Question: “I tried to redeem coupons at a store in my area and was told they do not accept coupons. Is a store that sells Colgate toothpaste not required by the manufacturer of Colgate to accept manufacturer coupons for their products?”
Answer: Having stores accept your coupons is a privilege, never a right.
Believe it or not, no stores are required to accept manufacturer coupons at all. The right to accept or refuse coupons always lies with the store. That said, it certainly is advantageous for stores to accept manufacturer coupons. If a store does not accept them and its competitors do, the store has to accept that it’s at a disadvantage.
You may wonder why a store wouldn’t want to accept manufacturer coupons when they are reimbursed for doing so. There could be several reasons. While a store receives reimbursement for the manufacturer coupons it accepts, this doesn’t happen instantly. The store sends coupons to a clearinghouse to be scanned and totaled and the reimbursement process begins. If a store does not want to wait to be reimbursed for accepting coupons, it could choose not to accept them.
Unfortunately, coupon fraud is another reason stores opt out. A small local grocer in my area will no longer accept coupons due to fraud. It had an incident in which shoppers used a large number of photocopied coupons to fraudulently get groceries at reduced prices. The clearinghouse refused the fraudulent photocopies and would not reimburse the store. The store took a financial hit on the money it expected but ultimately did not receive. To avoid a repeat incident, the store stopped accepting coupons altogether.
To find out what kinds of coupons a particular store accepts, read your store’s coupon policy. Many stores have their coupon policies available online on the store’s web site or at the customer service counter in the store.
Question: If a manufacturer coupon can be accepted anywhere, can you use a manufacturer coupon with one store’s logo on it at a different store? One store in our area will take any manufacturer coupon, even if it says ‘Redeemable at [store name]’ with a different store’s name printed on it. Others won’t. Why not?”
Answer: It’s true that a valid manufacturer coupon can be accepted by any store that chooses to take it. As long as it has a valid address for redemption, a store will be able to submit it for reimbursement. But, like you said, some stores will accept a coupon with another store’s name or logo on it while others won’t.
In my area, one supermarket’s coupon policy states, “We accept all manufacturer coupons.” It doesn’t matter if another store’s name or logo appears on it. As long as it’s a manufacturer coupon, they’ll accept it. This generous policy makes the store a favorite among local coupon shoppers, too. Shoppers know that any manufacturer coupon they bring will be accepted there, and the store knows that they will be reimbursed for them.
Occasionally, stores may use the words “manufacturer coupon” on a coupon that’s technically a store coupon, and this is where things can certainly begin to get a little confusing for shoppers! Manufacturer coupons contain a standard bar code along with a physical mailing address printed in the redemption instructions. If the bar code is an internal store bar code and the coupon has no redemption address printed on it, it’s likely not a manufacturer coupon, despite the wording. These coupons must be used at the store that originally issued them.
Stores’ coupon policies can be an invaluable source of information about the types of coupons your store accepts. The written policies often provide details as to how your store handles specific coupon situations, too. Next week, we’ll review the ways shoppers can best use coupons during Buy One, Get One Free sales, another topic I’ve been receiving lots of reader questions about.
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.jillcataldo.com. E-mail your own couponing victories and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.