Originally Published: February 21, 2012 9:56 p.m.
Last week, we covered frequently asked questions about coupon overage. This week, we'll tackle another dilemma for beginners: The difference between manufacturer and store coupons.
I have a $1 coupon for a brand of cheese. The coupon has the supermarket's logo on it. Is it a store coupon? Can I use it at a different store? - Roger H.
I have always been under the impression that if a coupon says it's a manufacturer coupon, any store can accept it, even if another store's name is advertised on the coupon. However, I just ran across a manufacturer coupon with the disclaimer that it could only be used at a particular store. I would appreciate it if you addressed this issue. - Pam R.
Dear Roger and Pam,
Let's start by looking at the difference between a store coupon and a manufacturer coupon.
A manufacturer coupon is issued by the company that makes the product. All manufacturer coupons share a few characteristics: a standard GS1 barcode, a physical mailing address in the fine print - so the retailer knows where the coupon should be sent for redemption - and the words "manufacturer coupon" printed somewhere on the surface.
A store coupon is a little different, both in form and function. The barcode will look different from the one on a manufacturer coupon. It's an internal store barcode that can only be read by that store's registers. A different supermarket or retailer register would not be able to scan it. A store coupon typically has no mailing address on it, either. It's for the store's use only. A store coupon may say "store coupon" or "retailer coupon." A store coupon offers a better sale price at the register and a deeper discount for the shopper. A store coupon lowers the price on a sale item, and it can be stacked with a manufacturer coupon for additional savings.
Keep in mind that you might see a store's name or logo on both manufacturer and store coupons. A store's logo does not mean that a coupon is a store coupon; the other identifying features noted above are the indicators. It's common to see manufacturer coupons with a different store's names or logos. Depending on your store's coupon policy, you might be able to use those coupons at a different store, as long as they are manufacturer coupons and the store can be reimbursed for it.
One of my local supermarkets notes in its policy that it will accept a manufacturer coupon, even if it its only redeemable at a competing store. This is a smart decision on the part of the store! In the past, I have used a Catalina manufacturer coupon issued at one store to get the best price on the item at my store. I can use the coupon at my supermarket and get the best deal on the item. Other stores in my area are not as accommodating, and their policies will not allow them to accept a manufacturer coupon with another store's name or logo on it.
Remember, coupon acceptance at any store is a privilege, not a right. There are no rules or laws stating that a store must accept coupons at all. It's always a good idea to view a copy of your store's coupon policy to determine what kinds of coupons the store will accept.
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 email@example.com.
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