Coupon Policies Are Not Always Enforced

Have you ever looked at store coupons and seen rules and stipulations a mile long, and said “Forget it” to the whole thing?

Not so fast!

At least if you’re shopping at Dick’s Sporting Goods.

We’ve had a couple instances of very good luck using coupons that, according to the rules on various coupons, shouldn’t have worked.

Two Bikes

Last year, my wife was in the market for a new bike.  I think this was prompted by the fact that my sister-in-law had just got a new bike, and while usable, the aqua green 10-speed from the 1990’s just wasn’t alluring.  We do quite a bit of bike riding during camping trips, so she used birthday money to get her bike.

My sister-in-law actually came up with the suggestion to try to use our Entertainment Book coupon, where Dick’s has a few entries.  I looked at the coupon and it had some brand exclusions, one of which was the bike my wife wanted.  I asked my sister-in-law and she said that they took hers without a problem, even though she bought a bike from the same manufacturer.

Sure enough, when I went to the store to pick up the bike, they took it without so much as a second glance.

We saved $15!

Two Canopies

Last year when we had my daughter’s first birthday party, we borrowed a couple of 10×10 canopies from my aunt and uncle.  They worked great.  So much that we thought it would be a good investment to buy a couple for ourselves.  We knew we’d have parties and gatherings at various points, plus we also figured it’d be good to take one on camping trips, as it could be good to add covered space in addition to the awning on the camper.

They typically retail for $100, but we saw one for $80 and were thinking about getting at least one.

Then, my wife hit the jackpot.  There was a coupon in the Sunday insert that allowed you to buy one for $50.  That’s half off!  We asked my parents for their coupon, and went in with the age old strategy of deciding to buy one each, since the coupon clearly stated ‘One per customer’.

Then, I remembered what store I was working with.  I looked in this year’s Entertainment Book and saw that they had two coupons that we might be able to work with.  One was $10 off $50 and the other was $20 off $100.

I looked at the coupon and it also said ‘Cannot be combined with other offers’ but what harm did it hurt to try, right?

We took all the coupons with us, and walked up to the register.  Our first option was to use the $20 off $100 coupon, so I asked if we could put both on the same order and use two coupons.

“Let me check,” the cashier said.  She scanned both items in, scanned one of the coupons…and both of the items immediately went to $50.  So, they don’t even program their computers to match the written policy.

We then asked if we could use the coupon from the Entertainment book.  She looked at it, scanned it, entered the value, and we got an extra $20 off.

All told, with tax, we paid slightly over $84 for two canopies.

Earlier in the week, we had been prepared to go get one for a sale price of $80.

So, even with what we were prepared to pay, we got two for the price of one!

Just goes to show that the fine print which is written on coupon policies might not always be enforced, so next time you think about tossing that coupon, think about giving it a shot.  You might be surprised.

Readers, have you ever had luck using coupons that you didn’t think you would be able to?  What deals did you score?

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Don’t Forget To Check For Promo Codes!

We were recently ordering some stuff from Pottery Barn Kids for our daughter for Christmas.  They had some promotions that were built into the item pricing of the things we wanted to purchase (one item had free shipping, another had free personalization).

My wife showed me the items she wanted to order to make sure I approved of the details, and had already entered in her payment information.  I said that the stuff looked good, but then yelled “WAIT!” and dived across the living room couch, as she went to hit ‘Submit’ for the payment.

After picking myself off the floor and taking in the ‘are you nuts’ look that I was getting, I said:

“We have to check if there’s any promo codes!”

I checked some of my favorite sites (Retail Me Not is my go-to site) and as it turns out, there weren’t any additional coupons off.  But, I still check every single time.

You never know what promotion someone else has discovered that might save you a few bucks.  Even if you find a coupon only one out of every ten times, that still means you’re saving money just by a few clicks.  Now that it’s the holiday season, you want to make sure that you’re checking as I’m sure there are more orders, more competition, and more codes available!

Regardless if it’s Amazon (who almost never has any coupon codes), Pottery Barn, or any other site, I always make sure to look if there’s any coupon/promotional codes available.

Do you? 

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National Sub Chain: Not Worth It Even At Half Price

I’m sure I wasn’t the only one that purchased the Groupon deal for a sub-chain-to-remain nameless that came out over the summer.  For the deal, you got two regular subs (up to a $12.98 value) for $6.

