Double Coupons – They Could Cost You!
I recently tried (and failed) a recent Super Double Coupon promotion at my local Kmart. The bad news: I was unable to check out due to a glitch in their system, and I left all my items at the register. The good news: I shopped elsewhere and (surprisingly) saved so much more money.
To make a long story short, I prepared for the Super Double Coupon promotion at Kmart for days. I cut, sorted, stacked, and planned. I was so stoked to be able to double all my manufacturer's coupons up to and including $2. There was money to be saved! After hours of shopping, however, I was faced with not being able to check out (details to come at a later date.) I left the store dismayed and headed over to Walmart, where they gladly accepted my coupons, my preferred method of payment, and my gratitude.
The experience was trying, but valuable. I learned a lot about store promotions and coupons in general. Here's the dirt on a (sometimes) dirty practice:
- Stores that double are often higher priced to begin with. An example is the $4.98 bottle of shampoo that I was going to buy at Kmart with a $1.00 manufacturer's coupon (which doubled, would have made the shampoo $2.98.) At Walmart, this same shampoo was only $3.89. With the same coupon (not doubled), it was only $2.89, and I didn't need a special “promotion” to get it. Another example is the “sale priced” candle kit for “only” $8.99 at Kmart. With my $5 coupon (which didn't double), it still cost me $3.99. Across the street at Target, they were selling it for an every day low price of $5.99. With my coupon, it was 99 cents. (No kidding.)
- Stores that offer select promotions don't always keep product in stock. I was so pumped to see a particular body wash on sale for $2 at Kmart. With my $1 off coupon, the product would have been free. I say “would have” because they only carried a few on the shelf at a time. Less than a few hours after the promotion began, they were all gone. (It does me no good to get a “great deal” on something out of stock.) Rainchecks don't help in this case, either.
- These same stores can sometimes be selective in the sizes and styles they offer. An example is my favorite pain reliever, which comes in 24 caplets, 40 caplets, or 100 caplets. With a doubled $2 coupon, I should be able to buy the smallest sized bottle (priced at $3.98) for free – if Kmart even carried it. Walmart, on the other hand, carried all 3 sizes, and even had an exclusively-packaged size that included another sample for free. It was only a few cents more for this bonus package, and I walked away with far more product, for less money.
- Some stores are not equipped to deal with coupons. The most aggravating part of the Kmart experience was how the register rang up the coupons. For about 50% of the coupons, they wouldn't “attach” to the product they were being redeemed for. This prompted a little screen to pop up, asking the cashier which one of the 100 products it was intended for. She would then ask, “Was this for the bodywash, toothpaste, diapers, etc, etc,” going down the whole list. I would simply reply, “look at the coupon. It has a picture of diapers on it.” Walmart, on the other hand (and stores like Target) just scan the coupon and they are done.
Are there advantages to stores like Kmart offering Super Double Coupons? Sure, if you can go in for a few odd items and be satisfied. I, however, like to buy all my goods at one location. I tend NOT to stockpile 56 bottles of shampoo. I prefer to use coupons only on things I'm buying anyway. I'm simple like that.
So for now, I'll stick to my old couponing ways. These ways actually SAVE me money. They don't lead me into buying hundreds of dollars of overpriced stuff to begin with.
For those of you who were able to take advantage of the Kmart deal and made out ahead, I'm really happy for you. Seriously. (But did you have to take ALL of the bodywash?)