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Boolah, Boolah, BOGO, BOGO! - Jill Cataldo

Buy One, Get One Free sales are hot topics with readers lately. Here are two questions regarding the specifics of saving even more on these great sales.

Q: "My store recently had a sale on jars of nuts. They were priced at $3.50, Buy One, Get One Free. Additionally, each jar had a peel-off coupon worth $1.50. I bought two jars and used one coupon, paying $2 for two. Could I have used both $1.50 coupons, paying only 50 cents for the pair?"

Q: "I have a question regarding BOGO offers. Although I had two identical $1.50 coupons, I was only allowed to use one of them. I was told that I could use a coupon for the item I "bought," but not for the item the store was giving to me "free." They said that acceptance of a coupon for the "free" item would be coupon fraud. Is this correct?"

BOGO sales are a great way to take home double the product for half the price! But store policies do vary from chain to chain regarding the ways they handle coupons on BOGO products.

Most supermarkets handle BOGO sales one of two ways. In the first, the register scans the first item at full price and the second item is free. If I buy two jars of nuts at $3.50, BOGO, the receipt will show two jars, one with a $3.50 price and the other with a $0.00 price.

Other supermarkets "split" a BOGO sale, ringing two products at half price. In this case, the receipt will show two jars of nuts, each priced at $1.75.

Some stores will allow shoppers to use two coupons during a BOGO sale, but some will not. Typically, a store will address this issue in its coupon policy. In my area, our two largest supermarkets handle these BOGO sales differently. At both supermarkets, the first item rings up at $3.50, the second at $0.00. However, the first supermarket allows shoppers to use a coupon on each item and the second does not. Guess where I like to shop more often? With regard to the question on fraud, it's definitely not coupon fraud for a store to accept a coupon on a "free" item. Manufacturer coupons are limited to one "per item purchased;" from a legal standpoint, you are still purchasing the "free" item.

It's also important to note that a store that accepts two coupons on a BOGO sale loses nothing financially. With our nut example, the store still receives the full $3.50 price of the two jars of nuts, but with two $1.50 coupons, I pay just 50 cents for both. The manufacturer reimburses the other $3 to the store. This truly is one of those circumstances where you must find out how your store BOGOs and coupons, and you'll be able to better plan future shopping trips.

With a supermarket that "splits" BOGO sales into two half-price products, you'll absolutely be able to use a coupon on each item. These sales aren't truly "Buy One, Get One Free sales" as much as they are "Buy two, each at half price" sales. Continuing with our nut sale, if we buy two jars at $1.75 each, there would be no reason at all that we couldn't use a $1.50 coupon on each. The price of each jar isn't really contingent on buying two.

That's another important point to keep in mind. If your store does, indeed, price BOGO sales as two half-priced products, you can enjoy another little Super-Couponing trick: buy just one of the products. If you only happened to have one $1.50 coupon and each jar is $1.75, you wouldn't be tied to buying two to get that price. Buy one for 25 cents and enjoy saving almost 70 percent on this item!

Jill Cataldo, a coupon workshop instructor, writer and mother of three, never passes up a good deal. Learn more about couponing at her web site, www.supercouponing.com. E-mail your own couponing victories and questions to jill@ctwfeatures.com.