How to Use Coupons Effectively – part II

I mentioned in my last post that many stores do not check expiration dates on coupons, which significantly broadens a coupon’s usefulness or “shelf life.”  I have used coupons dating back to the previous year without problem.  Occasionally, a clerk notices an expiration date, but that is the exception rather than the rule.  I can’t remember the last time that a scanner caught an expiration date on a manufacturer’s coupon.

With this in mind, I generally try to use coupons at a time when other customers are in the store and, preferably, in line behind me.  Why?  Because the clerks are under pressure to minimize customer waiting time.  I find that whenever I have a customer waiting in line behind me, the clerk immediately scans the coupons without even looking at them.

Just as the scanners tend not to pick up on expiration dates, they also tend to be pretty undiscerning about whether the particular product specified in the coupon was bought.  Most of the time, the scanner is programmed to verify that the correct brand was purchased, and it might also verify that the general type of product was scanned.  But I have yet to see the scanner that could tell whether I bought Charmin regular toilet paper or Charmin extra soft.  As long as I buy two Chunky soups, I generally qualify for a coupon promoting the latest specialty version of Chunky soup.

When in doubt, just use the coupon.  Remember, you are the customer.  You are the person giving the store business.  The store wants to make you happy.  All of this means that the store is the one that will (or should) be bashful and apologetic if the coupon is not accepted.  Don’t worry, I can guarantee you that the store will not call the police or its security department to retain you for attempting to pass an expired coupon.

There is one exception when stores routinely do catch expired coupons.  The scanners do immediately pick up on the expiration dates of coupons generated by the store itself.  I’m talking here about those coupons that the clerk hands you with your receipt.  My guess is that since the store’s network generates and prints these coupons, it also generates (and saves) the expiration dates.  That is annoying because these coupons often times have pretty early expiration dates.  But there is one final tip for coupons of this variety coming up in my next post.

In the meantime, if you are enjoying my blog posts, do me a favor and spread the word.  Posts counts have been variable, but I am having more than my share of days with view counts in the low teens.  I was hoping to have a bit more following six weeks into this endeavor.  While I am hoping to promote a frugal movement with this blog, free of charge, I frankly don’t know if I can continue the commitment without a bit more readership interest.  Any help “spreading the word” would be appreciated!

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