It Can Happen to the Best of Us…

by Marcy on September 21, 2010 · 33 comments

Now that my 4.5 year old is back in preschool, Tuesday is my new grocery shopping day. This morning I spent time going through my Kroger post, making my list and clipping my coupons. Like many of you, I am a busy mom with young children, and making my list and clipping coupons feels like a major accomplishment! After dropping my oldest off at school, the baby and I made our way to Kroger.

If you have read here for any length of time, you know that Kroger is my grocery store of choice. I love Kroger and I love all of the ways they give us to save. I just want to be clear that in no way am I blaming Kroger for my bad experience today – this one was all on the cashier.

Anyway – I made my way through the store, grabbing items on my list and jotting down a few unadvertised deals that I wanted to share with you. When it came time to check out I was dismayed to find that there were only 2 check out lanes open – and the one that was empty happened to be that of my l least favorite cashier. My “least favorite cashier” scrutinizes my coupons every time I go through her line, prints out multiple copies of my receipt to make sure I purchased the correct number of items, and tries to accuse me of not purchasing the right products – all while her line backs up. Usually I am patient and humor her, but today I lost my cool.

It all started with the butter…I was stocking up on Land O Lakes butter because with coupon it was cheaper than the Kroger Brand Butter (I freeze it). She held up a $0.50/2 coupon and said “these are for 2 products and you only bought 5, you need to buy 6”. I will admit that I might have been a little snippy when I informed her that I did indeed buy 6 – and that a nice Kroger employee placed them in my cart for me because he was stocking the shelves at the time. Perhaps that set her off – I’m really not sure… all that I know is that things went downhill quickly. She did see that I bought 6 butters (the last one wasn’t with the others…) so she rang those coupons. She continued to scrutinize my coupons and refer to my receipt – all the while her line was backing up. (Thank goodness my baby was being good or I think I would have had a mommy meltdown right there in the checkout line!)

Finally, she seemed satisfied and gave me my total. I looked at the screen and informed her that she did not scan all of my coupons. She then informed me that she didn’t scan one of my $0.50/1 Crescent Roll coupons because it said “do not double” – even though the first coupon she scanned had doubled. (This set me off – I was seeing RED). I then inquired about my $5/5 Kraft coupon – 1 had gone through but not the other. She mumbled something about it exceeding the product value (not true) and scanned it. My $0.75/1 Freschetta coupon didn’t double either – not sure what happened there.

I can’t remember exactly how it all ended – but I do recall saying that I was not a criminal for using coupons and that I would not be going through her line again. I then marched my butt over to customer service and had a slight meltdown.

Now I know that I tell you all to be cool, calm and collected when this happens to you – but I didn’t do the best job at taking my own advice. I did apologize to the customer service guy for “yelling” at him as I was telling my story, and told him that I knew it wasn’t his fault. He asked me what I wanted and I told him that I wasn’t going to fight over $1 – but that someone need to talk to my “least favorite cashier” about  making me feel like a criminal every time I go through her line. (I have shopped at this store weekly – sometimes more – for the last 9 years – I have spent a few thousand dollars there I would think!).

I left the store nearly in tears (I am not someone who is quick to cry), and started to unload my groceries. That’s when I really got angry. I was angry because I had taken time out of my day to make my  list and clip my coupons only to get hassled. Angry because I am always careful to buy the correct variety and amount listed on the coupon. Angry because I know how to use coupons! She made me feel ashamed and like an idiot – not a good combo. I was further angered because I still ended up spending $110 AFTER coupons – it wasn’t like I was spending no money in the store.

All of that emotion and frustration built up, and that is why I stomped back into the store with a Freschetta Pizza in one hand, a tube of Pillsbury Crescent Rolls in another, with my poor, sweet baby strapped to my chest in her carrier. I’m sure I looked like a mad woman. :-)

This time I got the seasoned customer service rep (the poor guy I spoke to first was on his second day in customer service) and I explained the situation again. As I was explaining, I looked over my receipt and realized she didn’t even scan 2 of the coupons I had given her. The customer service rep. was very apologetic (the “your baby is cute comments” didn’t hurt either), and gave me $10 for my “trouble”. He also refunded me for the 2 products that were not rung properly.

I am sharing this not just to vent and get it out of my system, but to let you know that things like this happen to all of us – even those of us who have been using coupons forever. Fortunately, incidents like this have been rare in my experience, but what it boils down to is this – if you are treated unfairly and your coupons don’t scan properly – you have the right to not purchase the item or return it – and to walk away. Sometimes it is better to do that than to cause a scene, because really? It’s not worth it.

