This Target Coupon Is Made Of Lies

Target confiscated Nick’s coupon for 10% off items left on his wedding registry after randomly deciding that the coupon was too generous.

While Target’s competitors make it clear that their coupons are one-use affairs, Target’s coupon expressly orders their cashier: “return card to guest.” According to one Target manager, this means “one use only.” Go figure.

In case you needed another reason to avoid Target’s wedding registry, read Nick’s sad story:

Dear Consumerist,

My wife and I registered at Target for our wedding registry. We shop there often and were very happy with the selection of items we would be able to register for. Our experience went pretty well, until we tried to buy the items that were still left on the registry. We’re hoping you’ll be able to make a difference like you did with the whole gift receipt issue.

When we signed up for our registry, at the bottom of one of the pages, was a note about getting a coupon for 10% off everything left on the registry. The exact words were: “For up to 90 days after your wedding, save 10% on all items remaining on your registry. Look for a special coupon in the mail”. Excellent, we thought, we’ll be able to buy everything on our registry, but we won’t have to buy it all at once. I figured that Target would have some restrictions, so I made a mental note to check the card carefully once it came in the mail.

Fast forward 5 months, we’re now married and ready to buy what’s left on our registry. The coupon comes in the mail and it says “Take 10% off any items remaining on your Club Wedd Registry. See back for details”. We check the back side for details and note the date that it expires (actually 85 days from the day of our wedding, not 90), and two sentences that seemed to explain the policy best. “Limit one 10% coupon per Club Wedd registrant.” and “Cashier: Scan the coupon, scan the registry bar code and return card to guest.” (Side note: we also registered at Bed Bath and Beyond, whose 10% coupon loosely read “THIS IS A ONE-TIME USE COUPON!” Maybe not quite so strong…but close) After reading those two sentences (and taking into account how strongly BBB worded their coupon) we decided that it must mean we can use that coupon any number of times until the expiration date and we would get 10% off on the items that were remaining on our wedding registry. Why else would they return the coupon to us if we couldn’t use it more than once?

So coupon in hand, we went to the nearest Super Target (since the Target in town is old and doesn’t have as much selection) to see what items from our list they had in stock. We found quite a few of the things we had registered for, but didn’t buy everything because we needed to bring a bigger vehicle for some of the items and money was a little tight since we had just gotten back from our honeymoon. It wasn’t a big deal though, we would be able to come back later with a bigger vehicle and get the rest. We go to the register with the items we had room for, received our 10% off and got our coupon back from the cashier. Perfect!

The very next day, a certain high demand video game system that we had registered for happened to be in stock at our local Target, so over lunch we went in to buy it. The cashier rung us up and scanned the coupon and got a nasty error sound with a message that said the coupon is not valid or has been used. Of course it’s been used, we’ve got 90 days to use it to get the stuff from our registry! The manager comes over to see what the problem is and tells us that she has only ever used the wedding registry coupons as one use. What!? We tell her none of the information we got said that, plus why would they return the card to us if it was only good for one use? She wondered the same thing, and after consulting with someone over a walkie talkie, decided to give us the discount and told us if we wanted the 10% off of anything else we had to get it right then. Well great, we each had 5 minutes left before we had to get back to work, so we just took the discount and left without buying anything else from our registry.

I’ve tried calling the Club Wedd toll free number, but they’ve been no help and when I was able to escalate my call they simply told me that the coupon was one time use only and they could not reactivate the coupon. We’ve been extremely happy with Target up until this point, but now we just feel we’ve been lied to. In the information they gave us there was no indication that we could only use this coupon once. We directly affected at least $1300 in sales from items on our registry, not to mention everything else our guests bought because they happened to be in the store. All we want is to get 10% off the items left on our registry, whether that be through another one time use coupon, or a coupon that is reusable, like the information led us to believe. We’ve already told several other couples and they thought the coupons were reusable as well. Maybe Target should also change the wording so other couples don’t have the same problems we did.

Thank you,


The fine print is clear: this is a reusable coupon that provides 10% off items stuck on the registry. Target is a massive corporation, with plenty of cash to throw at soulless corporate lawyers. If they wanted a one-use coupon like their corporate compadres, they should have printed one. But they didn’t!

