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Coupon Theatre

Who says you can’t see an immersive piece of theatre at Target?

Last night, I was there buying colored pencils, chocolate, and a fancy hat, and got in line behind a young woman with an impressive coupon binder in her cart. As she was organizing her coupons, we were chatting; she was a lovely, but tired, stay-at-home mom, and clearly very methodical.

She finished her transaction and gave the cashier the coupons, and he called over two managers to help out. Obviously, they did not understand how coupons work.

  1. “You can only use one BOGO coupon on these feminine products.” BOGO, limit 2 coupons per customer = you can get 4 items, 2 of which will be free. She had 2 coupons, and 4 items. Simple math.
  2. A second coupon rang up 4 bottles of kids’ shampoo at 4 cents each (nice work!) and the manager said, “um, no, that can’t be correct, why would we do that?” Um, you didn’t do that; this lady managed to combine coupons so well that it comes out to 4 cents.
  3. A third coupon was refused because “it expired today.” Hold the phone, Joe. Expiration date means that you can use it that day. Kind of rubbing salt in the wound.

On top of it, the managers were kind of jerks about it to the lady, who was being assertive, but not loud or abrasive. As she was writing their names down to call corporate, I whispered to her that she was absolutely correct, and to come back tomorrow morning and try again with a different manager. We exchanged a smile before she left, defeated. She had clearly calculated everything down to the penny, and was not trying to stack or cheat the system, just being a conscious shopper. Maybe the first two were legit, but with the third one, the managers were just rubbing salt into the wound. Some couponers are greedy, but the majority are a) really in need and doing the best they can for their families or b) like to save a little money here or there to save up for other things. I enjoy using coupons, but I’m grateful that I do not have to rely on them for a living, and as a result, deal with clueless managers who think that you’re stealing crappy shampoo from their chain store.