Your palms may get sweaty, your heart may race, or your throat could get dry. No, you're not boarding a roller coaster or walking onto a stage, you're about to use a huge pile of coupons, and you're worried about irritating those impatient people who don't care how much money you're saving. Here are some tips to prevent yourself from feeling hated while you're taking a long time at the register.
The biggest coupon hater you encounter during your walk down the checkout aisle could be the cashier. At least that's what Robin Moody's experiences have proven. That's why she now tries to be extra nice to the checker.
"When it is my turn in line, I warn the cashier," she says. "Usually their response is either rolling their eyes or 'okay.' If I get a negative attitude, I try to say something like 'Ya'll sure are busy today', or I'll ask them 'You doing okay today?' This make its obvious I am feeling their vibe. Most of the time it clicks and they change gears."
If you have a negative experience with a cashier, try to take note of their name and appearance so you can avoid their lane next time.
Most couponers agree that communication is important. That means giving the customers who line up behind you some advance warning. Diana Blais says this works well for her.
Warn Shoppers in Advance
"Generally, I try to be very sensitive to those behind me in line," she says. "I'll often tell someone getting into line behind me that it could take a while, or if they're in a hurry, they might want to find another check-out lane. Most of the time, people are very thankful and change lanes."
She says sometimes people surprise her and say they don't mind waiting. Not sure what to say? Here are some suggestions, and don't forget to say these with a smile:
- "I may take longer than normal because I've got lots of coupons today!"
- "Just a heads up, I've got coupons to ring through too."
- "If you're in a hurry this may not be the best line. I'm a couponer!"
"I make sure I have all my coupons in order before I checkout so that I can get through the line as fast as humanly possible," says couponer Jenny Hobson.
It may also be a good idea to keep free items at the very end of the conveyor belt. If you have a coupon for a free item typically the cashier has to look back to see what the item rang up for. If the item is the last thing she scanned it will be much easier to find.
If you encounter an impatient person scoffing at your money saving, just remember that couponing is no longer a rare hobby reserved for frugal grandmas. Shoppers saved $4.6 billion with coupons in 2011, up by more than half a billion dollars compared to 2010, according to NCH Marketing. The firm also reports that consumers redeemed 1.75 billion coupons in the first half of last year with an average face value of $1.57, up from $1.49 in 2010.
Couponing Is More Common than Ever
Extreme couponer Anna Hollar has definitely encountered negative shoppers during her grocery store visits. But a recent trip down the checkout lane reminded her that some people are more curious than furious. As she waited for her cart full of groceries to be rung up, including 22 pouches of free Starkist tuna, she didn't notice a person get in line behind her until they had already unloaded all their items.
Be Prepared for Positive Encounters, Too
"Well I didn’t know what to say at that point so I didn’t say anything! Instead I kept glancing nervously back at the cute couple behind me, throwing them a smile once in a while," explains Anna. "After the last coupon was rung the wife pushed past her husband and headed straight for me. I braced myself and turned to face her. 'How did you DO that!' she said laughing and clapping."
Anna says she went on to explain her couponing process to the interested lady. "After a few minutes of congratulations I was on my way," she says. "What a fun day!" So while there may be coupon haters out there, there are also people envious of the skill you have acquired.
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