Fire off an Executive Email Carpet Bomb, and if that doesn’t restore the discount you are owed, ask a small claims court to enforce Target’s poorly written contract.


Edit Your Comment

  1. Dyscord says:

    I think the “Limit one coupon per registrant” says that it’s a one time use card. That’s just what I get from it. It probably should have been worded better and I don’t know why they would give it back. Maybe it looks pretty. I know my wife has kept the red gift cards with the dog on them.

  2. donkeyjote says:

    Wow. I bet I’ll be called a shill for calling OP a self-entitled bastard. Happy honeymoon though (I still can’t find a wii)

  3. muffinpan says:

    @donkeyjote: Shill

  4. @donkeyjote: Shill

  5. jackal676 says:

    Might be like the coupon you get when you sign up for a Target credit card; you can reuse it for 10% off any items purchased throughout the same day, even through multiple transactions. It’s irresponsible of Target to not clearly state that on the coupon, but that would explain the return of the coupon and not being able to use it the day after its first redemption.

  6. unravel says:

    Cashier: Scan the COUPON, scan the registry bar code, and return CARD to guest

    Had it been: ‘Scan this coupon […], return coupon to guest’, or ‘Scan this card […], return card to guest’ I might side with him, but I’m not seeing them call it both a coupon and a card.

    I’m thinking card = gift card, credit card, perhaps registry card if there is one, and coupon = coupon.

  7. se7a7n7 says:

    eh, Target is still much better than Wal-Fart.

  8. legwork says:

    People are still getting married?

    //jk Congrats.

    Any Tarshay employees here? They’re sure blowing hot & cold with their coupons/returns/deals. What’s going on?

  9. unravel says:

    @ unravel: oh wait nevermind. It says card on the back of the … I’m a dumbass. but uh, I haven’t had coffee.


  10. pixiegirl1 says:

    Just because they issue the coupon doesn’t mean that your allowed to use it. . . apparently according to target game systems should not be allowed on your registry either.

    I like how the first side actually encourages you to add items to your registry you “forgot” the first time around.

  11. mgy says:

    You’re going to love your Wii.

  12. Congratulations on your wedding! I hope you had a wonderful day and honeymoon.

    I’m still giggling that you registered for a video game system. That is hilarious.

  13. Skankingmike says:

    @MonkeySeeMonkeyDo: I wanted to register at Target for a PS3, I was denied. So i forced All Clad Stainless Steal Cook ware and SHUN Knives

    could’ve made me happy with crappy Cuisinart but she pushed the PS3 issue so now i have my 300 dollar pan and 1000+ dollar knife set. :)

    Good luck with your Target thing

    My biggest issue with Target is getting them to ring up using those stupid Credit gift cards people love to give (for whatever ungodly reason). They always tell me they can’t even the manager has told me they couldn’t figure it out. Stupid.

  14. wickedpixel says:

    should try using the online code and see if that works

  15. Sqrfrk says:

    I’ve had this happen at my store a couple months ago and it ended with the guest leaving, cussing up a storm. The short of it is that if the POS machine won’t let you use it, then there’s very few options left to the cashier – they can’t simply add a 10% purchase with AP cameras looking down their backs the whole process.

    Most of the time, they’ll either direct the guest to the guest service line (which is wholly useless) or they’ll call over the GSTL for the guests to plead to. Most make an exception and take the coupon for good.

    One thing when shopping at Target (or any other retailer for that matter) is that you shouldn’t make any assumptions. While the coupon doesn’t state that it’s one-time use only (like the BBB one), it doesn’t necessarily state that it is. And as long as that’s the gist of the fine print, the POS machine flying around in the Target network is going to stop you dead in your tracks – no matter how reasonable you think your assumption is.

    I’ve also had a couple people make up stipulations on a coupon where none existed outside the bold print (i.e. free game with a PS3 bundle deal entitles the guest to a free controller). Don’t get me wrong – that’s entirely unreasonable comparatively but register has no ability to judge differences.

  16. eben56 says:

    Remember, Target is the store that tells your our return/receipt policy is ironclad and infallible but our coupons are open to our feelings at the time.
    Stop shopping at these places.. All of them. Pay 10% more to get stores that care back into your neighborhood.

  17. hills says:

    I take the coupon to mean each registrant can use it once – which is maybe why it says to return to customer – so the bride and groom can each use once.

