October 17, 2013 is Spirit Day – a day when we wear purple and engage in conversations with our children and colleagues to show our support of the movement to end bullying. I am fortunate enough to say that there are very few instances in my day to day life where I feel bullied or compelled to bully others.
Except when it comes to couponing.
As organized as I try to be, my blood pressure usually rises slightly as I approach the checkout with coupons to redeem or items to price match. My defenses go on high alert and I am usually geared up for some kind of confrontation from the cashier if they are unfamiliar with me and my reputation as an informed Canadian Couponer. 9 times of 10, my fears are for naught and it is nothing but smiles and inner gloating that I’ve saved my family a bundle of money on our groceries.
In those rare instances, however, when the cashier seems to scrutinize and question my integrity, I do get extra defensive and speak with a firmer voice. Case in point, my disastrous trip to Shoppers Drug Mart this past week where I saved 89% but did it poorly [blog post]. Am I a bully? Spirit Day has made me take pause to question what it means to be a bully vs. defending what we believe in.
I am not a bully. I take pride in how I conduct myself in my private and public dealings with others and hope that my children can bear witness to the fact that I’m teaching them to be polite and respectful of others, too. That being said, if I ever snap, it will likely be because of couponing!
Ten situations which might make me be a Coupon Bully
Here are my top 10 situations in which I could potentially turn into a coupon bully when I engage with the cashier, ranging from 1-easy to be polite to 10-high risk for hostile response:
1. Cashier asks if the date is valid. Fair enough. I would, too.
2. Cashier inspects the coupon for a Canadian redemption address. This only becomes irksome if it’s a well-known WebSaver.ca or Save.ca coupon issued only in Canada.
3. Cashier inspects the coupon for a Canadian redemption address for a product that is only available in Canada. Because counterfeit Lipton coupons are circulating in Michigan?! Oh well, still low on the hostile response scale.
4. Cashier inspects the subsequent identical coupons for any of reasons 1-3 even though they are clearly the same. I have to bite my tongue even harder if it’s blatantly obvious that I have clipped them from the inside of a cardboard Cheerios box. How in the world would I have fraudulently duplicated them?
5. Cashier charges me sales tax on a Free Product Coupon. This is not a widely known policy amongst couponers, much less cashiers. I try to highlight the fine print so that it’s easy to point it out politely to the cashier.
6. Cashier refuses multiple coupons because they say “one coupon per purchase”. Gah! This is such a pet peeve of mine. Per purchase is NOT the same as per transaction or per customer. I have a copy of a “per transaction” coupon taped to the inside of my binder to help me politely and calmly point out the difference. Need a brush up on coupon lingo? Here’s my article about Coupon Fine Print 101.
7. Cashier digs through my already packed bags at the end of the transaction to scrutinize a product size or variety. I purposely present my coupons at the same time as each item is rung in so that this doesn’t have to happen. I appreciate the cashiers who take the time to check then and there, instead of mushing my bread and grapes.
8. Cashier doesn’t bat an eyelash when I save a gazillion dollars. Ok, this one is a little vain. But what ever happened to complimenting people (especially your customers) on a job well done?!
9. Cashier does not offer to ring in an item for FREE after we’ve discussed SCOP (scanning code of practice) two seconds earlier. I feel embarrassed, albeit entitled, to have to ask again. It would be so refreshing for a cashier to say, I’m sorry Ma’am, I’ll fix that price for you, and of course since we just went through this with your milk, your first loaf of bread will be FREE, too as per the scanning code of practice. Thank you for your patience. I’d likely fall over in shock, but a girl can dream!
10. Cashier rolls their eyes when they see that I have coupons to redeem. Really? It is my understanding that cashiers are paid hourly and that it should make no difference if I am with them for 1 minute or 1 hour (which, evidently, has never happened to me! I’m a small trip kind of shopper). Furthermore, the store (which pays their salary) is benefiting from me doing my shopping there. If I were not able to coupon or price-match at that store, I would take my business elsewhere. And finally, the store is actually gaining a little bit of extra money when they submit my coupons for reimbursement. Why don’t cashiers LOVE couponers?
And there-in lies the answer. All to often, these poor cashiers are being bullied left right and centre by shoppers. As avid couponers, I feel that we are obligated to be informed and organized so that cashiers and store owners become more trusting in our abilities and integrity as savvy shoppers who are saving for their families, not trying to scam the system. And I think that we should continue to answer each of the cashiers questions as politely as possible and keep our thoughts (in italics) to ourselves!
I will continue to do my best (this is sounding like a Brownie Promise!) to be a polite and courteous couponer. I will take action to provide accurate and helpful information to my readers. And I will take care of my cashiers!
Have you hugged a cashier, lately?!
In the true spirit of creating dialogue about bullying on Spirit Day, I ask my fellow Canadian Coupons community members: What would you do if you saw a fellow couponer bullying a cashier? I never know what to do. Do jump in as some kind of self-proclaimed coupon crusader, defender of the common cashier? Do I point out their rudeness to my children in a dinnertime discussion and turn it into a teachable moment? What would you do?
Happy Couponing – and Happy Spirit Day!
Christa Clips ~ October 17, 2013