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Jill Cataldo: Combining coupon discounts, offers

Jill Cataldo: Combining coupon discounts, offers

DEAR JILL: In my newspaper coupons, one page has coupons for $3 off a bag of dog food and also one for “buy a bag of dog food, get dog treats free.” I bought both and tried to use the $3 coupon on the dog food and then use the treats coupon on a bag of treats. One coupon beeped, and the cashier said no, I would have to choose one coupon or the other.

Is this true, and if so, why would the brand put these coupons right next to each other? When I saw them together, I believed I could use them together. — Angie D.

This situation is an unusual one because it doesn’t come up that often, but to most shoppers, it seems simple: I have a coupon for dog food, and I have a coupon for dog treats. Why can’t I use one coupon on each?

Depending on the terms on the coupons, you may be able to. It can depend on both the terms of the coupons and the store’s coupon policy. First, both coupons in question need to be coded to work together by the manufacturer. This means that if both are scanned in the same transaction, one will attach to the dog food, while the second attaches to the dog treats.

If the terms of the coupon prohibit combining these offers, they will not be able to be used together. For example, the “Buy Dog Food, Get Treats Free” coupon may actually be coded to scan after the register confirms that both the dog food and the treats were purchased and that no other coupon was used on the dog food.

At one of my local retailers, the store’s own coupon policy always allows a dollars-off coupon on one item and a “Buy One Get One Free” coupon on the second item, specifying that a coupon making an item free applies to that free item, and that this usage does not violate the “one coupon per item purchased” rule.

This kind of situation definitely has the potential for confusion. The easiest thing to do is to look at the terms on both coupons. If nothing in the terms prohibits them from being used together, give it a try. As I’ve said many times over the years, coupon usage is a privilege, not a right, and if your store will not accept both, you also have the choice of simply telling the cashier that you’ve changed your mind about purchasing the treats.

DEAR JILL: I have a question about an interesting coupon I picked up at the grocery store. It is for a popular brand of cola, and it says “$1 off any meat when you buy” the brand of soda.

I picked up the cola and a package of sliced ham because the ham had a coupon stuck to the package for $1 off. I thought this might not work, but both coupons scanned just fine. I ended up saving $2 total. So why did this work? — Gavin J.

When you have a coupon for a brand-name item and another any-brand or generic items, such as the one you described, or something like “buy this brand-name cereal and save $1 on milk,” the brand issuing the coupon does not necessarily know which brand of meat or milk you will purchase.

So what issuers of these kinds of coupons typically do is code the coupon to look for the presence of the branded item purchased. The coupon for “$1 off meat when you buy cola” actually looks to the register to verify that the soda was purchased as the qualifying item, then “attaches” to the soda purchase when scanned. Then the branded meat’s coupon attached to the meat, and the register allowed both coupons.

Had the coupon specified a certain brand of meat be purchased, and the coupon was coded to attach to both the soda and the meat, the shopper would not have been allowed to use the second meat coupon.

Published at Thu, 24 Dec 2020 05:00:00 +0000

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Written by Riel Roussopoulos

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