Ever get to a product shelf to find it empty? If the item is something you need in the near future and you won’t be able to return soon, try asking the manager if you can substitute a similar item for the one out of stock instead of getting a rain check. Try to be sensitive and logical; ask if a store brand can be substituted if one is available. Explain to the manager if you live a long distance away or you can only shop every once in a while, and remember to be polite. If the answer is no, rain checks usually have a 30–90 day redemption date. Always shop with your coupon binder in case you need to get another brand and don’t want to pay full price and a generic not available.

Some stores may be a step ahead and offer a substitution up front, usually noted by a sign where the out-of-stock item was. Commonly, it will state that the demand was greater than the supply, but customers may purchase another brand (usually the generic or store label) for the same price until more stock arrives. Other stores may have a tear pad with rain check requests for the specific item that’s out of stock.

Request Substitutes on Out-of-Stock Items