You Are Not a Jedi & I Can’t Accept Your Coupons…

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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.

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  1. I have a husband and friends who work at Target. I agree with any changes Target makes in their coupon policy because there is SO MUCH FRAUD. People will purchase items with coupons and return them for money back. Often these items are food items and have to be THROWN AWAY! What a waste! These people use coupons to make money and rip off the store, not to keep their budget low and make ends meat like the rest of us. When I heard about this I could not believe my ears. We call it ‘legal stealing.’

  2. I agree with the rules because I can only imagine what people try to do! The problem is, even when I follow the rules, Target still seems to not accept some of my coupons. For example, I had a $1 off any Tide product coupon. So I bought a Tide stick because I use them all the time. The only exclusion was that it couldn’t be a travel sized item, so I bought the full-size in the laundry section. The cashier wouldn’t accept it, and nor would the manager she brought over. They said it was a travel item. I explained that it’s an item geared toward travel, but it was not travel sized. It’s full size, just a small item. They still wouldn’t accept it. I bought the Tide pen anyway, but it was frustrating to see that there was nothing on the coupon referring to the type of item, only the size.

  3. i’m a cashier at a grocery store, and i know many many couponers who always throw in coupons for items they know they don’t have… and are just like “oh that didn’t work? i thought it would” me “you don’t have -item-” them “yeah i know”,,,, that’s not how it works. i always keep an extra close eye on everything they have so they don’t coupon fraud.

    i also had to agrue with a lady who had let’s say a Dannon yogurt coupon, but had Yoplait. and Colgate coupon with let’s say Aquafresh, and so on and so on. None of her coupons were good. She was yelling at me being like “I should get these off!” After I pointed out that she didn’t have any of the brands right, she still demanded I give her the coupons off, I said I could give them back and that’s all I could do with them. She then yelled and tossed her yogurt at me (which luckily didn’t break open) and yelled “I’ll get Walmart to take them”

  4. Bravo. You explained the policy nicely. I have been couponing for years and never cleared a shelf or felt the need to do so. I can see how a limit of four can hinder a larger family, who shops monthly. And would not consider it a problem for you to have your older kids go thru line.
    I must admit , I do worry about the refusal policy, my store is notorious for poor customer service and even poorer attitudes.
    I am just grateful, Target isn’t switching to a reward card an electronic coupons!

  5. Thank you for a direct approach to some of the dishonesty ruining the few of us left who are moral coupon users. Nice story by Kathy in Comment #1 why Target is making the change.

  6. I think 4 coupons is perfectly fine. There’s really no reason for someone to clear a shelf, ever, except for their own complete greed. It’ll also help people not purchase 15 boxes of Ritz Crackers and feed them to their kids (which, has trans-fat, if you ever see ‘partially hydrogenated’ (anything) listed, it has trans-fat in it, whether it is listed at 0g or not, the fda allows them to if its under 1g).

  7. Well said! I always have people ask if I’m an extreme couponer when they see me with my binder. I have to say no, I am just trying to save money for my family. And, I want to say thank you to you and Target for helping me do that!

  8. Kimme, thanks for the reply, I wish I got target coupon inserts ….I don’t in my area:( Thank you for these other tips and ideas. I will keep a positive outlook!

  9. Shaun – I have found that even though stacking 1 printable TQ with a MQ is nice, most of the time my biggest savings comes from combining MQ’s with a sale or Price cut. There are lots of great Special Deals & Gift Card Deals too. PLUS, the Insert TQ’s don’t limit you to just one. After reading the policy it actually won’t change what I already do at all – pretty much the same thing I have been doing since I started couponing 2 years ago. Believe me – you can still build up a nice stockpile and still donate too!

  10. If you can only stack ONE printable Target coupon with a manufacturer coupon , how can you ever stock up on anything, even for a small family?

  11. A few weeks ago I stopped at my local Target and noticed my FREE coupon amount wasn’t applied ($6). I went back to Target about 30 minutes later and the cashier in guests services refused to give me back the $6.00 credit for the item purchased. Instead, she suggested I return the item and get my money back. So I returned it and got my money back.

    Her excuse was, “the coupons and money from registers have been already collected! I can’t give you that coupon or money back and the system won’t let me place it on a gift card, sorry!” Looks like TARGET themselves will be committing fraud when they submit that coupon and the manufacture reimburses them for an item they didn’t even credit a consumer with. That stinks!

  12. I always put the coupons with the item on the built and the cashiers takes them all off and stacks them and puts them aside to be scanned later. Then when they scan the coupon they look in the bags for the item.

  13. Thanks for the reply Kerry! Just seem like it makes it hard to stock up on anything if you can only stack ONE printable target coupon ??? I’m used to stocking up with 4 toothpastes, or four pastas etc?? How can you stock up on a good deal with only one at a time (in regards to the target printable coupon stacking??) Any help is greatly appreciated, as this is how I get the great deals at Target! Kerry, Your website is absolutely wonderful. Don’t know what I’d do without it!! Thank you!

