Learning To Coupon Series
Dealing With Difficult Cashiers
Take a Deep Breath, and Carry Your Coupon Polices!
If you’re new to couponing, you may not have had an opportunity to meet a cashier that treats couponers like the plague. Those of us that have been doing it a while understand that this is a regular event in some stores. Either way, you need to be prepared. It will happen, but you can’t let it discourage you from using coupons. Cashiers are people, too. Which means you’ll find tons of different personalities and you need to be prepared for how to deal with them. I’ll give you some practical tips and tricks that I use to be an effective couponer so you don’t have to learn it all the hard way.
The Coupon Nazi Cashier
These are the cashiers that can’t stand coupons, ever. There’s not much you can do to win them over, either. You are slowing them down and they don’t like it. Try to smile, be nice, and understand that it’s very possibly their personality to be this way. Some of them are this way simply because they have never been properly trained on coupons and they think that people who use coupons are “getting over” on the store in some way. Does this excuse their overbearing, brutish behavior? Of course not. But since they already don’t like coupons, the more difficult you make the transaction, the more they will dislike couponers in the future. I’ve tried a few things with these cashiers, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Try engaging them in light casual conversation. If you’re getting an item that your kids like, mention something like “My girls really love those snacks.” Then ask if they have little ones at home, or if they seem older, ask if they have grandkids. If they do, and I have an extra coupon or two for that item, I’ll quickly explain to them how much I’ll be paying out of pocket for that item after my coupons and ask them if they’d like to get that same deal. This is where the road forks. Sometimes they will say yes, and sometimes they will say no. If they say yes, you’re getting through to them at least just a little. Next time you’re in there, they won’t be quite as Nazi-like with you, usually. Sometimes it takes a couple of times for them to lighten up. If they say no, try again on another trip. It takes some time for ice to melt. If you can’t win them over and they continue to give you grief, try to use another cashier when you’re in that store. Or have a talk with the management if you think their behavior is bad enough. One of my friends, Wendy, says that if she encounters a really nasty cashier, she’ll sometimes buy a candy bar and give it to the cashier just before she leaves and tell them “I hope this sweetens your day a little.” And she usually at least gets a smile out of them.
The Coupon Snob Cashier
Closely related to the Coupon Nazi cashier, this type of cashier can be much more deadly and sinister. They look down on those of us using coupons like we are too poor to use real money. When, of course, in reality, we are too smart to use real money! These are the kind of cashier that will treat you like dirt because you’re “beneath” them on the social food chain. You probably don’t work and live off of welfare because you want to, in their eyes. While they may not give you a hard time with your coupons, they can still make you feel like you are a low life. It’s the look in their eye and the body language that can give them away. They are the cashiers that sometimes even make snide remarks. I actually had a cashier tell me one time that they don’t worry about using coupons because they aren’t poor. I tried not to say anything, I really did. But I let her know that actually, the largest portion of coupon users actually make great money. Not that she cared. Steer clear of the coupon snob on your next trip, they can only bring you down and discourage you.
The “You’re Gonna Get Me Fired” Cashier
Most cashiers are not well trained on their store’s coupon policy. Sometimes they didn’t pay attention to the training they got, and sometimes the training was poor or never happened in the first place. Why do people work? Because they need the money. Cashiers that don’t understand how coupons work still know that if their register is short enough or if they make enough mistakes, they lose that job and income. In today’s high price world, everyone needs their income to stay afloat. Keep that in mind when dealing with this kind of cashier. They don’t want to give you a hard time, they just don’t want to get fired. Be nice to them. I tell these cashiers that I’m perfectly fine with them calling over a manager or supervisor for clarification on something. And I use the words “I don’t want you to get in trouble or feel uncomfortable. If you want to call over your supervisor to make sure everything is right, I don’t mind at all.” You see, these kinds of cashiers are not mean or giving you a hard time on purpose. It’s self preservation on their part. You have to understand that’s where they are coming from. I have worked in retail Loss Prevention for a long time, and I can tell you, cashier turnover from mistakes, cash shortages, and outright theft is high. That’s why “Walmart is always hiring.” These are the ones I typically will seek out again the next time I’m in the store. Not to make either of our lives difficult, but to help them gain confidence with coupon transactions. I also offer them my blog’s website address and mention my local couponing group and ask them if saving money by using coupons could help their family. You’d be surprised how well showing them you care will get you.
The Coupon Police Cashier
Some cashiers know how coupons work, for the most part. And sometimes they “think” they know how they work! You’ll know this one right off, when they put on their reading glasses and start dissecting your coupons line by line and word by word. While this may be annoying and time consuming, there’s actually not much wrong with it. The wording on the coupons is there for a reason. The manufacturer wants the store and customer to follow certain guidelines. The best way to deal with this kind of cashier is to make sure that YOU have already dissected the wording on the coupon, compared it to the store’s coupon policy, and are using the coupon in the CORRECT way. The quickest way to turn this cashier into a Coupon Nazi cashier is to try to do things that the coupon policy or the coupon itself specifically prohibits. For example, trying to use a coupon that “excludes trial/travel sizes” on a trial or travel size item will get you shut down with this cashier real quick. These cashiers are usually more seasoned and have had people misuse coupons in the past.
