Kroger Rep Cops To Ralphs Not Accepting Its Own Online Grocery Coupons

Ronald printed out coupons from the Ralphs grocery website but store management wouldn’t let him use them. He sent of a letter to Kroger, which owns the grocery chain, and got this response.

Kroger says:

It is true our website is behind at the moment due to a website issue we had a few weeks ago, and we are answering emails as quickly as we can to get caught up. We have been receiving several emails from customers stating coupons are being rejected by stores simply for being printed from the internet. This is against our policy and is currently under investigation. I have actually been working with our divisional office on this matter to determine why store directors are telling customers they are not accepting any internet coupons. It is our corporate policy to accept any print-at-home coupons, provided they fall under the guidelines I provided for you in my original email. The reason I provided those guidelines for you is so you have access to the actual corporate policy. I completely understand your frustration, and we have not yet determined why the coupons are being denied, as this is still under investigation. If you would like, I can forward the case I set up regarding your incident to the store director and request he/she contact you back regarding the matter.

The bottom line remains the fact that this should not be happening. We offer print-at-home coupons on our websites and we completely encourage their usage in our stores, as we understand how hard times are these days and how every little bit helps. The case that I initially set up regarding this incident has already gone through the store director and has been acknowledged, but as I said before, if you prefer, I can most definitely have the store director follow up with you on the matter if you prefer.

It’s nice that Kroger is admitting it has a problem, but inexplicable that the issue is happening in the first place. Have any of you ran into such chicanery at the store?

(Photo: So Cal Metro)

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  1. theblackdog says:

    When I did restaurant work, our corporate had an Internet coupon that someone could get from their website. Unfortunately they never told us that the coupon existed, so the first time we saw one, we thought it was some kind of forgery (kind of like the Wendys coupon from Allstate). There was some confusion until we got clarification from corporate about it.

    • fuzzmanmatt says:

      @theblackdog_HalloweenHaunting: That’s usually the problem. Somebody in the marketing department says “Hey, lets make some coupons for the internet!” and then fails to provide them to the stores so they know what they’re looking for. It took two weeks of phone calls before we found out that a “Grand Opening” coupon from our website was legit, but designed as a tear-out look-a-like that looked like a photocopy of a legit coupon. We refused them for a while, until they started popping up like crazy and called corporate, and were told they were out of market materials.

      • RandomHookup says:

        @fuzzmanmatt: I think a lot of time the word gets to the stores, but never gets from management to the troops. It’s one of 47 updates a week they get from various sources and the 86 checkers and 14 supervisors don’t read the update board and don’t have a meeting or email where new promotions like this can get down to them. They only found out at the front line when someone brings one in and it’s like a game of telephone — the answer you get depends upon who you ask.

  2. valleyval says:

    Yes – this happen to me at Ralphs in Studio City. I had printed coupons from their own website. The cashier told me I couldn’t use them because they were printed and I said, “They are from Ralphs’ own website” and the cashier said it was store policy. Now I don’t shop at Ralphs and they can keep their stupid coupons.

  3. delphi_ote says:

    “our website is behind at the moment due to a website issue “

    Obvious Rep is obvious.

  4. nbs2 says:

    I disagree – it is explicable. The manager either got dinged or otherwise affected by fake coupons (or is otherwise trying to be aggressive in fending off the fake coupons).

    Of course, in doing so, he is violating corporate policy. And that’s naughty.

  5. Beef Supreme says:

    My local grocery store refuses all online coupons. I have no idea if this is corporate policy or not. It’s been that way for the last 2-3 years.

    • mazzic1083 says:

      @dfens42: Yea ours is the same way here too. I’m just assuming they got taken advantage of and outlawed ALL internet coupons vs. a select few.

    • friendlynerd says:

      @dfens42: Try the self-checkout, if you have one. The computer doesn’t know the difference. I use them often.

      • mianne prays her parents outlive the TSA says:

        @friendlynerd: You mean you can actually scan your own coupons at your self-checkout? At every place with them I’ve been to in Nashville, TN; you have to give the coupons to the attendant to scan. Can’t imagine coupon fraud is any more or less rampant here than elsewhere, but that’s how the machines are programmed here.

