Grocery Cart Confessionals: You’ll Find Me at Customer Service

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On Friday, I showed you my shopping trip and I have a confession to make – my Target total was too low.

I knew it when I paid. (Because I always price out my shopping list.)

After further review, I figured out that the cashier gave me an extra $1.50/1 Philly Cooking Cream coupon.

At first I didn’t think much about it. But after reading this coupon integrity post from my friend Heather, I’ve decided that when I find a store error in my favor, I am going to start alerting the store.

I know this may seem over the top, but over the past few months I’ve read more and more comments on blogs from people bragging about abusing coupons and committing coupon fraud). Incidents range from using coupons for the wrong items, to slipping in extra coupons and “bullying” the cashier to push them through, to copying internet coupons on a Xerox.

I blame Extreme Couponing because they have showcased a few people that abuse the system and have gotten away with it.

It’s hard to compete with those folks on Extreme Couponing. They make it look so easy to get $1000 in merchandise for $4.67.

But, lately I’ve noticed some things starting to shift. What once was an enthusiasm for coupons and saving money, has turned into an attitude of entitlement to always get free stuff at the stores.

As any long-time couponer will say…no one is entitled to anything.

Deals come. Deals go. Deals go right. Deals go wrong.

Stores can be out of stock. Coupons can not ring up right. A cashier was grouchy.

It’s all part of the lifestyle.

You smile. Shrug it off and wait for the next sales circular.

We are fortunate to live in area that has stores that double coupons and accept most paper and internet coupons. But, at any time, stores can decide to change their policies, manufacturers could limit the coupons in print or the quantities at the store. I’m not saying it will happen because of shows like Extreme Couponing or coupon abuse, but its seems plausible that it could be possible.

And because of that possibility, I’m going to be the couponer traveling the higher road.

Goodness knows, I would be at customer service if my cashier has missed a coupon. So, I’m also going to be at customer service if my cashier has given me an extra savings.

Do you think I’m nuts? Have you ever let a store know if there was an error in your favor? Have you noticed a change in the attitudes of people couponing?

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  1. Beth says

    I took the high road this week also…..I was at Walgreens earlier in the week to pick up the Schick Shaving Cream BOGOF. I had two $1.00 off coupons but the cashier refused to use both, he only said I could use one. When I got home I emailed Walgreens to let them know their cashiers aren’t following their own stores policy by letting me use both coupons. I received a nice email from the store manager the next day saying he was sorry for the confusion and offered me to come in and get a FREE shaving cream. I graciously refused and told he even though I appreciated the email and offer, I didn’t want to take advantage of the company and take something that wasn’t rightfully mine. Even though I have never heard back from him, I feel good knowing I didn’t turn their $1.00 mistake into a $3.79 profit for me!

  2. Christy says

    I would hope that the store would appreciate your honesty and let their staff know that they need to be more careful. I have never been in that position where a cashier error was in my favor but I definitely understand where you are coming from.

  3. Kay says

    I don’t think that’s nuts at all! I think it’s having integrity!! :) Good work! I know I have done that in the past… mostly because it’s the right thing to do, but you also don’t want coupon policies to end up changing because people abuse the system!

  4. Kristn says

    I think this is great. To many people are feelling entitiled and are quick to point out others mistakes, it is about time someone pointed something out that is for the good not the bad.

  5. tori w says

    GOOD for you! I’m a second generation couponer. My dad (yep dad was in charge of grocery shopping) couponed when I was growing up and had a stock pile of sorts (not to the extreme as seen on the show) he taught me young about saving but not taking advantage of it. I think a few bad eggs are going to change the way of couponing and it is sad.

    Today when I was shopping I had several coupons that wouldn’t double for whatever reason. The cashier kept trying and they just wouldn’t work. I told her no big deal I’d take the .40 instead of the .80. It’s better than nothing. She thanked me because several others shopper weren’t so nice recently and now she said she gets anxious when someone hands her coupons.

  6. says

    I have and will continue to do so. If I am willing to argue over a coupon, I am willing to let them know they made an error in my favor. You are correct about not being entitled. Each time I hear comments about how to beat the system, it makes me really sad.

    Great post my friend!

