Coupon Pep Talk: Shopping with Integrity

A dear friend once asked me, “How much is your integrity worth?”  That was long before I began couponing, but it fits in nicely with today’s theme.

The first step to handling coupon disputes and mistreatment from cashiers, starts before that ugly situation even arises.

It starts with us, the shoppers, the couponers, the bargain hunters…

We need to be shoppers with integrity.

  • we will be respected and trusted if we are known to be an honest rule playing customer
  • we support couponers everywhere, when we play by the rules
  • it really is just the right thing to do

So how do we shop with integrity?

We can be polite and friendly to everyone around us.

  • say hello to your cashiers, smile, be sweet, ask them how their day is, be the bright spot in their day
  • offer people on line extra coupons if you have them, and sweetly warn them, before they start unpacking their cart, that you have a lot of coupons and will be a while

This will make for a smoother shopping experience in the long run and your cashier will have a harder time giving you a problem with your coupons, if you were actually the first person to smile and ask them how their day was.

We must follow coupon rules and ethics.

This is the crux of shopping with integrity.

Though it would be easier to try and sneak some extra or inappropriate coupons in, is our integrity really worth that $0.50?  Our honesty and integrity surely must be worth more than a few coupons.

  • only use coupons how they are intended:
    —if it is $1 off of 2, then buy 2 products and use 1 coupon;
    —if it is $1 off of any Huggies, than use it for any size or style Huggies you buy,
    —if it is $1 off of Huggies Little movers, than only use it for Huggies little movers.  —Make sure you are buying the correct product and size that the coupon specifies.
    —Any other use is FRAUD, and fraud is a CRIME.
  • do not use expired coupons
  • do not photocopy coupons-again it is fraud
  • learn and follow your store’s coupon policies
  • do not gang cut your coupons-that is do not lay a ton of inserts together and cut out the coupons all at once.  This is not against the law, but it is not looked upon too favorably.  Read more about gang cutting here.
  • do not be excessive, do not clear a shelf

Now sometimes, we might make a mistake.  When that happens, we can apologize and try and remedy the situation.  For example, the other day, my coupon beeped.  She was reading the coupon.  I asked what was wrong.  She said that the coupon said $1 off of 2.  I had been in a rush and didn’t read my coupon.  I apologized, took the coupon back and asked to take the other item off, that I would get it at another time.  It was an honest mistake.

Some of this might be new information for you.  I will be honest and say that when I first couponed, I used coupons inappropriately because I did not know the coupon rules.  Even the blogs I read, did not inform me!   Now that I know what is right, I do the right thing.  If you have been doing things the wrong way, now you know the right way and can do better.  Don’t beat yourself up, just do the right thing in the future.

So how much is your integrity worth?

Believe me, I know it is tempting to try and sneak an extra coupon in or use a coupon for another product just so we can save a bit more.  But really, when we are tempted to do this, we should really just ask ourselves, is our integrity really worth the value of a coupon?

Additionally, if you are caught, the cashier will probably remember you and will scrutinize your coupons even more the next time.  You will probably be on their radar from then on.

Benefits of Shopping with Integrity:

  • you have a much better chance of being respected and liked by your cashiers
  • if you do have a problem (which we will address in the next post) there should at least be several people in the store who can vouch for you that you are legit, kind and a shopper with integrity
  • you can feel confident because you are doing the right thing

What’s next?

Now I realize, you might have been expecting something a bit different than this post, but stay tuned, more is coming!

I believe shopping with integrity lays the foundation for a good relationship with your cashiers and store management.  Hopefully, shopping with integrity can prevent you from being mistreated, but unfortunately this is a fallen world and nobody is perfect and at some point, somebody will be rude to you because you use coupons.

Stay tuned for what to do when this happens!

Do you have any questions about coupon ethics or coupon rules? Please leave a comment if you do and I would be happy to answer it for you!

