Friday, January 18, 2013

Frugal Living Tip #18 - Understanding Store Policies

Understanding Store Policies

Not knowing the store policies can cost you extra money. It can be things like a limit in how many days following the purchase you have to return an item, their coupon policy, or what items are included in a sale.

One thing I learned as a child shopping with my mom is always ask if an item can be returned. But, even if it can be returned it is important to know if there are any exceptions in when or where an item can be returned. There can be different time frames on different items. Some stores are starting to print on their receipts how long the receipt is valid for returns and that is making it easier for them and us. Purchases that include electronics or video games usually have a short window of opportunity and generally have to be in the original unopened package. I recently saw a sign in a store that clearance items with a certain percentage off or higher had to be returned within 3 days. It is also important to make sure that if you are buying an item from a store with multiple locations that you can return it to a different location.

Not knowing that there is a limit to how many coupons a store accepts, will allow to double, or will combine with other offers can also cause your savings to diminish. It is also a huge time and frustration saver to know whether or not they will accept printable coupons and if their is a limit on the amount of the coupon. I have not found a store in the Richmond area that will accept a coupon printed from my computer that has the word free in it. That means wording such as "buy 1 get 1 free" or just a free item up to a certain dollar amount.

The other thing I have had happen to me is that I have a coupon, or see advertised a sale and select a few things to purchase, only to get to the register and have a higher total than anticipated. It is usually then that I discover the item is not part of the sale or covered by the coupon. It could be because the item is already on sale and the coupon is for regularly priced merchandise only. It could be that the item is one of the gazillion exclusions that I thought I read, but somehow overlooked in the fine print at the bottom of the coupon. It could also just be that it had been put in the wrong place by someone.

My best advice is to actually go to the store website and look for their coupon policy, if possible print it and take it with you. I have discovered that cashiers do not always understand coupons. Having the policy with you can help you out. Remember that if you think you are using the coupons correctly and the cashier refuses to accept it you can always ask to talk with a manager or finish your transaction and then take the items in question over to a customer service desk.

Please feel free to share any tips or personal stories!


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