  7. says

    I try to watch closely at the register and always alert them on the spot if I notice something off. I’ll be honest, there are times that I haven’t noticed until I got home & it is just too much hassle to drive back out to the store to pay them back the extra $0.25 or whatever it is. If I catch it in the store, though, it is a no-brainer to alert them & have it adjusted.

    Thanks for writing this great post to remind us all that honesty and integrity are important even when couponing!!

  8. Elizabeth says

    Thank you for your honesty. Because of shows like Extreme Couponing, my Kroger that I always shopped at no longer doubles or triples coupons. We now have no stores doubling or tripling, and many stores are scrutinzing so much more. I’m not trying to get my bill down to $5, just trying to save some on my grocery budget for our one income, 5 person household.

  9. Lara says

    Thumbs up for this article!!! Being new I’m learning and this was well written and good to read. I totally agree.

  10. says

    I agree with you 100%.

    The other day while I was checking out at Walmart I noticed the cashier rang up one of my $4 coupons twice. I tried to explain to her what she had done, but she insisted that she had not done so. Not wanting to argue I kept quiet, for the moment.

    As soon as I paid for my groceries, I headed to customer service to see if I could give them the extra $4 that I had owed. When I explained to them what had happened they were slightly surprised that I was concerned about the issue. They simply thanked me for being honest and told me not to worry about it and to keep the money.

    Thinking back, I know I could have just kept quiet after informing the cashier, and had ended up with the same result, but I am glad I didn’t. Peace of mind & knowing that I did the right thing is worth much more than getting away with saving an extra $4.

    I do want to thank you for blogging about this subject, because I do see a change in the way some have started couponing.

    A woman came up to me in Target a few weeks ago, because she noticed that I had a coupon box. She told me that she was a couponer, but had found a better way to coupon. She went on to explain in a lowered voice:

    “There is this site online where you can learn how to “break” the coupon printing systems, so instead of only being able to print (2), you can print as many as you want! Would you like to learn how?”

    “Uhmm, no!”

    Needless to say, I broke that conversation off very quickly.

  11. april yedinak says

    I wonder if people would be so quick to brag about ‘beating the system’ if we called it what it really is: theft.
    Glad to hear you are taking the high road. I must admit, before children, I didn’t speak up if I got overcharged or if I got too much change. I just rolled with it. Once I became a parent, I wanted to model the kind of behavior I expected from them and it made me much more conscientious. We do return extra change or when someone accidentally walks out with something (like the time I left with 2 cases of soda under my cart).

    • Landlocked lulu says

      So true. How can we expect our children to know right from wrong if we do not practice it. I to have done the same thing with things under my cart (or things that have rolled under the infant carrier while in the cart). I feel awful and always go back in. I will never forget the look on my 4 year olds face when realizing we’d walked out with something and had to go back in. When he asked why we had to go back, I told him that we accidently left the store with something we didn’t pay for. He said with huge wide eyes “You mean we STOLE something?” He was so happy to walk back into that store. by the look on his face I think he thought we were going to go to jail.

  12. Anne says

    I always alert the cashier and/or customer service if they make an error in my favor; otherwise, it is stealing. So no, you are not nuts!

  13. says

    Sadly I have heard too many unethical stories in couponing lately, this me smile! We live in the Topeka area and have seen new coupon policies changes just in the last month because of not only bad coupon practices but also the raise in coupon usage. It is also much more difficult to get many of the “deals” anymore because of “extreme” couponers. We have also had major problems in coupon theft from unpurchased papers and even people being arrested for stealing papers before they make it into the store when it opens (my thought, hopefully they saved enough with their coupon habit to post bail!) I have not been able to even buy the paper the last couple weeks because they “sold out” minutes after the store opened (really! Three people bought 20 papers!!)

    I try to stress to others that “just because you can- doesn’t mean you should!” Couponing is getting more difficult but I am going to choose the high road, keep my integrity, and know that no amount of “savings” is worth losing that!

  14. Angie says

    You have to look you in the mirror. If someone is cheating the system, it will come back to them because you reap what you sow. I always say if I am so fast to complain, I better be just as fast to compliment…same goes with a mistake.

  15. Emily says

    Great post. I really enjoyed reading it. I’ve been couponing for nearly three decades. I’m right there with ya.

