We’ve all seen it happen. You’re standing in the checkout lane at the store. There is another coupon user ahead of you. While you quietly watch in silent solidarity, thinking, “YAY! Go sister coupon saver!”, they hand over their stack of coupons to the cashier. She begins to scan each one. Suddenly –
She scans again…
She tries a third time…
*beep!* and then she tells the customer that she cannot accept the coupon because it won’t scan.
Your solidarity sister in front of you gets flustered (I get that, we have all been there!), asking that the cashier hand enter the coupon because it is valid, it is from the newspaper. The cashier declines, and a conversation about the store policy about coupons that don’t scan ensues. Your coupon sister begins to get upset. You begin to cringe, seeing where this is headed. Suddenly that feeling of solidarity dries up and you want another checkout lane, now. You try to hide your huge stack of coupons as the people behind you begin to deep sigh. The irate couponer soon raises her voice and demands a manager. The light goes on and the tension is oh so fun while everyone waits, and finally the manager arrives. After a pow wow, the cashier ends up pretty close to tears and clearly upset, and a manager has to complete the transaction. Ultimately the customer got her coupon accepted, probably just to get her to shut up already. The customer, still mad but smugly gloating, finally leaves. And as for the manager that was called over? Well, this person is just really tired of dealing with coupons and rude coupon users.
Guess what? Now it’s your turn to checkout with your stack of coupons! How do you think your transaction is going to go after all of that?
Having manners at the checkout is something that we should all do. Sounds easy enough. Yes, it directly affects how you will be treated on your current shopping trip (or the next – cashiers DO remember you and they DO know who the difficult customers are!), but it also has a far larger reach than that. When a couponer is rude and demanding, makes a scene, blames the cashier for an issue, tries to get the policy overridden, tries to purposely commit coupon fraud or acts entitled, it hurts every single person that shops with coupons.
With the rise in popularity of extreme couponing, many store policies have been changed to manage out of control or illegal couponers. Some stores have stopped taking coupons entirely, or have stopped taking printed coupons, or have restricted the number of coupons that can be redeemed at a time or the number of products. Most stores will now refuse a coupon that does not scan due to couterfits. All of these things make couponing harder on the honest and well-mannered couponer. Most take this in stride and act gracefully. But I know of shoppers who have been banned from stores because of their attitudes and bad manners. I have witnessed first hand actual arguments over a few dollars worth of coupons. There have even been situations where cashiers have been threatened with guns over coupons! It really is a situation where a few “bad eggs” can ruin things for the entire dozen. In other words, bad couponers can make things harder or even ruin couponing completely for others at a store you love.
Planning a couponing trip and then actually shopping can be stressful enough already without adding anything extra to it. Instead of adding stress by expecting a problem and going in already defensive, try a different tactic:
- Try not to shop hungry = hangry. At least eat a snack so you are less likely to overspend and less likely to overreact.
- Be prepared. Make sure that your coupons are in order and don’t make the cashier and other customers wait while you sort them. Have that stuff ready before you get in the line at all. I find a quiet area of the store to go through them all before I check out. That way I also make sure I got everything on my list AND it gives me a chance to take out the things that the kids (or the hubby) try to sneak in or that I have changed my mind on. When you can leave the kids at home. Less distractions and way less stress for you.
- Take a deep breath before you check out. It really helps to settle you down.
- Realize that cash registers and bar code scanners are electronics. They are going to mess up, and though it is frustrating, patience goes a long way.
- Remember that the cashier is a human being. Remember the manners your parents taught you. Smile and say hello and make eye contact and I guarantee that you just got some points in your favor. Try to develop a friendly relationship with the cashiers so they will get to know you a bit. Your cashier has probably been at their work station for hours. They might be tired, or just having a bad day and really just want to go home. I know, I know… they should love their job or not work with the public. But ask yourself, do you always love your job? No? Then cut them some slack and don’t make things worse by having poor manners. Now that is not excuse for a rude cashier, and if you happen upon one, by all means see a manager.
- If there is a problem, reacting to it calmly and politely will get you a lot farther than getting an attitude and arguing will. Being prepared with the coupon policy or sales ad is helpful. If you DO find yourself in a situation with the cashier or manager:
- Be polite but firm if you believe you are in the right. Try to resolve the situation with the cashier before nicely asking for a manager. If the manager cannot resolve the issue, you can always cancel the transaction and/or contact corporate level customer service. Don’t engage in a power struggle or make a scene. It is better to walk away and deal with it externally.
- Don’t be sarcastic or offensive. Stay calm. Never raise your voice or use profanity or be insulting. Don’t gloat if you “win” and the cashier or manager has to do what you were initially refused. Like my grandmother would say, “Show some class.”
- Admit when you are wrong. Every one of us is wrong sometimes, and a person with good manners will admit it and offer a sincere apology. Saying, “I had no idea that your coupon policy was updated last week. I apologize.”
- Understand that no matter how right you may be that the store has the ultimate say in what happens. So try to make the best of the situation, especially if you plan to shop there again. Employees remember both difficult and nice customers, and it is a lot like Santa. You really want to be on the NICE list because next time you have an issue it might go in your favor!
By showing your good manners, being friendly, and keeping calm, you’ll get a lot farther with your deal shopping than you will if you become irate and upset. Using coupons is a privilege, not something anyone is entitled to. Good manners have always gone a long way with making anything in life more pleasant and less stressful. And I know I could sure use more nice and less stress. Coupon on!