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Following Couponing Etiquette

Updated on June 3, 2016

Don't be Selfish!

About five years ago, TLC's "Extreme Couponing" show began airing. On one of this show's episodes, there was a lady who admitted to breaking the "couponing" rules by clearing the shelves, even though there was another customer next to her who had wanted to buy the same item. A typical couponer knows to leave a little bit of wanted items on the shelves, so others will be able to buy the same item. This also avoids an association of greed with couponers. In the case of the unlucky customer next to the lady on "Extreme Couponing," I feel she should have either handed the other customer one of her protein bars, or offered to give him one for free after she checked out. What she did on this episode was selfish. This is all part of "couponing etiquette."

Another way to ensure you are following "couponing etiquette" is to pre-order items of which you plan to buy large quantities. The lady on this particular episode did pre-order some of her items, which makes it even more of a mystery of why she had to clear any shelves; why did she not pre-order those items as well? My first thought while watching this woman clear several shelves completely of certain items was, "if you are Catholic, "greed" is one of the Seven Deadly Sins. In her defense, though, she WAS buying many items for her son's football team, but I am sure she did not need the amount of items she purchased; she could have been nice and given a protein bar to that unlucky customer who wanted to buy it, but got there one second too late.

Throughout my personal couponing experiences, I have developed some of my own rules:

  1. First, if I am not using coupons, I refuse to go to the automated "self-checkout" lines. This is because I feel they have taken away jobs that many people need in this U.S. economy, however, if I am using a small-to-medium stack of coupons, I feel it is more polite to use these isles so the other lines are not being held up; my local store still has associates ready to help you if you run into a problem, and usually, cashier or no cashier, there are some problems when couponing. This is why I recommend going to an experienced cashier, who has and/or knows the required codes and/or procedures, if you are using a large, or extensive, amount of coupons.
  2. My other rule is that if I am buying an item, I might only leave one item on the shelf; but if it is an item of several varieties, I will try to leave one or more of each variety on the shelf. Many people on TLC's show, "Extreme Couponing," have also emphasized to read, and know, your store's coupon policy. This has proved true for me; many times, I will know more about it than the cashiers, therefore, knowing the policy is able to prevent many, otherwise time-consuming, problems. On one of the episodes of TLC's "Extreme Couponing," a lady recommended calling your store periodically to check if there have been any recent changes to the coupon policy. I feel this is a good idea, in order to prevent couponing problems in the future.

Overall, if you intend on becoming a couponer, or already are one, it is probably best to follow the "couponing etiquette" rules of which you are aware; it is always best to be generous rather than greedy anyway. Also, by following the "couponing etiquette," you are maintaining a good relationship with the store, which is absolutely necessary. If you are a "shelf-clearer," the store may grow to resent you, and be more resistant with you when you encounter problems at the register.


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