It’s happened to all of us at one time or another. Thinking that all of your coupons and sales rang up correctly, you get to the car and realize that a product didn’t ring up right and that a coupon wasn’t credited. Experiencing this more than once has helped me develop some habits that make couponing more efficient at checkout. The store you shop at makes money, but experience has taught me that it’s a lot of trouble for stores to deal with coupons, so you may be prone to error when you present them. Your bottom line is your responsibility, so be willing to invest your time and energy into making each shopping trip a success.

Correct transactions are a crucial element to saving money! Use these tips to ensure your transactions will yield the most discounts!

Listen for the beeps

The register beeps or lack of beeps are the first clue that there’s a problem. I was at Walgreens recently and had two coupons. One scanned perfectly, the next one did not. The store clerk realized immediately that the coupon didn’t scan even though I heard the beep and thought it had. Thankfully, she worked for five minutes on getting that coupon to scan and achieved success at last! Don’t give up–just stay patient and positive! If you’re not sure what the beep is for, ask the clerk, and he or she will explain it to you.

Observe the clerk’s face

Clerks generally have two faces when they process your transaction: engaged or bored! The engaged face wants to make sure that the coupon works. He or she will immediately tell you if there’s a problem. This person will call over a supervisor to get help and keep working with the coupon.The bored face couldn’t care less if you save $.50 or not. He or she will quit trying after a short period of time. Your goal is to be successful in using that coupon. So use your “inside” voice, stay calm, and ask for a manager. Chances are, this isn’t the last time you’ll have this particular clerk at checkout!

Match coupon to product

I’ve brought up the wrong product many times—not on purpose, but by accident because I didn’t read the coupon for the exact description. Key words are “any” and “size” of the product. “Any” means any size from trial to the largest pound. “Size” may refer to regular size and omit trial size. Knowing your coupon lingo will save you time, money and a delay at checkout. Some coupons may have a picture of the item, but the coupon may include other items as well. This is an even better coupon if it’s not limited to one particular item.

Keep coupons up to date

We’ve all done it: pulled out expired coupons at the end of the month, thought we got them all, but ended up trying to use a missed expired one at checkout. When you hear the beep, it can be a warning to the store clerk that the coupon is expired. Now that’s embarrassing. Develop the habit of reviewing coupons while waiting in line to make sure that expiration dates haven’t passed.

Learn how to interpret your receipt

I’m notorious for closely watching prices ring up. I diligently observe each transaction (to the best of my ability), yet I’ll still miss one. My worst habit is not checking the receipt in-store. I get creeped out when other people are waiting in line behind me! And by the time I get everything in my cart, I’m ready to get out of the store. I shop at Harris Teeter, which routinely doubles coupons up to $.99. Their receipt loads all of the doubled coupons at the bottom. Yes, I’ve counted to make sure that each coupon doubled! I’ve also taken back a receipt where the coupon didn’t. Harris Teeter also has a savings program that credits the receipt for certain items purchased—it’s called a ZVR. The ZVR doesn’t come off until the end of the receipt. Usually I have a 50/50 chance of this working correctly. Many times the cashier doesn’t know which ZVRs a customer may have and they don’t ask if you were credited for them—so be sure to check!

Review the receipt before paying

Ask the clerk to print a copy of your receipt before finalizing the sale to review for correct prices. This is a great way to make sure your items have rung up correctly and your coupons have been credited appropriately. It may keep you in line longer, but that’s better than walking all the way back from the car and standing in line at the service desk.

Make sure coupons aren’t stuck together

You know how new money will stick together. This can happen to your coupons too. If I have two of the same coupon, I typically separate them in my stack. That way, they’re less likely to be stuck together and counted as one. I also separate my printed coupons—I may do one manufacturer, one printed. Remember, the cashier usually just pulls one off the top after another—another reason for checking the receipt!

Count the number of coupons you’re using

Knowing the number of coupons you’re using will help ensure you receive credit for all discounts. Has your cashier ever dropped a coupon? Mine has. Or here’s a better story. I was shopping a Target for just a few items. I put my items on the belt along with my coupons and she hit the button to move the conveyor belt. All of my coupons disappeared and she never even saw them! How did I handle that? Well, I was shocked that the cashier didn’t believe me when I asked her where the coupons were. Then, she didn’t seem to want to look for them. Using my “inside voice,” I calmly stood there. She finally called a manager and believe it or not, they actually opened the conveyor belt. And there they were! Her next question? “How many coupons did you have?” Glad I knew that number!

This is a guest post by Tammy from North Carolina.


For more money-saving tips, check out:
Get Money When You Shop with Shopmium
Earn Cash Back on Groceries with Checkout 51
Grocery Store Marketing Strategies to Avoid
The Amazon App: The Secret to Price Matching at Target
Where to Take Your Kids to Eat Free
Regional Coupon Variations May Cause Coupon Envy
How to Make a Couponing Spreadsheet

7 Tips to Ensure Correct Transactions at Checkout