I will continue to shop at my favorite Kroger store because I truly do love shopping there – and because I feel that it was handled properly in the end. I will NOT, however, be going through that particular cashier’s line again – even if I have to wait in line with 2 screaming children attached to my hips. :-)

Are you new to using coupons? Find my best tips here, here, here and here – and do as I say, not as I do when it comes to losing your temper!

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{ 33 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Angela Sheeler September 21, 2010 at 11:21 PM

ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh HUGS 2 you
2morrow is a new day

2 Hillary September 21, 2010 at 11:36 PM

I had this same experience at my local Rite Aid. A particular cashier was treating a LOT of couponers like we were creating coupons, and not using them properly and she would check EVERY single item and match it with the coupon then use excuses why we couldn’t use the coupon. I wrote a letter to the store manager and hand delivered it. I also made sure he knew I teach others how to coupon and run a coupon website where I post deals (not good for business when someone is blogging negative things about your store!) I was surprised what a difference it made. The cashier was much nicer (still not my favorite, but much better) and the manager waves to me and is super nice every time I am in his store. (Probably because he knows if I have a bad experience I will come home and write about it!!) Write to the store manager!! They are making 8 cents per coupon, you don’t deserve to be treated like that! You’re the customer, and you could go to a million other stores to grocery shop. (Even though you might not want to hehe)

3 Jo September 21, 2010 at 11:57 PM

What happens when a deal doesn’t work and you ask the cashier to cancel the sale? Shouldn’t you get your coupons back?
Rite Aid consistently keeps the coupons when I return the product and cancel the sale, and they refund only what I paid out of pocket. What is proper when you ask the cashier to “unring” something? Seems like I should get my coupon back, right?

4 Allison September 22, 2010 at 12:53 AM

Jo: We don’t have Rite Aid here, so I have never shopped there, but a while back Kroger had a Catalina deal running on Purex laundry detergent. I had about a dozen $1 coupons I got from Recyclebank, so I was pretty excited about my free laundry soap!….until I rang up and discovered they had ended the Cat deal. I took the bottles to customer service, and that nice man went over to the register and retrieved my coupons for me! I don’t know if that is policy, but I sure appreciated it!

5 Marianne September 22, 2010 at 4:44 AM

Oh Marcy, what a day!

It’s happened to me, too, though not at my kroger. At my Walgreens, there is an asst mgr who lacks a basic understanding of the wags register system and coupon policy. I simply will not shop there if he is on duty because my time is too valuable and – just like you said – I won’t allow anyone to make me feel like I’m doing something “wrong” by stategically using coupons.

I’m glad you got some resolution and I think it’s important to share these experiences because they DO happen to all of us. And the powers that be at the corporate level (hopefully at least one of them is scanning this via a Google Alert) need to hear this too. Given the tanking economy, coupons aren’t going away any time soon. Stores that want to thrive during this economic downturn need to educate their employees on their own coupon policies.

Chin up!

6 Jennifer September 22, 2010 at 6:06 AM

I’m so sorry Marcy! Maybe now something will change though. You could also write a letter to headquarters or the store manager. I can’t stand it when I am made to feel wrong for using coupons. It even happened to me one time at Target – over a target coupon! Do you feel better now that you have told everyone? I know I would.

7 Christina September 22, 2010 at 6:56 AM

I’ve never had this problem at Kroger or any other store than Walmart. It doesn’t matter what cashier I go to or what Walmart I go to (as we have 2 in our town!) I always have problems trying to use any coupon. I’m glad that you talked to customer service and let them know that you’re dissatisfied. Kroger has really good customer service in my experience. My solution is to drop everything and leave. My husband has actually went in later and talked to a store manager on my behalf. (Which net him a $20 gc.) I feel like if every store would just take time to properly educate every cashier on coupons and how they work we wouldn’t have to go through this.
My ultimate solution is to not shop there anymore. I haven’t set foot in a Walmart in a month and I never will again.

