I posted this way back in April of 2010, and thought it would be a great reminder if you're new to coupon shopping. I've added a few tips I've learned since then, but I'd love to hear what other suggestions you have on how to have an easy experience in the checkout late!
We all know how important it is to find the “right” cashier at the checkout lane. I am the worst, I literally walk in the store, scout out my options, and roam the aisles until the one I like is available (this is sometimes tough to do at my Publix, they're usually chomping at the bit to help me!)
I hate to say it, but some folks in this world are just nicer than others, so obviously the same goes for cashiers. But I've found that most (definitely not all) will warm up to me with a few helpful tips.
- BE NICE TO THEM! Smile, make small talk, ask how their day is going (easy, right?)
- If someone is behind you and has just one or two items, let them go first. I've offered to do that many times and sometimes they would rather stay and watch my deals! But it'll let the cashier know you're not there to make them crazy, and the person behind you in line won't go nuts. (I had my first grouchy person ever behind me in line last week. Bless her heart, I don't think she could have sighed any louder and been any more miserable! My sweet cashier was totally on my side though and just kept scanning those coupons!)
- Let your cashier know you've got coupons. Some like the whole stack up front, some couldn't care less how they get them. Let them know you're excited about the deals!
- Save your rain check items or items that are free with a coupon until the end. That way they can easily give you the deduction for your rain check or free coupon because they'll have the item right there with the coupon.
- Don't use expired coupons. While Kroger and some drug stores will occasionally accept these, Publix will not. If you use one, they're bound to question every coupon you've got. You want to let them know you're totally fair, because some of them are looking for you to mess up!
- Clip the entire coupon! A reader just emailed me from Georgia and said that many cashiers are getting stuck with the entire printed sheet and they have to clip the coupons before turning them in. Really, is there another way to drive cashiers more crazy? We want them on our side! Keep scissors in your purse and you can even clip in the checkout line while they're scanning your items (although I do recommend making sure you watch the prices while they're scanning).
- Always, Always, ALWAYS be ethical with your coupon usage. The way you coupon sets the stage for yourself and other couponers, and it's not worth sacrificing your integrity for a dollar. Go HERE to see more on basic coupon acceptance policies and HERE to see more on coupon ethics (thanks Kim Saves!)
- If a coupon doesn't work and you feel it's legitimate, NICELY ask to see a manager. You might say something like “I thought the last time I was here you all took those, I just want to make sure so I'll know for next time.” Or, if it's not that big a deal, just let them know you don't want to purchase the item (unless it's something you really want!)
- If you're buying something to donate, let them know that – they love it! Because I did the $100 challenge at our church, many of the cashiers at my store know I grab things to donate, so they like to see my finds! One night I was buying 15 boxes of potatoes (imagine that!) I was a little worried that they might limit how many deals I could get, so I just mentioned that I was buying some for our food pantry. It made them excited to see how cheaply I got them!
- When all else fails, figure out your favorite cashier's schedule – really. There's a guy at our store that we all LOVE (he's really great – he even knows my name!) A friend of mine loves him too, so we decided we want his schedule! We really need something more exciting to do than couponing, don't we?
I really believe that as long as we treat our cashiers kindly and with respect, odds are they'll do the same us. (I know there are some exceptions, but so far I've been pretty lucky!) Do you all have any other tips on buddying up with cashiers? I'd love to hear them!
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One note about carrying scissors: there are places you can’t take them (I was stopped at the courthouse bag scan), so it’s smart to have them in your purse in an easy-to-remove way. I have a Vera Bradley pen/pencil zippy pouch that is perfect for holding my clipped coupons, scissors, a pen, and sometimes my grocery list. If I’m going somewhere I can’t have scissors, I just leave the whole pouch in the car. I often use the scissors at the store! I usually check the customer service counter when I first get to the store to see if they have new coupons, then move to a place where I’m not blocking traffic and clip the ones I might need for that trip.
