Doing Extreme Coupons At Walgreens? Check Out At The Beauty Counter

Let’s face it. One of the hardest things about using a lot of coupons is the shame factor. You’re worried that you are going to get the rules wrong, that people in line will get mad at you, that the manager thinks you’re stealing their time, and so forth. But one coupon aficionado recommends that when you’re rocking the extreme coupons at Walgreens,
you can help contain your embarrassment by checking out from the beauty counter instead.

The beauty counter is off to the side of the store so there won’t be as many other customers there behind you, says Stephanie, a high-ranking couponer over at the A Full Cup messageboards. The manager probably isn’t hanging out there either. Both will help you feel less self-conscious so you can get to what really matters, the savings.

“I don’t have to bother anybody,” says Stephanie. “And the beauty people are happy to ring me up because they always need sales.”

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  1. danmac says:

    I think they should put this counter behind a dingy black curtain, where all the 80s porno videos are shelved.

    • The_Legend says:

      Then you will anger the 80′s porno video crowd…..wait, you got one of those at your Walgreen? They do have everything!

  2. Azzizzi says:

    I saw someone doing this at CVS this past weekend. It was annoying. This lady made at least a dozen individual transactions while there was only one cashier. Another cashier had to come off break to help everyone else.

    • RandomHookup says:

      Doing individual transactions is a no-no. Back of the line after each one.

      • RebekahSue says:

        “Back of the line after each one” = LIKE button!

        • bblawson says:

          That’s what most of us do. Unfortunately, you never notice those of us who are polite and do this; it’s the rude ones taking too much time and thinking only of themselves that get noticed.

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

            Agreed! If I have multiple transactions, I let everyone behind me go ahead first, then wait until there’s no line. Have your coupons out, your card(s) and/or money out, and don’t hold everyone else up. My couponing fetish shouldn’t impinge on other shoppers (my opinion, anyway).

            Also: my Walgreen’s beauty counter is nearly always unmanned so I have no option other than checking out at the front registers. The only time I see anyone there is if someone has a return or exchange to be done. :(

            • SunnyLea says:

              It is likely not unmanned — the employee is probably somewhere in the department straitening or stocking. Look around for a second and you will probably find her. Or stand at the counter for a mo and she will find you.

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

                Nope – it’s generally unmanned. I actually spend a fair amount of time in the area around cosmetics because that’s were a great deal of the HBA items I have coupons for are. They leave the counter unstaffed a great deal but then again, my local Walgreen’s isn’t terribly busy, either. It might not make sense from a staffing standpoint to have someone there at all times, even with the straightening, signage adjusting, etc., that the employee could be doing.

                Now, the Walgreen’s across town is very busy and almost always has someone in the general vicinity of cosmetics. If I’m shopping there for some reason, I do check out at that register instead.

    • pittstonjoma says:

      It happens at Rite Aid too.. Ugh.. I need a new job.

  3. LoadStar says:

    Most Walgreen’s stores around this area have the beauty counter right as soon as you walk in the store, in the very front of aisle 1. Standing at the beauty checkout counter places you right in the middle of the main walkway, with very little room to move around you. If anything, I’d think you’d be more obtrusive taking up time at the beauty counter than at the main checkouts.

    A better option would probably be the photo counter, particularly during these waning days of film photography.

    • common_sense84 says:

      Wrong on all counts. No one walks by the beauty counter. Your location is correct and most people walk around behind the counter since they are not shopping for beauty products. Also the simple fact you can walk around means there is no disruption.

      Checking out at photo is stupid because people do go there for film. They should not have to wait for you.

      The beauty counter rarely has anyone sitting behind it. The person is usually doing other things in the store. But they can page someone no problem. It is by far the best solution. Walgreens is bad enough when some lady fills a cart and it takes them 10 minutes to check out at the front.

      If you have coupons go to the beauty counter, where no one will care that you take 30 minutes checking out.

    • stevied says:

      Kodachrome.

      It be gone.

      • Cheap Sniveler: Sponsored by JustAnswer.comâ„¢ says:

        Kodachrome 25. I miss it… Best fine grain film ever. Dad has slides from the 50′s that are like the day they were taken. But you haven’t been able to find 25 ASA in… well, forever.

  4. RebekahSue says:

    Why do “the beauty people always need sales”?