8 Mary @ 4our2cents September 22, 2010 at 7:16 AM

So sorry Marcy, been there too! I also LOVE Krogering, but have a “coupon Nazi” cashier that I avoid at all costs. There is also a new (young) asst. Manager that I try to avoid. Last time there was a buy 2 nabisco cookies and milk get one cookie free (or something lime that- FB offer) it did not ring at the register. The cashier called over this new manager. He told the cashier it was a fraudulent Q. I assured him that it was a FB offer and def not a fake. He still said no and then took the Q. I said if you won’t redeem it I would lime it back. He said it is “store policy” to “confiscate” fakes. (the woman be hind me in line only had a few items and was now cursing me and the store!). I said just finish my order but that I wanted to speak to his manager. The manager also said that they are choosing not to redeem some of the higher value printable (ok, I get it) but that he should not have taken my Q. She did redeem the Q for me.
In the end, all of this was over less than $3, but it is about the principle. I also tried to keep my cool (tried not to go into angry housewife mode) all while explaining to all the employees involved that I would never knowingly use a fake, that I understand there are fakes and that I am just trying to save my family money ( not scam the store!). I too will continue to shop at this Kroger (and others in town too). It is just nice to commiserate with fellow couponers. Keep saving for your families! It is worth it in the end!!!

9 Mary @ 4our2cents September 22, 2010 at 7:19 AM

Sorry my iPad turned “like” into lime as I typed. :)

10 Cathy @ Chief Family Officer September 22, 2010 at 7:30 AM

I’m so sorry this happened to you, but I think it’s great that you shared your story! It always feels good to know that one is not the only one this kind of thing happens to :)

11 Jessica September 22, 2010 at 7:32 AM

this is why i don’t shop at walgreens anymore… no matter what the deal. if the manager of the store doesn’t even know their coupon policy, i’m not interested in educating everyone. i’d rather shop at CVS anyway. :) by the way, i’ve only started couponing in the last 4 months and i am so thankful to you for the work you do on this site! coupons have DRASTICALLY changed our weekly budget. i think the highlight of my couponing experience was yesterday at CVS when i bought two full-size deodorants and two 28-load laundry detergents for TEN CENTS out of pocket, receiving 4 extra care bucks back. wheeeee!

12 Crystal September 22, 2010 at 7:47 AM

Thank you for sharing your story! I think most of us couponers have felt that at one time or another. Its nice to know that I am not the only one who can get a little worked up over $1!

13 jill September 22, 2010 at 8:05 AM

Oh i hate that feeling! I hate to say it, but this is how many of my Kroger experiences turn out. I even had a higher level manager from Kroger call me in response to a complaint I once had about having a coupon refused (the cashier claimed they didn’t accept internet coupons which I knew was NOT correct) and the higher level manager told me that their coupon policy was that they “do not accept coupons if it makes the item too cheap.” WHAT?! At that point, I just laughed and politely got off the phone. I have never had a bad experience at Meijer, though – even when I have messed up (accidentally), they’ve gone out of their way to be helpful!

14 Crystal September 22, 2010 at 8:25 AM

Bless your heart! SO sorry you had this experience. I have had them as well and it is very frustrating like you said when you have so much precious time invested in a shopping trip and you feel like you’re a superstar only to be made to feel lower than pond scum. :)

15 jennifer September 22, 2010 at 9:44 AM

So glad that you went back in and that they compensated you for your trouble. You spent all that time and the cashier didn’t handle your transaction correctly – so frustrating and most of us have been through this situation before too.

There are some days when I am able to handle these situations with grace and somedays when I don’t. I ALWAYS stick with it until I am satisfied one way or another.

Recently, I have just tried to forgive myself when I loose it.

I love your posts! Thanks for sharing!

16 MEL092708 September 22, 2010 at 10:05 AM

I’m so sorry! I know exactly how you feel. I had a similar experience last week at Giant Eagle in PA. The cashier scrutinized all my coupons and even had the nerve to suggest some of them were photocopies (WHICH THEY ARE NOT AND NEVER ARE!). I’ve become pretty good at couponing over the past year due to necessity (and I enjoy it too most of the time) and I know how to use coupons properly. I’m tired of cashiers not knowing how to do their jobs and treating me like a criminal for trying to do good things for my family. I’m so over it. I was actually in tears by the time I left. I’m thinking of taking a few weeks off from shopping over it…it’s hubby’s turn to see what i deal with on a weekly basis!

17 Whitney September 22, 2010 at 11:25 AM

I had a negative coupon experience at Kroger last week! I used to shop there every Monday morning but after the birth of my daughter 5 months ago I’m often forced to go in the afternoon rather than wrestle a toddler and infant out the door at 9 a.m. Since all my favorite cashiers weren’t there I chose what is usually the next best – a teenage boy. Unfortunately, he was new and told me he couldn’t use my Yoplait coupons because I was applying them to products that were manager’s specials. I know they have to “push them through” by touching a button, but this has never been an issue before.

