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Extreme Couponing Tip: Coupons with One Bar Code

“Help! My coupon only has one long bar code. Is it legitimate?”

The GS1 Databar symbol has been featured on most coupons for a long time, though usually paired side by side with the 12-number standard UPC bar code. However, since June of 2011, more and more companies (such as Karo, Fleischmann’s, Kikkoman, Jimmy Dean, Kellogg’s, and Hillshire Farm) are opting to leave off the UPC bar code and just keep the other symbol, officially named the GS1 Databar. There are several reasons for this:

Smaller: With only one bar code, the coupon can be printed in a smaller space.
Cracking down: It cuts down on bar code decoding (an illegal method by which some customers use coupons on products for which they are not intended.)
Efficiency: The GS1 Databar contains more information than the UPC. It can incorporate the coupon’s expiration date and the exact products for which the coupon is valid. This is meant to lead to a faster checkout, cutting back on the time  it takes when a cashier has to carefully examine every single coupon. The bar code itself is also used on products tagged with smaller stickers, such as produce, jewelry, or medicine bottles.

These new coupons that only feature the GS1 are legitimate and should be accepted at all stores that take manufacturer coupons. However, some stores have not equipped their registers to scan the GS1. This can lead to confusion, especially because cashiers have the ability to type in a UPC bar code when the coupon is having trouble scanning. If this happens to you, kindly explain to the cashier about the GS1 and why it may not be scanning (they need to update their system, which you may want to take up with the store or district manager). Point out the GS1 on other coupons that also feature the UPC bar code.

Some store policies do specify that if the coupon does not scan, it cannot be accepted. In this case, we’ll need to abide by their ruling, although you may want to alert the manager regarding the GS1, or use those coupons at a different store that has updated their system.