    I am not an extreme coupon user; unfortunately, most of the stuff I want doesn’t have coupons at the right times. If I were, I’d go to another counter (beauty, photo) to make things easier on everyone else waiting, but I wouldn’t be “embarrassed”…

    • RandomHookup says:

      Walgreens measures the Beauty Dept. by sales generated at their register. I guess it encourages them to get people to check out there rather than the front.

      You’ll be amazed at what stores and other shoppers can do to embarrass a coupon user. Calling managers for simple questions, pulling everything out of the bags to confirm a purchase, issues about a reward coupon that doesn’t print, questioning the validity of your coupons, hemming & hawing of the people behind you while waiting. I once had a store (not a Walgreens) refuse to give me a $10 coupon that printed out “because I didn’t spend enough to get it”. I made noise until the cashier got permission to give me what I earned from my purchases.

      • RebekahSue says:

        I just met a woman who gets hundreds of dollars’ worth of merchandise for pennies OR winds up getting cash back (some rebates may apply). I find it IMPRESSIVE.

        I haven’t worked retail in over twenty years so I wonder: are cashiers taught that coupons are a nuisance? If they are, it’s the fault of the trainer, not of the cashier. (not that there aren’t some idiotic people working in stores, of course) I think that $10 is more than enough to fuss about!

        • Rebecca K-S says:

          They aren’t taught that coupons are a nuisance, they experience that coupons are a nuisance. I don’t fundamentally have a problem with it, but it slows down the process a lot, especially the hardcore coupon use that requires dozens of different transactions and multiple coupons for every single item, and especially given how frequently either the coupon is coded incorrectly (so it doesn’t ring up even though the correct item is purchased) or the guest tries to use a coupon that legitimately doesn’t apply. Add to that the awesome experience of customers who refuse to believe that the “get this ten dollar product for FREE!” coupon they downloaded from totallylegitcoupons.com is a counterfeit.

          • pittstonjoma says:

            I second this.

          • cSam says:

            Agreed! I’m not taught to hassle coupon users – half the coupon users at my store hassle *me*. I work at a store with strict coupon rules (expiration dates are set in stone, coupons can’t be combined/used on sale merchandise), and my biggest problems with coupon users are 1) them getting angry/arguing with me because they can’t use their coupons (I’m just following rules written on the coupons themselves) and 2) them pulling out their coupon after I’ve rung everything up.

            Always get your coupons out before you get to the cash register (and with Christmas-length lines, there are no excuses for not doing this, sorry), and show them to me as early as possible, so I can adjust your purchase to use them (multiple transactions, separating sale from full price, etc). Don’t wait until I’ve rung up your entire purchase and swiped a gift card before going “Oh wait, I think I have a coupon somewhere in my gigantic purse!” Not only does everyone have to now wait for you to root through your bag, but I have to wait for the manager to void your transaction and ring the entire thing up again.

            • RandomHookup says:

              Having your coupons out at the start of the transaction is true at some retailers for some kinds of coupons, but most of the ones you would use at Walgreens are going to be scanned at the end of the transaction & aren’t needed earlier. They don’t have all the “not on sales” limitations that you are dealing with and the POS will do the majority of the work. (You didn’t work at Macy’s, did you?)

              Still, it’s only appropriate that any shopper have everything ready when coming up for a transaction and know the terms of their coupons ahead of time. I would venture most of the ones who have hassled you are the dilettantes — not the “extreme couponers” mentioned in the OP.

        • RandomHookup says:

          They are taught to be afraid of getting fraudulent coupons, so they are quite defensive at times.

        • ellemdee says:

          My experiences have been that many cashiers (and managers, for that matter) are not trained regarding coupons at all, or are trained incorrectly. This is especially true with internet coupons and cashiers who don’t understand the difference between a printout and copy…they insist you bring in the “original” coupon. I had one cashier call a manager up to the front of the store, point at me, hold up the coupon, and yell “she made copies on her printer!” after I tried to explain the difference between a printer and a photocopier.

          I’ve had cashiers at several stores insist I was trying to use fraudulent coupons because they insisted all coupons – including newspaper coupons – should have unique barcodes (even multiple copies of the same newspaper coupon) – a complete misunderstanding of serialized internet coupons which do contain one unique serialized barcode and one barcode common to all coupons from that campaign.

