Monday, October 11, 2010

Shopping Courtesy - Just a spoonful of sugar helps the savings go round

With amazing deals and discounts to be found at local grocers and retailers, more than ever couponers and deal seekers are being scrutinized for their store interactions on a daily basis.  Recently, I’ve read a flood of blog posts and emails regarding how shoppers should deal with negative coupon acceptance experiences. While frustration levels certainly increase as difficult situations arise, emotionally demanding customers rarely get the job done to anyone’s satisfaction. 

I often hear of customers, armed with a printed copy of a corporate coupon policy, demanding to speak to managers, yelling at store employees and even threatening to call corporate customer service lines if they don’t get their way.  These skirmishes have even resulted in threats of law enforcement involvement.  What!?!

I’m the first one to expect coupons be accepted as corporate policy allows, but acting discourteously won’t get shoppers far – and as they say down south, a little sugar goes a long way.  If your shopping trip isn’t going quite as planned and your coupons or other deal-related purchases aren’t working out as expected, remember that even as a shopper we still have a responsibility to treat stores, employees and customers with courtesy.

1.  Store Courtesy:  Stores welcome us into their establishments under their guidelines and regulations.  Grocers and retailers can deny store entrance to patrons and even stop accepting coupons or offering extra promotions if deal seekers are deemed troublesome. Stores want your business but sometimes differences do arise.  There’s absolutely nothing wrong with having a copy of a store’s coupon policy in hand to help newbie cashiers learn the ropes or even calling customer service to report a discouraging shopping experience, just make sure to do it with kindness. I encourage all shoppers to read coupon acceptance policies for local grocers and retailers before heading out to the store, so as to avert potential misunderstandings.  Acting with courtesy only helps your fellow couponers on their next shopping venture.

2.  Customer Courtesy: Some store patrons see couponers as taking too much time at checkout and even sometimes as greedy shelf clearers, when in actuality this shouldn’t be the case.  In order for all shoppers to have a happy shopping experience, deal seekers should only buy enough product to fill their needs and be organized in their shopping.  I recognize that some deals are hard to resist buying more than one might need, but buying too much product can lead to waste.  If you’re buying more product that your family can eat before food expires you are wasting money.  Every food product goes bad at some point, so make sure you are buying only as many items as your family can physically use before it goes bad.  No one wants to get a great deal and then throw it in the trash! Savvy Shoppers save money, not waste it!

3.  Coupon Courtesy: Everyone’s time is worth money, even yours!  Organizing your coupons, whether in three-ring binders and nine-pocket baseball card pages or another coupon organization method, makes the checkout line a much more pleasant place to be. Organize your coupons before you head out shopping. With product purchases in mind, pre-cut and sort coupons so that checkout is a breeze. Coupons can be handed to the cashier at the end of a shoppers transaction. However, for courtesy sake, hand any rainchecks, Buy One Get One Free or Free product coupons to your cashier first, as price adjustments will be required to be handwritten on the coupon or entered into the register. Try grouping your purchases by these coupon types as well, to speed up your trip.

Shopping should be a fun and happy experience for everyone involved. There’s nothing better than a great deal! Acting with courtesy helps us all in the long run to have a better deal-seeking experience and ensures our good reputation.  If you’re frustrated with any shopping experience always speak with a manager or call customer service and try resolving your differences with respect – you’ll find your needs will be more readily met with a positive outcome.


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