If The Coupon Doesn't Apply, You Must Not Buy

Most likely, this has happened to you. You have a great coupon for a restaurant or retailer, and go to use it only to find that for some reason, it’s been declined. Maybe it expired. Maybe it doesn’t apply to the item you bought. The question is: Do you still make the purchase?

57% of online shoppers and 72% of shoppers in a brick-and-mortar store will continue with the purchase. These numbers come from a poll commissioned by Couponcraze.com. WalletPop writer Josh Smith finds this appalling, and scolds us all for our poor bargain-hunting behavior.

This isn’t just a bad idea because of the lost savings at that retailer but when you’re use a coupon for electronics, as 46% of shoppers do, buying your item despite a bad coupon can also mean a bigger waste of money. There’s a good chance that you ignored cheaper options when settling on the retailer offering a coupon. As painful as it is, if a coupon is declined, your best bet is to start your search from scratch.

When it comes to smaller items like groceries, continuing with a purchase even after a coupon is declined will, in many cases, result in you buying a product you wouldn’t have otherwise bought. This wastes money. There’s no shame in asking the cashier to remove an item because of an invalid coupon, so unless you regularly buy the item anyway, leave it with the cashier.

I find that my own behavior matches up with this study nicely—I am more likely to abandon a purchase online if my coupon code doesn’t work out. In a real-life store, especially a grocery or discount where I might have a large number of items and multiple coupons, I’m more likely to let a non-working coupon go because I don’t want to make a fuss and be that customer who wants to put back the Triscuits that were already rung up and bagged.

What about you?

How to avoid the coupon pitfall that costs most shoppers [WalletPop]

(Photo: Lindacat)