Encounters at the Checkout!
As a consumer, you have had many, many experiences walking up to a cash register to pay for your purchases. We have all had good and bad experiences with cashiers, customer service and managers. Like many other experiences in life, we tend to remember the bad, and overlook the good. Here are some tips on dealing with the bad, and also being sure to acknowledge the good! Let's Start with You! When it comes to using coupons, here are a few things you can do to make the cashier's job easier, and your transaction move a little faster.
- Being educated: Know the store policies and if you are unsure, call and ask the store the questions you have. (or ask here in the comments!)
- Read Your Coupons: Make sure you are using the coupon on the proper items and note if there are any restrictions or limits on the coupons. Coupon Lingo is explained here.
- Be Organized: Have your coupons ready to give the cashier. I Always ask what they prefer: "Do you want to coupons now, during the transaction as the item is scanned, or at the end?" I let them decide as they know what they are most comfortable with.
Be Polite and do not anticipate a problem. As more and more people coupon, there are sometimes more issues to deal with, but the cashiers are also becoming more and more used to dealing with coupons. Be up front and make sure they know you have coupons, or are price matching. Often times they will shut off the light on their cash and focus on you, so other shoppers are not waiting behind you (this is only if you have a large amount of coupons and are price matching as sometimes it takes a little longer).
Some problems you may encounter:
- One Per Purchase: You plan to buy 5 deodorant and have 5 coupons (one per purchase), but the cashier insists this means One Per Customer or Order. I simply explain to the cashier that one per purchase = one per item. If they will not accept it, ask them to call customer service and ask for clarification. I actually carry an example of a couple different coupons in my binder, and show them if there is any question. (one per purchase is on 90% of the coupons out there) This is an issue that often comes up with newer cashiers and should not be a huge problem once explained to them. ALWAYS be polite and just assume they have not been told. You are now helping them learn the lingo to continue serving other couponers in the future!
- Wrong Prices Scanning: If you have an item scan incorrectly, be sure to tell the cashier. If they go to correct the price, always ask if they follow the Scanning Code of Practice. If so, and the item is under a $10 value, you get it free. If it is over $10, they will give you $10 off. This is a voluntary practice and therefore not all stores follow it. Check out the details here: Scanning Code Of Practice (SCOP)
- Printables: Most stores accept printable coupons, but may have limitations on them. If you get to a cash and the cashier will not accept a printable because they think it is photocopied, please understand they may have been told not to accept multiples of printables, or if they are only in black ink. Most store policies accept the printable in colour or black & white, but it is much harder to determine if it is copied when in black ink. If you can print in colour, this will help eliminate this problem. Also, if you plan on using printables, call the location you plan to use them at and ask if they have any rules around accepting printables. My standard verse is, "Hi, I have a question regarding your coupon policy, which I have on hand. It says that you accept printable coupons in colour or black ink. I am just planning my shopping and wondering if you have any limits or in store policies around using printable coupons."
- Store Policies: As a couponer, print off the corporate policies, and if you are planning a big shopping trip, call ahead to ensure they follow their corporate policy. Ask if their location does anything different or has restrictions. Write them down on the print out and get the name of the person you spoke to as well. As a Staff Member, please read store policies and note any changes made from time to time. Not every cashier is up to date on their own store policy. This is a pet peeve of mine. I understand that they are not all provided with this, but as part of your job you can look this up and print a copy to learn from. They should be provided to all staff upon hire, but unfortunately it does not always happen. Also, if there are changes made to policies, it needs to be clear to everyone, not just the consumers. If you are a cashier, please request your store's policies and if you are not sure about something, ask for clarification. ALL staff should understand the policy and terminology.
Things you can do to make it easier for the cashier:
- Highlight the expiry date (circle or highlighter)
- Circle the Canadian address to submit the coupon.
- Group all coupon purchases together on belt
- Offer coupons at the beginning of transaction or during as each is scanned. Ask their preference.
- If you have large amounts of coupons, let them know up front, some stores require a manager to authorize after a certain amount is entered.
- Always be patient and polite (this goes for both sides)
I hope this helps in some way to make your couponing experience more pleasant. Many people are afraid to use coupons because they don't want any hassles at the store. Trust me, cashiers are just as nervous sometimes when dealing with coupons. If everyone remains calm and polite, your transaction should proceed smoothly. Happy Savings!
Ruth Ann Swansburg
~the Moncton Coupon Lady