Couponers: How I Loathe Thee, Extremist Part II

Now, I know some of you may be asking yourselves why we have such a policy in place.  And that’s because people scam with coupons all the time.  Since I started working at this store, the few episodes of Extreme Couponers that I’ve seen, I have realized how much people on that show are actually scamming the stores they shop at.  They may be studying the store policies and such, but you can’t not pay sales tax on items that you are purchasing, even if the total is brought down to zero.  You can’t walk out of the store with those items totally for free.  You have got to pay the sales tax.

Not only are there coupon scammers out there, but there are the shelf clearers.  The people who think that it’s perfectly okay for  them to purchase every item off of the shelf.  Okay, we usually only have limited supplies on certain items, and those are usually limited to three or four.  But other normal items have a limit, too, which means that you can’t buy the entire stock that we have because sometimes it takes us several days to weeks to get replenishment for those items, which means we will lose a lot of business because your busy body self thought you were better than everyone else not paying full price for your 80 cans of green beans.

I can always tell when I have a couponer in my check lane.  Some of them even try to hide their monstrous coupon binders and files from me, but oh, I can sniff you out a mile away.  You are the person who has four of the same few products in your cart.  You are the person  trying to buy trial size sunscreen with a coupon that specifically excludes trial and travel sizes.  You are the person buying the shampoo and conditioner that you don’t even use because the coupon was for $1.50 off or buy one get one free.

You come in with a plan set in motion.  You have sales ads from stores across the globe shoved in your purse.  You have 18 sets of coupon books from Sunday newspapers that you either stole or bought an entire store out with.

One woman in my old hometown actually finally got sued by the local newspaper for stealing copies of the newspaper every week from the same store just for the coupon books.  She didn’t think she needed to pay for the newspapers to get the coupons.  She thought it was perfectly okay to steal 20 copies a week to get the coupons and not have to pay a dime for the papers.  Okay, so maybe it wasn’t 20 copies, but it was more copies of the Sunday paper than any one individual needed.

Couponers also make my life at the service desk a living hell.  When their coupons are denied at the check lanes, these items get put in an abandons bin which is then picked up and emptied throughout the day to be brought up to the service desk to be sorted and put back on the sales floor.  This is where carts of just shampoo and body wash come from.  People trying to use coupons for things they can’t use them on.

Like for instance, people who try to apply the four-by-four rule on buy one get one free coupons on only four products.  Sorry, sweets, but I can only take two of these.  Why?  Because it’s buy one get one free.  Technically, you only bought two shampoos.  You want to use all four of your coupons?  Okay, go get four more shampoos, then you’re set.  Oh, but that’s spending more money than you wanted, huh?

Not only am I then bogged down by these returns, so is the person working on the sales floor.  You’ve just created more work for people who probably already have about six projects to get done as it is.

Then there are the ones who scam us by returning their items they used coupons for.  These people tend to “forget” their receipt (I guess to hide the fact that they used coupons on the items?) and hand me their credit card to look up the receipt with (to be clear, when I say look up the receipt, this doesn’t mean that it shows me your receipt on my screen, it just tells me whether or not you purchased that item with that card).  Our system (until just recently) didn’t take into account that you used coupons, even if they did bring in the original receipt to return with.

What these people are trying to achieve is getting back full price for items that they never paid full price for anyway.  This sometimes can be two, three, or four times more than what they actually paid for the item.  And basically, this screws the store out of money. 

Soon, though, we are supposed to only be able to return the value of the coupons to the guest on a store gift card.  This is how we are trying to stop coupon return scams.  Rant about how unfair it is all you want, but these people are returning sometimes a couple hundred dollars worth of merchandise that they may have only paid $40 bucks for.  It’s a form of theft.  Plain and simple.

I’ve seen it in a few cases.  What I’m hoping for is that the system will tell us exactly what the guest did pay for it after the coupons were applied.  However, I’m pretty satisfied with these losers only being able to spend this money back in our store.  Because, you know what?  Even if they are getting refunded back the full amount of the item without the coupon, they can’t go spend it anywhere else, it has to get recycle back into our store.

Though, I’ve seen this blow up in our faces, too. 

There’s one woman in particular that I’d like to drop kick for this.  She comes in at least once a week to return her coupon items which she has purchased at our sister stores in the area.  She always has a gift card to put the money back on.  And this gift card has been known to have up to $500 or more on it.  We suspect this is all from full value coupon returns.  She will then use this gift card to purchase (usually) the exact same items that she just returned with more coupons that she has clipped.

 The woman acts like she speaks absolutely no English, but we know that she does.  Not because this is ‘Merica and everyone does, but because we know the game that this woman is playing.  She’s scamming us for hundreds of dollars a week.  Which, I suppose in reality isn’t much of a dent to a national store’s finances, but she’s not the only one that does it.

So, next time you’re cuddling down to watch Extreme Couponers and thinking “I could do that.” Just take a sec to check your local store’s coupon policies.  Don’t be a dick.  Don’t try to make a store room that you really don’t need.   Don’t get up in the cashiers face because they wouldn’t take your coupon for Olay Regenerist Cleanser on your plain Olay facial cleanser.  That shit don’t fly.  Save face and move on.

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