First he asked another cashier, who told him no, and she took it to a manager. Meanwhile, I was weighing the embarrassment of asking them to unbag all my yogurt with the pain of losing the savings I was expecting. I heard the manager say that they weren’t supposed to but that it was “okay” since I was “only saving a dollar.” To everyone here who feels bad about questioning an extra buck – those little dollars add up! I always remind myself that a savings of $1 a week for a year pays for a week’s worth of groceries, or two months of diapers, or a 4 month supply of milk!

My lesson after that day was to TRY to get there in the mornings again and choose my cashiers more carefully.

18 Megs September 22, 2010 at 12:24 PM

*hugs* i’m glad to hear i’m not alone (although sorry that it’s at the expense of someone else feeling foolish and uncomfortable)!

19 Briana September 22, 2010 at 12:28 PM

Waiting extra for a good cashier is ALWAYS worth it!!!

20 Mary @ 4our2cents September 22, 2010 at 1:10 PM

To briana’s point, after a great trip to CVS this morning I had this thought. There are some bad apples out there, but just as many (if not more) gems! I have two CVSs on one street. I always go to the second one because they are so great about coupons! In fact they will even take expired Qs within a few days. I often get a cashier there who say, wow that is awesome how much you saved! I also have a fave cashier at Target. Yes she is a bit meticulous with the Qs, but she is always kind! And if one beeps she tries her best to push it thru. We have often had conversations about being “fellow couponers” and she even askes where I get some of them. I have waited for her lane just because I know I know she won’t stress me out!
Happy Couponing Ladies (and gentlemen!)

21 Layla September 22, 2010 at 1:48 PM

UGH – sorry, Marcy. I get it, though, and sometimes you just get pushed too far by the questioning and arguing and it’s easy to lose it.
A similar thing happened to me at my local Target, where I spend $300-$400 in an average month (!) and I am very loyal. There is one cashier there that I will go out of my way to avoid – it’s all in her attitude as she slowly holds up each coupon, scrutinizes, then turns to me and says, “Did you buy one of these?” She does this with every coupon, after I spent 90 minutes shopping and I’m already tired… I was really mad and nearly in tears last time and it ruined my normally fun monthly Target trip which is rare “me time” for me. I totally get it!

22 Kimberly E September 22, 2010 at 2:43 PM

The regular Kroger cashiers are not friendly at my store either. The appear to be, but when you pull out the coupons, they turn not friendly.

Last week, I was charged 19 times for 1 head of lettuce. The customer service representative was awesome and refunded me the entire amount instead of making me pay for my 1 head of lettuce.

I hope it gets better and I’m glad your baby was good!

23 Melanie September 22, 2010 at 4:31 PM

That is me and Wal-mart. They get ticked off at me because I will price-match from other stores so when they see me get in a line they have been known to have a customer service rep stand right by the cashier and scrutinize every item I am purchasing. When I hand over my coupons, they stand there and read every blasted one in case I might be trying to scam them. If I had my choice I would never step foot in there because of their poor customer service, but since this is a small town, no such luck.

24 Cathy September 22, 2010 at 4:37 PM

So far I have not had an experience like one you described…yet. I have one where I was using some freebie coupons and the cashier did not know how to ring up a free product and this caused us to stay 2 hours to get our coupons entered in (courtesy of Walmart). But to be serious, it was courtesy. They were really nice and patient during this.
The stigma of using coupons is surprisingly still alive even in this economy and I just read in the Sunday paper that “rich” people will more likely use a coupon than those that are at or below the poverty level. Those at the poverty level or lower income neighborhoods avoid the stigma of seeming to be poor. That was shocking to me. Your cashier needs to get over it and it would be best just to pray for her and have the coupon policy ready. Since your blog is really kind of read by many people, it might be wise to inform Kroger of this situation in order to suggest mass training of the store policy in this area. Even though you stated that it was not Krogers fault, the cashier is a representative of their company and she is probably doing this to other people. As a former customer service manager (in a different industry), I would like to know these things in order to make my customers’ shopping experience superb and to improve overall.

25 DW September 22, 2010 at 4:54 PM

I’ve had bad experiences at Kroger, too, which is why I won’t use internet coupons there (or at Walmart for that matter). Which means both stores get very little of my money these days.

