Coupon Hold 'Em: What's with the limits?

Q: "Almost all of my coupons say Limit one coupon per purchase. I tried to get my store to use one coupon for each item purchased but they insist I can only use one coupon for each shopping trip. How can I convince them otherwise?"

A: There are two variations of the limit wording that you'll see on coupons: Limit one per purchase and Limit one per transaction. A lot of confusion arises from this wording. Here's the simplest way to understand it.

Each item we buy is a purchase.

Each group of items that we take to the lane with us and buy together is one transaction.

Limit one coupon per purchase means a limit of one coupon per item purchased. In fact, many coupons use the newer, explicit "per item purchased" phrase to make the meaning clearer both for the shopper and the retailer. Either way it's written, a coupon limit per purchase means that you may use one manufacturer coupon on each item that you are buying.

What your store is telling you is incorrect - and this sort of confrontation is certainly a couponer's worst nightmare! You are free to contact any product manufacturer and ask them about this - I have. When I spoke with one manufacturer, the representative actually laughed and said "Nobody would use our coupons if they could only use one per shopping trip!" And this is true. Manufacturers want us to use their coupons. They want us to try their new products and continue to buy their existing products - and coupons are a great incentive to ensure that we do. Manufacturers do intend that shoppers may use one manufacturer coupon per item purchased.

If I have 25 items on the belt, I can use one manufacturer coupon for each item up there. I am purchasing all of them. I cannot imagine having to make a separate trip through the lane for every item I buy. I sometimes use 20 or more coupons in a single trip! Store registers are also set up to accept one manufacturer coupon for each item purchased - again, in conjunction with the way manufacturers intend for their coupons to be used.

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