Coupon Madness

May 1, 2009 by admncc

This evening my daughter and I stopped at Babies “R” Us because we needed to pick up a gift for my nephew.  We did our shopping and went to checkout.  It was about 7:30 p.m.  Of course, as is my usual luck, there was only one lane open.

Anyway, I was second in line.  I noticed that the guy in front of me had two carts full of items.  He says to the cashier, “I have a few coupons that I’d like to use.”  This guy proceeds to pull out a thick stack of coupons.  He then says, “I want to maximize my savings so I’ll be doing a few separate transactions.”  The cashier says, “How many transactions, sir?”  He responds, “I’m not sure.”  So of course I jump in and say, “What’s the coupon for?”  He says, “It’s good for $5 off of any $25 purchase.”

It very quickly occurred to me what this guy was doing.  He was going to systematically go through his cart and pull out items that together totaled around $25, and then he’d present one coupon at a time to get $5 off.  This was by far the most ridiculous example of over-board coupon use that I’d ever seen. And this guy was serious about his savings.  For example, he pulled out and item that cost $21.99, and then he bought two bottles of baby powder from the side-aisle to make sure his bill was $25, just so he could get $5 off.  Actually, several times, he spent $3 to save $5.  LOL.  I did the only thing I could do – stood there, rolled my eyes and sighed.

On any other day, I would have walked right out of the store.  I have been known to make a scene, but never when my daughter is present.  Plus, we needed this gift tonight, so I stood there while this guy rang up 14 separate transactions on his credit card.  He used a $5 off coupon every single time…  The funny thing is that the guy was very nice, apologized and even offered me one of his $5 off coupons, which I gladly accepted.  But that doesn’t mean I had to enjoy standing there for 20 minutes while he shuffled receipts, pulled out coupons and confused the cashier.

I’m glad I saw this though, because it really made me think.  Oh yeah, I was angry, but in hindsight, this situation leaves several unanswered questions.  Was this guy a coupon freak who would rather ring up 14 credit card transactions to save $70 as opposed to thinking he missed a great deal?  Was this guy laid off and needing to save every dime he has in the bank?  Did this guy even realize that he would probably end up paying more in the long run because he paid with his credit card, as opposed to using his debt card, etc.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’ve heard and read stories about people really making a difference with their cost savings by using coupons.  In fact, I applaud that.  More power to them…  Frankly, I’m jealous that I can’t be more dedicated to carrying out the process.  But I just think in the grand scheme of things that I’d rather end up spending a few extra dollars, if it meant being in the store for less time.  That’s probably shortsighted, but I just can’t help but think what a colossal waste of time this was tonight for all parties involved.

BTW, I was surprised that this guy’s credit card company didn’t call the store based on the repeated transactions.  And I can’t believe the store let him do it either…

All Posts / Business / Family/Lifestyle / General Moaning Business / Businesses / Coupon / Coupons / Credit Cards / Customer Service / Retail / Retail Prices / Retail Pricing /


  1. Kat says:

    Well, you’re right this guy did it all wrong. He’s going to end up paying more than what he saved in credit card fees and interest, than he did using the coupons.
    You should only do separate transactions when you have a coupon that says save $10 -$20 off a sale of $50 or more. Those piddly little $25 save $5 ones end up costing you because you end up buying a $3 item to make use of the coupon, and using a credit card ends up costing you fees and interest.

    The true object of couponing, is to use the majority of the coupons that you can in 1 transaction.
    Like I do with grocery shopping which I’ve blogged about and you’ve commented on.
    Do all of your shopping, use all of the coupons that you can, and save the most money at once, and use debit or cash, never credit. Using credit always costs more in the long run, which knocks your true savings down by at least 5%.

  2. Marissa says:

    The guy was a total shmuck. AND he should have let you go in front of him, the bastard. Did he happen to have a coupon that said “Save $5 and annoy other customers for FREE!”

  3. NeoConDon says:

    Financial guru Dave Ramsey will tell you that by using credit/debit cards instead of cash will automatically bump up your spending by 10 to 20 percent. Using cash has a mental component that forces less spending, so this extra effort might have been for naught. Toys and Babys R Us are in such financial problems that they won’t turn down business.

    Anyway, he would likely save as much or more by simply going to Walmart, Target, or KMart. The way Babys R Us does its pricing, it always seems that you have to spend $30 in order to get to that $25 mark…seems like as much of a scam as the “free” gasoline from the grocery stores.

    But Kat hit the nail on the head with coupon use.

  4. Kelly says:

    What a tool!

    I can also make a scene! I have dropped entire handfuls of stuff on the floor and walked out of the store. This is obviously only for extreme situations….

  5. c.princess says:

    Yes the coupon customer is going to wind up paying more.

    I’ve been in stores where the line has been so long the customers began complaining so loudly they forced the manager to open
    another lane.

  6. Chris says:

    What an idiot. Next till, just politely tap him on the back of the knee with your foot and giggle as his leg gives way beneath him and he falls over and bruises his body and ego. Which is, of course, deserved! 🙂

  7. Sugar says:

    The least he could do was to let you go ahead of him if he had 2 carts full of items.

