Keys to Effective Discount Shopping

Discount Shopping Half Off

Who doesn’t like to save money when shopping? For bargain-hunters, sales ads, price matches and coupons are the three foundation corners of economical shopping. With careful review, planning and organization, you, too, can drop hundreds from your grocery bill, clothing and even electronics purchases by focusing on the exact wording of store policies and the discount notices.

Price Matches or Low-Price Guarantees

Many cashiers do not like to put forth the effort in honoring price guarantees. Unfortunately, many will find any excuse to disallow them. The exact wording in the competitor’s ad or on the coupon is key: Watch for words like “exact item,” “similar item,” “any variety,” “limit” and certainly store numbers and expiration dates.

Alas, many store chains use a price match policy gimmick in their advertising that convinces consumers of misleading “truths.” Advertisements often read that competitors’ prices will be matched on the same model of a product. The key word there is “model.” That’s not the product description, UPC code or product name. The model is determined by something called the SKU, and a retailer can arrange for a store-unique SKU—completely disabling any reliability in a price match approach: No other store on the planet will have that SKU for that item. Do some homework before you shop under a price match assumption. Compare FUNCTION, CAPACITY AND QUALITY instead of relying on brand or “model.” You’d be surprised how often you can find a different “model” for a cheaper price elsewhere.

When you do find a legitimate low price guarantee, and the price is within your budget, take the time and effort to send an email to the main office and tell them of the situation. They love it when they get good feedback, and odds are excellent that you’ll get a discount notice or a gift card from them in gratitude.

Store Policies

Most national and international chains allow local, salaried management staff to make the final determinations on coupons and price-matching guarantees. Often stemming from customer abuse, if your coupons and advertised prices are not honored by the store, don’t get irate unless you firmly believe the judgment call was unjustified. In those cases, contact the Customer Service Departments for the store chain for clarification. If the local store was wrong, the store manager will be contacted, and often you will be offered an opportunity to be reimbursed for the excess amount you spent. Just keep your store receipt and the coupon or advertisement.

Almost any store that has a website allows Internet coupons. The local manager still has the authority to override any printed coupon, but read the store’s policy closely for stipulations, qualifications and restrictions on printed Internet coupons. One oft-heard denial from cashiers and managers is that a black-and-white coupon is probably a copied version and, therefore, disallowed. Well, since the name of the game is saving money, printing in all black is cheaper than in color. Insist that the manager visit the website, print off a black-and-white print and a color print of the same coupon for comparison. Then have the manager copy each and keep separate. When the manager returns with each original and copy, compare yours with the manager’s. Most users don’t often clean the glass surface of their printers, and ink spots and smudges often show on copies. If there is no discernible difference between your B/W print and the manager’s B/W print, there is no justification to NOT accept yours. Contact the CSD if your coupon is not honored.

Note the chain’s policy on doubling coupons, combining manufacturer’s coupons and store coupons and on loyalty cards, especially when used as price comparison points.

This post was contributed by Holly Miller from Coupon Croc, where you can find huge discounts on all of your shopping, including the most popular online department stores, such as with Littlewoods voucher codes.

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