That is a very good question. According to a coupon industry spokesman, Matthew Tilley of couponinfonow.com, most grocery stores have national corporate policies that state they do accept legitimate printed grocery coupons. However, many stores still refuse to accept the legitimate coupons. Most likely, store personnel may not be sure how to tell whether a printed coupon is counterfeit or not, so they refuse to accept any home-printed coupons at all.
Understandably, stores are concerned about the potential risk of accepting counterfeit grocery coupons. In 2003 there were several counterfeit coupons that were redeemed at stores before stores realized they were counterfeit, costing the stores thousands of dollars. However, the legitimate printable coupon websites (such as the ones listed in this site's Printable Grocery Coupon section) have security measures in place to help prevent potential abuse or fraud.
What are shoppers to do if their store(s) does not accept their legitimate printed grocery coupons? Tilley suggests that shoppers write or email the customer service contacts for their stores, which are easily found on the stores' websites. Ask for a written statement of the stores' printable coupon policy. Assuming it is positive, print that statement and show it to your stores' managers to reinforce their own companies' policies. I have also found these tips to help get my coupons accepted:
By the way, after speaking with the manager, the cashier did accept my legitimate coupons.
I took Tilley's advice and emailed Wal-Mart headquarters since I frequently hear from site users that their local Wal-Mart store will not accept their legitimate printed grocery coupons. I was pleased to receive this prompt response. I would encourage shoppers to take the same approach to help convince their own stores' managers to accommodate their coupon use.
This is the exact email I received from Wal-Mart's customer service department answering the question I posed, "What is your policy regarding the acceptance of coupons printed from a home computer?"
Wal-Mart Stores can accept coupons that are available on the internet for customers to print from their home computers. The following are guidelines for the stores for accepting internet coupons:
- The coupon should be legible and say "Manufacturer Coupon". There should be a valid remit address for the manufacturer, to ensure the coupon can be processed for payment.
- The coupon should have a scan-able bar code.
- The coupon should have an expiration date.
- The coupon cannot be a photocopy.
- The limit is one coupon per item, per Customer.
- A Salaried Manager can refuse to accept a coupon if it does not meet any or all of these guidelines.