We waited until a few days before the promotion ended, having sort of forgotten about the coupon.  Still, we planned our dinner around getting two subs.

We weren’t entirely sure of which subs qualified and which didn’t, since the wording on the Groupon didn’t quite match up with the sub selection that we went through online.  As such, my wife and I had a couple of different options of subs we were interested in depending on what qualified.  I stayed at home with the kids while my wife went to get the subs.

When my wife went in, she told them that she had the Groupon and asked which subs qualified.  She was given an extremely short, somewhat rude answer of “The ones on this section.”  With that information, she placed our order.

A red flag was raised when the young lady preparing the subs kept asking the manager how much meat went on the subs.

Hmmm…either this person was brand new or were they perhaps putting less meat on the Groupon purchased subs?

I’m usually willing to give the benefit of the doubt, but when I saw the subs that we got, I pretty much decided that they screwed us because we had a Groupon.

See, I ended up getting the traditional sub.

This is how the chain shows the sub on their website and advertising versus what we got.  I’m sure you can tell which is which!

Quite a bit different, huh? They seem to have a lot of meat and a ton of vegetables. We got two slices of meat, and barely enough vegetables to make it worth mentioning.  In their picture, the sub barely closed.  In mine, when the sub was closed you could barely tell that anything was inside!

I know that most commercials, print, or web advertising is always going to make the product look better than what you get.  There’s always going to be a difference.  I get that and I give plenty of latitude and temper my expectations accordingly.  This might have been the worst looking sub I’ve ever seen, except maybe for the one that my wife had that looked equally lacking.

Honestly, there was nothing about that sub that was worth the $3 that it worked out to from the Groupon.  It was awful, and my wife’s was no better.

Now, it just so happened that we had purchased a lot of subs last month.  My wife loves Jimmy John’s, and we got that for ourselves once.  It was great!  Subway had their $5 for any footlong promotion running, so we took advantage of that deal.  Even at a lower price, we got lots of vegetables, a good amount of meat, and felt full afterward.  They gave us the same sub even though we were paying less.

Our chain apparently missed that memo.

It could be that maybe it was just our location.  It could be that they had been redeeming these Groupons for a ton of people.  It could be that they were a franchised location that was forced to participate.

Fine, maybe one or all of those things are the case.   But you know what?  None of those things are my problem.  If those things are indeed problems, they should never be my problem.  I was the customer.  If they were sick of the Groupon customers or were taking a loss, there are ways that they can handle that.  Never, ever should one of those ways involve giving the customer a mediocre product.  But, that’s exactly what we felt happened.

Before the Groupon, we didn’t go to this chain very often, but they had a chance to make us a more regular customer.  If we had received great subs with the Groupon deal, we certainly would have considered them each and every time that we felt like getting subs.

Now, I can assuredly say that I will never choose to eat at this sub place ever again.

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Make Sure Your Groupon Doesn’t Expire

Groupon and other deal-of-the-day sites have been the biggest craze on the Internet over the past year.  I have purchased deals from multiple sites including Groupon, Living Social, CBS Deals, and Entertainment.

We purchase on average, one per month.  Tops.

My parents actually purchase more than that.  They are retired and use Groupons both as a way to save money, but also as a way to try new things.  They enjoy eating out, so if they see a restaurant that they’ve heard of but never dined at, they will often take a chance and purchase the deal.  More often than not, they’re happy with their decision, but one of the things they ran into is keeping track of them.

Because they purchase more coupons, they have more to keep track of.  As we all know, it’s all to easy to forget about something.  With most deal-of-the-day sites (that I’ve heard of anyways) an expired coupon doesn’t mean you lose everything, but you essentially only get to redeem what you paid, losing out on the ‘savings’ portion.

To prevent that from happening, my dad spent some time organizing his coupons.  He printed each of them out, regardless if they were planning on using them immediately or not.  He then organized them by expiration date, putting the one that expires first in the front.

The stack of coupons then went into a folder (a clear one, too, which helps prevent the ‘out of sight, out of mind’ problem).  He checks it regularly, plus if they’re ever in the mood to go out to eat and don’t know where to go, they can look at the coupons that expire first, which can often make the decision simple.

It took my dad probably less than an hour to set this up, and now all he has to do is check the coupons regularly, and remember to print out any new ones he buys.  Doing these quick and easy steps will help ensure that he maximizes his deal-of-the-day purchases.

What systems do you use to make sure that you don’t forget to get your ‘free’ money?

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