  6. Oranges w/ Cheese says:

    This happens all the time with home printed coupons, half the time the cashier will look at you weird. Had a coupon for a free popcorn at AMC that I printed online and they were like “we’ve never seen this”

  7. Krobar says:

    Kroger itself takes the printable coupons. Probably doesn’t help in Ralph’s footprint though…

  8. LadySiren is murdering her kids with HFCS and processed cheese says:

    It really depends on which store you go to. Some reject Internet coupons immediately, such as our local Target, while others put a strict limit on them during certain events (Harris Teeter during their triple coupon sales).

    If you’re a die-hard couponer like I am, you quickly learn to print out a copy of each store’s coupon policy to keep with you when you shop. If that doesn’t work, giving negative answers on those customer satisfaction surveys that you’re urged to participate in (the toll-free number is usually on the end of the receipt) generally has a good effect.

    • wvFrugan says:

      @LadySiren:
      What does “good effect” mean? For me, it would have to be large quantities of cash to slather my fat ass with.

      • LadySiren is murdering her kids with HFCS and processed cheese says:

        @wvFrugan: I was foiled at one point by the coupon police at a Food Lion. I was issued a satisfaction survey, called in, gave them all rational but negative answers, and my comments were turned over to someone at the local level. They started being MUCH nicer about coupons at this particular store after that.

        Also, I’ve found that most retail outlets HATE it when you call their corporate offices to complain. Or the district manager. Pre-programming the corporate number into your cell phone, whipping it out and dialing away while standing at the counter will often have an effect on the way they handle your transaction. That tactic worked particularly well for me at a drug store that was hassling me about a coupon. The store’s own coupon policy would’ve allowed me to use my coupon but the indignant coupon Nazi behind the counter didn’t quite agree. That changed once the manager saw me on the phone to corporate – the problem swiftly was resolved and I went on my merry way.

  9. takotchi says:

    I had a local chain grocery store (Ukrop’s) do something similar. They refused an “innanet koo-pawn” and accused me of forging it (for no other reason than it was printed from a computer). I didn’t buy the item, went to their web site to see who I should contact about the crappy treatment, and lo and behold, they were advertising and linking to the SAME internet coupon provider I got the coupon from in the first place. So, they were basically denying the use of something they themselves promoted!

    (I called, they apologized, and next time they accepted the coupon without accusing me of being a master forger.)

  10. Cat_In_A_Hat says:

    I once had a cashier at a Safeway give me the most devilish look when I presented her with a $1 off any freshmade deli sandwhich coupon. I told her I printed it from their website that day and she didn’t want to accept it. She then had to wait to get a manager to ask if she could take the coupon and then to show her how to process it (it looked just like any other coupon with a barcode that once scanned would deduct the buck). And instead of trying to embarrass the customer and make them look like a fraud artist in front of everyone else in line, why not kindly say, “I’m unfamilair with the online coupons and if you don’t mind waiting I need assistance from my manager.” I usually try and avoid huge grocery chains like Safeway (especially after having an express line clerk ring up a woman with a full cart in the 15 item max line who then proceeded to fill out a club card application as well during peak evening hours even after she sensed the frustration of all 12 people in line)except when they have good deals on certain items I buy, and prefer to stick to specialty stores like Trader Joe’s. No coupons needed just friendly service.

    • DrGirlfriend says:

      @Cat_In_A_Hat: I’ve never had a problems with those kinds of coupons at Safeway, but after getting malaware in my computer after installing the coupon printing program they make you use before printing off anything (Coupon Printer or something like that) I won’t touch them again.

  11. rewind says:

    Corporate -> Ralph’s: Accept the web coupons.
    Ralph’s -> Corporate: We don’t accept web coupons.
    Corporate -> Ralph’s: Accept the web coupons. Now.
    Ralph’s -> Corporate: Ok.

    Later that day…

    Customer -> Ralph’s: I have a web coupon. Here you go.
    Ralph’s -> Customer: Here is your discounted item. Thank you come again.

    win?!?

  12. sevenwhitehorses says:

    often i find in circumstances such as this if i request they simply sign the coupon or order form (if i am delivering something and they don’t wish to accept it) saying they refuse to accept it gets them to change their stance. people hate having their name on something. the upside here, if you go onward with your complaint you have a name and signature for proof.

  13. coren says:

    Just a suggestion, but maybe use admits instead of cops?