  16. Tabitha says

    I think you make a great point in if it doesn’t go your way your at customer I think that’s great if you can do it. I was just at home depot and the lady didn’t scan 3 of my items. She noticed her mistake and it was pointed out and she didn’t choose to fix it. With two of my three kids being a pain it was to much hassel to keep arguing. Personally I was not willing to fix it today..wrong but I shouldn’t have to fight the store to pay, right? Extreme couponing has made it hard coming from someone who has always done it. Recently, I’ve seen better household product coupons making my deals just as good as groceries which I love but the other side of it is that people are feeling intitled and abusing things making it hard on me.I don’t have a store close that doubles all coupons but I’m sure policys will be changing which makes it hard. Plus they are not really getting a norm shopping list they are getting 1,000 of the same item..unless you eat the same thing everyday this is just nuts. You shouldn’t be able to buy that much w/coupons & get it for free. There should be a limit.that’s my opinion anyway :)

  17. Landlocked lulu says

    I agree. Just like anything in life, if we take advantage the privilige will be taken away. I am new to couponing. I am amazed at how much I can save. I have watched Extreme Couponing a couple of times. It is amazing, however some of those stockpiles are insane. I can understand when you are getting something for free to stock up on that item to give to charity, but it’s also frustrating to those families who are struggling looking at the sale ad, planning their meals around what’s on sale and not being able to buy any of it because it’s been cleared out. It takes me about a full day to put together my trip to the store. I have to drive 30 miles to the nearest store that doubles and it’s disapointing to get there and not be able to get the things I need. Oh I know that there are rainchecks, but I have to replan my whole meal plan. I’m all for stock piles, but only in the amount of things my family needs and can use. Just yesterday I was informed by my Walgreens (while trying to purchase 3 proglide razors) that they changed their policy so that you can only get one RR per item per day. The cashier said that they had to do that because people were coming in early Sunday morning and clearing their shelves. I had waited 2 weeks and been in 3 different stores to get those razors. I use those RR to help me buy milk and diapers when I need them. Thank you for being honest. I am that way too, I always think it’ll come back to bite me in the you know where if I am anything different. Great post. Thank you for all you do.

  18. Keo says

    Definately. I was with my cousin at Rite Aid with a coupon to enter a total. The cashier wanted to put in the max price listed on the coupon when the product was on sale for a few dollars cheaper. I think the cashier and my cousin thought I was crazy when I tried to explain it, but I just didn’t feel right knowing that was the wrong way to do it.

    I figure it’s karma and I won’t be scrunitnized because the managers know I abide by policies and rules set by the manufacturer.

  19. Tracy C. says

    Amen sister! Extreme Couponing saddens me, as does hearing people brag about coupon fraud. I want to come by my deals honestly and I am glad to read this post. Thank you Kelly!

  20. Amanda says

    I don’t have cable. I do not know what that extreme couponing show is. I don’t think I want to see it. I am barely making it financially and seeing people hoard and then cheat and laugh would make me angry.

  21. says

    Kelly, it’s called Karma! And you did this because it’s the right thing to do. As a parent you’d tell your child to do the same thing. So why would it be any different for you. “Do as I say AND Do as I do”.

    While the store may tell you it’s no big deal and no adjust your total, just telling them is important. Knowing it’s only $1.50 means the person at the Customer Service counter likely won’t care. You didn’t mention what the store did. And, really it’s not important.

    What is important is that you told them. What if the coupon didn’t scan and the cashier manually entered it and added an extra zero making it a $15.00 coupon. Is it ‘their problem’? What if you were buying a car and asked for special tinting on the window that was $150 but when they wrote it up they added the tinting but forget to put the $150, effectively meaning you got it for free. Is it still ‘their problem’?

    Many customers do see it as ‘their problem’ and feel that they deserve it because the retailer/store/manufacturer can afford it. But that’s not why you did this. You did this because it was the right thing to do.

    And that’s the important message. Not just to yourself, to your family. Nobody deserves to be ripped off.

    Excellent post, Kelly!

  22. says

    Yes! One time the cashier at Walmart gave us an extra $5 cash back. I went over my receipt and found it and took it back in and handed it right back to her. You have to remind people that there still are others in this world who will not scam and take “free” money & merchandise any chance they get. I would have hated for her to get blamed for that missing $5. I feel I did the right thing and I know she apprecaited it.

    Thank you for being a graet role model to your readers.

