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Why coupon's fine print may be your friend

Last week, we discussed how to handle confused cashiers who may try to incorrectly limit our coupon usage in one way or another. The key to eliminating most cashier confusion is to familiarize yourself with the store's coupon policy, which states all of the store's rules for accepting coupons. And while it's true that most cashiers are familiar with what kinds and types of coupons the store will accept, there are also times when a cashier may mistakenly inform you that the store cannot take your coupons.

In my coupon classes, I've taught over 6,000 people to Super-Coupon, and so I've heard more than my share of stories of cashier confusion. One common theme has to do with interpreting the fine print on a coupon.

If you pick up any manufacturer coupon, either from the newspaper or one printed from the Internet, chances are it contains the wording "Limit one coupon per purchase." Seems innocent enough, right? But these five little words can often be the source of cashier confusion.

To understand why, consider this distinction. Each item we buy is a purchase. Each group of items that we take to the checkout lane and pay for at the same time, as a group, is a transaction. So, when a coupon's fine print states, "Limit one coupon per purchase," what it effectively means is "Limit one coupon per item purchased." (In fact, many coupons now contain this updated wording, which makes the meaning much clearer.)

So, if a coupon is limited to "one per purchase," it simply means that we can use one coupon per item purchased. If I purchase 15 items, I can use 15 coupons - one for each item I'm buying (and I often do!) But cashier confusion frequently arises when a shopper uses several like coupons to buy several like items.

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