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Thursday, August 15, 2013

Reader Tale: How Do You Handle A Coupon Bully?

Have you ever encountered a coupon bully while shopping?  Here's a guest post from reader Jennifer C. on her experience watching a entitled couponer get aggressive with a cashier yesterday:

Have you witnessed a coupon bully?

As a couponer of 24 years, I was horrified by what I witnessed at a local store earlier this afternoon. I ended up in line behind another coupon queen. There was actually another customer between us, but that customer transferred to another line after witnessing what transpired.

As the coupon bully was checking out, she was being loud and obnoxious. She had a preschooler with her who was apparently bringing down the wrath of Mamma upon himself for not being patient and standing by quietly. She kept yelling at him loudly and threatening him.

After the cashier scanned all of the items, the coupon bully handed the stack of coupons over. As the cashier began to flip through the stac,k the coupon bully was getting agitated and loudly explaining that all her coupons were good and other comments.  When the cashier nicely pointed out that a few of them could not be used as they didn’t meet the proper requirements and the computer was rejecting them, the coupon bully went nuts.

She tried to argue with the cashier, but the cashier was patient, professional and withstood the verbal abuse. When the coupon bully couldn’t get the cashier to do what she wanted she turned to me, saw my binder and stack of coupons, and asked me if I ever felt like the store was acting like I was stealing. She was trying to get me to gang up on the cashier with her.

By this point, I was just figuring maybe she had a bad day, combined with a stressful outing with a preschooler. So I told her that I usually had very good experiences in this store.  Coupon bully didn’t like my response and made more negative comments aimed at the cashier. 

This particular cashier has always been exceedingly nice to me. I have never had any problems checking out. She is so sweet and kind and never seems to have any attitude about my using multiple coupons, cartwheel, Target mobile coupons, Target coupons, and lastly Shopkick gift certificates. When I check out, it is never a quick checkout as I have to wait for my smart phone to pull up the coupons, cartwheel and the Shopkick gift certificates.

When I go to that store, I always look for the sweet cashier. Also, I have shopped with two other coupon buddies and I have never seen the cashier be unfair, rude, or difficult with the coupons. Just to be fair I have used other cashiers at that same store, and have never had any problems.

Also, I do have to say that I have had a problem or two in the past using coupons at other locations. Yes, I have felt like some cashiers act like I am trying to steal the products. I have dealt with misinformed cashiers, and sometimes I know the store policy better than they do.  On occasion I have taken the item off the bill and saved the coupon for another store, another day, or another cashier.

I just felt so bad that this woman gave couponers a bad name today. She was rude, obnoxious, loud and degraded herself, her child and the cashier.

I just don’t understand how someone can be such a bully and downright ugly over this situation. Most of these cashiers are good, and honest in the way they accept the coupons. They are just trying to do their job. Is it really worth it to degrade and attack someone? Can’t they just take the high road and calmly discuss the situation?

After the coupon bully left and it was my turn I told the cashier not to let coupon bully ruin the day. That she always does a wonderful job and that I appreciate her. Then the cashier started crying.  I apologized for the coupon bullies behavior.  The cashier did tell me that it wouldn’t be so bad if the customer would have just used the coupons correctly.  She didn’t say anything else, but just kept crying and trying to hold back the tears.

There was a long line behind me. The customer behind me also witnessed the coupon bully and she also tried to encourage the cashier.  The cashier continued her job but was crying and trying to hold back the tears.

I couldn’t stop replaying the horror that I witnessed. I did track down the manager, apparently after the coupon bully had words with him as well ,and explained what I witnessed. It was good to let him know how professional the cashier was in the event. When he found out the cashier was crying, he showed immediate concern and went to relieve her.

Are coupons and deals really more important that treating people with respect? Do people think that they can use coupons incorrectly and bully cashiers into going along? Could it be that some cashiers get an attitude with couponers because of these types of behaviors? Could it be that some stores become coupon resistant when they see us coming?

Hey, I love the coupon game just as much as the next couponer and squeal with delight when the transaction cost ends up being pennies. But I also think that we need to be respectful and fair in our actions.  

If we don’t agree with the way the transaction is handled we should deal with the situation calmly, respectfully and without verbally abusing the person just trying to do their job correctly.

Anyway, as much as I love my coupon queen pals out there, and want to connect and work together to save money, I refuse to support coupon bullies. People, use the coupons correctly and don’t torture the cashiers!

What would you have done if you were behind someone like this in line?  Have you ever seen this kind of bad customer behavior in stores -- or experienced it as a cashier?  Share your thoughts in the comments section below!