    *Not about a coupon, but still along those lines, right? 😉

  23. says

    Good for you! Although I’m not really a couponer, but I like reading your blog. If a store gives too much change or I forget to put my milk up on the conveyer belt, I always go to customer service to have them charge me or give them back the difference. They are always very appreciative, polite and sometimes even surprised that I would go out of my way to be honest. It is not always convenient especially if I don’t realize it til I’m out in the parking lot, but it was a one time decision I made years ago to always try to be 100% honest in all my doings, so now it actually is really easy for me. I also have 3 boys so teaching them now to be honest in situations like you mentioned really shows by example of living a good life. (End diatribe.)

  24. su says

    Good job!! Yes, I think the couponing show is ruining it for the rest of us:(
    I have pointed out errors that were not in my favor, too. It’s the right thing to do and even if I have a nasty cashier, I don’t want anyone to get in trouble because of my order/coupons.
    We rely on coupons to feed our family of six. I’m hopeful that the stores will relax a bit & realize not everyone is like the few they are showing on TV.

  25. Catherine says

    I’ve had two experiences recently that I’ve done the “right thing”. I decided to stay on the right side of Karma vs. getting something for free unjustly. First, a cashier at Walmart didn’t scan my 2 $10 double-bags of charcoal. I had asked her to scan then from my cart so I didn’t have to pull them out. I pushed the cart around so she could scan but she saved it for the end. She rang up my other groceries, scanned my coupons and told me my total obvilous she had forgotten the charcoal. I again reminded her that she needed to scan my charcoal so I could pay. Sadly she was shocked! Second, was at Dillons using self-check. After getting done (and getting free sausage) I was looking for a cashier to hand my coupons to. No one around. After searching a few seconds, I left the coupons on the self-check desk. I could have kept them and gone back the next day for more free sausage, but again it’s not right! I’d like to keep a good name for couponers and not have everyone label us a “extreme” “freaks”. I’m here to save $ not steal. Right is right. Fair is fair. And I don’t want to be on the wrong side of Karma!!

  26. Amy says

    Amen! Way to take the “higher” road. That new show makes me so mad and it has created an unhealthy extreme out there. I’ve not been able to buy a paper at the Dollar Store in over a month, because two customers buy all the papers within minutes of them opening! Ugh. Thanks for taking the time to help remind us all to do the right thing.

  27. brooke says

    people are mean and nasty if you are standing in front of the section they want their deal from…pushing and shoving me out of the way. Small town Iowa isn’t as friendly as people think! And yes, I’ve mentioned to stores when they’ve discounted something wrongly in my favor or if they’ve forgotten to ring things up if I catch it right there. I also saw a lady come back because the cashier didn’t ring up her $150.00 worth of medication. She was clear to leave with it all bagged up and everything but she stopped and turned around and got right back in line behind me to pay for it.

  28. Jennifer says

    I just wanted to say that I really appreciate you and what you are doing. I just started couponing in April and I started out of necessity. I had no idea that this Extream Couponing thing was even around. I found your blog and a few others that I follow but never saw anything EXTREAM until I happened upon that show “Extream Couponing” on TLC. You are absolutley right! This era of entitlement is over the top. What happened to being happy after saving a few bucks? As a newbie, after watching that show I felt like my $70-$90 savings per trip was NOTHING. I started to question my method, time spent preparing, etc. Then comes your post. I can say that now I realize why I started couponing and why I will continue. But to get sucked into the EXTREAM is not for me. I will follow my blogs and clip my coupons, being happy and content that I’m contributing to my family financially (I’m a mom at home). No more worries and fretting about how I can go get the next great deal for free. Thanks for your honesty and integrity in a world so much in need of it!

  29. says

    I’ve had plunty of store errors in my favor. I’m going to be 100% honest, depending on my standing at the store I will or will not alert them- in the past I’ve had stores upset me and just took the extra discount. However, for instance there was one time at Walmart where the cashier did not ring up an item of mine, and when I noticed that I took the item and my receipt back to her (because I didn’t want to get her in trouble) and let her know I didn’t pay for the item and still needed to. She was grateful that I came back so she wouldn’t get in trouble later.

  30. Jessica says

    First of all, I love reading your blog…in fact, I may call it an obsession! My husband used to get onto me for “surfing” facebook all the time, but these days I am in trouble for scanning your blog every hour on the hour… :) You’re awesome and how you find time as a mommy and wife to do what you do is inspiring! Us couponers thank you for your time to help us find the best deals.