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7 Responses to Coupon Pep Talk: Shopping with Integrity

  1. Mary Alice says:

    Can you explain gang cutting? From your brief description, it seems that it is simply another way to cut out coupons. Why is it better to cut them out one at a time vs. several at a time? I can’t imagine how you cut out a coupon effects anything (assuming that you are not cutting off the expiration date or any part of the UPC code) how a coupon is used or how a cashier handles the coupon.

    Thanks in advance!

    • Keith & Steph says:

      ok, I don’t have much experience with it, but I have spoken directly with a manager about it once. It is not looked upon very nicely by management.

      yes, it is another way to cut your coupons. while it is not against the law, I don’t advise it. I included a link in the post so you can read more about this issue.

  2. Mary Alice says:

    I think that with the rise of stores only allowing a set number of coupons per item (for example Shop Rite only allows up to 4 coupons per product to be doubled) will cut down on this problem quite significantly.

  3. Keith & Steph says:

    yes, I think so, except that you could still cut 4 coupons at a time and they don’t want to see any cut the same.

    apparently it is very controversial. I just think it is best to avoid it, since the stores frown on it and it could potentially hurt them in the long run.

    I try to stay in everyone’s good graces…but let me tell you…when I have a problem with someone…..well, you will read about it next week.

  4. Lennis says:

    Thank you so much for the link to the article on Gang Cutting! Wow I am a newbie and had no idea because I buy 12 newspapers each week and usually cut all my coupons at once! What in the world I would have never known that my local store might not be reimbursed! I now will cut them one by one! But notice the trend…couponers are made to feel like they are doing something wrong because other people to the wrong thing!

    Now I just have to comment on your discussion on integritiy and linking that to how we treat our cashiers! in•teg•ri•ty 1. adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.
    I totally agree that we should conduct ourselves with integrity and that by virtue of following the principles of integrity we should treat everyone including our store cashiers with kindness and the respect they deserve. However, this should be the way we behave not because we coupon but because it is the right thing to do!
    I am extremely friendly, so by virtue of my personality I always speak with the cashiers but I do that with the customers in the store too! But there are people who are extremely shy and by virtue of that God given personality, might not be inclined to ask as cashier how their day is going, etc. That does not mean that the cashier has the right to treat them with disrespect because of it!

    I always get in line and tell the person behind me that I have coupons and that this might take a while, but again, if you are shy you might not be inclined to do that! Having said that what I want to highlight is that we need to make sure that what is happening with couponers is not what I would call ‘discrimination’; the same discrimination that in the past had folks sitting in the back of the bus. The onus is on the store and their cashiers to treat their customers always with respect regardless if they have been said ‘hello’ to or not. More over the store has an obligation to inform their customer of any issues, in a kind and respectful manner. That is at the core of my issue with SR that they have lost sight of who is the customer and by virtue of that they don’t treat them with respect ALWAYS!

    • Keith & Steph says:

      yes, i agree with all you said, I will talk about that more in the next post. yes. i didn’t mean to imply that if you don’t shop with integrity you should get treated poorly. i guess what i meant was, and i will talk about this more further in the future, is that, if you have been going above and beyond to shop with integrity and be kind, when you do have a problem, you will have more to stand on and be able to command more respect and get farther….if you have been shopping that way. you will also have an easier time with cashiers and maybe avoid some problems in the future.

      but yes, no one deserves to be discrimanated or treated poorly!!!!!! and the store manager said that it doesnt matter what we buy or what coupons we use, we should be treated with respect. so don’t worry i am getting to that.

      and yes, we should shop that way because it is the right thing!!!!
      sorry, i have to run, i am at work on my lunch!

      • Lennis says:

        Thanks so much for addressing this and for responding. The behavior of the cashier and staff at any business should not be predicated/contingent of the behavior of the customer. When I was a cashier, the customer was always right! If they were wrong we advised them of that fact in a kind, non-condescending manner always remembering that my job was directly tied to that customer. DESPITE how they may have acted!

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