          I’ve had cashiers and managers deny coupons because they thought I was getting “too good of a deal” or “I can’t give this to you for free” (even it’s a manufacturers’ coupon for a free item).

          There is a very adverserial attitude copped by some cashiers and mnagers regarding coupons. They think coupons users are stealing from the store and costing their store sales. I guess no one ever told them that they reimbursed for those coupons (and then some), so they actually help sales. A few cashiers seem to make it their mission to “catch you” doing something wrong, even when your coupons are legit. Sometimes, cashiers are not even aware of their own store’s promotions and will insist that a coupon they emailed me directly was something I made up myself at home because “they had never seen it before”.

          Now I understand that there coupons fraud does exist and that the cashiers don’t want to lose their jobs, but stores need to spend more time training their employees regarding proper coupons use and acceptance and less time treating couponers like the enemy.

          I used to be a coupon ninja, getting crazy amounts of stuff for pennies on the dollar, free, or even at a profit – all legit – but I got worn out dealing with cashiers who would look for any reason to deny my coupons after I spent all that time collecting /printing coupons and planning my shopping trips. I “spent” (via coupons they got reimbursed for) thousands of dollars a year at a couple of stores that I rarely shop at anymore because of their anti-coupon attitudes. One particularly nasty supervisor gives me the stink eye as if I was a known shoplifter if I even walk in the store. As a result, I transferred all of my ‘scripts elsewhere and stopped shopping there…and the sad part is, she probably thinks that she “won”.

      • Nonbuyer says:

        The cosmetologist will love you even more if you’re buying cosmetics. It was 10 years ago when I worked for Walgreen’s, but I’d get a small commission whenever I run up cosmetics sales at the cosmetics counter.

    • Snip says:

      They either need sales, or they need to divert people from the front register. Last time I was in Walgreens there were signs all over the shampoo aisle reminding shoppers to check out at the beauty counter.

  5. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Wasting the manager’s time? Maybe they should offer prices that don’t require coupons.

    • JonathanR says:

      Considering a lot of these people end up getting stuff for free or close to free, what price do you think the product should be?

      • chatterboxwriting says:

        Doesn’t the retailer reimburse the store, though? So either way, the store is getting the money from somewhere.

        • john says:

          Exactly, there are too many of these managers and even cashiers who must assume that the savings you get are coming straight out of their paychecks. Envy is the more likely culprit.

          Envy: a feeling of discontent or covetousness with regard to another’s advantages, success, possessions, etc.

          • FlashFlashCarCrash says:

            nah, it’s more like the cashier wants her line to go away so she can go back to doing nothing and getting paid for it, so with couponers taking forever, that’s gotta be annoying for them. :-)

            managers? for them I have no idea. don’t want people to get out of line and go elsewhere i guess.

    • Chaosium says:

      “Wasting the manager’s time? Maybe they should offer prices that don’t require coupons.”

      Plenty of coupons are loss-leaders, and the prices were reasonable to begin with.

    • haggis for the soul says:

      Not just that, but they put out a weekly flyer that is FULL of coupons and the store sale prices require that a coupon be rung. Walgreens managers can hardly expect not to have to deal with coupons.

  6. semanticantics says:

    Where to buy what:

    Adult diapers – Pharmacy register
    Shampoo – Beauty register
    Film / batteries – Photo register
    Personal lubricant – Pharmacy register
    Magnum condoms – Any register, while holding above your head

    • common_sense84 says:

      Are you joking? You use the main register unless you need something from the pharmacy or photo. Rarely is someone standing at the beauty counter, they are usually roaming the store doing stuff.

      Going to the pharmacy or the photo when you don’t need pills or have pictures is dumb. It wastes the time of those that need pills and photos.

      You use the main register, unless the line is long, then you go to photo or beauty. That is how walgreens works.

      • danmac says:

        Yes…yes, he is joking…look at the last register he mentions.

      • RandomHookup says:

        Believe it or not, they actually want a certain % of customers to check out at Beauty, even if they don’t page you over there.

    • Adam9932 says:

      I worked as a checkout guy when I was in college. When a kid would come in and buy condoms, I would mention that he could buy the Magnum’s for a better fit and comfort since they were larger…

      The fun I had.