That being said, they are people, and can make mistakes, too. If the coupon can legitimately be used on an item and you’ve done everything “by the book”, and they still give you a hard time over one, this is where having a printed copy of the coupon policy with you can help. Take out that policy and calmly discuss that the policy says this is ok and the coupon doesn’t exclude this item, or whatever the case may be. If that doesn’t work, politely ask for the supervisor or manager. If that doesn’t work, leave the product. I never let a store force me to pay full price for something if I have a coupon for it and they are just not getting it. Having the coupon policy and making sure that you only use coupons in the correct way will go a long way with this type of cashier. Even if you have to get a supervisor involved to get through the transaction. The message this will send to that cashier is that, first, you knew what you were talking about, and second, that you are honest and ethical with your coupons. Make sure you are understanding with them. Let them know that you aren’t angry or upset and that you understand how some people try to use coupons the wrong way. Thank them for taking the time it took for your transaction. I usually even apologize to them for holding up their line. These simple gestures of kindness and understanding can go a long way with them.
The Know-It-All Cashier
If you coupon for any amount of time, you’ll meet the Know-It-All. You know, the one that has watched Extreme Couponing on TV and thinks she’s the best couponer in the world. They are the ones that will try to give you pointers and tips that are usually wrong. They also tend to use coupons in an unethical manner. Be careful of these. Take what they say with a grain of salt and make sure that you don’t fall for their trap. We could all go get tons of stuff from stores by using coupons the wrong way, but that only hurts us all in the end. Manufacturers might put tougher terms on their coupons and might even decrease values and frequency of their coupons. The best way to pick these out is when they tell you that they’ll do something that is strictly against the terms of the coupon or the store’s coupon policy. Like using a BOGO manufacturer’s coupon from the P&G insert with a $1/2 manufacturer’s coupon on the same items. The BOGO coupon usually specifically says it can’t be used with other coupons on the same item. While what they are telling you may net you more stuff for less money, it’s not right and you shouldn’t be a part of it.
Don’t confuse these with the genuinely helpful cashiers with good knowledge. Sometimes you’ll run into great cashiers that really know their couponing stuff. But that’s a topic for another post.
The “I Don’t Even Want to Be Here” Cashier
We all have bad days sometimes. Some more than others. And some people hate their job so much that they almost refuse to care. These are very common cashiers and also can be the most volatile to deal with. They couldn’t care less if you shop in their store, if you like them, if you don’t like them, if you’re honest and ethical with your coupons, or if your donating everything from this transaction to a food bank. These are the types of cashiers that will behave one way with coupons today and a totally different way tomorrow. These are the cashiers that I most often try to avoid once I’ve picked them out. The main reason is because I have no idea what to expect from them. Usually, they get weeded out of the store they’re working at, and sometimes they straighten up.
The thing to keep in mind with these types of cashiers is that they could have things really tough at home right now, they could have a loved one in the hospital, or in jail, or could be going through a messy divorce, etc. A million things could be putting them in their mood rollercoaster. And nothing you can do can change their situation. BUT, the things you say and do can make them snap or it can make them smile, even if for a brief minute. I said earlier that I try to avoid this type of cashier most often. But not always. Sometimes I feel a burden on my heart to reach out to this person, even if it’s only for the brief time periods of my transactions in their store. I ask them how their day is going, if they have prayer needs, or start trying to get to know them just a little bit. Sometimes they just need to feel like someone cares about them. And sometimes, these people just can’t be reached and I move on. The key here is to treat them with respect and with sincere care. If you don’t care, don’t act like it. It will only make things worse. Just get through your transaction and avoid this cashier next time. But you may just brighten their day if you sincerely try.
Things To Remember
The first thing to remember – Always have your coupon policies in your binder and ready in case they are needed! And no matter what, be calm, and as courteous as possible. Refrain from foul language or loud obnoxious behavior. It won’t get you anywhere.
This list is not the end-all-be-all of difficult cashiers. And lots of times, you’ll have bits and pieces of the different types in a cashier. Or a cashier could be one type today and another type tomorrow. So you have to learn to read them and come up with the best plan to win them over. Most of the time, this is due to their personalities. And I’m no psychologist, so my methods are not an exact science, but with time and practice, you can pick out the “bad” ones and either try to win them over or steer clear. And I also don’t want everyone to think that cashiers are all horrible. I come into contact with TONS of great cashiers all the time. That’s just not the topic of this post.
No matter what kind of cashier you encounter when you’re out couponing, there are some things to keep in mind. Cashiers are people, too. Treat them with respect and dignity. Don’t look down on them because they are “just cashiers”. Since they are people, too, they all have different personalities, different dreams and desires. There are things going on in their life that you are not aware of. The last thing they need is to be treated bad by those of us that use coupons. Yes, it can get irritating at times, and yes, sometimes they really don’t deal with customers well. But we have the power to be different. We have the power to choose a different cashier next time. And we also have the power to choose a different store. If polite debate and use of the coupon policy doesn’t win out, ask for a supervisor or manager. If you still feel like you’ve been treated poorly or the store isn’t following it’s coupon policy, call their corporate office and make a complaint. Help pave the way for new couponers.
We also have the power to alter the course of their day. If you’re a butt to them, their day gets worse. If you’re nice and polite to them, and even try to be helpful, you could brighten their day a bit. There are some cashiers that I’ve dealt with that were extremely hard to put up with. But after a few times of dealing with them and letting them figure me out while I tried to figure them out, it’s gotten better. I’ve softened some of the with coupons to get the same deals I’m getting and I’ve softened some with just some kind words and smiles. The ones that just refuse to be likeable, I just don’t visit anymore. Because I have that choice. Above all, remember this: The way you treat your cashiers will set the tone for other couponers. So treat them with respect and dignity. You can disagree and stand your ground without treating them badly. I do it all the time.
This post is just one part of the Learning To Coupon series. Be sure to check them all out! The purpose of these posts will be to teach you about couponing, give you some of my personal insights and tips, but mostly to encourage you. Be sure to stay tuned, and never be afraid to ask me for advice or help.
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