    Regardless, should definitely be more clear:)

  18. mbuna says:

    You mean all I have to do is pretend to get married and I can get 10% off on anything at Target? Excellent!

  19. dieman says:

    In minneapolis here I’ve never had this issue with getting the coupons back. We use the rewards system for prescriptions, its sort of a bonus for having a chronic illness — 10% off all our groceries all year. (we get 2-3 cards a month, easy)

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

    Correct. I note that Nick tired to buy a “certain high demand video game system that we had registered.” For a wedding gift?

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

    @mbuna: It would seem so, Nick wanted a discount on a “certain high demand video game system that we had registered”. For a wedding gift?

  22. donkeyjote says:

    @IfThenElvis: What, do married people turn into soulless, joyless drones when they get married? Are they not allowed to have fun? Should they only be allowed to register for things that will slowly eat at their sanity from the constant work they need to put forth to use said things (Cookware, cleanware, houseware?)

  23. Gaambit says:

    My wife and I registered at Target last year, and put on our registry his and her matching Nintendo DS’s (Onyx and Pink). Some of our friends got us some games we registered for (we got like three copies of Animal Crossing) but no one bought the systems. So we used this coupon towards them. And it worked fine.

    Now, I can’t remember if we got it back again, but it was kinda moot, cause we got everything we wanted in one trip.

  24. GyroMight says:

    We had the same issue, with our coupon/card to get 10% off other items on our registry. We used it about 2 weeks after the wedding to pick some things up we didnt get and by the time we got home I said “I think we were suppose to get that card back.” I was right we were but we didn’t so we went to Walmart for the rest.

  25. BankOfFees says:

    You should have called the police for theft. If the coupon says “return to customer” the coupon remains your property — if Target confiscates the coupon, it is theft. This is why many coupons explicitly state ‘surrender upon use’.

  26. donkeyjote says:

    @BankOfFees: “Card has no Cash Value” and Copyright Target. Theft for 0 dollars? And they can turn around and sue you for copyright infringement. That writing is instructions for themselves, not a binding contract of your property.

  27. Rob says:

    If you will notice a coupon came attached to a card that said “Your married, etc etc”.

    I think that Target thought some people would like to keep the CARD for whatever reason and that’s why the back say that the cashier is to scan the coupon and it then notes to return the CARD to the guest, it says nothing about returning the coupon, maybe the original cashier fucked up…

    Then again target should be a bit more clear.

  28. allstarecho says:

    Umm, am I missing the fine print that Consumerist says “The fine print is clear: this is a reusable coupon that provides 10% off items stuck on the registry.” ?

    I see nothing in the fine print that says “this is a reusable coupon”.

    Granted, nothing says it ISN’T a reusable coupon either – but since it certainly doesn’t say it IS a reusable coupon, I’ll have to go with Target on this one.

  29. @donkeyjote: We have an XBox 360, a PS3, and a Nintendo DS, but we sure as hell didn’t ask people to buy them for me. I just think it takes a lot of cheek.

    Wedding guests are supposed to be helping you set up house, hence the pots and pans and small appliances. You need to buy your own video game consoles, people!

  30. BuddyGuyMontag says:

    You had Wii on your registry? We are huge gamers and we didn’t think of putting that crap on there. Did you serve six foot subs and have a cash bar at your wedding too?

    We’ve used this coupon. It’s NOT re-usable. We used it on a vacuum. Because we needed it as a married couple. Not a wii.

  31. @BuddyGuyMontag: Your loss then, I think.

  32. BuddyGuyMontag says:

    @rainmkr: I wouldn’t say that. I’m OCD, it’s a pretty awesome vacuum.

  33. superlayne says:

    @BuddyGuyMontag: Married couples can need Wiis. I’d be hella disappointed if all I got for tying the knot were a bunch of pans and a vacuum.

  34. weakdome says:

    To all the people who are complaining that the OP sounds “entitled” to his discount:
    It’s 10 frigging percent. 10%. Big. Effing. Deal.

    get over it. I got 30% off at Borders today for telling them I was a teacher. I’m not. Cry about it.

  35. BuddyGuyMontag says:

    @superlayne: THat’s what the cash from the wedding is for. We asked for some “fun” stuff on our registry, I guess I just thought (IMHO) that it was a little immature and tacky to put a Wii on the registry. I mean, I *want* a Wii – but I couldn’t imagine asking for it on a registry. Same goes for people who put HDTVs on their registry.