I have to agree with all but ONE of your suggestions. You are ABSOLUTELY RIGHT about NOT handing the cashier the whole page so that he/she has to cut them out. However, I feel that the suggestion to cut them while in line at the register is way off base. If you have more than a couple of coupons to cut, this could be sheer madness. I really feel that having your coupons clipped and ready before you get to the register shows consideration for both your cashier and the customers behind you. It also makes it much easier, as you also suggested, to be sure that your items and coupons are ringing correctly.
I love your emails and your blog!! Thank you for sharing all of your hard work with us!!
Hi Connie! I think you’re right… I was never thinking of someone clipping all of them in line (I have been known to be behind and do an extra one or two!) I definitely shop so much more effectively when everything is organized, there were just days (especially when my kids were littler), when I wasn’t always that efficientand I might have been stuck in the line and remembered an extra coupon that I need to tear out. But, that’s a great point! 🙂
I’m relatively new to couponing and have followed my daughter’s advice on HOW to do it. She told me all the things you mentioned in your post about being courteous, look for specific cashiers, etc. She also recommended that I keep a pen handy and write the price on the coupon if it happens to be for a free item – that way the cashier doesn’t have to scan the register receipt for the price. I let the Cashier know up front I have several coupons but don’t give them to her until she has finished scanning all my items. I am very much enjoying the savings and the great deals I’m getting by putting forth some time and energy to pull it all together. Your site has been invaluable!! Thanks for all your work in bringing us the latest deals!!!
Great tips Ruby ~ it sounds like you’re a pro already! So glad PPP helps, and love that you’re saving so much already. 🙂
Hey Laurie great post! As a grocery cashier I can tell you from my own experience that these friendly tips and advice are greatly appreciated by cashiers! Seeing the comments and some of the things you guys are saying gives me hope and reminds me not all customers are out to make your day stink. Great tips in general though, I’m a customer too and I like to be nice to my cashiers wherever I shop, a friendly greeting and parting word “Have a nice day” and such.
I really appreciate it when customers use my name, it really makes me feel good like they know I’m a person too not just a cashier. Your cashier will LOVE you if you are friendly and even if you have a ton of coupons (that are valid) just by saying “Thank you _____ I really appreciate it” makes me feel real nice and I’m sure I’m not the only one
Thanks Mike! We appreciate you cashiers so much, and all of us like to be treated with kindness 🙂 Thanks for sharing!
Tammy :) says
This is a great post, thanks!
On my last trip to Publix, I got to give my cashier some coupons! She made a comment about the store coupon making Degree deo such a good deal this week- if only she had the mfr Q to go with it. I had 2 extra with me. Then she asked if I had any ALL detergent coupons, which I did. She was so excited! It made me smile.
I also try to go to the store website and write a good comment when I have exceptional visits, i.e. when the cashier was still nice to me when I handed her a huge stack of coupons! At Publix, they get rewarded if you mention them by name.
I have found that calling them by name and telling them Thank you goes a long way.
That does mean so much – my favorite one even gave me a coupon for a free whole turkey last year, because he knew I’d find someone to donate it to – we ended up taking an extra turkey to the church’s food pantry! 🙂
remember they are doing their job when they scrutinize each coupon, so be patient while they review them. I let folks behind me know that I have coupons so they have a choice to go to another lane. I also ask them to pass the word for each new person in line so each person has the opportunity to go to another lane. Our stores like rainchecks first, w/ their matching coupons…and any coupons that get you ‘free items’ hand them in so the cashier knows to write in those prices as they go along.. Makes it easier than going back over the register screen to find the price again…:)
You’re right Dawn! And thanks for the tips on which coupons to hand over first – anything we can do to make their job easier makes it easier for all of us!
Saving Common Cents says
Great post…this is a nice reminder for us all when we have a “bad” experience. More bees with honey…or kill ‘um with kindness. I’ve found being calm, friendly, open, nice…gets me that in return at the checkout (most of the time). 🙂
I agree – kindness goes a long way! 🙂