This afternoon, while sorting through coupons in my coupon box (yes, a real box with compartments that Bob made for me) and removing the ones that will expire in a couple of days, I began to reflect on the good, the bad, and the ugly aspects of coupon clipping.
Clip, clip. The good part is being able to use a lot of coupons when you go grocery shopping – or any kind of shopping these days. Michaels and Joann’s offer new coupons every week. Kohls and Sears and Penny’s had coupons in the newspaper every week as the holidays approached. Some, like the ones for Kohl’s, were really hot – $10 off on a $20 purchase? Works for me!
Clip, Clip. Sometimes I used them and sometimes not – only because I didn’t always get to those stores. My daughter in law was going shopping to Bed, Bath & Beyond one night – and had lost a good $10 off coupon for that store. Wait, I said. I think I might have one in my purse. I did. She was a happy camper. You can really save a lot using coupons. That’s the good part. And when I was getting doubles on all my coupons – even better. On a good grocery shopping day I might get about 50% off using coupons. Ok, so I’m not the coupon queen who gets her name and picture in women’s magazines once a year because she buys $200 in groceries and pays only, like, fifty cents when the cashier gets finished deducting her coupons—but there are only two of us at home anymore and we are on a fixed retiree income – so saving as much as possible is important to me.
Clip, clip. When my children were growing up – and we bought a lot more groceries – I was a coupon fanatic. I also did a lot of refunding (you send proofs of purchases and a form to the manufacturer, in return for which you would either receive a cash refund – or a coupon for a free product—sometimes there were even great free gift premiums. My son Steve reminded me recently of the time I got a bunch of free basketballs and gave them to all the boys on my Christmas list that year.
The trick was saving up a whole bunch of those free product coupons and using them in one fell swoop, like – say – at Thanksgiving time when you could get a free turkey for spending over $100. I was really big on refunding for many years. I do very little refunding nowadays – for one thing, manufacturers have made it increasingly more difficult – most want the original sales receipt with your proofs of purchase and if you have more than one item offering a refund that is on the same grocery list, you’re sunk.
Clip, clip. And that brings me to the BAD about coupon clipping (and/or refunding). You can often find very good coupons for a new product – either $1 or $2 off the purchase, or – even better – the coupon is good for a free can, box, bottle, jar, package – of whatever they are trying to get you to buy. The PROBLEM IS, good luck if you can FIND that product before the coupon expires. I rarely find the product before the expiration date on the coupon. Oh, yes! It will eventually turn up in the stores weeks later. You know what I really miss? Coupons with no expiration date! If the manufacturers are sincere in their quest to get you to buy their products – why issue coupons with a very limited life span of a month or two? Why not issue coupons with NO EXPIRATION DATES! (what a concept!) (I could tell those company marketers a thing or two!)
Clip, clip. Another thing that irks the heck out of me is the coupons published weekly for local chain drug stores. I can knock myself out spending an hour in the store trying to find the very exact product for the coupon (and usually can’t find the products at all) – but when I do, I end up in a checkout line being told by the cashier “This is the wrong _____ (fill in the blank).” A cashier told me I didn’t know how to use the coupons. I guess not. I’ve only been shopping with coupons for fifty years. Give me another fifty, maybe I’ll figure it out. (I told the cashier – theirs is the only chain drug store that I run into this difficulty with. My solution? Easy! I don’t shop there anymore!
Clip, clip. There are times when I want to sit down and write to all of the food manufacturers and tell them – if you are going to publish coupons and you want customers to use them, don’t make it a pain in the behind to find your products on the store shelves. And if you have a good promotion going, the shelves shouldn’t be empty before noon on the first day of the sale (actually happened to me recently). AND the sale item shouldn’t be on a bottom shelf in a hard to reach spot – not good for those of us who are handicapped.
Clip, clip. Well, I guess the bad and the ugly are pretty much the same. I go to a lot of work clipping, filing and – then using – coupons. What I don’t need is a suspicious cashier who doubts that I bought this product or that one and they end up digging through the already bagged groceries to verify my purchase. There was a drug store (which shall remain nameless although they have been bought out by another company) whose cashiers were suspicious of all coupons. It got so bad, I just stopped shopping there.
Mind you, I was buying the product and I had a coupon. You would have thought it was coming out of the cashier’s pocket. (Admittedly, with everything bar-coded these days, it’s generally not difficult for the cashiers to swipe the coupon – their computer system chirps if there is a problem. On the other hand, sometimes the computer system chirps even when you HAVE bought the right product! –and sometimes the store’s computer system hasn’t been updated to reflect the current sale prices. Oh. Well, that’s another issue.