  36. BuddyGuyMontag says:

    BTW, 10 percent off a Wii is 25 dollars. WELCOME TO CONSUMERIST, WEEKEND EDITION!

  37. mythago says:

    Why is it immature and tacky to ask for a Wii? Is there some federal law that if your Great-Aunt Petunia would consider an item ‘frivolous’, no sensible adult would ask for it?

  38. legwork says:

    @mythago: Video games and similar distractions/addictions are by definition immature. “Childish things” & all. Count the hours.

    Not to say a little immaturity isn’t good for the soul sometimes. That’s between you and yourself.

    As for “tacky”, that’s someone else’s hangup.

  39. BuddyGuyMontag says:

    @mythago: Because the idea of wedding presents is something to build your future on. I know gaming helps bring people together, maybe I’m just old fashioned.

  40. donkeyjote says:

    @legwork: Wii = Edumacation Fitness Equipment, not a distraction or addiction (well, mostly). Now a ps3 is frivolous, and an x-box is sado-masochism.

  41. ByeBye says:

    I’m sorry, I’ll shop at Wal-Mart.
    I don’t care enough about my community to care.
    Plus they’re cheaper.

    As for this, same thing happened to me after my wifey and I got married…same exact writing…it IMPLIES multiple uses after 90 days of using it, but no no, used it once, tried to use it again, they took it. Tough shit for Target I guess.

  42. sleze69 says:

    And some commenters were mad when we were skepticle of Target “fixing” their wedding registry.

    BB&B FTW

  43. DeeJayQueue says:

    @Sqrfrk: Here’s where I put my $.02 in.

    When you go to a store to buy something, there are 4 things that have to happen:

    -You pick out your merchandise
    -The cashier identifies the price of the merchandise, and asks you for payment.
    -You pay for the merchandise and get a receipt.
    -You leave the store.

    Lots of stores have similar systems for getting this done, involving computers and barcodes, but the basic gist of it is the same no matter if they’re punching a price manually into a vintage cash register, hand-writing it on a piece of paper or scanning a barcode into a Top-o-The-Line Cray supercomputer.

    The only part of the transaction the customer is responsible for is remitting payment on demand of the cashier. That’s it. All other systemic glitches, problems, limits, mistakes, etc are the problem of the company using said system.

    I don’t care if your computer says the coupon is no good, THE COUPON ITSELF says it’s good. If they don’t want to honor the terms of the coupon, I’m sure the department of weights and measures, the FTC and a few other agencies might want to know about it.

    I agree with what Carey said in the post. Target is a huge company, they can afford to have their coupons say anything they want, and they chose wording that leads people to believe that they will get their coupons back to re-use them. That’s their fault, not the customers’.

  44. Rachael says:

    “I don’t care if your computer says the coupon is no good, THE COUPON ITSELF says it’s good.”

    Not quite. On this occasion, it just doesn’t say it’s NOT good. The coupon doesn’t specifically say ‘this coupon can be reused.’

    I never, ever assume that a coupon can be used more than once. In fact, I can’t think of any occasion where I’ve had a coupon returned to me for another use, which is why a company might not see any reason to be clear about that. Nevertheless, I don’t think that the complaint is out of line since the wording was confusing, but I am sure that “return card to customer” means that the card containing the coupon is meant to be returned to them just in case they have the urge to keep a congratulations card from Target.

    And yeah, a wii on a registry list is tacky but that’s probably why the couple was left to purchase it on their own. If you object to an item on a wedding registry, just don’t buy it. :)

  45. arcticJKL says:

    “10% off everything left on your registry list”
    Apparently you are supposed to load all the remaining items in a cart and buy them all during one trip. Everything in the cart would then be 10% off.

  46. tkozikow says:

    Didn’t anyone have a group of friends ante up for an expensive wedding gift? We asked for a big TV (27″ was quite large and expensive in 1985) and about 10 friends from college chipped in. I think that this is a great way to get a Wii or something similarly fun and frivolous.

