Do Stores Lose Money on Coupons?
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Do Stores Lose Money on Coupons?

Posted on Monday, April 18th, 2011 at 10:12 am
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There have been a couple of debates here at about whether grocery coupons cause a store to lose money when they accept them. There are so many rules these days about using coupons in the stores. So, I thought I would clarify things just a little bit and talk about what happens when you use a grocery coupon at the store.

What Happens When You Use a Grocery Coupon?

When you use a legitimate coupon and turn it in to the cashier, it gets scanned into the register to reflect your discount, and the cashier puts the coupon in the register. It is treated just like cash. At the end of the day or the week, the store balances the accounts and takes all of the coupon amounts into consideration.

Next, the coupons are usually sent to the store’s corporate headquarters. There, the coupons are either sorted and counted or sent out to a coupon clearinghouse that does the work for them. All of the coupons are added up, and an invoice bill is sent to the manufacturers. Each coupon is redeemed at face value plus an additional eight cents for handling.

If a store chooses to double a coupon, then it takes the loss of that doubling amount. Some stores are choosing to double only the first coupon when there are multiple coupons for the same product, thus reducing their loss to doubled coupons.

Fraudulent Coupons

After a store submits an invoice so it can get reimbursed for the grocery coupons that have been used, the manufacturers sometimes debate the invoice or do their own accounting on the coupons. Any coupons that are fraudulent won’t be paid by the manufacturer. This includes fake printed or Internet coupons, expired coupons, coupons that have been copied or coupons used on the wrong products.

Stores don’t get paid for these bad coupons, which is why they try to be so diligent about weeding out bad coupons at the point of purchase. Any couponer knows that they sometimes have to explain even good coupons to a cashier or empty an already packed grocery bag to prove they have bought the product as part of the deal with using coupons. It is because the store wants to make sure that they are paid for any grocery coupons that are being used.

So as long as things work the right way, stores are not losing money on coupons, except sometimes in the case of doubling.

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