Sometimes Coupons Are a Lot of Hassle for Very Little Gain

I’ve had two hellacious experiences with coupons in the past two days. Yesterday I took a short trip to Staples to pick up envelopes for my son. Before I left the house I went online and searched for weekly deals. I found a coupon for Hammermill paper that made it free after rebate. I printed two coupons along with a coupon for 50% off one Martha Stewart product.

I didn’t realize this weekend was move in day on campus. The store was packed with new students and their parents. I really needed envelopes, so with my son in the front seat of the cart, I decided to brave the overflowing aisles. I found what I was looking for in no time and stepped up to the checkout line.

I placed everything on the counter, handed over the coupons and was momentarily distracted by my son. When I looked up the total on the monitor didn’t seem quite right. I asked the gentlemen to review my purchases, but there was a long line of people behind me and he didn’t look thrilled with the request. I also didn’t want to hold up all of the families behind me, so I moved on with my checkout.

I paid, stepped out of line and got all the way to my car before realizing the cashier rang up one too many items in my order. I purchased two packages of paper, but he rang it up three. I turned the cart around and went straight back to the store.

The checkout lines were getting longer and longer so I flagged someone down to help me. The cashier took a look at the receipt and attempted to refund my order, but the return didn’t go smoothly. I used a coupon to pay for two packs of paper, but the third rang up at full price. I wanted to return the pack of paper that cost the most, but it seems the register wouldn’t allow it.

The cashier wasn’t sure what to do and called another cashier over to help. She couldn’t seem to figure it out either. I didn’t have the coupons anymore, because they were locked inside the other register. After standing around for what seemed like much too long I gave up. I walked out the door paying full price for that pack of paper. I couldn’t wait around any longer to save $2. My son was hungry and I was thoroughly annoyed by the whole ordeal.

I had a similar experience when buying a photo album a few days ago. I went online with a promotion and gift certificate, but then realized I’d made an error in my order. I contacted customer service immediately and was told to cancel the order and resubmit. Unfortunately, when I reached the checkout screen I realized the coupon and gift certificate were no longer valid. I reconnected to an agent over chat, but didn’t make much progress.

So far I’ve chatted with customer service on four different occasions and still haven’t resolved the issue. I was told to finalize my order and then request a refund, but the refund still hasn’t been properly credited.

It seems I rarely encounter an easy transaction when using coupons. Either the coupon won’t scan, something goes wrong with the transaction or I have a heck of a time when I have to return any part of an order.

What about you? Do you use coupons or do you find that they using them is nothing but a pain?

5 thoughts on “Sometimes Coupons Are a Lot of Hassle for Very Little Gain”

  1. I use lots of coupons, and have caught lots of register errors. What I have started doing is putting the item with its coupon on the counter together. That way they don’t get missed (as often). If it doesn’t seem right, I question it right then.
    A few times I have emailed in a complaint and gotten it resolved that way, and sometimes have even received a gift certificate for my troubles

    • I try this too. Especially in the super market and I leave the products with ‘free coupons’ at the very end. That way they can view the price right on the register tape as they are ringing it up and if they miss the coupon they don’t have to scroll through the entire register tape.

  2. that sucks about the paper, but you can think of it as you got a two for one deal instead, right?

    i have definitely sometimes had issues with coupons but at the time, my money was worth more than my time, so i would do whatver it took to get the money. remember that i don’t have kids.

    now however, i never use coupons, unless it’s online and i do a quick google search beforehand. the minimal savings just aren’t as worth it to me anymore.

  3. Adding kids to the mix is an interesting one. I definitely clip less coupons now that I have my son in tow. It’s tough to keep them organized and I don’t have time to search through a ton of them while he’s sitting in the cart. I also want to waste less time driving around for deals. I want to spend quality time with my son, not drag him from location to location to save a couple of bucks!

  4. I’ve never been much of a coupon person. I think they’re a pain, too. They lead to too many hassles and are often more work than they’re worth. But, they are often a hobby for most people. They are a hobby for most and can be insurance for their budget if they’re willing to put in the time.


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