Couponing, Interrupted: Front-Line Employees Speak Out About Kroger Spider-Man Promotion

Coupon-Man!

Earlier this week, we shared Sarah’s story about her failed attempt to get a free bag of Pirate’s Booty from a coupon provided at Safeway. The top half of this sheet advertised the DVD of the new “Spider-Man” reboot; the bottom had two separate coupons. One coupon (for batteries) specified that the customer had to buy the DVD in large letters. The other (for Pirate’s Booty snack food) didn’t. Sarah says that she tore off this coupon and went to claim her four ounces of cheesy goodness. That’s when things went horribly wrong, The cashier refused to take the coupon, acted like Sarah was trying to run a scam, and–worst of all–mocked Sarah when the cashier thought that she had left the store. She hadn’t. She was standing right nearby.

Front-line grocery and retail employees have strong feelings about couponers. We heard from two: one who works at Kroger and has also dealt with the coupon in question, and a Walmart employee who is more sympathetic toward couponers. Here’s what they had to say.

First, the Walmart employee:

I work at a Walmart, where we see coupons all the time. For the price of that coupon, we wouldn’t have thought twice about giving the lady a free bag of the Pirate’s Booty. (I do have to put a disclaimer saying that since I can’t read the fine print, I can’t guarantee it.) However, if there is no mention of buying anything in it, then she should have gotten it.

The actions of the employees at Kroger was indefensible. If I was manager of Kroger, I would have either fired the employees—or at least given them a stern talking to. There was no reason to act that way. I’m thinking that for $2.79 and the way they acted, it was not worth the hassle to do that to her.

Few stores accept coupons for free items that have been printed on a home computer, but that’s not the case here.

Second, the Kroger employee:

I’d like to put my two cents in on your recent story about an extreme couponer who was embarrassed at a Kroger store. The first thing I will say is that people who do the extreme coupons are generally the most vicious people you will ever meet. They’ll cut off the dates of expired coupons, try to use several coupons per item and will argue when you shut them down. Is this everyone? No, but it’s honestly about 99% of the extreme couponers out there. They’ll do anything to get their way.This woman clearly saw the top part of the paper that clearly states that the movie must be purchased, but she was just looking for a loophole to get her way. When she was shot down she was so offended that she started firing off towards the employees. I [work] at a Kroger and I see this daily. It’s sad, and it really puts the cashier in a bad mood. We’re not perfect, and neither are our customers. She knew the deal, she just wanted free stuff.

The Kroger employee sent along a clearer photo of the coupon sheet. It was indeed mounted on the display of copies of Spider-Man. The two coupons are perforated separately. There is no mention of Spider-Man on the Pirate’s Booty coupon.

Click through to see full resolution, if you must.

We don’t think that the cashier in this case should have been fired, but merely using a coupon doesn’t mean that someone deserves to be mocked behind her back.