Monday, January 10, 2011

Walgreens for Beginners

This is a Walgreens sale flyer.  Along with weekly discounts, it contains store coupons and Register Rewards deals. These are your tickets to coupon nirvana.

If you don't get one in your Sunday paper, you'll find them in a rack near the entrance of the store.

Lesson 1: Store Coupons
Store coupons are good for one week and can be combined with a manufacturer coupon on the same item.  In coupon vernacular, we call that "stacking". Here's an example:

Buy one box of Kraft Velveeta Shells & Cheese
-Clip the above store coupon to get it for $1.50
-Use a manufacturer's coupon you printed online or clipped out of the Sunday paper for $.50 off
After both coupons, your final price for one box will be $1

Not too shabby.

Lesson 2: Register Rewards
Most weekly sale ads will have several RR deals.  In the above example, Complete Multi-Purpose solution is priced at $7.99.  When you buy it, you'll get a $7.99 RR.  It prints at the end of the checkout process and is good on a future store purchase. So it's like getting your money back as Walgreens credit.

But wait.
There is also a $2 off coupon from a recent Sunday paper available for this product.  Now when you go to checkout and use your coupon, you'll pay $5.99 out-of-pocket for it.  But your RR will still print out as $7.99.  You just earned two bucks and a gold star for the day.

Register Rewards are as good as cash. You can use them to buy anything except what's excluded in the fine print, which is usually alcohol, tobacco and stamps.  You can even use them to buy something that will give you another Register Reward.  We couponers call that "rolling".

If you want to roll your RRs, here's what you need to know:
1) You cannot use a Register Reward to pay for a product that produces another Register Reward if it is from the same manufacturer.  Here's an example:

-Procter & Gamble gave me a $2 RR for buying an Oral B toothbrush on my Tuesday shopping trip.
-I'm planning to come back on Wednesday to take advantage of a deal that gets me a $5 RR when I spend $20 on Febreze products (also manufactured by P&G).
-If I use my $2 Oral B RR to pay for part of my Febreze purchase, I can kiss my second RR goodbye.  Because she ain't gonna print.

2) When you have RRs to spend, remember that they will only pay for your purchase before tax.  If yours is a $3 RR and your purchase comes to $2.98 pretax, it won't work.  You'll just get beeps from the cash register, sighs from the folks behind you in line and head scratching from the cashier.

3) Walgreens registers are set up so that they will not allow more manufacturer's coupons to be used than # of items purchased.  This can be a problem when using a RR because it scans as a manufacturer's coupon.  Here's a purchase example:

I'm buying (4) Dove hair care items and using (4) $1 off coupons plus a $3 RR.
That's five coupons for a four item purchase.  Not gonna work.
Solution?  Add a "filler" item.  A single pencil for $.20, a pack of gum, a candle votive, etc.  Anything.  So long as you are buying 5 things, to go with your 5 coupons.

What If My Register Reward Didn't Print?
I get emails all the time from folks who say their cashier/store manager told them that the RR didn't print because they used coupons.


Most often, when your RR doesn't print it is because there is a programming issue with that particular Catalina machine.  Or sometimes it's just outta paper.  The best advice I have is to save your receipt and contact Catalina Marketing to get your RR by mail. Or you can request that the cashier/manager do a return and refund your money.

You can learn more about Register Rewards by reading THIS article over at Hot Coupon World.

Lesson #3: Coupon Overage
At Walgreens, the cash registers are programmed to deduct your total coupon amount from total purchase price of any given item.  Here's an example from a deal I did during Christmas:

Snickers Nutcracker Candy Singles on sale 3/$1
I have a coupon for $2/3

Even though the coupon is for $2 off 3 products, the register will add up your total Snickers purchase and deduct $2.  So if I buy 6 Nutcracker candy singles for $2, I can use my $2/3 coupon and get all six for free.  However, if I just buy three for $1, the coupon will "beep" when they scan it because there is a $1 overage.

Always remember that when your coupon produces an overage you will have issues.  It has been my experience that cashiers don't know what to do with a coupon beep, other than to tell you it isn't a valid coupon.  If you want to avoid checkout drama, just be sure to purchase another product from the same manufacturer to absorb the overage like I did in the Snickers example. 

Your only other option is to bring in a copy of the Corporate Coupon Policy and show the cashier bullet point #2 under Multiple Coupons.  It states that he/she is required to manually adjust the value of the coupon down to the price of the item.  Be prepared for this to be the more lengthy of the two options, because it's likely he/she will call the manager in on this one.

My Secret to Speedy Checkout
Go to the beauty counter!  Most people do not check out at the beauty counter so you are less likely to create a line if you have a lot of coupons.  Beauty employees are usually more than happy to check you out because they get a bonus at the end of the month based on the dollar amount of their checkout transactions.  So even if no one is standing at the counter, don't be afraid to ask an employee working in that area if they are able to check you out!  In my experience, they are more than happy to!

What Is Walgreens Corporate Coupon Policy?
I'm so glad you asked!  They have finally made their policy available online!  I highly recommend you stop over HERE and print a copy to keep in your coupon binder!

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