Whole Foods Decidedly Inorganic Over Coupon Redemption

Mitchell’s letter is a great example of how you can stand up to (supermarket) authority, get into an argument, be a smartass, and still walk away with six free can of hippie soda.

    “Last night I was at the WF at Charles River Park in Boston to redeem six coupons for a free Ito-En tea beverage. The coupons didn’t scan, so the cashier called her supervisor. The sup. said they were no good, but I asked for the manager. When the manager arrived, he informed me that the coupon read: “limit one coupon per purchase”, and told me that I would have to make one purchase, six times, and go to the back of the line for every purchase.

    I told him that this interpretation was wrong and got into a shouting match with him. A security guard intervened, and I told him I would comply with his faulty decision.

    Since there was no line, I walked five feet to the end of the conveyor- belt, turned around, and re-approached the cashier after my first purchase.

    The manager storms over, growls, “leave the store,” and gives me a dirty look.

    Finally, I…

    …leave the store and re-enter several times in order to use all the coupons. In my bag are six receipts and six $1.69 bottles of Tea’s tea.”

Mitchell had to escalate through three levels of employees, two of which said his coupon was not valid. Only the manager was able to offer interpretation. Minus for Whole Foods.

Then Mitchell gets into a “shouting match.” Minus for Mitchell.

Security guard intervenes, Mitchell agrees to comply. Plus for Whole Foods, plus for Mitchell.

Mitchell walks to end of cashier, turns around, and walks back. Plus for Mitchell.

Store manager throws him out. Minus for Whole foods.

Mitchell walks back in and out, six time, walks away with free beverages. Plus for Wholes Foods, Plus for Mitchell.

Whole Foods – 1 -1 +1 +1 = 0
Mitchell -1 +1 +1 +1 = 2

Mitchell wins.



Edit Your Comment

  1. DAK says:

    No, they both lose. Getting into a shouting match and acting like an ass in public for some free tea is ridiculous. Have some dignity.

  2. acambras says:

    Most coupons have some stipulation as to “one per customer per purchase.” I’m wondering if it was printed on the coupon. It’s not cool for a store manager to kick customers out of the store, but it’s also not cool for customers to get into a shouting match in an attempt to circumvent coupon restrictions.

    I’m not sure that’s what happened, but I suspect that’s what happened.

  3. matt1978 says:

    -1 for both, DAK is super correct.

  4. snazz says:

    well said, DAK… anyone who has ever worked in retail or customer service will agree that mitchell is definitely the loser (and douche bag) here. why on earth he would be proud of what he did and write in to the consumerist to brag, is beyond me. must be a very slow news day/week for something like to this to be taken seriously.

  5. snazz says:

    maybe you should post another update about the the wal-mart nazi shirt… its been about 3 minutes since you last mentioned it and you seem to be short on news stories today.

  6. bones says:

    We have the customer’s word for what the coupon says, I’d love to see a scan of the coupon. Often the fine print says one coupon per visit to limit this behaviour. But if the coupon said one per purchase the manager should have cut thru the bull, the store loses more money tying up a cashier, paper register tape, involving cashier/manager/security guard to argue rather then get other work done, lose customers who see the above arguing with a customer and don’t come back – then just honoring the coupon.

  7. Hoss says:

    Mix an angry Brahim with loyal Whole Foods employees, loyalty wins, not royalty.

  8. Hoss says:

    Spelled Brahmin without the eggnog buzz

  9. Michael says:

    I don’t know what was printed, but I’m guessing the source of the coupon was the Mambo Sprouts coupon booklet that one can pick up at Whole Foods. In their winter issue, there was a coupon for a free bottle of ITOEN. I’ve already used mine, so unfortunately I no longer have the coupon handy to check the wording. Maybe someone else has Sprouts lying around and can check it?

  10. MeOhMy says:

    Last night? So this happened on Christmas Day? If I was the GM at that store, I’d have called the cops and had you arrested the moment you walked back through the door. When you get stuck working on a major holiday, the last thing you want to have to deal with is a Mitchell Scrooge trying to abuse a free coupon and then having the audacity to pitch a fit when he gets busted.

  11. RandomHookup says:

    This happens all the time. The most common wording on coupons is ‘one coupon per purchase’. Does that mean ‘one coupon per transaction’ or does it mean ‘one coupon per item purchased’? The use of the term ‘purchase’ is too ambigous to be useful.

    I have occasionally had this disagreement with cashiers and it’s just a pain to have to loop through the line a bunch of times. Why would the manufacturer care how many you use in one transaction? Stores (usually) set the limits on the number of coupons that can be used at a time. It’s really a case of the cashier overanalyzing a stipulation that doesn’t apply.

  12. bdslack says:

    I must deal with people like this every day.
    I would have had you thrown out of the store rather quickly…

    There is no way I would have put up with that shit for more than 10 seconds. And you know this lady is really classy because she takes the time to enter it into a blog.

    There are words for this type of person, and they are usually not known for being that honest – a.k.a. this story is full of holes I’m sure.

  13. InsaneNewman says:

    Random tangent:

    My favorite coupon wording “mouseprint” is at Best Buy, where all discount coupons (like those ubiquitous “10% Off One Item” ones sent out monthly) bear the wording “Markdowns taken from original prices.” In other words, the most you can save is Best Buy’s normal selling price -10%… usually the sale price is better than you can do with the coupon.

  14. infinitysnake says:

    “One per purchase” usually means one coupon per item, and usually is written there for the benefit of coupon nuts- to prevent one from using two coupons for one purchase to get money back (or a free item, depending on the value of the coupon), which is what will inevitably happen if they don’t use that disclaimer.

    It does not mean one has to stand in line six times- if you have six coupons, you can get six items in one trip, unless the coupon specifies one per visit. If that coupon said “10 cents off,” the manager wouldn’t have dreamed of forcing six seperate purchases.

  15. feralparakeet says:

    You know, there are serious consumer complaints, and then there’s this shit. I’m sorry if you didn’t get your cheap hippie tea as easily as you’d have liked, but you didn’t need to throw a hissy fit over it. It’s tea. Buy some Luzianne and brew your own, then store it in those little nalgene bottles and carry it around in your fanny pack while you ride your bicycle around all day. If you would like a tea ‘beverage’, brew it extra strong and mix in some fizzy water.

    And Ben, really, you didn’t have anything better to choose from to post? :/

  16. Uglyshoe says:

    My least favorite part of working cutomer service is the worst customers get the best service, largely because they make a big stink. Arguing with cashiers is just wrong. I think any conflict should be solved by giving the other the benefit of the doubt.

  17. Lola189 says:

    In all honesty, I have to agree with pretty much on here. Why is this article even posted? Basically, this guy wants to brag for being an asshole. Coupons aren’t just a free for all to get stuff at no cost. And for god’s sake, it was a bottle of tea! In this situation, if you try to use a valid coupon and the cashier tells you it won’t work, you remain calm and, like a mature adult, work with the manager to rectify the situation. Not scream like a little bitch and demand your bottles of free tea ON CHRISTMAS DAY, cheap ass bastard. Jeez.