Thursday, September 11, 2008

Dealing With Coupon Nazis - Tip Of The Day

I haven't had too much trouble with coupons besides the occasional putting something back that didn't scan right or because of a coupon I misread. There was a sweet Walgreens clerk who was confused once but after I talked to her manager everything was straightened out. I would not call this person a coupon nazi (a person who is fanatically dedicated to or seeks to control a specified activity, practice, etc.). She was just trying to follow the rules and she was very kind about the whole thing.

However, yesterday while I was out I managed to get in the line of two coupon nazis.

First, I know it can be pretty irritating when a woman walks into a checkout line with 6 kids in toe and a handful of coupons. Especially when another kid a few checkout lines over is climbing on a closed conveyor belt and checkout counter. Yes, he was climbing all over it without being scolded by his mom. So, I can understand how it may look when I step up to check out. However, my kids are well behaved, don't touch anything, are talkative and smiley with the clerks, and good natured. Still, once a cashier is on edge...

First coupon nazi - Target:

This particular lady didn't like my All Small & Mighty coupons because I was using them for a trial sized product. I pointed out that it doesn't exclude trial size on the coupon but that it wasn't a big deal and I could just put them back. By then, however, Chase (the day manager?) had come over, read the coupon and said, "yes, this is fine". The woman gave him an 'are you sure' type look like he was just being ridiculous but he just smiled and reiterated that the coupons were fine to use with that product. I got my 3 All Small & Mighty for free much to the chagrin of the cashier.
But wait! There was a Johnson's coupon that she didn't like either. The picture on it wasn't what I was purchasing but it did say 'on any Johnson's product'. She told me that the product on it wasn't in my bag but after I pointed out the wording she looked over at Chase and just decided to scan it in - shaking her head in disapproval.

Then, even worse was the coupon Nazi I ran into at Walmart. She didn't like the buy 3 Kraft get a free product coupons that came out of Walmart's All You magazine.
I knew that she would have to write the price in on each coupon so I separated them from the rest of my order and handed her the coupons together to make it easier on her. She looked at them (I had 5 for 5 different products) and laid them out on the counter, looked at my order, and very rudely stated, "Well, it doesn't look like you can use any of these because YOU didn't get the proper amount of Kraft items".
When I politely pointed out that the 15 packs of Kool-Aid were, in fact, Kraft items and the deal had already worked for me with no hiccups a number of times she said, "Well, we'll just see if they scan, things are always changing on our machines when mistakes are made with coupons". I didn't push it farther. Kool-Aid was still a Kraft product and I knew it. Not only did my coupons scan without a beep but all of my other 15 or so coupons scanned just fine, too, even though she was very careful to match up each coupon to the products I had in my order like I was pulling some kind of scam on Walmart.
I was able to walk out of there feeling good because I kept my cool and managed to get $42 worth of stuff for just $9. My kids were with me and saw my good attitude, too.

Dealing with coupon nazis can be frustrating but if you approach couponing with the right attitude you may walk away slightly disappointed but you will never feel pushed passed the bring of minor frustration. Here are some tips to help out when you run across a coupon nazi - and if you use coupons regularly and in abundance you will eventually run across one of these coupon poo-pooers.
  • Don't take it personally. It isn't you that the cashier is upset about, it may just be the general use of many coupons. Or, maybe she is having a very tough day, week, or time in her life. You never know what is behind her attitude.
  • Always smile. Even when the cashier gets rude keep your best smile on. Competing with her in rudeness isn't likely to get you anywhere.
  • Be prepared before you walk into the store to put items back that aren't working like you intended. If the cashier doesn't cooperate on a particular item just politely say something like "It really isn't a big deal, just go ahead and take it off my order". You can always try again later with a different cashier.
  • Do not show frustration. Seriously, this will egg your cashier on. Competing with your cashier for a couple of dollars is really not worth it. Don't let free food turn you into a greedy, unlikeable person.
  • If you truly feel you were wronged you can always call the store's cooperate office when you get home. I have done this twice and it worked like a charm. I was very polite and made sure I gave a compliment on the store about something before I made my complaint. Also, both times the managers of the particular stores called me within a few days. I gave both compliments about their stores before we discussed the problem and both times that set the entire conversation at ease.
  • Remember, the items in your cart are not yours until you have paid for them. You have no right to them while they are in your cart or on the checkout counter. Keeping this idea in your head will keep you from feeling duped when something doesn't go right and you have to put items back. You must be prepared to take 'no' for an answer sometimes.
  • Couponing is not an exact science. One store may welcome coupons while the identical store down the street has extremely strict coupon rules. Go with the flow. Take it easy. Be thankful for the good deals you get and shrug off the ones that don't go so well.
  • Like I said above - be prepared to request that certain items be taken off your order. Always state this with a smile.
  • You can always talk to the manager on duty but be sure not to get rude or show irritation. You don't want your attitude to cause you to be remembered as 'that woman'.
  • Compliment, compliment, compliment. Saying something nice in an irritating situation can diffuse the bomb quickly.
  • And finally, God's provisions are enough. Remember the story of Moses and the manna that fell from the sky? At first the people were thankful but very quickly this gift wasn't enough to satisfy them. Don't be like those people! Remember that God has supplied these deals for you. If they don't work out just move on happily knowing that He does and will continue to give you what you need.

Disappointment is a part of life. It is how we handle tough situations that speaks the most about us. I have made my share of mistakes and learned a lot. I have had times where I felt horrible about my attitude after an issue even though I was totally in the right. Sometimes, having the perfect witty comment at the perfect time isn't the perfect solution at all. Say little, smile much, and go with the flow.


Renee Evenson said...

Thank you for a gentle reminder that all that we have is from our Father in Heaven. Your attitude toward the "coupon Nazis" is to be commended. Sometimes we just have to bite our tongues and, as you say, go with the flow. Great advice for those tense situations.

Lisa said...

Thanks for the reminder. These words came to mind as I "enjoyed" a difficult time at Walgreen's today. :)