Friday, February 6, 2009

Savvy Shopper?

I consider myself a pretty savvy shopper. I know my sales, I understand how to effectively utilize coupons and I know the store policies for the stores that I shop most frequently... but knowing how your cashier's brain works... now that is where I sometimes get stumped!

This morning my son (14 mos.) and I made a quick run to our local Kroger. I buy the bulk of our groceries at Meijer but I like to score some Kroger deals each week too.

After looking over Kroger's weekly ad, I decided to pull out all of my coupons for Cottenelle toilet paper and Multigrain Cheerios. These deals were just too good to pass up.

Normally I shop this Kroger in the evenings. I like to sneak out just after Boaz is in bed for the night... a little bit of alone time is nice. A little bit of alone time while shopping is SUPER nice!

But today we decided to head out first thing.

After wrestling with the cart cover and placing Boaz inside the cart- we wheeled quickly around the store to pick up our few items.

I was tickled to find that some flashlights were in stock. I asked for a rain check last October in hopes of collecting enough of these flashlights to put into the goodie bags for Boaz's little friends who would be attending his first birthday party (December 3). The flashlights were on sale 10 for $10, which is what I had the rain check written for, and then I special ordered 10 flashlights just for me.

I was never called that they were in, I kept waiting... but my store isn't very organized.

So when I saw the flashlights in stock today, I picked up 6 (I had six $1 coupons), plucked my rain check from my purse and headed to the check out.

I try to pick my cashiers by who seems to be in the best mood vs. who may have the quickest moving line. Or I like to use the U-Scan to not have to interact at all!

Today I opted for a cashier check out.

As usual EVERY SINGLE COUPON was scrutinized, which is fine, except that I had multiples of identical coupons, and the rain check.

Every time that I use a rain check, I let the cashier know about it right away, that just speeds up the process of checkout and makes his/her job a bit easier.

When I showed my rain check to my cashier she refused to accept it and went to talk to a woman behind the Customer Service desk. I waited because I was sure that there would be no problems. My cashier returned to tell me that it would not be accepted.

I looked to the Customer Service attendant and she waved to me that it would be accepted. What?

I asked my cashier why my rain check wasn't accepted and she told me that it was because my rain check expired after 30 days (which that is stated on the rain check- I had never read that before) but I had NEVER had a rain check- no matter how old, not be accepted.

I understand that there are corporate policies that while they may be written- they are not adhered to in the stores. This is frustrating as a consumer.

If I in good faith accept a rain check because an item is out of stock, I expect to be able to use the rain check at my convenience- which is what my Kroger has always allowed.

My cashier informed me that she has been with the company for 33 years, she didn't want to get in trouble, or lose her job. I completely understand! I wasn't upset, but as the consumer- I didn't understand.

A manager came over and told my cashier that she had to accept the rain check (she made the manager sign her initials) and my rain check went through.

I actually learned a lot from this cashier:

1. It is her job to scrutinize.
*I may not like it, and it may take extra time in checking out- but I like saving the money, so I will endure.

2. Corporate policy is corporate policy. She was following the rules.
*My store, as a whole, doesn't hold as tightly to the rain check procedure as my cashier and so
a) I will never get in her line again
b) It is OK to ask for a manager's advice when the cashier tells me something other that what I normally am accustomed to.
c) I can call corporate myself to ask or read Kroger's store policies online.

3. Getting upset NEVER solves the problem.
*I hate when checking out takes forever... especially with a baby. I remained calm and courteous as did my cashier.

Besides the rain check incident, my cashier had trouble with my coupons.

I had 8, she scanned 5.

It is important to watch that your coups are being scanned- and are being doubled if allowable. I feel like if I take the time, money and effort to purchase my coupons, print, clip, sort , match up with the sale, and bring the to the store... then I have the right to question when they have not all been scanned.

So the moral of this story is that getting hung up in line because of discounts happens to everyone. Even me!

It really did help that I stayed calm, talked with the manager was kind to my cashier.

But...I was still tempted to call corporate when I left... especially because my cashier wouldn't take all of my coupons and I will have to return a few things, and re buy them with my coups... but this woman isn't my enemy... she just needs to follow her store's policies.

I'll have better luck next time... in someone else's line!