Questioning Coupon Policies – Part 3 of 3

Questioning coupon policies

Photograph Credit: Flickr (Karen Lee)

Coupons are great tools for saving money. When I used coupons on regular-priced items, I saw a few dollars in savings. But when I matched coupons with buy one, get one free deals and sale prices, then I found the deep discounts and have not turned back.

Using coupons is not always easy. Sometimes the store employees do not understand the corporate coupon policy which keeps trips to the grocery store interesting.

During this summer, I broke out of our normal routine and checked out with unfamiliar cashiers and visited different locations.

Since I usually shop at the same locations around the same time frame, I have my favorite cashiers who have come to know me. When I question the coupon policies, they understand that I work within the rules and am not seeking to defraud the system. In returning to my favorite locations, I am enjoying the quick trips without discrepancies with their coupon policies.

Today is the last post in this three-part series – questioning coupon policies. I started this series with competitor stores in Part 1, addressed doubling coupons in Part 2, and will finish with competitor coupons.

Part 3 – Competitor Coupons


Competitor coupons are store coupons issued by one business and accepted at another chain. For example, Publix distributes store coupons in their weekly advertisements, advantage flyers, and mailings. In my area, Bi-Lo locations treat and accept Publix coupons like Bi-Lo store coupons.

The Coupon

One week in July, Publix released a $5 off any $30 purchase store coupon. With a huge Huggies deal at Bi-Lo that week, I choose to use my Publix coupon on diaper purchases.

Having collected 3 Publix coupons, I put together 3 identical transactions. I was stocking up on Huggies diapers with a sale ($8.99 per Jumbo pack), fuelperks! promotion (bonus $.10 per gallon with the purchase of any 3 participating products), 3 manufacturer coupons for $1.50 off, and the $5 off Publix coupon.

I stopped by my Bi-Lo and found their Huggies stock low, so I made one transaction without incident.

Tracy’s Note: I did not request a rain check since the Publix coupon was only valid during that week. To get the deep discount, I needed to complete the transactions during that sale week.

Still needing two more transactions, I chose another location with larger stock. At checkout, I met conflict.

The Coupon Policies

At Bi-Lo, a manager or bookkeeper must manually deduct the competitor coupon amount from the transaction. When I presented my coupon, the cashier called the bookkeeper. She came and inspected the coupon and then refused to take off the $5 stating that the total was under $30.

Upon explaining that the subtotal was over $30 and only dropped after using the manufacturer coupons, she still refused the Publix store coupon and handed it back to me. When I asked to speak to the manager, she acted irritated, but complied.

When the manager arrived, the bookkeeper gave her explanation which the manager upheld. After listening to them, I asked the manager to read the coupon. He did so and stood by his former decision.

I then made my case stating that they were choosing to change the wording of the coupon. The coupon stated “$5 off a purchase of $30 or more.” In the fine print, there was no wording that the $30 total was after discounts.

Realizing that my purchase was $30 prior to using manufacturer coupons (a form of payment), that Publix coupons do not state “after coupons” like the Bi-Lo store coupons, and that my transaction fit the requirements for the coupon, the manager changed his mind and accepted the coupon for both transactions.

By knowing the store’s coupon policies and having read and understood the competitor’s coupon, I pressed on to save my family $10. When you know that the store is misinterpreting the coupon or changing the rules from their coupon policy, you have choices.

In sharing these experiences, I hope to empower you with information to use coupons, know your store’s policies, and question coupon policies when a discrepancy arises. Don’t get discouraged. You can continue saving money while feeding your family and using time wisely. Happy couponing!

Question: How often do you use coupons when grocery shopping? 

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