I have noticed lately that a lot of people have been having problems at their Publix stores with changing coupon policies/ treatment of coupons
Here are a few things I have seen being said:
- Limiting competitor's coupons to a certain amount (say only $5 of competitor's coupons)
- No longer taking a competitor they used to
- No longer taking competitor's period
- No longer taking expired coupons when they used to
- No longer special ordering sale items when they used to
- Limiting internet printables to a certain dollar amount
- Limiting internet printables to a certain percentage of the sale price
- No longer giving rain checks for large quantities
- Having their coupons individually scrutinized
- Having legitimate coupons not taken because they aren't on some list
- No longer allowing overages
So here's the thing, I have seen a few reasons why some people think this is, as well as a few of my own. Here are some of the reasons this could be:
- Publix is losing money by taking coupons. This makes sense for the competitor's coupons because there is no reimbursement for taking them, other than getting people in the door, but it doesn't make much sense otherwise
- Publix is losing money to fraud. This one makes a lot of sense because as more and more people are using coupons, more and more fraud occurs either unintentional or intentional. How many couponers in their "coupon infancy" accidentally used a $1/2 on one item, or used a $1/2 and two $1/1 on two items? How many stuck their internet prints onto a copier or scanner and then used them? How many people, couponer or not, fall for the fraudulent coupons out there because they are trying to save money? How many people are purposefully using fraudulent coupons because they want to see their total lower? While it may not seem like a lot to one person, these things add up for a store. It would make sense why the stores are being more cautious at paying attention to the coupons being used.
- People are abusing the store to walk away with tons of groceries for free. This refers to people who buy 100's of things just because it is a money maker. The store generally doesn't lose money if the only coupon is used is a manufacturer's to make it a money maker, but usually it's a combination of coupons that result in overages. Some people rationalize that they are making the store money by using a manufacturer's coupon on top of a store coupon, but the reality is store coupons (competitor or Publix) lose the store money in the long run. If someone uses hundred's of dollars of overage from store coupons that means the store lost a good bit of money. The person walks out of the store with a ton of stuff for free, and Publix ends up paying for the food that was paid for buy the overages. This would make sense why many stores are limiting overages from stacking and limiting the amount of products you can buy.
- Buying large quantities confuses the stocking. I recently read that when a stock is depleted at the store it automatically re-orders. So when a person clears the shelf for a good deal or money maker, it automatically re-orders. Then it clears again, and the system goes "this is a hot item" and increases shipment. This depletes the warehouse. Eventually the warehouse gets more in, but the end result is the store then ends up with a surplus of the item. If the store can't get the item moving, they end up losing every day it sits on the shelf. This is especially true of some of the more obscure money makers (I'm thinking Phazyme, Vivarin, etc.), because the end result is a large stock of something people actually don't typically buy a lot of. This may cause some stores to limit the number of coupons, items, or both. This also causes the store to write a lot of rainchecks, which again can lead to fraud (people changing the number of items on the raincheck), money loss (if they have to take expired coupons that they can't redeem), etc. Shelf-clearing/depleting stocks can also mean that regular shoppers can't get a product and may shop elsewhere. Many people have reported managers who really did not like people buying 50+ of an item, and sharing that this is the reason for some changes.
- Time=Money. More coupons means longer check-outs, it means possibly hiring more people to work with handling the coupon redemption (or someone else spending time working on it), it means more time training employees.
So basically it kind of all boils down to that a few can spoil it for everyone. Not just those doing illegal things, those doing legal things to. We all want to walk out of the store saving money, but be reasonable. Don't expect to walk away with $500 worth of groceries for free every week. Be realistic. Abuse of a system always leads to stricter rules. Most of us don't want to see things get really strict, so think about your habits...
It's just something to ponder.