Friday, February 20, 2009

Acme Accepts Internet Coupons

A few months ago, I had gone to Acme (Acme Fresh Markets, Northeast Ohio) to pick up some great deals that I saw in their ad. As I was going through check out, I handed the cashier my coupons, which included some that I had gotten from the Internet. She handed those back to me and told me that they could not accept Internet coupons. I asked her to remove those items from my order.

After checking out, I headed over the service counter. I was told that they couldn't accept them because it was too easy for people to alter the bar code and to have it scan as a higher value coupon. Besides, they couldn't confirm that they were legitimate to begin with. I'm no genius and I am sure that there are people out there that can somehow do it, but it seems to me that altering a bar code to make it scan as a higher value coupon takes more than a little bit of technical know how. I asked to speak to the manager.

The manager came over and basically repeated the same thing. I pointed out to him that the coupons each had a unique code and a website to which you could go to verify that it is a valid coupon and the value. I also pointed out that many companies are starting to use the web for a lot of their coupons. In fact, if you look at the side of the coupon fliers on Sunday, Red Plum and Smart Source both direct you to their websites for even more offers. He told me that it was not a store decision but was a corporate decision. I asked for a contact at corporate to which I could express my concerns.

I called the contact they gave me and reached a person in their marketing department. I explained to him about the unique codes and that most of the coupons are now printed through software that not only limits the number of copies that you print, but also no longer allows you access to a pdf, which should help to protect against fraud in the form of altering the bar code. I explained that not only do Smart Source and Red Plum advertise their on-line coupon tools, but many manufacturers also offer on-line coupons direct from their websites. I told him that if they weren't able to accept the coupons, like all of their competitors, including grocery stores, drug stores and Walmart, that I would likely have to shop at those other stores most of the time.

He complimented me on being a well informed consumer and told me that at this time, they couldn't accept them but that at some point in the future they might reconsider it. I told him that I took saving money seriously and hated to shop at other stores, when the local stores are right there. He explained that I could sign up for their on-line ad, where I would occasionally get special deals and coupons that they would accept. I did sign up and don't remember ever seeing any of these coupons.

Flash forward 3 or 4 months...

Yeah! Imagine my surprise yesterday when I stopped by Acme, for the first time in months, to pick up a couple of items that we needed and an item from the ad. As I was standing at the check out, I noticed that they have a new coupon policy. They now take Internet Coupons! I was so happy to see this.

Here is their official Internet Coupon Policy:

I just wish they had put something in their ad or in their subscriber e-mails about this. I have been price matching deals at Walmart instead of going to Acme. I always prefer, when possible to shop at the local stores over Walmart, but if I have coupons, from the Internet or elsewhere, I want to be able to use them.

I stopped by the front desk and thanked them for changing their policy as now it allows me to shop at Acme on a regular basis again.