Budget Savvy Diva Opinion: Coupon Fiasco at Target

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This is a classic Budget Savvy Diva post ๐Ÿ™‚ Enjoy!

Coupon Fiasco at Target

Walked into my local Target store – with coupons in hand – excited by all the deals that awaited me. Going through the aisles I matched coupons and product placing my finds in my cart. I headed quickly to the travel section – which is perfect for high value coupons that have no size limit. I happen to have a $1.00 off any tide product – and there happen to be Tide Detergent for $.97! Total FREEBIE ALERT!

After I snagged this freebie – I headed to the cashier – no lines so no problem ๐Ÿ™‚ As the youngish cashier is ringing up my order – I hand over my coupons ( and hold my breathe…. I am always worried something will go wrong – well it did. As I handed over the coupons – I was surprised by the cashiers stunned look – like a deer in the headlights sorta look.

The first coupon to be scanned was tide – no problem right – WRONG!!!!!

He looks at me and states – You can’t use it

Me: Why not?

Cashier: cause the picture’s not right

Me: Excuse me

Cashier: The picture is not the same as the product. ( please note the picture above for reference ( I do not know of a tide product that is just the logo))

Me: Does the coupon not state: ” can be used on ANY tide product.” Is this a Tide Product – pointing to the detergent

Cashier: yes….

Me: Then I can use the coupon.

Cashier: No…. it is not the same as the picture

( no joke that is has the interaction went)
” figuratively I banged my head against the wall”

At this point I ask to see the manager – takes about 5 minutes – finally he comes – I explain the situation… Then he states…

Manager: You cannot use the coupon…it is not the same as the picture.

I kid you not Budget Savvy Diva readers.. I seriously felt like I was in the Twilight Zone…


I ended up leaving Target not defeated but charged to write this article.

The lack of coupon knowledge among cashiers is pretty hideous. I use to work as a manager at a “Target” type store – where cashiers had no training concerning coupons – actually very little training at all – it was this plus the amount of markups that inspired me to quit and start Budget Savvy Diva.

In the end this article is to pose the question – why does there have to be such an unbalance of understanding of coupons in stores. Logically there is so much money invested in coupons even by Target ( target has their own coupons) shouldn’t there be a better understanding of them at cashiers. I mean the cashier is the last and usually only interaction one has at a store – it should be as positive as possible. In a economy where people are being more careful about money should you not try and gain their store loyalty – I think training about coupons is worth that – because Target just lost a customer.

I hope that one day we as couponers will be able to walk into stores and be treated with the respect and understanding – we deserve.

Budget Savvy Diva out!

Want to read more Budget Savvy Diva opinions:

Budget Savvy Divaโ€™s Opinion: Groupon Controversy over FTD Flower Deal โ€“ AND REFUND!

Borders Bankruptcy โ€“ CLOSING 200 Stores โ€“ MUST READ

Budget Savvy Diva Opinion: Misleading Promotion โ€“ What do you think

Another Post Concerning Company Deception and Coupons โ€“ MUST READ

Budget Savvy Diva Opinion โ€“ Company Charging ME Money To Review Their Products โ€“ MUST READ



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  • Heather@Family Friendly Frugality

    I definitely think cashiers and upper management need to be better educated about coupons. I think part of the problem lies with those who intentionally misuse coupons, they give the rest of us a bad name. Which makes cashiers and managers nervous to accept anything that might not be 100% clear cut.

    I say go to another Target and try again ;). I also say you should have asked them to walk you to the laundry detergent section and show you the “product” pictured on that coupon, LOL

  • Kelly

    As a recently back into the game couponer, I find this sort of incident to be the most exasperating part of the process. I am not a scaredy-cat person, so it is ridiculous to me to feel a touch of anxiety every single time I get in line with coupons! I hold my breath to see what will go wrong, what this particular cashier will tell me that conflicts with what another cashier said the last time…etc., etc.
    The only solution I see is to call or email corporate whenever these things occur, so I’ll begin to do that from here on out and I carry store’s printed coupon policies with me. I’ve heard of others actually calling corporate on their own phones from the store and having the manager or cashier “informed” on the spot…all while staying very polite, of course. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Kristin A

    If I were you, I would send the Target corporate offices a link to this post. I think they should do something for your frustration. Ridiculous.

    I’ve had issues with them not wanting to stack coupons – and I’ve called over a manager to show them the policy and it’s been ok – that’s what I thought you’d be writing about. Not about the PICTURE!

    So, for Alexia (one of my favorite brands) if the coupon doesn’t have a picture of the Spicy Chipotle Roasted Sweet Potatoes (my favorite side), I can’t get it?! That is just idiotic!!

  • Dana

    Ugh! There is a large Target store that I USED to shop at regularly–until the problems began, much like your situation. They limited me to four coupons one day; it’s not like I had a stack of them either. I asked for a manager & they called security!!! Who of course said I could only use 4. I no longer shop at that store ๐Ÿ™

  • Carrie Aaron

    I am so glad that I am not the ONLY person who experienced the same situation at the stores. Sometimes I really do not know which store actually has a policy says how many coupon a customer could use in one day.

