Yesterday I shared with you basic rules and policies about coupons you must follow. Today I'm going to talk about those gray areas. This is where we get into the meaty stuff. Coupon etiquette and behavior.
Before we dive in I feel the need to preface this post. See, I've become fairly conservative in my opinions about couponing/stockpiling/and deal-getting. For instance, here's how I'd handle the following situations (though I am NOT suggesting you would need to follow suit…this is only for your understanding of my personal shopping style):
There is an awesome sale on diapers at Rite Aid, and I'm out. When I get to the store, there are four left. I'd be likely to take two. I might check another Rite Aid if I have the time and interest, or I might ask a cashier if they plan on getting more stock or ask for a rain check. If I don't end up with 10 packs of diapers, I shrug it off, figuring there will be another diaper deal worth doing before the two packs I bought run out. This sort of thing rarely frustrates me anymore. (Yes, it used to.)
I learn Walgreens is having an awesome money-maker deal on razors. Honestly? I'd do the deal once. While it's a good deal, I can earn more money sitting at home working than "making" $5 driving to the store and "buying" razors. Once I account for time involved preparing the deal, gas spent driving to the store, etc., doing more than one trip usually doesn't make sense for me. I'm not a fan of asking cashiers to do back-to-back transactions for me, so I only will do this if it's a deal that matters a great deal to me.
Oh, and by the way, I redeemed all my Register Rewards today on baby wipes. No, they weren't on particularly good sale. I just needed them, didn't want to pay out of pocket, and sort of want a break from the burden of managing Register Rewards for awhile. Are you shocked??
Bottom line? I've slowly evolved into a no-frills couponer. I'll do the deals that make sense for me, and leave the glucose monitors for the customers with diabetes. All that being said, I competely recognize not everyone reading this will agree with my opinion, and that's fine. However, I'm not gonna sit here and dilute what I really want to say, so I'm just gonna say what I feel on this topic.
Now that we've cleared up that lil' matter, let me share my rules of good coupon etiquette. Most of these *should* just be good manners and common sense, but I feel it's important for me to spell them out so I can do my part in sending polite folks out into the stores who give couponers (and this blog) a good name!
1. Do not be a shelf clearer. First come, first served? The early bird gets the worm? Yeah, maybe. But buying all of Walgreens 12 Vaseline Infusion lotions and leaving none for others (and still asking for more?) is rude. Of course the store has the perogative to limit quantities, but I have to ask – why would you put the store in that awkward situation in the first place? Now, if there are two of an item, OK, I could see that. But if there are 27 and you take 27, and you know full well it's a deal others are likely looking forward to, you are being rude. Please also consider that stores such as Walgreens and Rite Aid do not maintain the same stock of larger stores (think Target).
2. Be polite to your cashiers. Now I've been frustrated a time or two before, I'm not gonna lie. But is a doubler coupon worth having security escort you out? Remember the bigger picture of what you are trying to achieve and it will help you when you're having a bad day checking out. (Incidentally, I'd say for every 1 trip that doesn't go as planned at checkout, I have 10 or more that do!). Being polite also means be organized with your coupons and items before you head to the register. Don't be deciding then and there what you want and what you don't. Sure, I undertstand unexpected things might pop up, but control what you can control.
3. Be polite to other customers. For goodness sakes, if there is a person standing behind you with a Coke, let them go in front of you.
4. Don't hog or steal coupons. This one might make me unpopular, but I do NOT think it is acceptable to take "peelies" off products for later use. What am I talking about? Peelies are little coupons affixed directly on a product. The intention is to have you use the coupon on THAT item. Many folks will snatch them off and save them for a better deal elsewhere. While I do think this practice is OK for blinkies and tearpads (so long as you aren't taking the whole blinkie machine), I do not think it's OK when the coupon is stuck directly on a product. Now, if YOU buy that product and decide to redeem it later, fine. You purchased that product; you also purchased that coupon. Furthermore – and I can't believe I even have to say this – it is NOT ok to rummage through unopened packages you have no intention of buying for coupons! I recall an oatmeal deal late winter (you can tell I'm into the oatmeal deals, no?) and noticed someone had tampered through several of the boxes, presumably looking for coupons. Damaging products you don't intend to buy is called stealing in my book. The retailer will have a HARD time selling half-ripped boxes of oatmeal.
5. Don't be a coupon snob. I'll admit, I can get like this if I don't watch it! What is a coupon snob? It's that sort of air that no matter what deal you just did, I could've done it better. So you bought a box of Kashi cereal for $1? Well I bought the same box for a profit of 14 cents! You bought one bottle of hairspray for 50-cents? That's nothing. I scored 27 bottles for that same amount. And it goes on and on. You know what I've decided? If you start saving money – ANY money on your groceries, you deserve to be congratulated, not frustrated by the fact you could've done better. I secretly believe the deal can ALWAYS be better. There is NO perfect deal. (Your 27 bottles of hairspray will be on sale next week for 15 cents.) Especially those that are old pros at this, please be mindful of newbies! Encourage them. It's so easy to feel overwhelmed starting out. Cheer on every $1-off coupon! And newbies, pat yourself on the back everytime you save a buck or two. Don't worry about how it could've been better – think about how it could've been worse!
Now if you feel like you've been sternly lectured, I'm sorry. It's not my intention. I just see a lot of craziness out there, and I don't want you to be a part of it. For more on this topic, you might be interested to read the coupon ethics stance I've taken for posting deals on this blog.
I really want to hear from my readers on this one. Have you observed obnoxious behavior? Or perhaps you work as a cashier and could offer your perspective? Think there's some etiquette I'm missing? Are you a blogger that has posted on this topic in some form and want to share a link? Please speak up. Whether we agree on all the points or not, I do think we can agree this is an important topic and one worth discussing.