Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Using Multiples of the Same Coupons

As you've seen in my previous posts, there are LOTS of coupons available for many of the "Catalina" and "Instant Savings" deals we see at our local grocery stores. These include the "Buy 10 participating products, get $5 off using in-store coupon" or "Spend $25 on participating products, get $10 coupon back at checkout to use on your next shopping order" promotions.

At Sunmart this week, 10 Green Giant Vegetable Steamers coupons will net you 10 FREE bags of vegetables! I don't particularly need any of the other items included in the promo, but we'll always eat more frozen vegetables, especially for FREE! But, to bring them home, I've got to successfully check out with a cashier who will undoubtedly realize that my coupons combined with the store coupon and sale price are allowing me to take these home and pay nothing. And, most likely the cashier will look twice at the coupons and start to question - where did you get so many of these? Are these copied?  How can you prove they're not copies?

I've been there. Many times, actually. And, only one time did the manager actually refuse to take the my coupons. Had I known what I'm about to share with you, I would've been able to kindly prove to the manager that the coupons were, in fact, not copied, but legitimate internet printable coupons from well-known Manufacturer's websites.

Example #1: Bricks and coupons

See the Dot-Scan Bar code in the upper right of the coupon? Below it is a really long number, 16 digits I think. When you print the same coupon 2 times from the same computer, but will have entirely different 16 digit numbers under that dot-scan bar code. I was fascinated when I first found out about this at

Example #2: Smartsource coupons

On the left hand side of the coupons, you'll see a PIN Number.  Though all the other numbers on the coupon match, the PIN number is always unique.

Example #3: E-Centives Coupons

Look closely at the line of fine print below the expiration date.  In that line of fine print is another really long number.  Each coupon has it's own unique long number.

Why do I share this with you?

As I learned the ropes of couponing, no one ever showed me how to know that 2 similar coupons are not, in fact, the same.  I read the verification instructions on the coupon and did my research.  By the time I had the answer, it was too late.  The night manager was gone, a whole new staff was at the store and my order had been put back on the shelves.  I explained my situation in detail to the gal at the service counter who stared back at me and said, "I don't see any reason why we can't take those coupons."  I can laugh now, but I was not laughing the night the manager accused me of copying coupons.  In fact, I was crying.  Yes, I am an emotional train wreck in situations like these. Moving on...

Sending you to 6 different General Mills websites to print similar coupons then giving you a deal scenario that includes using multiples of similar coupons without explaining this information would be like throwing you all to the wolves.  So, now you are an informed couponer.   I hope it's been helpful, Happy Saving!


  1. Good advice, unfortunately many cashiers will care less and still try to tell you you cannot use them.

    Plus, All of mine specifically say Do Not Double, which literally means they shouldn not double. I have found the cashiers around here are getting much pickier and have had trouble getting my free items lately.

    There are definitely still ones who don't care and you can score freebies, but I would put a word of caution to your readers so they don't feel so dumb and confused when they get bargain blocked like I do many times a week!

  2. Yes, it's true, if they choose to not allow the double, it's harder to get a great deal. (By the way - the veggie manufacturer's coupons from the Target site don't say DND :)

    On the topic of multiple coupons, though, I've found that the more informed I am as a couponer, the more a cashier is likely to listen or take the legitimate coupons, even if they don't understand.

    If all politeness and knowledge fail (like it will at some point), I usually just ask a cashier to suspend my order so I can talk with a manager or just to void it all together if they're not willing to accept my coupons.

    Great words of advice, thanks!