I often get questions submitted via email or in a comment, and while I try to respond to them, I just don’t always have time! (I need a personal question-answering assistant!) As long as there’s interest, I’ll start a regular featuring answering your questions about bargain shopping – that way, instead of answering your questions privately via email, I can answer in a blog post so that it’s helpful to others that may have the same questions. Email me your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What if I need to return or exchange something that I purchased with a coupon?
– Amber, via email
I think this is a great question, and get ready for a coupon ethics talk. :) If you need to exchange something that you purchased with a coupon, it should be as simple as taking the item and receipt to customer service, telling them you want to do an exchange, and just going to get the product you want to exchange and doing it right there at customer service. I know sometimes it’s easier to just do a return and then buy the product you want, but when you purchased the original item with a coupon it’s probably best to just do an exchange.
Here’s the coupon ethics talk: if the item you want to return was on sale because of a specific promotion for that flavor or you had a coupon specifically for that flavor, it’s dishonest to try to exchange the item for a different flavor that was not included in the promotion or on the coupon. To put it simply, I think to be honest, you have to exchange for a product that you could have gotten with the exact same coupon or the exact same promotion, otherwise you’re cheating the system.
If you’re trying to return something purchased with a coupon, the store may or may not give you the cost of the item minus the coupon. They should give you back the purchase price minus the coupon amount, but since most stores don’t match up the coupons to the items, they have no way of knowing whether or not you used a coupon.
However, you know if you used a coupon on it, so the honest thing to do is to tell them this and receive your refund minus the coupon amount. I’ve done this before and the store’s perspective was that it was easier for them to just give me back the full purchase price than to mess with adjusting it for the coupon. Whatever, I just want to know that I at least tried to do the honest thing!
Update: a lot of you have brought up some great points! The store will probably still get reimbursed for that coupon, because they can’t dig through every coupon to take that one out and not submit it for redemption just because you returned an item.
Technically, I believe that the store matches up items sold versus coupons. So, if they sold twelve bottles of ketchup and received 13 coupons, they woudn’t be able to submit that one extra coupon for redemption. But, of course, not everyone uses coupons, so I doubt they ever have more coupons submitted than products purchased.
So, I guess it’s up to your conscience! From my perspective, it would be awfully easy to abuse the system by purchasing items with coupons and then returning them. I think I would personally still say that I generally couldn’t in good conscience return an item for the full amount if I know I used a coupon and would be getting back more than what I paid.
Also, stores are starting to match up coupons to items on the receipt (like Target) and I’m guessing they will only give you credit for the purchase amount minus the coupon – I can’t remember how Target words their receipts, but on their deals where you earn gift cards you can definitely only return it for the purchase price minus the gift card amount.
Which brings up another conondrum – if you buy something at Walgreens that earns a RR and then need to return the product, do you return the RR, too? :)
Do you only buy stuff on sale/with coupon or do you pay full price for certain items?
Dwell, via Facebook
Um, yes! My goal is to always have a stockpile of the things we need, purchased at the lowest price possible, so that I don’t have to pay full price for anything. However, that is just impossible, so occasionally I’ll have to buy something at normal price.
Actually, I’m guessing I buy one or two things at full price every week – usually something that I need to complete a recipe that I have all the other ingredients for (purchased at rock-bottom price, of course!). I do try to stretch myself and do without a particular item if I can, but sometimes it can’t be helped. When the budget’s tight, I’ve been forced to stretch myself farther than I knew possible and realized we could do without cheese for a certain recipe just once!
I don’t think there’s anything that I routinely purchase at full-price, though. Wait, maybe my husband’s hair gel. If you know where to get Got2B Glue on sale, let me know!
If you’ve got a question you’d like answered on a future post, please email me at email@example.com and I’ll try to answer it! This will be a regular feature as long as you have questions.