I don’t usually have trouble with coupons for free items. Usually, manufacturers or stores send them on glossy paper or they are only good at a certain store, both of which make them hard to fake. This week, however, I had trouble with a freebie coupon that was poorly designed. I was persistent, however, and my persistence paid off.
The Tropicana Free Juice Coupon
As a promotion for its Juicy Rewards program, Tropicana gave away 50,000 coupons for a free carton of orange juice. In order to receive the coupon, I had to cash in five Juicy Rewards points, which I received for entering codes I found in the same blog post that informed me of the promotion.
A few days later, I received the coupon. It was formatted like an internet printable coupon, but was attached to a letter. I detached the letter and put it in the recycling, then tucked the coupon in my folder.
The Trouble with Free Coupons
Most stores have a policy against accepting internet printables for free items, due to fraud. It’s a shame, but I understand the policy. However, I didn’t know that when I want to use it, and I didn’t print it. It was mailed to me.
The first night I tried to use it, the evening manager absolutely refused to accept it. She sounded like she didn’t believe I had received it in the mail. She made all sorts of claims about it needing to be printed on special paper etc. I was in the express lane, so I removed the juice from my purchase and left.
When I got home, I examined the coupon. It was, in fact, printed on microdot paper with embedded security features on the back.
I went back to the store Friday morning and went directly to the manager’s station. I simply explained that although it looked like an internet printable, Tropicana had mailed it to me. He looked at it and explained their policy. I pointed out the security features, and he approved it. When I used the coupon at the register, I actually got 99 cents back because the juice was on sale!
Tips for Freebie Coupons
If you receive freebie coupons, here are a few tips:
- Use it at the designated merchant (if it’s store-issued), or use it at a store where you shop regularly.
- Keep the envelope and supporting letter with the coupon, especially if it looks like it might have been printed on your home computer.
- Don’t argue with the cashier. She doesn’t have the power to do anything. Instead, ask for the manager.
- Use a regular checkout, not an express lane. You don’t want to hold up the express lane if you have to get a manager.
- If you don’t get anywhere, ask for the general manager’s name and phone number. Call to ask for help, or return to the store when that manager or another high-level manager is available.
- Be polite. Don’t get into a heated argument or make accusations.
- Be persistent. If you don’t succeed on your first visit, go back until you do. If you strike out at that store, try another store.
My free juice coupon saved me $3.50. Actually, I guess it saved me $4.49. Even though it took a little extra effort, I think $4.49 is worth five minutes.