Friday, June 23, 2006

I think I am becoming That Lady That The Grocery Clerks Hate

During the summers in college, I usually stayed on campus and rented a room, and cooked for myself. So I would usually pick up the coupons from a Sunday paper if I found one - I wasn't particularly hardcore about it though. I seem to recall eating a whole lot of egg salad and various pasta dishes. Once I graduated, however, it was ON. I got a Sunday-only subscription when we moved, and have been pretty faithfully stocking up ever since. Unfortunately for my budget (but fortunately for our waistlines) we tend to eat a lot of produce, and most of our meals start out as raw meat and vegetables. Can't really get coupons on those. Usually we shop at Giant Eagle because they will double any coupon up to 99 cents and the Kroger only doubles 50 cents and under. (Also, the Kroger is perennially under-staffed, dirty, and doesn't have the specialty nonperishables that we sometimes buy. Bums.)

Every now and then, however, Giant Eagle runs a special event, usually for about a week, where they'll double any $1 coupon, and any coupon from $1 to $2 is worth $2. This would naturally make me very excited as I have a special divider in my coupon book thing for $1-and-up coupons for nonperishables like toothbrushes, shaving cream, and things in cans. When one of these magical events happened, I would bust out the coupons I had saved and buy a bunch of stuff.

For the last few months for some reason, this event has been going on continuously. So my supply of great $1 coupons has dwindled since I got the chance to use most of them already. I'll unfortunately never be one of those people who buys cartloads for $5.47 since we don't eat much box food and I only get one copy of the paper. But there was a fortuitously-timed sale on many items and prices have been lowered on a lot of stuff (apparently Columbus is one of their most competitive markets, and they have been lowering a LOT of prices on random things - like packets of yeast are now half what they were.) So I went to the store with a bunch of coupons and by the time I went to check out, more than half the items had a coupon. So what does Mr. Grocery Clerk Guy do? He examines each and every coupon to make sure that I've actually bought the item. Nevermind that if I didn't buy it, the register won't accept it when he tries to scan it. Also nevermind that since it is a large order, I have already bagged a good number of the items. This takes several minutes as I have to point out in which bag I have placed the offending, coupon-requiring item, or that yes, I did buy two cartons of lemonade like it says there.

The cherry on top though was when he was examining a coupon for Edge shaving stuff. Boyfriend had selected a can of shaving gel, since the coupon said "$1 off any Edge shaving product." However, Mr. Grocery Clerk Guy says, well, it says here "Advance Care" so that's what the coupon is for. Yes, it does say that, but that is a logo for their new product. It clearly says it is for any shaving stuff that Edge makes, not just the Advance Care stuff. The kicker however is that there are two pictures of Edge shaving products right on the coupon.. a tube of Advance Care, and a can identical to what Boyfriend selected.

Mr. Grocery Clerk Guy is not swayed by my impeccable logic. He looks at me as if I am a meddlesome child trying to return a lollipop I have already licked, and says, "well, I guess I can try and scan it..." in this tired voice like he's hoping I'll take pity on him and not make him wave a piece of paper over the scanner. No such luck, Mr. Guy! I want my $2 off!

Naturally it does in fact scan, since I do read my coupons before I try to use them. Sorry, Mr. Guy. You can try your men's-shaving-cream-withholding tricks on some other girl!


Brad said...


I can relate. Up until about a year ago, our local grocery did double all coupons up to and including those that were $1 off from Monday - Wednesday. Wednesday the ad came out, I would usually round up all my coupons by the following Tuesday to cash in then. I acquired some coupons from E-bay (buying the service of the assimilation and organization of the coupons, because you can't sell coupons for a profit - at least that's what I understand anyway...), other online stores, local papers, and even trading with shoppers later on.

There were some things I could get for free or nearly free at times when there was a corresponding sale to the coupon.

We used what we could, and donated the balance to Harvesters or the food drives at work, or sponsored by the post office, or other businesses - some of the business offers were good as they offered discounts or other promotions for food donations.

It ended some time ago, and I still look, but the thrill is gone and it doesn't pay me to be as diligent about hunting all the coupons down. Life has changed - my free time isn't abundant as it once was. I am doing two full-time jobs and a part time one for the time being.

I pick up the cereal and Tyson chicken for my child, and other frequently used coupons from time to time, but there is no ongoing incentive to shop at that grocery store as their prices are consistently higher than the average store around here.

They remain in business I suppose due to old habits of their customers, laziness of not wanting to shop around and the convenience of going there versus a 10 mile trip to another comparable store (my wife went up and got milk because she ran out and it was convenient, but they don't my bulk business ever).

My best deal ever - when I was trying to do only free (or close enough to get it for pennies) was coming out with about $75 worth for $3.77. I imagine that over $55 worth went to charity. We would never have been able to eat that much Pasta Roni, vinegar, or pickles. The (service of getting) coupons probably cost around $5.

If you are interested, you might check out online sources to make your food budget go farther. Just don't overpay for the service.

andy h said...

Depending on where you live you can get coupons for meat and produce. They are called wine tags and naturally enough you can find them in the wine and liquor section. They are usually good for $3 or so off a meat or produce purchase. The best thing about them is when you look at the small print you will see you don't have to actually buy the wine or whatever liquor product is offering the coupon.

Anonymous said...

The grocery clerk is an ass! It's not money out of his pocket, so why didn't he just scan and see if the register accepted it? Sounds like someone just wants to exercise authority over someone else since he obviously doesn't at his present job. I guess he should be pitied, but he's still an ass and deserves none.