    • There's room to move as a fry cook says:

      That’s the beauty of scan-it-yourself at Walmart. It’s just you and the security room guy watching the overhead camera.

  7. ConsumerPop says:

    Good luck–the beauty counter is rarely open at my Walgreens, and if it is, it’s the only register even open. #doubleshame

  8. Beeker26 says:

    Or you can refuse to feel any shame at all in using coupons and use any damned register you want. If the people behind you don’t like it let them go to the beauty register.

  9. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    The article makes a few really odd comments that don’t ring true in my experience: “the beauty people are happy to ring me up because they always need sales.” and ” that the manager thinks you’re stealing their time”. I’ve never had any problems at the front checkouts and if one gets busy they just open another.

  10. Chellie says:

    Wow. That’s……one hell of a revelation there, Stephanie. Pretty much anyone who coupons semi-seriously at Wags knows to ring out with the BA.

  11. ryes says:

    The saddest part of the story is that the woman felt ashamed of using her coupons. They are a sale item. Does that mean that you shouldn’t take advantage of a store sale? Is there some kind of shame involved in using coupons? How very sad and so very silly.

    • RandomHookup says:

      I’ve been accused of coupon fraud, gotten the “big sigh” when I hand over coupons, had to apologize to those in line because something about the coupon was holding things up, had to debate the official store coupon policy… I stopped doing a lot of Walgreens shopping because it became such a hassle. The “only one register open” issue can cause a backup really quickly and you are an annoyance to other shoppers (demonstrated by many commenters here).

  12. WhiteWolfAniu says:

    I work at one of the drug stores.. and while I don’t mind coupon people, it does take a lot of time to ring out said transaction. At our store currently, sometimes it’s just me (the shift manager) and a cashier… the hours are that bad. It’s hard to see people standing being the coupon ninja, with like two items, who just wanna pay and go (like me, when I shop). We have minimal staffing this time of year, and it’s extremely hard to even help customers. Hopefully things will get better.. ?

  13. agold says:

    The beauty counter is the secret exit at Walgreens – always fast checkout!

  14. gman863 says:

    If the customer isn’t trying to scam a store by using expired coupons or ones not for the items purchased this should be a non-issue.

    All mfr. coupons and store coupons have a scannable barcode. I have used as many as 10 coupons at a time at CVS; it took the cashier (at most) about 45 seconds to scan and apply all of them to one transaction.

    I’m surprised Walgreens still prints dozens of coupons per week in their circulars. At CVS, all ad savings are “clip-free”, just scan your CVS card.

  15. haggis for the soul says:

    This past Christmas night, I was standing in a very, very long line at Walgreens when a drag queen acquaintance of mine saw me and physically pulled me out of line and led me to the empty beauty counter where I was promptly and cheerfully checked out. A glittery Christmas elf s/he was.

    • DjDynasty-Webology says:

      I love how you phrased it. I’m not a coupon clipper by any strech of some of the extreme couponists I see. But I do however need to purchase makeup in a pinch, pantyhose, etc. and I’m a guy. I prefer the beauty counter…the main check out totally makes me feel judged.

      • haggis for the soul says:

        Yep. The Walgreens beauty counter is a mysterious place. It’s easy to pass it by without paying much attention and when you do find it, you can check out in stealthy peace. It’s the Brigadoon of retail checkouts.

  16. buzz86us says:

    That is what walgreens gets for the stupid register rewards crap why can’t they just send real money out as a rebate like the used to instead of a store credit. Now to get the full benefit of these things (free after RR items) one has to buy one item with register rewards, then use the register rewards to buy another item with register rewards etc etc etc. Huge pain in the butt.

  17. Donathius says:

    So is there some alternate universe Walgreens that actually has people at the beauty counter? I don’t think I’ve ever seen any employees hanging around that part of the store in any of the Walgreens I’ve been in.

  18. AllanG54 says:

    I use coupons and extra bucks at CVS with no problem. Even on the buy one get one free sales. I don’t see why this would be a big deal at Walgreens.

    • RandomHookup says:

      It really depends upon the store. Some cashiers are afraid of being taken advantage of and are very protective of their jobs. They may not know the new rules that have changed over time. And some stores back up very easily; Walgreens is a good example — they don’t have the multiple register setup that CVS often has.