I originally titled this post, “Thoughts on cleared shelves, new couponers, coupon policies and other things stuck in my craw,” but after writing a bit I realized that I can’t possibly cover all of this in one post, so I’m going to break it up. Way too many things stuck right now.
I’ll start today with the worry about the ever-changing store coupon policy.
I receive approximately 752 frantic emails each week from readers who have the “inside” scoop on impending policy changes at a local grocery or drug store. Most of the emails end with the question, “Do you think this store policy change will be the end of couponing forever?”
Hmm… No. I say that with as much certainty as I can muster when discussing things of absolutely no eternal significance.
I’m not worried. Not at all. Why? Because I’ve been playin’ this game for awhile now and have experienced quite a few policy changes that were supposed to end the fun forever, and it turned out that it just didn’t. Here are some examples:
:: In 2009 (I think), Walgreens ended their wildly popular rebate program. Readers were so worried that they would never be able to get a deal at Walgreens again. It didn’t happen. We can still get deals. Really good deals.
:: In April 2009, Albertsons stopped accepting competitor’s coupons. Readers were convinced that they would never shop there again. I actually still have people tell me that they won’t coupon at Albertsons because they don’t take competitor’s coupons. I hope some of you are chuckling because it’s funny to think that we can’t get good deals at Albertsons anymore…
:: Last year, Safeway stopped their partnership with Cellfire and Shortcuts, two of the largest distributors of electronic coupons. Readers believed deals at Safeway were now dead because they couldn’t use an eCoupon with a paper coupon on one item. I don’t know about you, but I’m still scoring at Safeway.
Of course, some policy changes do have a negative impact on our ability to get deals (Walgreens Rewards Card test market, anyone?), but the deals are certainly not dead. With each change, we have to change along with the stores. It may require you to learn a new system, like we had to when Rite Aid introduced the +UP Rewards program, but as long as manufacturers and stores use coupons, store promotions and incentive programs to market their products, we will still be able to get FREE and super-cheap stuff with coupons.
What happens if Safeway changes their policy to allow only one double coupon per family, per week? Well, just ask the couponers in Longview, Washington what they did. Their local store started imposing this limit on customers and Maryann from Coupon Savvy in Cowlitz County and tons of other local couponers politely informed the manager that they would take their coupons to Walmart. Guess what happened? Safeway backed down and has changed their policy.
If you don’t like a policy, voice your concern and if there is no change, take your coupons to a store that recognizes that coupons are a form of tender and have policies that make you feel welcome to shop in their store!
And, please, don’t freak out until an actual change has taken place. I know that your friend’s husband’s boss knows the manager at a store across town and he says that they are going to staple a bullseye to couponers’ butts and employees will be able to shoot darts at you while you shop, but until it’s in writing, I’m not going to give one ounce of energy to thinking about it. Nor am I going to answer any “the sky is falling” emails anymore. Just chill. It will be fine. I promise.
One last thought, many of you are concerned that the recent influx of new couponers will be the reason for future policy changes. It very well may be, but as you can see from this post, policy changes happen all the time and they happen for more reasons than an increase in coupon redemption.Whatever you do, just remember my daily mantra (and take on the attitude of the dudes in the picture above), “It’s just coupons.”
UPDATE: I’ve been receiving emails and posts on Facebook about rumors being circulated by someone in the Medford, Oregon area that starting next week, Albertsons will be limiting double coupons to one transaction per family per week (or per day — I’ve read both). I’ve spent a few minutes perusing Albertsons’ Facebook page and it looks as though the employee telling customers this information is misinformed:
If you are new to couponing, I cannot encourage you enough to do your research. You are responsible to know how coupons work, your store’s coupon policies and couponing etiquette. DO NOT use one coupon until you understand how the game is played. Start by reading The Ultimate Guide to Couponing in the Northwest. Plan to take one of my FREE Strategic Couponing classes (you may have to drive a bit as I typically teach one class a month. If you’re outside the Portland Metro area, I can point you in the direction of a class in your area). Ask questions in the comment sections of deal posts and on Facebook. And it’s totally okay to ask your cashier or manager if your shopping plan is legit if you are concerned or confused.
We are here to help you as you journey to save money so you can help reach your family’s financial goals!
This post may contain affiliate links. See the disclosure policy for more information.