Thursday, October 20, 2011

Kroger's new coupon policy

Once again the couponing community is abuzz about changes to coupon policies. This time it's Kroger in the Cincinnati / Dayton area that has new limitations, but it's likely a policy that will spread to other areas quickly. If you want to feel the steam rising off couponers' computers, check out some of the threads from their Facebook page.

Coupon Katie breaks down the basic changes like this:

  • A limit of no more than five paper manufacturer coupons for the same product. This seems to be an effort to keep products on the shelves and prevent “extreme” buys. I think I like this change and some manufacturers (like P&G) are already placing limits on the number of like coupons you can use.
  • A limit to two internet coupons per manufacturer per customer per day will be accepted. This is interesting, in our area (Knoxville) it is a limit of two of the same internet printable coupons (which is logical because the print limit is usually 2 per computer) This however is per manufacturer. I am sure this is an effort to stop fraudulent use/copying of IP’s.
The changes obviously come on the heels of TLC's Extreme Couponing where we watch people clear the shelves and get crazy savings like 97%. Of course they don't actually buy real food like bananas, bread, or milk. Last night there was a woman who got 240 tic tacs for free, thus "saving" hundreds of dollars. "We like to put them in our stockings," she said. Great! Then get a few packs and move on. YOU don't need 240 tic tacs; so leave some for others and stop pretending like you're feeding your family with tic tacs!

Since I've seen a sharp increase in cases of empty shelves, I'm all for setting limits. However, this new policy may be a little too tight on the second point. I'm already limited to two internet coupons per product because I only have one computer. However, now I have to make sure I don't have two internet coupons per manufacturer. So I wouldn't be able to use more than two printables for General Mills cereals, even if they were different types of cereal. That doesn't seem fair.

Also, my friend Gabrielle at Couponing in Critical Times buys food for her church's food pantry. She does two transactions: one for herself and one for the church. She can even save some tax for their purchases with their tax ID card. Would she be limited to the deals she can get because she's the same individual? That's not fair either. She should be allowed to shop for both.

Finally, if you ever feel sorry for the stores because of couponers, don't. The store gets their money back from the manufacturers. You save $1 with a coupon, Kroger gets that dollar from whoever decided to print the coupon. They're not losing money. The only case where they might lose money is that they double coupons $.50 or less, a practice I sure hope doesn't change. The way I see it, it's another enticement to have us come to their store instead of a competitor--just like why they put certain items on sale every week. It's business.

What do you think?

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