    Just like Rite Aid’s toilet paper/tissue promotion ($1 get $1 URW, FREE) back in December, many Rite Aid stores in Orange County started to set limit on how many a customer may purchase since the 1st day of promotion. I AM NOT JOKING! The Rite Aid store I usually go to, when I went back for the 2nd time to try to get 10 more boxes/rolls of toilet paper/tissue, the manager had just set a limit of 3 per customer. I bought 10 more rolls of toilet paper the 2nd run, and the register only printed out 3-$1 URW.

    I wasn’t happy with that, and you wouldn’t believe what the cashier said to me! She said, ” Well, if everyone is like you, just come in and buy 10+ / 20+ toilet paper/tissue, we would not have any left to sell to other customers, and besides HOW CAN YOU GET EVERYTHING FOR FREE?!”

    Uh, I don’t rob, I don’t steal, why is that my problem that Rite Aid did not have enough inventory in stock?

  • Dana @ nwbargains

    Yes, Rite Aid is becoming notorious for doing that lately! Some stores will have it posted, some stores will not. Then it’s totally random on how many +UPR you actually receive lol.

  • Stephanie Barber

    Oh, no… I love Target! Actually, in my area, they are the most lenient with coupons! Your situation was a bit ridiculous since it did say ANY tide product and did not list any restrictions, I would have written a letter to corporate. I’ve been to a couple local grocery stores where they refused to take a coupon because it wasn’t the “same picture” (on one case, it was the same product, same size, same flavor..just they had changed the way the package looked!) I get the whole minor anxiety over coupons at the check out too! It shouldn’t be that way…

  • Anne

    I went to two Targets last weekend. Target cashier #1 let me use a the $5 demin coupon on a pair of jeans and the 20% coupon on a Merona item. I accidentally grabbed a Merona sweater that was missing the clearance sticker, so I went back to exchange it. The manager at returns said I could not use the 20% coupon on the sweater because it was a clearance item and was a “special promotion”…he would not even scan it to see if it worked. I left without the item.

    At Target #2, I again had a second Merona clearance Merona sweater and a pair of $6.24 jeans. She did not notice the sweater was on clearance, and scanned that coupon. She did, however, notice the jeans would end up being $1 and said she could not scan the coupon for the jeans because her manager would be mad at her.

    In the end, one store let me use the jeans coupon and the other used the Merona coupon. Both stores let me use the pain relief coupon ($1 off a $1.09 item).

  • Amanda

    I honestly think you should call corporate. I don’t think it’s Target as a company, but the employees at that one store. I’ve been to my Target three times this week and they are amazing about coupons…they never have an issue and if they do, they just override it. I also use coupons a lot at Rite Aid and I’ve only had one issue when the Special K was free. But I live in Chesapeake, VA where there are Targets, Rite Aids, Walgreens, etc EVERYWHERE so I just try another one if I have a problem. I have the most issues at Walgreens but mainly due to their coupon policy. Some stores just have better trained associates then others. But corporate is usually pretty good at addressing these type of issues.

  • Heather Roberts

    I think I would have asked the manager exactly where they keep the Tide transformers box.

    I think what a LOT of cashiers and maybe even managers don’t keep in mind is that the manufacturers ran those coupons off to promote the sales of their product, they ran it with specifications and probably realized a savvy shopper may get a good deal or even free product sometimes. The manufacturer didn’t print those coupons off to give you anxiety attacks make you feel like a criminal for using the coupons or any of those other negative feelings and things that happen to couponers. The store isn’t losing revenue, the manufacturer doesn’t ask them did you accept this coupon only under the specified terms? Unless it’s a store run promotion the stores hardly have the right to police any coupons you attempt to use.

    When I used to work for wal-mart the big thing was, “does it scan? If it scans and they bought a product from that brand don’t question it.” Maybe that was just local but more stores should adopt similar policies.

  • Ana

    Let me tell you all about my experience with target, it was always the good one and I even worked for them in the past; here in Louisiana . I had a huge problem was with Walmart. I went to the store made a purchase of a trial size shampoo that cost 97c and had a coupon for a $1.00 and it didn’t exclude trial size. I spoke with the manager and the manager said she didn’t know anything about the new policy. All the cashiers looked at me saying no. They made me feel like I was not only from Mars, but also a lier. I called the Corporation on the same day. They said sorry and had the Store Manager call me the next day. To conclude, I made my point across now I have them to back me up if it happens again, because the store manager gave me her name and told me next time for me to ask for her. All well I have that in my favor now, but do you think I will be going back to that store. No way, unless I have to. I have other Walmart to go to in the same city. Do Not let that back you down. I only got 97c off not the $1.00 off, but I made my point across and next time they will be saying sorry to me. If we don’t make a complaint nothing is going to happen.

