CATALDO COLUMN: Does policy equal uniformity?
Have you taken a few minutes to familiarize yourself with your favorite stores’ coupon policies? Most stores have a written coupon policy, which you usually can find on the store’s website or at the customer service counter inside the store.
Coupon policies are invaluable tools for coupon shoppers, as they contain the answers to many questions. Can I use two coupons on a Buy One, Get One Free sale? Will my store accept a competitor coupon? This is spelled out in the policy.
The coupon policy can clear up confusion in the checkout lane. Imagine this: You have an issue with a cashier refusing to accept a coupon, but you know that according to the store’s policy, they should accept it. Simply pull out the coupon policy and show the cashier, and it becomes easy to resolve. Many readers have told me that they like to carry a printout of the policy in their coupon wallets, or pull up the policy on the store’s website using a smartphone.
But what happens when your store doesn’t have a coupon policy? It becomes more difficult to plan shopping trips because you don’t know what your store will accept. And in the case of cashier confusion, you’ve got nothing to refer back to.
Here’s an email from a reader with a coupon policy dilemma:
Q: What do you do when your store has a great coupon policy but is threatening to get rid of it? The biggest chain of stores in our area recently was sold to a new owner. The new owner announced they are going to take away the corporate coupon policy and let each store decide what kind of coupons to take and what not to accept.
This chain’s current policy is great. They accept competitor coupons and let you use a dollar-off on one item and a BOGO coupon on the second. But you would not believe how often the cashiers don’t know the store’s coupon policy at all. Many times they gloat and say, “No, we don’t do that,” and I pull out the policy and nicely say, “Yes, right here it says you do.”
The new owner is saying they want to give the stores the freedom to accept whatever they want because each location is in a different community and they should set their own rules.
A: I’m aware of this situation because it’s happening to one of my favorite chains where I live. The new owner says they don’t think a “one-size-fits-all” coupon policy is appropriate.
I don’t agree with the change any more than this reader does. Policies and rules exist to maintain order and consistency among stores.
Ditching a good policy in favor of a free-for-all is akin to allowing each town make up its own traffic laws.