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Canadian Coupons blogger Christa Clips paid $12.57 for $108 worth of groceries today and is NOT pleased with her performance.

Canadian Coupons blogger Christa Clips paid $12.57 for $108 worth of groceries today and is NOT pleased with her performance.

I am not proud of how my shopping trip went today. I broke all of my personal rules which ensure that I am NOT ashamed to be “that couponer”:

  1. I went during prime time and held up people in line behind me.  I usually go after 9pm and even have time to leisurely chat with the cashiers!
  2. I was in a rush. Think “4 kids are getting off the school bus at the house any minute” kind of rushed. I usually leave LOTS of time so that if something goes wrong, I can calmly work with the cashier to troubleshoot the issue. What’s worse, I wasn’t able to say “go ahead” to the customer behind me who was only waiting to pay for passport photos. That simple gesture would have bought me points with the other 10 (thousand?) people in line.
  3. I didn’t research the coupon fine print.  I was redeeming the $10 OFF when you spend $50 Shoppers Drug Mart coupon and didn’t familiarize myself enough with the whole process of how to make sure that the manufacturer’s coupons I had did not deduct from my minimum threshold.

Also, less importantly, I skipped a layer of savings by not purchasing a Shoppers Drug Mart gift card to cover my entire purchase. I only would have earned an extra 620 points worth $1.49 but that’s how I’ve earned thousands of FREE Optimum Points in the past year and I pride myself in staying true to my “bit by bit it all adds up” savings philosophy. Today was NOT the day to take the extra 2 minutes to ring in the gift card.

These were the coupons that I had set aside to use today to help me get to my minimum $50 threshold.  I didn't end up using any of the FPCs.

These were the coupons that I had set aside to use today to help me get to my minimum $50 threshold. I didn’t end up using any of the FPCs.

I started off well, and was even feeling excited enough about the trip that I posted a “hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to save I go” message on the Canadian Coupons facebook page. I should have known better. Perhaps I was being over-confident!

I’d printed the $10 OFF when you spend $50 coupon.

I’d collected Canadian Coupons from my binder that matched sale items at Shoppers Drug Mart.

I e-mailed my nutritionist to find out exactly what kind of vitamin she recomended for me (not exactly pertinent info for the rest of y’all, but I really was feeling on top of my game today!)

I also grabbed a few of my FPCs (FREE Product Coupons) with hopes of doing a 2nd transaction with just those. I like to do FPCs separately so that I can make sure I’m not charged for the sales tax. Since I was rushed today, I aborted the entire FPC part of the mission!

I made sure my cell phone was charged so that I could use the calculator to make sure I had $50 in my cart, without going too far over. To make the most of the $10 savings, afterall, I needed to keep my total out of pocket as low as possible. It’s a different shopping mentality than the 20x Optimum Points Events, for example, when there is no ceiling on the points earnings.

I packed a pen and notebook so that I could meticulously record the regular price and sale price of each item for when I skipped home to write a blog article about my Shoppers Drug Mart Savvy Savings Success!

Clipping coupons to your purse or front of your coupon binder in the same order as they go into your cart makes the check-out easy breezy!

Clipping coupons to your purse or front of your coupon binder in the same order as they go into your cart makes the check-out easy breezy!

I packed a shiny clip to keep my coupons organized on my purse as I added items to my cart so that they were easy to hand over to the cashier when I ready to check-out.

I chose my nicest re-usable shopping bags and even applied lipstick.

In summary, I felt like I’d really set myself up for success.

The trip started off great. I found everything I was looking for and quickly reached my minimum $50 threshold. In fact, there were some items that I opted to save for the next Shoppers Drug Mart offer, now that we’re used to seeing two or three per week.

When I got to the cashier, I started by handing him the $10 OFF printable coupon so that he’d have time to read it while I loaded my items onto the counter. I asked him if we could ring in my manufacturer’s coupons at the end so that I could really see how much my subtotal was before coupon deductions. I placed each coupon with the appropriate item so that he could check size/variety/date, etc. before the items were placed in my bags. It went swimmingly!