  47. jackal676 says:

    What’s up with all these people saying you shouldn’t put a Wii on a registry? It’s a list of stuff you need or want. Nobody is forcing anybody to buy you a Wii. If you think it’s tacky, shut up and buy them something else from the list. Maybe I think it’s tacky to put a $1000 cookware set on a registry. Who actually needs that? Maybe nobody, maybe everybody? Who cares?

  48. Propaniac says:

    I don’t see why a Wii is a less acceptable registry item than any other fun, relaxing item that the newlywed couple can use together. Would a DVD player or stereo equipment also be considered tacky? (If you think they would, I’m glad I’m not marrying you and I hope you derive as much pleasure from your new blender as I do from Super Mario Galaxy.)

  49. jaya9581 says:

    There’s a great line frequently used in contract law: “Any ambiguity in a contract is construed against the drafter.” Basically what this means is, if you put something vague in your contract, the most liberal interpretation will be used in translation. In the above example, I would argue that there is no ambiguity at all – standard coupon practice includes common contract language limiting the coupon to one-time use and this one to me makes it pretty clear that you have until the expiration date to use the discount as many times as you want.

    As an aside, if Wiis had been out when I got married in 2004 I would have registered for one. We were lucky enough to find one a little over a year ago, and see them quite frequently here in SoCal – I should probably start buying them and reselling on Craigslist. I bought my husband an XBox as a wedding gift, and I see nothing wrong in registering for “fun” items. This isn’t 1960 anymore, when you got married and went straight from your parents’ homes into your own apartment without a dish or a toaster to your name. Most couples now live together before marriage, and if they don’t at least one of them usually has their own, fully-equipped home. Registries have evolved into more of a list of items people want rather than need.

  50. invaderzim says:

    The thing about Target is that you (the customer) will be accused of being -wrong- right from the start. At no point will Target ever admit to making an error or a bad judgment call.

    I took them up on the ‘buy 4 items’ and get a $5 giftcard promo last weekend and when I did not get my giftcard I drug them back and showed them the signs and that I met the criteria on the sings – even when pointed out right in front of them they said it was ‘customer mis- interpretation’ – I did get my gift card!

  51. Raanne says:

    is it possible that you would be able to use the coupon again, however you just can’t use it on a wii? there are certain items which are not allowed to be discounted, per the manufacturer, regardless of the retailer. i would try using it on another item before you assume it is one-time use.

  52. SOS_Hunter says:

    I used to work at Target, and although I never had to ring up one of these coupons I would guess that it operates like the 10% off Target Visa coupons where you can use it as many times as you want in the course of one day. So you can use it multiple times but only for one day. I agree that it should state that like the other 10% off coupons which say for one day of shopping but you shouldn’t assume that it would work a few days later without asking someone first. My first rule when buying things in any store with coupons or discounts is exercise extreme caution and expect nothing from them. That way you have less to be disappointed with.

  53. eelmonger says:

    @Rob: I think this is correct. The card is the first scan and is attached to the coupon, which is the second scan. The cashier is supposed to detach to the coupon and keep that and return the card to the customer in case they’re REALLY sentimental and want to keep the wedding card from Target.

  54. photogevey says:

    Did anyone else notice that the fine print says to use the code online, but then another part says that the discount is not applicable to purchases on Or am I just misreading that?

    Also, maybe they just went below the 10 item limit; it says that you’ve go to have at least 10 items in your registry.

  55. Smashville says:

    “Target confiscated Nick’s coupon for 10% off items left on his wedding registry after randomly deciding that the coupon was too generous.”

    Um, Carey, did you even read the letter? That isn’t even remotely what happened…no one confiscated anything…nor did anyone not give them a discount because it was “too generous”. The Target manager agreed with them and still gave him the discount despite the fact that the card didn’t work.

  56. Smashville says:

    @BankOfFees: At least read the letter first.

  57. Kermi says:

    I don’t see how people can take Target’s side on this or criticise the customer for whining about not getting a discount. They offered, he took it, and they changed the terms on him. That’s unfair.

    And to people whining about how a video game console isn’t a suitable wedding gift; wow, what the hell? I’m getting married next month. My fiancee and I have lived together almost three years; we have our big TV, Xbox 360 (and Wii), a great new bed, cooking utensils and appliances. There is nothing we need to set up house because we did that ourselves.
    We don’t require gifts, but traditionally people do give them. We’ve come straight out and asked for people to give us the cash they’d otherwise use to buy something and we’ll spend it on whatever the hell we want.