  • Lee

    Ever thought about contacting Target (or whatever company does the screw up) and telling them your experience? I make sure to contact the company when stuff like this happens. I have gotten free coupons (7 Up), free dinners (Long John Silvers), free desserts (Rosa’s Cafe), etc. Just make sure you’re polite and tell them “I really like (whatever the product is) and have used it for (however long). But I was really disappointed when…”

    I actually went to Red Lobster to pick up take out once. The lobster (just one part of the dinner) was waaaaay over cooked. I called the manager and she MAILED me a gift card for the total price of our bill! (Which, BTW, was DELISH!) Sometimes when a local rep of the company won’t respond, I contact the company itself. I have only once had them fail to respond (are we listening Albertsons?). Large chains really want to keep apprised of how their subsidiaries are doing.

  • Elisha T

    So after reading this “episode”, (lord knows it will happen to us sooner or later) my question is “why must we be more educated on the coupon policies than the actual company employees?” and “why do employees look at us like we’re robbing the store or their own personal paychecks when we are able to find great deals using the resources that are provided to us?” By chance, does anyone feel that “Extreme Couponing” is beginning to make a mockery of how we non-extremist save money to survive in todays economy?

  • [email protected]

    Do not feel bad, I stopped going to the local Concord, NH Walmart, and now go to the one about 40 minutes away, because the cashiers in Concord, are clueless there. I even talked to the manager 2x. First excuse, we do not take coupons on sale items, 2nd coupon was for “any nivea product” oh, they didn’t mean that one????

    Remember to keep a good mood, though, my thought is I know I am right.

  • Becca@Moodiest Mom's Fabulous Finds

    I have Target’s corporate phone number saved in my phone because of hearing about these situations and plan on calling right in front of the cashier and manager and whomever else wants to witness it. I also have Walmart, Walgreens, and CVS numbers saved too. I think it is so sad that the basics of reading what something says is beyond some of them that they must refer to pictures to know what they are supposed to do now!! Training must be improved!!! Thanks for sharing!

  • Holly

    For me, this begs a very large question. What about targets (very own!) up&up coupons for x amount off a VARIETY of items. Those pictures are not on their coupons… Or how about their x amount off on a women’s mossimo product, or x amount off on their shoes.. Given the inital standards set for your trial redemption, I’d be writing a very descriptive letter explaing such things.

    My biggest problem with 99% of the world is that they cannot read or follow directions. I see it time and time again on giveaways, special coupons, special freebies, redeeming coupons..

  • Kathy

    I have not had any problems at my Target. Walmart is my problem. They either dont have the stuff i am looking for or they dont have the sale im looking for. I have yet to get a good deal on anything there. The other day (stupid me) went on a sat. and it was busy. my husband picked the shortest line with of corse a sweet old lady( atleast she looked sweet) she rang everything and when i gave her my 10 coupons she made me pull all my stuff out of the bags and looked every item and coupon over and over. She then started complaning about all the coupons they get now. I wanted to tell her to stop complaining they are making money from taking them!!! very frustrating

  • Anna

    I’ve had very poor experiences with Dollar General & Walgreens. First let me preface this post by saying that not all stores are the same and not all managers feel the same way as those that I have encountered. With that being said, I walked into Dollar General yesterday with 6 Nivea Body Wash coupons each valued at $3 off, they had 6 on the shelf, however, I only wanted 2 even though I had enough for all 6. The cashier yelled at me and said โ€œyou coupon people are a jokeโ€! She refused to honor the coupon, though I followed the rules of the coupon to a โ€œTโ€ and I had the Dollar General coupon policy in hand. I remained calm and asked for the district manager to be contacted to which she obliged and voila, I walked out with all 6 bottles in hand.

    At Walgreens, I had 3 Rightguard BOGO coupons and 3 BOGO rain checks that corresponded to those coupons. They had 6 bottles on the shelf, the assistant manager was a wonderful help and she was ready to ring us up, however she needed assistance and called for the store manager, that’s when it all went downhill. As usual, (with coupon policy in hand), the manager explained to me “you can not use a BOGO coupon on a BOGO sale”, to which I responded “Is that a new policy”? He too refused to sell them so I requested that a district manager be contacted to properly interpret the coupon policy. He immediately refused to contact the district manager and proceeded to tell me “I’m the chief of this store, and what I say goes”. He then advised me that he can not accept rain checks from a different Walgreens store (which was a different reason from the BOGO issue), and when I asked for clarification of the policy he advised that he has the right to refuse my business. Remaining calm, I again asked for the district manager to be contacted and was again refused service. I was however able to obtain a customer service phone number and was contacted within 1 1/2 hours by the district manager himself. He apologized profusely and was able to clarify the policy to ensure that there were no misinterpretations. He kindly reminded me that indeed the store manager does have the right to limit the number of items distributed to each customer as per the written coupon policy (which is clearly stated in writing), however, he further indicated that due to the fashion in which I was treated, coupled with the store managers refusal to contact him as per my request and due to the differing explanations I received (which were all incorrect) were unacceptable and inappropriate conduct by any employee. He asked me to return to the store with my BOGO rain checks and BOGO coupons to pick up the items that I wanted.

    There is a definite backlash going on against ethical couponers such as ourselves and it is so important that we remain civil and ask to speak to those in higher authority that know how their coupon policies are to be properly interpreted. These people on Extreme Couponing are truly giving us a bad reputation and a bad name.