6/11/11

Problems With Grocery Ecoupons

Now that we’ve covered the basics of how to find and load ecoupons, let’s cover some of the potential problems with ecoupons.  You should be aware of these issues before deciding to use them:

  • Ecoupons cannot be doubled.  Strategic use of double coupons can dramatically increase your grocery savings and help you get items for free.  At most grocery stores, doubling of ecoupons is not yet allowed.
  • Difficult to remember ecoupon details in-store.  You can refer to an old-fashioned paper coupon at the grocery store to make sure you are buying the right size, the right number of items, etc.  Unless you have a web-enabled cell phone, you’ll have to rely on your memory about which ecoupons you loaded and all of the fine print, including expiration date.  Ecoupon websites do let you print out a list of loaded coupons, and that can help, but it eliminates one of the benefits (less paper) of ecoupons.
  • Ecoupons sometimes don’t work.  From our personal experience, ecoupons work about 60% of the time.  Sometimes an ecoupon won’t work because we didn’t buy the right item or size (see previous point).  Sometimes they don’t work even if you do everything right.  Unless you have a computer or web cell phone at the store, there’s no way to prove to the cashier or manager that you ever had a coupon.  I personally have never gotten reimbursed for an ecoupon that didn’t work.
  • Ecoupons remove coupon choice.  It is very common to have both an ecoupon and a paper coupon for the same item.  If they are both manufacturer coupons, you probably cannot use both coupons on the same item.  So, when a product is scanned and the ecoupon comes off immediately, it eliminates your option of using the paper coupon, even if the paper coupon is worth more.

There are some cases where ecoupons are useful – for instance for a product which never has paper coupons.  But for now, the problems with ecoupons are large enough that we rarely use them.  Remember, though, that ecoupons are new and some of these issues may be decrease as the technology matures and as grocery stores become more comfortable with ecoupons.

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