26 SGG September 22, 2010 at 5:27 PM

I have a “least favorite cashier” too– just at Harris
Teeter. I WILL NOT go in her lane. If she invites
me over I just say,”no thanks I am fine here.”
Awkward but avoiding her attitude is worth it!

27 Bridgette Coleman September 22, 2010 at 6:59 PM

Ahhhh, Marcy, you are a trooper! I think I would have lost it long before that! So kudos to you. I went through a cash out line at my Kroger a while back with a cashier who’s not bad, but just always in a “the sky is falling” mentality, which I sometimes have a hard time tolerating. She actually commented on how well I did with coupons and such. “Dang right!” was what I felt like saying, but I just smiled knowing I owed my savings in part to you. Us coupon users would be getting crowns for helping to save money. So you go girl for being our trailblazer in coupon glory! Wear your crown proudly! :0) See you next Friday!

28 Rebecca September 22, 2010 at 7:16 PM

There is a cashier JUST like this at my very favorite Vons. This post was so encouraging to me, because usually when I am experiencing cashiers like this, all I can think about is “the blog people all tell me to smile and be friendly” while I am on the verge of crying and making a scene. I am a pretty friendly person, but when you are being treated like a criminal AND are being accused of not “knowing coupons” when in reality you spent hours or more planning that very trip, it is so very hard to be friendly!

29 Danielle September 22, 2010 at 9:32 PM

Sorry for your bad experience. This is why I LOVE my Stop & Shop and Big Y with the check yourself out lanes! I have been there and that’s why I do my own checking out now, even if it means the kids “help” me bag the groceries. The cashiers only have to help me with the coupons that are for “free” items. I go ONLY to my favorite two cashiers (who know what they’re doing) at Target as well.

Also, when I have to walk away from a deal…I do ask for my coupons back. They are MY little pieces of paper with monetary value (just like money), are they not??? :D

30 lynn September 22, 2010 at 10:00 PM

Holy Cow! What a shopping trip and thank you for sharing. It does happen to all of us. I have a grumpy cashier at my store too – and I always avoid her.

31 Amanda Y. September 22, 2010 at 10:01 PM

I can empathize with your whole story, but at the moment I’m hot over the $5 Kraft cheese coupons. Both my local Krogers refused to take an internet printable for that much money and 2 local Walmarts refused as well. Kroger outright refused saying they don’t honor internet printables “that high.” And Walmart said they would only take off the value of one product, which was $2. The most absurd thing about Walmart’s offer, is they then would have gotten reimbursed for $5 from Kraft, while only giving me $2. I’m furious as I am almost out of cheese and have such a wonderful coupon but no one will let me use it! I was about to ask several bloggers I follow why no one had trouble with this yet. I hope if many others are getting treated like I am that a big fuss gets made and corrects this.

32 Joan September 22, 2010 at 10:53 PM

Don’t the stores get reimbursed by the manufacturers for the coupons we use? If they do then why would any store employ a rude cashier who doesn’t like coupons? That is poor customer service. With the rise in coupon usage over the past year it seems that more stores are scrutinizing every coupon. I know there are a few fraudelent coupons out there but I would think the percentage of good ones would highly out number the bad coupons and practicing good customer service by the cashiers would keep those of us using coupons coming back spend more money at their stores. Why do we have to refer to the coupon policies, keep them with us when we shop and then be made to feel like we are stealing? I’m ready to strike! Let’s go girls! LOL!

33 Morgan September 23, 2010 at 7:56 AM

This is why I have started going through the self check out. Even with a lot of items, lots of coupons, etc. it is still better because I don’t have to deal with cashiers who scrutinize every coupon.
I have had this problem several times at Giant Eagle: a cashier scans a coupon that is <$1, the system automatically doubles it, and then the cashier pushes a button to undo the auto doubling. When I ask about it, they tell me they do that because the coupon says "do not double." (Has anyone else ran into this scenario?) Well, why would the system be set up to automatically double a coupon and then have the cashier do extra work to un-double it??? I've tried to argue with several cashiers over this to no avail. What really frustrates me is when many cashiers just ring up the coupons, let the system do it's thing, and let me be on my way — but others put me through all of this hassle.
So, this is why I just go through the self check out. It takes extra time, and sometimes the coupons don't go through properly. When this happens, I have someone come over to help me. They always fix whatever the problem is and I get the coupon values I expected. Even with this extra hassle I still prefer this route because I leave saving the amount of money I expected on the items I carefully selected and matched with coupons.

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