I started ranting about recent changes in coupon policies earlier this week and thought it would be timely to set out my thoughts on the problems many of you have encountered at Albertsons over the past month. The intent of this post is to help get you in the right mindset as you prepare for your doubles trips this weekend.
I’ve been couponing for over three years, which isn’t really that long compared to some of you, and I have encountered cleared shelves the entire time. My husband and I were recounting the other night just how many deals have failed because our store, and many others, were out of a promotional item. I realize that the problem has been magnified in the past 3-4 months with the influx of new couponers to the game, but it’s certainly not a new phenomena.
I suggest you plan your transactions with the strong possibility of one of your items being out of stock. And don’t make a special trip just for one item unless you live nearby or have some time to kill.
Heather from Queen Bee Coupons has a great post on the Empty Shelf Epidemic. It’s worth a read.
One side note on this issue. Some readers witness people in the act of shelf clearing at the store and come to set them straight by commenting on a deal post or on Facebook. From my experience, it is by and large not blog readers who intentionally clear shelves. There are other people who coupon who don’t read deal blogs (in fact, they really dislike us) and did not start couponing because of a cable television show. They will not change their shopping strategies because of a comment. Just take my word on this one.
Limited Double Coupons
Right off the bat, do not be surprised if your store limits the number of TTV sheets they hand out at the customer service desk OR if they run out before Tuesday evening. Each store receives a limited amount of sheets and it is only fair that they control the distribution of them.
Inconsistent Policy Enforcement
I realize that it’s super frustrating to encounter an employee enforcing a rule that is different than what is in Albertsons’ corporate policy. In the end, each store manager gets to set his/her own policy. And I guarantee that if they limit your TTV transactions, it’s because someone took advantage of it earlier.
The bottom line is that these three issues — limited stock, limited double coupons, inconsistent policy enforcement — cannot be solved by commenting on this, or any other blog. Stating your problem to someone who cannot solve it is just complaining and whining, which while it feels really good to vent, it’s not really productive. And none of us allow our kids to do it, so we shouldn’t either.
The people who can solve these problems are your local store manager and Albertsons corporate.
If your store is always running out of sale items, ask your manager what you can do to help. He or she just may have a solution. If they are interested in upcoming deals, let me know and we can start emailing them a list of what they should order.
If your store always runs out of double coupon sheets, email and Facebook Albertsons requesting that they implement a paperless Twice The Value system.
If you encounter inconsistent TTV policies, ask your manager for clarification. Politely inform corporate about your customer service experience.
If you are consistently running into problems at your local store, go to another one. Gas prices may make this solution unworkable for some of you, but many in metro areas have options. If a cashier rolls her eyes at you or grumbles when you pull out your coupons, go to another store. And let the first store manager know (sweetly!) why you are taking your business elsewhere.
For those veteran couponers, I know this is a frustrating time. We’ve grown accustomed to being one of the only players at our store and now we have to figure out how to play with others. If it’s getting too much, just take a break — shop WinCo and live off your stockpile for a few months.
For those newbies, understand that many problems you are encountering are just part of couponing and not necessarily because of the increased media exposure. Consider the frustration your initiation into the club. It will get easier (I promise!), but mostly, you will figure out how to adjust your expectations.
I know that part of you wishes people would just stop learning how to coupon. It does feel like the shear volume of new couponers is changing the game. But I honestly think we are just in a transition time and stores will respond to the increased number of deal seekers. They will eventually start ordering more sale items. This is a time of growing pains that won’t last forever.
And just remember, we didn’t close admittance to the coupon club the day before you joined. Aren’t you glad that we welcomed you to the club?
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