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By Jill Cataldo, Coupon Queen, Published March 22 2013

COUPON QUEEN: Getting credit for all of your coupons

Q: I would like some advice on redeeming coupons. No matter what store I go to, if I redeem more than a few coupons, the cashier doesn’t give me credit for all of them. It has happened so often that now I count them when I hand them to the cashier and count the beeps as they scan each coupon. This isn’t foolproof, though.

Other times I have caught the cashier missing my coupons and I have had to go to customer service (often waiting in a long line) in order to get the credit. Cashiers have admitted to me that they knew they didn’t scan all the coupons. I am very careful with expiration dates and the number of items that need to be purchased for each one. I think the least a store can do is give me the credit I deserve. This all seems like a lot of work, and I am tired of not being given credit for my coupons. Any advice? – Jeannine D.

A: I sympathize with Jeannine. Couponing does require a time investment, but the payoff should be sweet – the reward of a lowered bill at the cash register. And while I haven’t experienced the same frequency of coupon scanning errors that she has, I do have some suggestions as to how anyone can maximize the probability that every coupon will be scanned at the register.

1. Count your coupons.

Before I go to the checkout lane, I’ll quickly thumb through the stack of coupons that I plan to hand to the cashier. Your store receipt will note how many coupons were scanned – some stores even list the number of total coupons used at the bottom of the receipt. If I know I used 20 coupons but my receipt only shows 19 coupons scanned, I won’t leave the store. I will try to resolve the issue at the cash register or, if the store is busy, at the customer service counter.

2. Calculate the value of your coupons.

This is similar to the previous tip, but with a twist. Instead of counting the number of coupons, count the value. Then take note of the pre-coupon total on the register once the cashier has scanned all items. If my pre-coupon total is $42.98 and I have $24.50 in coupons, I know that if all coupons are scanned, my total should be $18.48 before any tax is applied. If something isn’t correct, I will try to resolve it before I pay – an advantage of knowing beforehand exactly what your grocery bill should be, post-coupon.

3. The when-all-else-fails method.

If you’re consistently having trouble with cashiers failing to scan each and every coupon, try handing your coupons to the cashier one at a time. Yes, this is time-consuming and yes, your cashier may find it frustrating. But it’s a foolproof way to make sure every coupon is scanned. You might try (nicely!) explaining to the cashier that on your past few trips many coupons were skipped and that you’re trying to prevent that from happening.

Here’s another factor that you may not be aware of – many stores base their cashiers’ performance grades on how quickly they move customers through the checkout lane. Some store chains maintain a time log via the store’s registers to note how much time is spent on each transaction. If you shop at a store that bases cashiers’ merit on speed, they may be in a hurry to get you through the lane simply because their job depends on them doing so.

Smart Living Tip: To a shopper, coupons are cash. If you’re experiencing negativity from store staff in the checkout lane, remind them that the store makes the same amount of money whether you pay with cash or a coupon. A $1 manufacturer coupon is worth the same to your store as a $1 bill!


Jill Cataldo, a coupon workshop instructor, writer and mother of three, never passes up a good deal. Learn more about Super-Couponing at her website, www.jillcataldo.com. Email your own couponing victories and questions to jill@ctwfeatures.com.