Reading the comments on my post yesterday about the changes in the Target Coupon Policy, I see that many of you feel it is fair and others not so much. Personally I can live with the changes and understand why they are happening.
While I think the majority of couponers are looking to save on their grocery bill and household expenses and build a modest stockpile while playing by the rules, there are those who completely stop at nothing and commit coupon fraud as a way of life. They are out there, and stores have to do what they see as fit to try and stop the losses they are experiencing.
It makes me think of a story a friend of mine told me. She was shocked when a cashier friend of hers had told her about a woman who put eggs, milk & bread up on the belt at checkout and proceeded to hand her coupons for toothpaste, shampoo and crackers. When the cashier told her she could not take her coupons, the woman waved her hand slowly and said “just take the coupons”. The cashier told her- “Ma’am I cannot take your coupons, you did not buy any of these items.” So the woman slowly waved her hand again and quietly told her to “just take the coupons”. Finally exasperated, the cashier said to her- “Look lady, you are not a Jedi and I cannot accept your coupons!”.
Now while I certainly got a chuckle at the Star Wars reference, the sad fact is that it is not funny because it’s true, and sadder still that things like this happen every day. I think the changes are necessary to try and dissuade the dishonest and protect Target from Fraud and also try and prevent customers from finding a cleared shelf. So anyway, I thought I would take a minute to go over the new items in the policy and throw my two cents out there…
1. Limit of 4 identical coupons per household, per day (unless otherwise noted on coupon)
The limit stated is for a maximum amount of like coupons per day unless your coupon states otherwise. So, if your coupon says one per customer, then it’s just one. If the coupon has no limits on it, then you are allowed to use four. Is it tougher for a large family to stock up at Target? Yes, but they have to set the limit somewhere and personally I can live with this. I am thankful it is at 4 and not two and it seems reasonable to me. Unilever for example now limits their coupons to 2 per customer per day- so it could be worse and I believe more and more manufacturers will be setting limits on their coupons in the near future. So the way I look at it is Target is just jumping on the bandwagon along with P&G, Unilever and other manufacturers sooner than later.
2. Returns of items purchased using Manufacturer coupons may receive coupon value returned in the form of a Target GiftCard.
I think many of you feel like if you use a .50 cent coupon on an item you are returning you will absolutely be given the coupon value back on a Gift Card instead of cash or your original method of payment. While I cannot say for sure, I really don’t think this is an absolute. If you note the word “may” – I think this will be done at their discretion. I believe that this new point in the policy is to try and deter those who are deliberately buying something with a high $ coupon and returning it to pocket the value of the coupon.
Retailers are required to give you back the value of manufacturers’ coupons because they will be in turn submitting it for reimbursement regardless of whether you return an item. The value of Target coupons are not to be refunded, because the store is not collecting any money for them.
3. We reserve the right to accept, refuse or limit the use of any coupon.
I will admit that this point in the policy sounds a little frightening, but I again believe it is there to protect Target, and for the majority of us, it will have no bearing. Counterfeit coupons are abound- and it absolutely boils my blood, but it’s a problem. If a counterfeit coupon can manage to be scanned, consider the losses for a store. The right to refuse a coupon has always been an unwritten rule for any store- but now if something looks funny to them but scans anyway- they have it in black and white and it may save them some arguments should they feel a coupon is not valid for some reason.
For those of you who feel it will be an excuse for your store to refuse to accept any of your coupons- my best advice is to try and have a pow-wow with the Team leader on duty. Try and get to the bottom of why you have such a hard time using coupons at your stores. If you are using coupons as per the wording, you have nothing to fear or hide and perhaps a calm, rational conversation may help. You can take it up with corporate if need be if you are unable to reach some clear set of reasonable rules you can follow. I cannot say you will make headway or improve the situation, but if you like shopping at Target- it is certainly worth a try and make an effort to stay as calm as possible despite how frustrated you may be.
A few last thoughts…
Coupons are meant to be used as per the wording on them. Taking advantage just because something scans or works or is accepted doesn’t make it right and will only lead to further scrutiny from stores and the manufacturers tightening their belts even more. Do your best to read your coupons, follow what they say and follow your gut. I think deep down we all know what is right and wrong and don’t let the temptation of possibly getting another $1 Off cloud your judgement. Coupons aren’ t meant to just be tried for the heck of it to see if it works, they are meant to be used as stated in their terms.
While I certainly enjoy being able to find super-cheap & FREE stuff with coupons- the intention of TT has never been to only focus on that. You certainly can’t feed a family toothpaste for dinner or give them dental floss for dessert, and my aim has always been to help others realistically save as much money as they can on groceries & household needs. In my opinion if you can save as close to 50% or better on any of your needs- you’ve had a good day and it allows the surplus to be saved, put toward other family necessities and so on.
I am very grateful for coupons, as I know many of you are too, and I know that despite policy revisions and other changes to the couponing way of life- saving money using coupons and smart shopping will continue to help my family stay on a budget. Hopefully for a long time to come.