  58. RetailGuy83 says:

    @Rob: @eelmonger: Agreed, this is clearly the case.

    The card says “congratulations” on it, and Target (rightfully) understands that is is tacky to take back a wedding card you sent someone. Does it have an ad and a coupon in in? Sure it does, they sell stuff, they are in business to sell stuff. But it’s still a wedding card and they are letting you keep the card.

  59. mac-phisto says:

    @Sqrfrk: what’s always boggled my mind is if the person who popularized the POS acronym for registers knew its other usage.

    if so, s/he is a genius. if not, a moron. either way, that person is my hero.

  60. BuddhaLite says:

    Bed Bath & Beyond does something similar but it’s company policy to give you 10% off any item that is still on your gift registry after you’re married. Oh and the offer is good for a year to boot.

  61. Gopher bond says:

    I put sex toys on my wedding registry. Those glass dongs are expensive but pretty cool.

  62. cashmerewhore says:


    We got the 10% off xbox’s wifi adaptor and some video game for my husband, I totally forget what though….

    We lived together for five years before getting married. We didn’t need the standard cooking appliances and towels.

    We did debate on the 10% off PS3 with all the target GCs we had, but decided they would be better spent for regular, non-registry needs.

  63. zlionsfan says:

    I think you should put things on your registry that you want. If you want a game system, by all means put it there. (In fact, I’ve recommended that myself to couples I know who are gamers.)

    @photogevey: Yeah, that seems to be more of a problem to me than whether or not the coupon can be used multiple times. The latter seems to me to be ambiguity (they should have specified on the coupon that it is valid for a single use), but the former definitely seems to be contradictory. If the 10% savings doesn’t apply at, for what would you use the online code?

  64. eric4ok says:

    If he wanted to save money, he wouldn’t have gotten married in the first place.

  65. kyelewis says:


    The coupon can’t be used online, hence why the card says to instead use the specific, additional code located underneath the coupon when ordering online.

    Just more proof that the card and the coupon are seperate affairs, and “return card” means just that. Maybe unclear as written, but target do seem to be in the right.

  66. uricmu says:

    Why use a 10% B&B coupon when they give 20% all the time to people?

  67. clickable says:


    Actually this is giving me a clue as to why it didn’t work after the first time. After the initial purchase, maybe there were no longer ten items left on the registry. So the next time the coupon is scanned, it’s invalid, because it can only be used when there at least ten items left in the registry. Very arcane technical disqualification but not totally illogical. They want you to buy all the remaining items in one shopping trip.

    Of course the theory goes out the window if there were still more than ten items left after the first coupon use.

  68. Asvetic says:

    Sounds like the OP just ASSUMED, and when Target pulled the rug out from under his assumption, he got pissed off.

    Was it too much trouble to verify that it was actually a multi-use card?

  69. wiggatron says:

    My wife and I just used our wedding reg discount card yesterday. They didn’t return the card to us at all after its use, which is fine, since we purchased everything left on the registry anyways. The other thing that was odd is that when we printed out our registry to go locate the items in the store, there was a bunch, and I mean a BUNCH, of baby items on the list. We are not expecting, nor are we planing to be expecting. I have no idea how that stuff got on our registry. On top of that, the two duplicate items we returned that day took the customer service rep forever to refund. For some reason the gift registry system was giving them issues that day they told us. Maybe Target should re-think their gift registry system.

  70. charliew77 says:

    @MonkeySeeMonkeyDo: I’m recently engaged and have been helping my fiancee gather information about and whatnot, and more than one of the sites we’ve been to have actually said it’s common these days to put a videogame system on your registry.

    Now if only my fiancee was into videogames, I’d finally get that XBox 360.

  71. DantePD says:

    I only shop there because there herbs are better than WalMarts.

  72. encnyc says:

    They sell herb at Target? Good match for the WII.

    Why are people so judgmental about what other people choose to put on their registry. Especially since many have found the WII so hard to come by that it would really help to have all of your friends and family on the lookout for the console. They were available in abundance last summer, btw, and I wish I had purchased more than one.

    Glad to hear that the manager agreed with you and gave you the discount in spite of the register’s protest. Perhaps the manager at Super Target will do the same.