Originally Published: April 24, 2012 9:56 p.m.
Every week, I receive tons of reader feedback, from questions about coupons to suggestions for other readers. This week's column is a grab bag of that feedback, from a question about expired coupons to a plea for patience from a customer service employee.
My local grocery store accepts coupons that are expired as long as they still scan. But who pays for that expense, the manufacturer of the coupon or the store? Also, is there a turnaround time for the store so it receives credit for the coupon?-Susan P.
It varies by manufacturer, but there's usually a window of time after the expiration date of a coupon when the store can send it in for redemption. The grace period can range from 90 to 180 days. If the store turns in its expired coupons within that window, they will receive reimbursement. A store that accepts expired coupons that do not scan will take the hit for the expense, not the manufacturer.
I have been in retail for 40 years and I would like you to explain some couponing etiquette to our customers. Cashiers always try to take care of the coupon ladies. But why do some of them treat us so badly? Please let your readers know that we sign paperwork that says we can lose our jobs if we accept expired coupons. Also, please ask your readers to understand that counterfeit coupons are always circulating. We have a list at least six pages long that we use to check the validity of a coupon. Be patient and show us some respect, and we will do what we can to help you.-Judy R.
I'll happily remind my readers that there's no reason to treat cashiers with aggression. Most cashiers will be happy to accept valid coupons without issue.
Not long ago, you discussed what to do if your store is sold out of a sale item. You failed to mention that rain checks are actually covered by law. The Federal Retail Food Store Advertising and Marketing Practices Rule requires grocery stores to provide rain checks, or substitute an equivalent product to paying customers. Stores can get around this rule if they prove they ordered enough of the product to meet anticipated demand, or they state in the ad that quantities are limited. Shoppers should contact management and tell them what happened. Usually stores are eager to correct the problem. - Em L.
I work for a retail company that processes coupons. I've always been under the impression that if a coupon says "manufacturer coupon" on it, any store can accept it, even if another store paid to advertise their name on the coupon. However, I ran across a coupon the other day that said "manufacturer coupon" and also had the printed statement, "Only redeemable at [name of store]." Could you address this issue in your column?-Pam T.
While a store may put its name or logo on a coupon for promotional purposes, a manufacturer coupon is an offer that is reimbursed by the manufacturer. Many stores include wording in their coupon policies that state that they'll accept all manufacturer coupons, no matter what is printed on them. It's best to double-check your store's coupon policy just to be sure.
Jill Cataldo, a coupon workshop instructor, writer and mother of three, never passes up a good deal. Learn more about couponing at her website, www.jillcataldo.com. Email your own couponing victories and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.