In our quest to survive the stores, we will inevitably run into problems in the checkout lane. Here are some tips to help you avoid some of those problems, and to help you know what to do if a problem arises.
I’m always amazed at how far a simple smile and a “how’s it going?” gets me. Many times we get in the habit of treating cashiers and customer service representatives like they are robots instead of real people. You will have significantly fewer hassles if you think to yourself, “if I were trying to get this person to be my friend, how would I act?”
2) Treat others the way you would want to be treated
Of course, I can’t take credit for this one, it was taught by Jesus in Matthew 7:12. 🙂 Put yourself in the clerk or cashier’s shoes. How would you want the customers to talk to you? What would make you want to give a customer exceptional service? Did they give you great service? Tell them (and tell their manager too)!
3) Give them a choice!
If you have a complicated transaction at the store (as is often the case with those of us who use coupons) ask them what would be most convenient for them. It is human nature to want a choice, even if both choices are complicated or difficult. I often ask the cashier at grocery stores, “Would you prefer me to ring all of this up together or do separate transactions since I have a lot of coupons?” Now, I already know that they will typically say to ring it up all together and that the coupons will be no problem, but I find that it helps get them mentally prepared for what could be an otherwise annoying checkout.
4) Think about those in line behind you.
As a couponer, I feel that I have to be especially aware of this as couponing still has a negative stigma with some people. If I haven’t already loaded all my groceries onto the counter, then I will let someone with just a few things go ahead of me. If I have already put my stuff on the counter then I will let those who come up in line behind me know that I will be using a lot of coupons and that it might take a little while. That way they can choose if they want to get into another line or wait it out.
5) Shop early!
The best time to shop is during the day on weekdays. There are fewer people at the store, you can sometimes get better deals (think: Manager Specials!), and the cashiers are typically in a much more relaxed and easygoing mood.
6) Be prepared.
Do whatever you can to make the check out process go smoothly. Get all of your coupons out ahead of time. It is especially irritating to cashiers and other customers to watch someone dig through all of their coupons when it’s time to pay. I typically get the coupon for each item out of my coupon binder as I get that product from the shelf. It also helps to keep your receipts in a receipt organizer (preferably in your car) so that you always have the receipt handy if you need to return an item. I recommend filing them by month. You can eliminate many return hassles by just having your receipt!
7) Check your receipt before you leave.
We all make mistakes, including cashiers. If you catch a mistake during the checkout process, politely let them know. If you catch a mistake on your receipt after you check out, calmly head to customer service and explain to them what happened. They are typically more than happy to help those who are calm and polite (tip #1 and #2 apply here too!)
8 ) Be aware.
Be sure to be aware of the store’s coupon policy. I highly recommend printing out a copy of a company’s coupon policy from their website if they have one. That way if there is an issue you can (nicely) show them the rules from their site. If you cannot find the coupon policy for a particular store, then send them an email and ask if they can email it to you. Make sure to also be aware of a store’s return policy. I recommend writing on your receipt, before you file it, how many days you have to return the items.
9) Don’t be afraid!
If a serious problem arises, don’t be afraid to ask to speak with the store manager (politely, of course!) Many times the cashier or clerk has no authority to fix the issue at hand, so don’t get mad at them when things don’t go the way you want them to. If the manager is unable to fix the problem, then call Corporate Customer Service. You might have to wait a little longer for the problem to be solved, but they can typically pull strings that those in the store can’t.
Want to minimize your interaction with those in the checkout lane? Many stores have a “Self Check Out” lane where you scan your own item (and at some stores you can even scan your own coupons!) Also, there are some amazing deals that you can get online without setting foot into a store. We have an awesome database here on Surviving The Stores full of COUPON CODES for online stores to get free shipping or a % off your order. By combining these coupon codes with clearance items you can score a great deal too.
While there are some conflicts that are just completely unavoidable, and there are some people who, no matter how nice you are to them, are just rude, following these tips will help you avoid the majority of problematic situations. (And when nothing you do works, you can read my post on How To Deal With Couponing Discouragement.) 🙂
Erica Davis says
Its like the conversation that me and the cvs cashier were talking about the other day. She said she doesnt care how many trasaction i have if i am willing to let others go in front of me between transactions that doesnt have many items. I so understand this and when my mom and i let this older gentalmen in front of use he was so thankful..He even got a coupon for a free roll of paper towels and we waited for him to go grab that free item..He keep telling use thank you for being so polite and helpful.
I've been amazed at how some stores still refuse to honor their coupon policies. Target has really been difficult lately – refusing to accept things that will end up being free and managers being the worst about it.
Angela and Janette says
Thanks for all the great tips. Your right, I do find that if I greet the cashier in a friendly way, I usually have a better response when I hand her/him my bundle of a million coupons or try and price match.
Awesome post! This is one of the first things I read when first starting to coupon in June. It has really been helpful. The couple of times I have had a pricing issue or problem I have had my mom or a friend with me. When the time elapsed a little they would just urge me to forget it, I was still getting a good deal!! I have always taken that opportunity to say to my friend, it's ok she(cashier) would want to get her discount too, and I think that makes the cashier feel a little better about the time they are taking to resolve an issue!!
I follow all your suggestions and have had great experiences so far, especially with cashiers!!
The first time you posted this, I bookmarked this page!
I had the exact same convo that Angie (above) had with my CVS cashier the other day. I did one transaction and moved over so 5 ppl could go.
Did it take a bit longer? Yes. Did it make everyone (including the VERY appreciative cashier) happy? Yes. Did I have any problem letting them go ahead of me? Not at all.
The way I see it is, that you put others first. Period. And, I want to have a good relationship with my CVS "girls" (as I call them), and I do. Because they know I'm not going to be anything but polite to them and the other customers. IMO, there is no other way to be.
jo cashier says
For god sake, PLEASE DO NOT GO TO CUSTOMER SERVICE when we make a mistake. If you can, just go back to us, we’ll fix it and our supervisors don’t have to hear about it. 😉
This is debatable. At Target 99% of mistakes have to be dealt with at the service desk. At smaller grocers it may differ.
Pretty good tips, as a cashier I have a few other suggestions though.
1. Don’t hand the coupons individually >_< just give us the stack and let us do our job.
2. If a coupon isn't ringing up/working don't make a big deal, just save it for another trip
3. If you use a manufacturers coupon for an item you probably won't get a store coupon for that item, don't get upset, I can't change it
Plus cashiers are timed, our store uses a card to give store discounts. The managers hound us to get the card first, this generally ticks people off. Have all your groceries on the belt, have your card and coupons and we will do our best, if we can’t we will have the person over us fix it. We are not all un educated morons just because we work at a grocery store. We try to be pleasant with everyone. ; )
OMG thank you!! I’m a cashier – would you please be my customer??
If I could add a couple of things; please get off your cell phone unless the call is an emergency. I’ve had customers continue their call and not say one word to me. I’m not an automation.
Also, women- please don’t put anything you plan to hand to the cashier in your bra. It may be convenient, but eww.
Thanks, and you have a lovely day.