work 100% of the time, but the exchange will help you a) decide in the moment whether a deal is still worth it and b) if a particular store should be avoided in the future.
- If you are paying with a credit or debit card do not swipe until you are 100% satisfied with the transaction. Otherwise you could end up with double charges in your account.
- Don’t feel guilty about walking away. If a deal is falling apart don’t feel ashamed to ask your cashier to void the transaction and walk away. Hopefully before you walked into the store you had a number in your head and if it’s not a good financial situation you need to leave. Some other store may be a better fit.
After Your Visit
- If there is a way take a survey give the cashier or manager positive feedback. Let corporate know if you had a good experience and that you used coupons. We have a terrible reputation so it would be nice to hear from coupon users who compliment- not just complain!