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Tips from the Coupon Queen

Pictures can pose a problem

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Jill Cataldo is responsible for this content, which is not edited by the Wilson County News or

CTW Features
February 13, 2013 | 2,994 views | Post a comment

When a coupon carries a declaration that it’s good on any variety of a product, you’d think that explanation would be sufficient. Coupon shoppers know that while a manufacturer may show a specific variety of a product on a coupon, the text contains additional information about the different sizes, kinds and varieties of the product they may purchase using the coupon. For example, a coupon might show a particular tube of toothpaste, but the small print can explain that it is good on any variety of that particular brand -- mint, cinnamon and any other flavors, too.

Scanning the coupon at the register and hearing the satisfying “beep” as your discount is applied confirms to both cashier and shopper that the coupon is valid for the item being purchased. And yet, some readers still encounter problems with cashiers who refuse to scan a coupon if the product being purchased doesn’t precisely match the coupon’s photo.

Dear Jill, Help! I had a $2 coupon for any men’s deodorant of a certain brand. The coupon did not say ‘excludes trial or travel sizes,’ so I went to the travel size bins and found the same brand of deodorant. It was 97 cents, so I was looking forward to getting it free. But the cashier said ‘No, I won’t let you use it on this size because it shows a big one in the picture.’ -- Connie D.

Dear Connie, Rest assured that if the manufacturer wanted to prevent shoppers from using the coupon to purchase a trial or travel size of the deodorant, the coupon would have spelled out this restriction. There are plenty of coupons out there that list ounces or sizes of allowed products. If the cashier had simply scanned the coupon for your deodorant, the register would likely have allowed it.

Dear Jill, I tried to use a coupon for a name-brand 5-blade razor. The coupon stated it was good on any 5-blade razor of this brand. So, I got a razor that came with a few extra things like a tiny bottle of lotion and shave gel attached to the same package. The razor was $5 and with the $4 coupon the price was just $1. The cashier and a manager told me the coupon wasn’t good for the razor I chose. Can they deny me using the coupon just because they say so? I really feel they were wrong, sine the coupon clearly states “any” right on it. I really would like a reply to this because the so-called manager made a scene and embarrassed me. She was very rude. -- Heather S.

Dear Heather, Should the cashier and manager have allowed you to use the coupon? Absolutely! I’ve used coupons on products with free trial sizes of other products attached. If it had been a tube of toothpaste with a smaller, free travel-sized tube attached, would the cashier have balked? It’s difficult to say. However, a retailer has the discretion to deny use of a coupon. Some stores’ policies allow employees to deny coupon use at their discretion. In this case, the store lost a sale on a product, since it would have been reimbursed for your coupon.

Here’s one way to alleviate any cashier confusion at the checkout. If you find yourself in a similar situation in the future, simply ask the cashier to try scanning the coupon. If the coupon states that it’s good on any variety of the product, it will scan and be valid for all of the product codes and UPCs for that product.

Here’s an email from a reader whose helpful cashier netted her a free bottle of juice!

Dear Jill, A success story for you! I had a $1 coupon for any bottle of pomegranate juice. I picked up a $3.99 16-ounce bottle, but when I got to the checkout, the cashier said there were 8-ounce bottles on sale for a dollar. I grabbed that instead and got it free! -- Marisol R.

Jill Cataldo, a coupon workshop instructor, writer and mother of three, never passes up a good deal. Learn more about Super-Couponing at her website, Email your own couponing victories and questions to

© CTW Features
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