    Second, I sure wish every couponer was as considerate as those of us who go about this the ethical way. Doesn’t it make you feel good to do the right thing??!! Thanks for doing the right thing to make up for the others that don’t. Hopefully there will be enough of us who coupon the “right” way to allow couponing to be a hobby we can all enjoy for many years to come! Thanks again, Kelly! YOU ROCK!

  31. Tracy says

    I do make sure to point out mistakes both ways. In my favor or the stores favor. I have also gone back to a store before and paid for a coupon that I used before realizing it was fake. I would never knowingly use a fake coupon so I feel that when you mistakenly use one you should go back and pay for it.

  32. Megan says

    I’m sure this has happened to me on more than one occasion, but most recently, I didn’t realize it till I got home that I had accidently handed the cashier two $2 coupons that I ended up putting the product back on the shelf…but didn’t remove the coupons from my stack. They didn’t beep or have to be pushed through so I didn’t think of it till I couldn’t find them when I got home! Some of the products I bought were not the price I was expecting, so I wasn’t surprised by my price at the time. The guilt is overwhelming – probably because I can’t stand it when I see someone doing it on purpose! Thanks for sharing…free it fun, but should not be the reason we coupon! :)

  33. Bouaphanh Smith says

    I agree w/u extreme coupon make it look easy. Don’t think I can every get 1000 w/of grocery for 4.56. A while back I had to go back to a store and return my transaction and re do it, bc the cashier had handed back a 3 coupon. I didn’t realize it so bought more stuff. If I hadn’t return the transaction. The cashier would have a short drawer of $3. Being a former cashier myself. I have lots of respect for patient and kind cashier.

  34. Cara says

    I’m so happy to see other couponers taking the high road. Maybe it will do something to change the bad reputation we are getting fom that show. Some of us are trying to do things the right way. Thank you all for the reminder that there are still decent people out there.

  35. Carol says

    thank you! and AMEN!! I brought a cart back in to Kroger that another customer had left in the parking lot, with 4 cases of soda on the bottom rack……they thought I was nuts for not just taking it, I told them it was not mine to take :o)

  36. Shanna says

    Never had an error in my favor happen. Just last weekend I made a special trip to Hy-Vee to use my Catalina coupons with regular coupons. I only had 5 coupons and one didn’t rang up for $1 instead of $1.50. It has got to be hard to catch errors, I almost missed it on just a few. I enjoy watching the Extreme Couponing and have learned things from the show, but there is no way in the Kansas City area to get the amount as low as they do.

  37. says

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience. You done good girl! I can list examples of items I’m being purchased ‘sticking’ together & the cashier only going to ring 1 when I make them aware of it or an item scanning for a lower price than what it should be, etc. I figure I have to look myself in the mirror everyday & I’m going to do it with a smile on my face knowing I have been ethical. I don’t understand on ‘Extreme Couponing’ when they say they have to break up their purchases into more than one transaction because the store has a limit. If the store has a limit, abide by that. Don’t return to the store multiple times or even call in friends to help you do something unethical? I hope I never have friends like that. I want my friends to call me out if they see me doing something wrong. Just as we pay more for our items due to the few that shoplift, we may also pay more or even lose the option to shop with coupons due to a few rotten apples in the bunch. Keep it real people! You’ll sleep better at night & have a smile on your face in the morning.

  38. Nick says

    I may have done a bad thing… I’m still pretty new to couponing, but it seems to me the most stores will give full credit on a coupon as long as it doesn’t bring your actual total below zero. That being said, I used $1/1 coupon on Propel at Hy-Vee, since they were on sale for $0.50, I just bought 2 for every coupon I had. I ended up with 54 Propel. The cashier was fine with it, but the manager said she was a little nervous and would let me do it this time, but if I wanted to do it again, I’d have to use the coupon on the 6-packs instead. I just smiled and said that was fine.

    Was I mistaken about how the coupons worked in that instance? I would just like to know for future reference.

    • says

      Nick – it depends. There were two coupons available – one was $1/1 single and was $1/1 6-pack. If you used the $1/1 6-packs for singles – then yes, you should not have used those coupons. You need to follow what the wording says on the coupon

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