  14. Kerry, I have the same perspective you do and appreciate your post. My store has limited coupons to “3 like coupons” per visit so the new policy is better for me. Now I won’t have 1 extra coupon I cannot use. I am a little concerned about the statement about Target refusing coupons at their own discretion but now that I think about it, they have always done this in the past anyway. I am looking forward to being able to find some deals in stock now when I go shopping for my family of three and hopefully this new policy will allow the field to be more fair for all couponers.

  15. Hey SHaun-
    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. (SInce the Target printable coupons say 1 it’s one. It is just putting a threshold on identical coupon use IF your coupon has no limits already. hth and makes sense.

  16. Still trying to figure out though even though the Target coupon says ” one offer per customer” then how can we use four?

  17. I also work at Target and we have 4 regulars that buy items with high value coupons (the 20 off oral b toothbrushes for example) and return them the next day. We have another lady that drags her three kids in every single night fills up her cart and after checking out runs to the service desk saying she forgot this coupon and needs to return this etc. I like the new policy. True Target gets the money back for the redeemed coupons but the lady who bought 20 of the braun shaving systems then returned them a week later after we got 20 more in stuck us with 40 of them. I guess the people having a problem with the change are the ones who are taking advantage of the misuse of coupons to begin with.

  18. I just want to say thank you. Thank you for all you do for us busy mom’s that don’t have the time to track down all the latest great coupons and deals. Thank you for keeping us updated on changes. Thank you for your honesty. I haven’t been couponing as long as others, but when I moved to South Florida it became an absolute necessity. I don’t even remember how I stumbled upon your site, but I am so glad I did! I do most of my shopping at Target and your site has kept me informed and ready when it’s time to hit the aisles. Thank you again so much! I tell everyone I can about your site!!!

  19. I 100% agree with everything you said. I never used more than 4 at a time anyway. I will continue to shop at Target for many reasons. Sometimes I run into a cashier who is a bit of a pain, but most of them are very easy going and happy to take my coupons. If you’re being honest with them this should not be an issue.

  20. My Targets have been restricting us to 4 Target (of the same coupon) Coupons for probably 6 months now, so this wasn’t really a huge shocker to me. Bottom line, get to know your cashiers – we shop regularly at the same store and I know most of the cashiers (and who not to use!). If you ask them questions, they usually are happy to answer them or get answers for you. Surprisingly, some are even couponers themselves!

  21. Well said Kerry! I only follow a handful of blogs and all of you are very reputable. I really appreciate all of the hard work you put into the site. I like to think the majority of couponers are honest people. Thanks again for your hard work….you sure have saved me a ton.

  22. Very well written! I agree with you that the new policies are okay and not a horrible change. I don’t get to shop often at Target since I don’t live close to one but it is my favorite store. Thank you for Totally Target!

  23. I am also in total agreement with the new policy. If I give the wrong coupon to a cashier it is by mistake and am often grateful for them pointing it out, because I don’t want the cashier to get in trouble for accepting the wrong coupons. I never ask a cashier to push a coupon through- although they have done it for me because they have checked my amounts and read the coupon to make sure it is legit.

    I have never bought more than 4 of something, because that is the limit of coupons I have. I don’t steal newspapers from neighbors nor do I buy coupons. I DO NOT watch that show any longer- I think we should all stop watching it- it makes us look bad, and gives a lot of people the wrong idea. I’m not out to buy 1200 worth of stuff for 2!

    It is getting harder to find great deals and keep the grocery budget lower, but it has also made me become more creative in our meal planning, and willing to try new products.

  24. Thanks Kerry for that enlightening post. I really enjoyed reading your perspective and can definitely agree with what you said. I also like the advice about what to do if I run into issues at the register using my coupons legitimately. Although most of it I’ve read somewhere along the lines on your site before it was nice seeing it again as a reminder. 🙂

  25. I work the Guest Service Desk @ Target. Everyday I see coupon fraud.from ppl who buy items, use coupons & return the items the next day to get the $$. Yes, Target gets the $$ from the manufacture, but it cost $$ for Target to sell the item, return the item, then put the item back on the shelf. I see a few ppl that every week their receipt says they paid $200 but I return $400 to them. Its really coming down to more limits or stop taking coupons altogether.

    @ Judith #49- the cashier was right… takes both the Charmin tissue & the wipes to make the B1G1…using the $1.00 off would be 2 manufacture coupons. You wouldnt be getting the wipes for free without BUYING the tissue…hope that helps. 🙂

    I see both sides. I like the person who said “a smile with the cashiers go a long way”….just be friendly & always plan for a longer check-out with coupons….& NEVER worry about the line behind you….LOL…I love the guests who put their coupons ON the products on the belt because it makes check-out alot faster!!

    I love couponing & I love Totally Target!!!

  26. Hey Judith- the Cashier was correct. when using a BxGx manuf coupon you cannot use another manuf coupon on the item you are paying for. The only other coupon you could have used would havee been a Target Coupon on the toilet paper. hth

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