Friday, April 10, 2009

Intro to Couponing PART 4

PART 4 Reimbursement Process!

So, last night I had a conversation with a man I know fairly well, and I told him about a crazy good deal I got last night at Albertsons. He then said "Were you shoplifting?" Ha ha. Then we proceeded to have a pretty long conversation about if couponing was ethical. He thinks that it's totally dishonest and not the way the store or manufacture intended coupons to be used. I tried to explain to him that the stores aren't out money (they get reimbursed), and that it's the manufactures choice to put out these coupons. And they have limitations for the internet printables to protect their bottom line. But one thing I have always wondered is the actual process for stores getting reimbursed. I guess I pictured someone sitting at a desk examining the coupon and comparing it to the receipt! Ha! Can you imagine the ENDLESS HOURS it would take just Albertsons with all the coupons they get!
So, thanks to for explaining the process to me... Go check it out for the full details.

Once you use a coupon at the store

1. The cashier adds up her coupons and cash to make sure the drawer balance.

2. The coupons are then bagged by the store and sent to the corporate office where all the coupons from all the stores are put into a bigger bag and sent to a big clearing house.

3. The clearing house puts all the coupons that are in good condition on a big conveyor belt and they are scanned, then an automated process sorts them by manufacturer and prepares an invoice for the manufacturer.

4. They are mailed from the clearing house to the manufacturer for reimbursement.

5. The manufacturer receives the coupons and an invoice stating how many are there (think thousands). They then pay the bill. Some will recount to check for clearing house fraud and then pay the bill.

The stores have an average of 6 months past the expiration date to submit a coupon to the manufacturer – while you should not plan to use expired coupons unless allowed, do not fret, they will still get their money! (interesting right??)


If the coupon scans in the store odds are it will also scan in the big clearing house’s automated machine – thus the store should get reimbursed.

If the coupon doesn’t scan, is damaged etc. it is labeled “hard to handle” and is hand processed. If it is the coupons fault (poor design, bad barcode etc.) the grocer can then charge the manufacturer a higher handling fee!!!

The store does not have to submit any information about what you purchased with the coupon. Therefore if you use a coupon for a 40 oz Bottle of Juice on the 20 oz size the manufacturer will only care/notice if the store submitted more coupons than the amount of 40 oz Juice than they purchased. Since stores purchase thousands of bottles of juice per year the odds they would have more coupons than product are pretty slim.

When does the store “lose” money?

Copies/fraudulent coupons- After a coupon goes through the clearing house and is sent to the manufacturer the manufacturer can still deny the coupon. Internet printables that have unique numbers ( or smartsource) make it easy for the manufacturer to spot fraud. If a coupon does not have a unique number or security code then the manufacturer will usually accept the coupon (within reason - bad copies even a cashier should catch). Why? Because the store’s corporate office has a chance to challenge any denial and if the manufacturer cannot prove fraudulent use then the store will win the challenge.

Again remember you are talking about thousands of coupons from each store. Don’t think they are sitting around analyzing them (unless they are one of the bad companies which will falsely deny them anyway).

Hopefully this was useful information for you guys. I have always been curious about how the coupon redemption process goes, so this answered a lot of my questions. We still need to be very careful not to use coupons improperly, so that we can have a clear conscience... But the bottom line is The Stores Get Reimbursed for these coupons! And don't ever feel bad for being a couponer. Coupon with Pride my friends!!


Emily said...

Very cool Heather! I've always wondered about this!

Kaila said...

Thanks for posting this info. I am new to this and walmart was giving me a bad time the other day. So then I started to feel bad. Now I know how it all works and know they get the money anyway.

Heather Wheeler said...

Get used to Walmart giving you a bad time... it will happen often!

Alex and Marie said...

Fred Meyer has Ocean Spray at 3 for $5, so I took that coupon over to Walmart with the intent to use the Target printable and the manufacturer's coupon, each $1 off 1. After she finally rang everything up and changed the prices to match Freddy's, she told me I can only use one coupon per item. So I could only use Freddy's price, or one of the coupons. I understand not using two competitor's coupons, but I couldn't even use a competitor's price (Freddy's) in combination with a manufacturer's coupon. Is this true, or is the checker confused?

Heather Wheeler said...

At some Walmart stores they have only let me use 1 coupon per item (manufacture or competitor)... but often if I press the issue and ask for a manager they will let me use both. And there is no reason you shouldn't be able to price match and use a coupon.
Almost always at Walmart I have to ask for a manager and even more often than that I have to show them their corporate policy.
Sorry they gave you trouble!! I would call and speak with the store manager and explain what happened and ask what their official policy is.

Annie said...

Wow, you are so thorough in your explanations, I don't think I will need to go anywhere else to learn about all of this for a while! I learned something about expired coupons, my MIL collects them for her DAR group and they send them to military installations overseas (like Germany). Apparently the manufacturers will accept the expired ones up to 4 months after the exp date, from these bases. What a great way to support our troops!

Amber Red said...

What if it is expired, but it still scans? does the manufacturer still give them the moneY?