    • RogerTheAlien says:

      @coren: Yeah, I read that the same way I’m thinking you did: that Kroger was being shady, and someone owned-up to it. Obviously not the case. But remember, sensationalism is everywhere, even here on Consumerist.

  14. Lucky225 says:

    The best part is that Kroger recognizes the issue AND has an actual WRITTEN corporate policy on the matter that you can bring to the store’s attention, now if only Wal*Mart had a written corporate policy regarding Credit Cards and Photo ID or receipt checks.

  15. That's Consumer007 to you says:

    Obviously offending managers at the local Ralph’s stores need to lose their jobs. Sending away once loyal customers and now angry anti-customers is an excellent way to destroy business and reputation and profitability.

    Further they should be sued for the deterred coupon customers’ lost time and gas.

    • AdvocatesDevil says:

      @Areyouagoodlittleconsumer: Yep, they should lose their jobs and someone should go to jail for false advertising. If the company is tricking people to go to their stores with coupons that they won’t accept, someone should pay dearly for it.

  16. draccy says:

    This has been a problem for me at my local Ralph’s in Culver City, California. A cashier there told me that they wouldn’t take my coupons because they “come from a computer” and that they could be fake. I was incredulous and asked her why they’d want to lose my business over a couple of dollars’ worth of coupons — I’ve been a regular customer there for a long time and was being told that I was not deserving of any trust. I finally left, as the cashier wouldn’t budge, and neither would the store’s shift manager. I fired off an email to the regional office. Only after that did the store manager confirm that her cashiers had been wrong about coupon policy. She did not apologize, but at least she credited the total coupon amount to my Ralph’s card. Then a few weeks later, I had the same argument with a different cashier. This particular Ralph’s location always seems to have poor customer service, but on the coupon issue the company has a larger training and policy problem on their hands. I’m sure people do occasionally try to pass counterfeit coupons, but the solution to that is not to insult all customers. If Ralph’s does it to me one more time, I’m switching to a competitor.

  17. rwalford79 says:

    Lucky for me where I work, because we have coupons that require scanning. The coupons need to be scanned, and have NO expiration date on them, except coupons for “membership” or “trials”, and once they pass expiration it is at our discretion if we will take said coupon.

    We also have no issue with outside coupons for current members.

  18. native_whitebirch says:

    Please someone tell me why Ralphs in Encino, CA stopped carrying the Penta water? For years I’ve see a decline in several products that Ralphs carries for example, Pioneer sliced bread, Horizon organic cream and our favorite organic coffee but I can’t remember the name right now and several other products.
    I don’t really understand the business concept of these decisions because look at CVS pharmacy, they are slowly getting rid of brand name products and stocking their shelves with CVS products and that’s a big mistake because the consumer is then forced to drive that extra mile or block to find what they want or they buy it from the internet. Big greedy store businesses that stock the shelves with cheap vendor products, just give the consumer what they want please!

  19. native_whitebirch says:

    Ralphs in Encino, CA is really starting to disapoint me lately. I’ve been shopping at Ralphs for several years now and I’ve noticed that several of my favorite items are not on the shelf anymore. For example, the Pioneer sliced bread, the organic Horizon cream, the Krustez corn bread mix and the pancake mix and our favorite water of all time PENTA!!. I want to know has anyone else experienced the same issue. I’m not happy with our local CVS pharmacy either because they’re also getting rid of brand name products and they are forcing the consumer to purchase CVS products. I don’t like being forced to buy what’s on the shelf and I will go that extra block or mile to shop elsewhere. Umm, maybe I’ll start ordering all my food and products online…..

  20. native_whitebirch says:

    *****Ralph’s Supermarkets***** sucks!!!

    Ralph’s in Encino, CA is really starting to disappoint me lately. I’ve been shopping at Ralph’s for several years now and I’ve noticed that several of my favorite items are not on the shelf anymore. For example, the Pioneer sliced bread, the organic Horizon cream, the Krustez corn bread mix and the pancake mix and our favorite water of all time PENTA!!. I want to know has anyone else experienced the same issue. I’m not happy with our local CVS pharmacy either because they’re also getting rid of brand name products and they are forcing the consumer to purchase CVS products. I don’t like being forced to buy what’s on the shelf and I will go that extra block or mile to shop elsewhere. Um, maybe I’ll start ordering all my food and products online…..

    Thank you,

    Yolanda Whitebirch