Thursday, May 7, 2009

A Lesson Learned

I'm learning how to do the coupon thing in a whole new way. I've been clipping and organizing coupons like a crazy woman. There's a group in the blogosphere who seems to have things down pat. When they can go to CVS, Walgreens and Rite-Aid, they make a killing. Yes, that's right - they make money. It doesn't seem too difficult when you read their scenarios. I gotta hand it to these gals (yes, all gals). They know their stuff. Or do they.

Last night I went to CVS with my plan in hand. I knew what I was getting. I'd seem some blog posts about the wonderful deals to be had there, so my itinerary included an involved trip to the local CVS as well as a quick stop at Target. I had my spreadsheet and I was on a mission. I got my items, pulled my coupons and got in line. It wasn't a long line...until I got in it. They stacked up behind me like dominoes. The cashier was a patient older man. When everything was said and done I'd paid seventeen dollars and change for over $60 worth of merchandise. A pretty sweet deal. I left with a sense of satisfaction.

It was after the Target run that I realized that I hadn't received the Extra Care Bucks I was owed at CVS. I checked and double checked my receipt. Nope. They weren't there. Then I called to find out if there might be a legitimate reason they had been excluded. Perhaps there was some rule in this wonderful coupon game I'd not yet learned. The gal on the other end of the phone informed me that I could bring my receipt and the items I should have received the Bucks for and they could force the register to produce them for me. Off I went, items in hand a little after nine o'clock.

Upon arriving to the nearly empty store (note to self 9:30 in the evening is good time to shop) I explained my situation to 2 cashiers and was finally deemed worthy of the night manager's attention. I liked her right away. She was warm and friendly and seemed to genuinely want to help me and make sure I got what I deserved. She looked at the receipt and matched the purchased to images in the weekly sales flier. Not a single item was supposed to produce the sought-after Extra Care Bucks (worth about $14 dollars). She was so gracious as she informed me that CVS didn't owe me anything and I was so confused. What on earth had happened?

I left the store a little sheepishly, but vowing to figure out what the heck had happened. Then it dawned on my that when I had prepared my spreadsheet I had relied solely on the information in a blog post. I hadn't even opened the ad to validate the information I would be acting on. I had just wasted time and money on the words of a complete stranger who probably had different information than me.

One of the lessons I take away from is something I've heard in from Horatio Caine on CSI Miami a time or two - trust, but verify. Uh-huh...The ad is the ultimate authority in couponing. Blogs can educate and inspire well enough, but I must do the work to make the deals my own. I suppose the money wasn't really wasted. I did buy things I'll use and I did get a $10 off a $50 purchase coupon. I also realized that gathering $50 dollars worth of stuff isn't really too much of a challenge. Neither is bringing that total down to a reasonable number with coupons.

The learning curve is pretty steep in the drug store coupon genre, but I'll get the hang of it...eventually.

No comments: