Has it happened to you even when you were sure your coupon is valid?
You’re not alone! Coupon fine print can be very confusing and even cashiers often have a wrong understanding of exactly what it all means. By arming yourself with the proper definitions, you’ll know when to stand your ground or when to walk away and use a different coupon another day.
The manufacturer is the one who writes the fine print, which is why it is often interpreted differently by some retailers. It’s best to be aware of these differences before you plan your shopping trip.
15 Coupon Terms You Need to Know
I’ve gone through my entire coupon collection and produced the following list of common terms. The interpretations, definitions, and examples below are based on my own years of couponing experience that have helped me sort it all out.
- Limit one per person/customer. This simply means that you are only allowed to use one. If you have family members or friends with you while shopping, they will be allowed to use one each.
- Limit one per per household. Even with other members of your household present, they will only allow you to redeem one coupon.
- Limit one coupon per purchase. This term, to most retailers, means you are allowed to use one coupon per item purchased. I have run into the odd instance where a cashier has told me that they interpret this as one per transaction. These issues were never specific to any one retailer, and are rare. My advice, if they misunderstand the language it is better just to accept it and price match that sale somewhere else. Those instances aren’t worth the trouble. I avoided my favorite Shoppers Drug Mart for months because of one cashier who thought this, but no issues with other cashiers in the same store.
- Limit one coupon per item. You can redeem one coupon for every item purchased. Your only limit are any retailer limits and the number of coupons you have.
- No doubling. If the retailer has a promotion on to double your coupon amount, it will not be permitted for this coupon. I have heard that London Drugs may occasionally offer this deal, but have personally never been to that store. No other Canadian retailer doubles coupon amounts that I am aware of.
- Limit one coupon per purchase per transaction. This extended term is obviously meant to create no doubt in the retailers mind. However, because it does not mention “customer”, “person” or “household”, you can split your purchases into separate transactions to redeem more than one coupon.
- Limit one coupon per person per day. Pretty straight forward, you are only getting one deal today. If you have family or friends with you, maybe they will be nice and grab you another one.
- Free product, maximum shelf price of $____. Watch the free product coupons, if the shelf price is higher than this maximum shelf price amount then you will have to pay the extra. And stores don’t often pay the sales tax on free items, unless they reduce the price to zero before they hit the total button. The cashiers that keep all the coupons in a pile until the end of the transaction and subtract the amounts after totalling up, are likely costing you money. This is because without lowering the shelf price of the item by processing the coupon before subtotalling, the tax charged on the item will be based on the shelf price and not the reduced price. The additional sales tax cost is small however, and not worth arguing about. Keep an eye out for cashiers that process coupons during scanning at your favorite stores and remember them, they are saving you money.
- No cash or credit in excess of shelf price may be returned to consumer or applied to transaction, no cash value, cash value 1/10c. No overage shall be paid to the customer or applied to the total transaction. If your coupon is worth more than the shelf price of the item, you will not receive overage in any form. Even if you are shopping at Giant Tiger or Walmart, the only two stores in Canada that apply overage to the total transaction, you will not receive overage from this coupon.
- Customer must pay applicable taxes, Provincial law may require the retailer to charge the applicable tax on the full value before coupon reduction, Consumer must pay sales tax. You will pay the tax on the item’s full shelf price, before the coupon value is subtracted. Even if the coupon is for a free product, you will pay the full tax if it states this in the text.
- Cannot be combined with any other coupon offer. You will not be able to combine this coupon with any other coupon, even on a BOGO deal.
- Offer may not be combined with any other offers. You are not allowed to combine this coupon with any other offer. This can also apply to retailer’s in store offers, if your cashier wanted to be picky about it, but this is very rare.
- GST, HST, QST & PST are included in the face value where applicable. If provincial retailer law states that full tax is to be charged where you live, then you will still have to pay if the item is taxable.
- Not valid on trial & travel, special packs, gift packs or bonus/value packs. This coupon is only good on full sized single products.>
- Good in (Province) only. Whatever province is stated in the text is the only place the coupon can be redeemed. This may be due to varying provincial regulations surrounding coupons.
Use The Fine Print To Your Advantage
Always double check coupon terminology ahead of time when making your shopping lists.
It can save you time and money.
If you are going out of your way to a specific store thinking that you will be able to load up on a good deal and can only get one item, you won’t be saving money. New couponers don’t make that mistake too many times before remembering that one important step.
Remember stores and cashiers that consistently misunderstand the terminology and avoid them. In my experience most retailers are not too fussy, as they prove by invoice to the manufacturer that they actually purchased items to cover their redemptions, so they usually do not impose too many rules on the consumer.
Many stores price match, and it is as simple as taking that flyer to a store that does. It makes sense to shop at stores that both price match and favourably interpret coupon terminology so you can get all the best deals.
Always double check the fine print to make sure it has a Canadian address for retailer redemption. Some printable coupon sites have both Canadian and American pages, which are easy to access and similar to their counterpart so you may not notice that you are on an American website by mistake. Verify that you’re on a Canadian page before you print coupons, to avoid wasting paper and ink.
When you have your coupons in hand and are looking for matchups, take a minute to look for anything in the fine that applies to you. You may have to constructively plan your shopping trips around customer limits, and it can be aggravating to discover limits when you have 10 items at checkout and can only redeem one coupon.
In short, plan ahead to save yourself the headaches.
Do You Have Any Fun Stories To Share?
Every store and cashier can be different when dealing with coupon small print and it can produce some pretty funny and frustrating encounters. Hopefully we can all laugh about them together and use them as learning experiences for next time.
Share your story and leave a comment...to both amuse and educate us!