Saturday, June 02, 2007

Supermarket Coupon Insanity

I’m normally a very easy-going guy when it comes to shopping. Not much ruffles my feathers and I’m generally willing to go with the flow, even if it doesn’t seem to make sense to me. But today I went to Ralph’s to do some shopping and completely lost it over four dollars. The last time I was at Ralph’s, I received a coupon that said “$4 off your next grocery purchase when you purchase 2 bottles of Alice White wine” (or something very similar to that). There was no other fine print or explanation. Well, today I decided to buy 2 bottles of Alice White wine, among other things. At the check-out counter, I presented my coupon. The checker looked at it for about a minute or two and then said that a coupon for $4 off my next purchase would print out when we were finished, but the printer is broken. I said, “but the coupon says I should get $4 off this purchase if I buy the wine. I bought the wine.” She looked confused, so took it to another checker to see what to do. I heard the other checker say that I would get a coupon for $4 off my next purchase.

At this point, I was aware that a number of people were waiting in line and that I was holding them up. I don’t like to do anything to hold up lines, because I get incredibly annoyed when someone in front of me makes silly demands which bring the whole check-out process to a screeching halt. But, at the same time, thoughts were running through my mind that at this rate, I would never get the $4 off, because the next coupon would say that I had to wait until the next purchase, or something like that, and so on, and so on. So, I went over to the other checker and said “this is my next purchase. I got that coupon the last time I was here.” She asked if I purchased the wine last time I was here. I said “no, I’m buying them now, like the coupon says.” She replied that I had to buy the wine before I can get a coupon for the $4. At that point I lost it and said in a very loud voice, “This is insane! The coupon says that I should get $4 off when I buy 2 bottles of wine. I’m buying the wine. The way I read it, I should get $4 off this purchase today.” At that point he manager came up and I explained my position to him. He said “that’s not the way it works. You have to buy the wine and then you get a coupon off your next purchase.” I responded, “that’s not what the coupon says, but fine!”

All the while I was thinking about the last time I was in when the printer spit out all sorts of coupons for money off my next purchase. The checker went ahead and used them on that order. As she put it, so many people get coupons and then forget to use them, so she tries to help them out by applying them right then, even though she really isn’t supposed to. I remember thinking, what difference does it really make to the store? Their costumers are getting the savings due them without hassle. The bottom line for the store is they either take the money off now or later, with the net result being the same. Anyway, I went back to my check-out stand and the checker told me the total. I asked about the $4 off, since she was not able to give me the alleged coupon that would presumably insure $4 off at some undetermined point in the future (I didn’t put it that way, but that was what was running through my mind). She said “I can’t give you a coupon for it because the printer won’t work.” I then asked how I get my $4 off if I can’t get a coupon for it. The manager came over and agreed to give me the $4 off since the printer could not print the needed coupon. With that, I paid my bill (which included the $4 reduction), thanked them (although not as cheerfully as I normally would have), and left – feeling incredibly annoyed with the insanity of the situation, a little upset at myself that I allowed myself to blow up over it, yet feeling satisfied that I had prevailed and got my lousy $4. I have never had Alice White wine, but it better be worth the trouble.



Zulema said...

Good post.

Anonymous said...

Was it worth it?

BTW, let me inform you of the delightful details of supermarket CATALINAS next time I see you! I am the major coupon lady, annoying friends and foes alike at the checkout stand. I do warn people, though....
Jeni Rickard