*cue the theme from “Jaws”!

But then, in true “Extreme Couponing” fashion, like when the cash register breaks down just seconds after the cashier declares “I’ve never seen so many coupons in my life”, I noticed that the $10 OFF coupon was not computing. The cashier thought maybe it was because I’d redeemed an FPC for a FREE razor that came in the mail today. We took the FPC off. No change. We put the FPC back on. No change. Then as if straight from a scene in a Robert Munsch book where Thomas ends up wearing the teacher’s dress, the principal is naked and the teacher is wearing Thomas’ snowsuit (or something like that), the cashier was asking “do you want the razor? do you want your copy of your $10 coupon back, it’s no good” and I was a flustered mess!

The final conclusion we came to was that it was because I’d redeemed $22 in coupons and that had brought me below the $50 threshold. I was pretty certain it shouldn’t have made a difference but didn’t have time to work it out with a manager. By this point, the poor customer waiting to pay for her passport photos was beat red, the cashier was doing a GREAT job of hiding the fact that his blood pressure must have been through the roof, and I was ready to dive into my carefully packed bags to find some of that Dove deodorant I’d bought. “Don’t sweat the small stuff” did NOT apply to this scene!

Because I was cutting it way to close for comfort with respect to the school bus arriving at an empty house, I finished paying for my items, said a gazillion apologies and thank you’s to the other key players I’d sucked into my drama and beelined it for the car.

I made it home before the bus and added up my receipt 10 times. I was right. I DID meet the minimum threshold. What had gone wrong?

On a whim, I called the Shoppers Drug Mart customer service number from their website. Andrea was amazing! She asked how many base points I’d earned and confirmed that  since I’d earned more than 500 base points, she could state with confidence that I must have reached the minimum $50 pointable threshold (nice trick to know!). To my pleasant surprise, she reassured me that she could fix it for me on the phone right then and there.

What? I didn’t have to go back to the store tonight with all my stuff?  (*shhh. dont’ tell anyone, but I might have cracked open one of those Diet Cokes and applied Dove deodorant all in one fowl swoop with here right there on the line!).  In fact, Andrea did one better than award me the $10 that should have been taken off my total. She awarded me 8,000 Shoppers Optimum Points instead. Since I always redeem my points as part of a full 95K redemption at a Spend Your Points event, those 8,000 points are actually worth $19.20 to me. Andrea was courteous, efficient, and took time to answer all of my questions. Note to self: I must post a note of thanks to the Shoppers Drug Mart facebook wall.

Unfortunately, my most important question “why did this happen and what can the Canadian Coupons community do to make sure they don’t have the same experience” hasn’t been answered yet. We are going to troubleshoot my receipt together and I will be sure to pass on the final answer just as soon as I can.

  • Were the coupons entered under the correct code?
  • Did the cashier need to hit subtotal before entering the coupons?
  • Did the fact that I used up some old gift cards as partial payment make a difference?
  • Was there a problem with my $10 OFF printable coupon?

These are all possibilities that I want to confirm.

I did end up saving 89% overall and came home with products that our family will use this week. That part was a success. The fact that I almost gave myself a heart attack was not.  And worse, for me, I feel like I did nothing to further the “coupon” movement in my town if that Passport Photo customer has any inclination to share her side of the story with her friends and family. I do hope I run into her again and can offer her a coffee or some coupons as an apology so that I can start earning back some couponing dignity.

Thomas' Snowsuit by Robert Munsch, Illustrated by Michael Martchenko

Thomas’ Snowsuit by Robert Munsch, Illustrated by Michael Martchenko

I assume that at some point, all couponers experience stressful moments at the checkout even when we think we have covered all bases. I’m thankful that this wasn’t my first “big shop” – I’m not sure I would have the fortitude to carry on after the drama of it all. Would you?

Happ(ier) Couponing!

Christa Clips ~ October 15, 2013

p.s. the principal of Thomas’ school “retired and moved to Arizona, where they don’t need snowsuits at all”. Such a cute book!

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