    On a side note, I do feel extremely bad for the cashiers that have to deal with outrageous “coupon” customers, and the people that follow when only one register is open. It’s not their fault 🙁 The manager should have opened up another register!

  8. How highly annoying! That guy’s lucky he didn’t try that in Miami, I’m not sure he would have left the store alive…..

  9. He probably should have let you go before him…but whatever.

    I think the real problem here is the store for not putting a regulation on the coupons. They usually say one coupon per customer or one transaction per person or per day or some such thing.

    Maybe the cashier was inexperienced and didn’t know the rule. Either way I probably would have felt pretty grumpy by the end of that shopping trip.

    I do think it’s better to consider the guy’s circumstances before making a scene. In today’s economy, you just never know.

  10. Yeah. Most stores limit you to one coupon per transaction but I guess they’ll let you do multiple transactions. Yes, it would have been courteous to let you go first.

    I’m a firm believer that you should only buy what you need and not buy just because you have a coupon.


  11. Jake says:

    First time visitor. Great post. Coupon guy sounds like a bozo who thinks he is actually saving money.

  12. Hey… thanks for stopping by Penny Pinching Parent and for your comment. Your right, I did enjoy your story!

    I am a couponer and cannot stand people like this guy! Guys like this actually are abusing coupons and companies wind-up pulling coupons, etc. and it hurts those of us who honestly follow guidelines. That guy was way out of control!

    Me and my big mouth I would have probably said something to him. So many times having my daughter with me has kept my temper in line! :o)

  13. Dan says:

    This guy must have been shopping for the Octomom or something.

  14. Extreme John says:

    I give you credit I would have clearly been upset, I have zero patience which is completely my own fault but 14 transactions?

  15. Christina says:

    Thanks for stopping by my blog and commenting.

    I agree that you don’t use your credit card for saving money UNLESS it’s one of those that give cash back for using it on certain occasions….

  16. Kusc says:

    I’m not sure my temper would have held. Kudos to you. I suspect I would have started throwing shopping carts.

  17. Tristan says:

    I’m not following any of the logic that says using coupons or credit cards costs you more. Many people never pay any fees or interest on credit cards and spending $3 to save $5 still leaves you with $2 in your pocket and $3 worth of goods that you didn’t have before…

    I’m just glad the guy is being financially responsible. At least he isn’t on welfare. Of course, if he were, he would have no reason to be pinching pennies… (it’s always easier to spend someone else’s money)

    Also, I don’t consider the slow service the fault of the guy at all. The “one per transaction” policy is one problem. Make it one per $25 and the problem is solved. Another option would be for a manager to open a second register temporarily. I’m guessing no one at the store was jumping at that opportunity.

  18. NeoConDon says:

    Hi Tristan,

    The financial gurus will tell you that you spend more money using plastic then when you use cash. It’s a mental thing since cash is a concrete object and it can hurt passing it along. This is consistent whether you’re borrowing by using a credit card, or using a debit card. I’ve noticed this to be true with my own spending habits.

  19. wow. I would be annoyed too. I wonder how he got all the coupons in the first place.

    thanks for visiting my blog and leaving a comment.

    Cha Ching Queen

  20. Tristan says:

    Don, yes, I think that also falls under “it’s always easier to spend someone else’s money” (regardless of if they want it back).

    But it is that mentality that is the problem, not the card or any associated fees. If you have a budget it doesn’t matter, then credit cards are only evil because they monitor your spending habits….

  21. NeoConDon says:

    You’re dead on Tristan. That mentality is why I don’t have credit cards, and I haven’t for 7 years. I could easily see myself rationalizing making a purchase on something that’s a “great deal”, and I have 30 days to get the money and pay my bill off every month. I give a name to every single dollar at the beginning of the month. If I don’t have the money for it, I don’t buy it. Since we began doing that, we have more disposable income, and a net worth that grows monthly.

  22. Did anyone ever stop to think that maybe this guy is just a tightwad who wanted to get whatever he could from Babies R us? Everyone is assuming its going to cost him more in the long run because of interest and all that jazz but no one stopped to think that ‘hey, maybe he’ll pay his credit card during that 21 day grace period’.

    I’d be very annoyed standing behind this guy too but he did get more savings out of the store than most people. And why would the store object? The store doesn’t care how it gets paid as long as it gets paid. Check, credit card, debit card, 1 transaction, 22 transactions. At the end of the day, the store just cares about how much shows up on the end of their register print out!

    But again, CC, I would have probably just dropped my item on the counter and walked out. I’m a very impatient person…

  23. Tristan says:

    Right on, Jenny.

    Don, if everyone cared about personal finance as you do, there might be a little more hope for our economy. Unfortunately, we’re mostly a paycheck from ruin and currently in a mad dash to pay off thousands and thousands of dollars in irresponsible debt. Yet somehow “consumer spending has increased”. We are so screwed…

  24. NeoConDon says:

    I agree that we are screwed. At least some of us. Others are prepared…

  25. Tristan says:

    The problem there is that if 99% of people are screwed and 1% are not and those 99% get an “entitlement” feeling toward the unscrewed 1%, the 1% will find themselves in the same boat or worse…

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