Monday, October 18, 2010

Savvy How To: Rainchecks - Worth the Wait!

Often, a savvy shoppers frustration may come from being unable to purchase desired products due to high demand. There are many great deals available on a weekly basis, but in turn, many deal seekers waiting to buy them up. You have likely heard a cashier repeat this phrase “Did you find everything you were looking for?” This isn’t a question filled with fluff and carelessness, rather a congenial attempt to determine if you will require a rain check due to product shortages. 

In layman’s terms, a rain check is simply a promise from a grocer or retailer that when a depleted item you wish to purchase has been restocked they will sell it to you for the noted price on the rain check (the original sale price). Store shelves may appear empty to the non-savvy consumer, but the utilization of rain checks completely restocks the shelf at rock bottom sale prices!

There are a few key rain check guidelines shoppers should familiarize themselves with in order to maximize their rainy day savings.

1. Rain checks are issued only if a store is out of product.  If you forget your coupons and need to come back later for the deal or even just want more product in the future at an incredibly great price, you’re out of luck.  Rain checks are issued only when sale items are out of stock and through advertised sale dates.

2.  Rain checks are not available on "While Supplies Last" or  "Limited Quantities" products. Short-run sales with purchase limits are excluded from rain check distribution. These sale items are a buy-them-while-you-can situation.  

3.  Rain checks have time limits on when they must be used.  Most rain checks must be used within 30 days of being issued. Using rain checks also ensures preferred flavors and varieties will be available for purchase on your next trip to the store.  But, what if the product isn’t restocked within the time frame of a rain check.  Most grocers and retailers will re-issue a new rain check with extended dates if there are problems with warehouse shortages or product shipments – it’s just good customer service. If a product is no longer available substitutes with similar products can also be made.

4.  Rain checks are issued only on advertised sale items. While there are literally hundreds of unadvertised sale items available on a weekly basis, only products advertised in grocer and retailer weekly sale flyers are applicable to rain checks.

5.  Rain checks are not available on a Catalina coupon or after rebate prices.  Catalina coupon offers, additional savings coupons printed at the cash register during your transaction, or rebate offers are limited run rewards programs.  Time frames on these rewards are extremely strict and cannot be extended by a grocer or retailer, as they are typically being offered by a manufacturer.

Rain checks are available at customer service booths or at checkout and can be an invaluable savings tool. In many ways rain checks are even better than purchasing products during sale dates. Shoppers can still pair coupons with rain check sale prices, as long as they haven't expired, and often get new coupons while waiting for shelves to be stocked, thus saving even more money! Rain checks are definitely a money-saving WOW deal in my book.   The next time a product you want is out of stock make sure you request a rain check and save the sale price for another “rainy” day.

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