Jill Cataldo: Sometimes, overlapping deals cause a windfall
Dear Jill: I have a question about a promotion my supermarket had recently. Toothpaste was on sale and if you bought $8 worth of toothpaste, you saved $2 instantly. The toothpaste was on sale for $1.69 so this was already a good deal. Now, my store also had a coupon app offer for $1.50 off each tube of toothpaste!
So, this is what I did. I bought five tubes of toothpaste, which costs $8.45. I saved $2 instantly, taking it down to $6.45. Then, the register took off $1.50 for every tube. Now, I had a negative balance of $1.05! The register did not give me the rest of the money, but I ended up with five tubes of toothpaste completely free.
Now my question is this. Why would the store do this? Who exactly is giving me free toothpaste this week and why?” — Julia S.
To understand what caused your toothpaste windfall, it’s worth noting that stacked deals like these don’t happen too often. There are actually three different promotions that took place at the same time to make your deal possible. First, the toothpaste was on sale at a lower price than its regular, non-sale price. Second, the store had an instant-savings promotion when you spent a certain dollar amount. Third, the store had an electronic coupon that automatically applied to every tube.
In my experience, when three deals simultaneously overlap, it’s not necessarily intentional. Sometimes, the brand involved has so many different teams working on promotions that Team A may decide to offer a coupon, while Team B decides to offer an instant-savings bonus during the same week. It may be a case of the proverbial right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing when all of these promotions are set to take place during the same week.
Now you, the shopper, enter the picture. You see all three promotions running at the same time, and you scoop up five free tubes of toothpaste! Who paid? In this case, the manufacturer likely paid for most, if not all, of your discounts. Your electronic coupon was most likely a manufacturer coupon. Your “Buy $8, Save $2” instant saving sale may also be a promotion that the manufacturer set up with the store.
Additionally, the store’s sale price on the toothpaste may also have been a manufacturer-funded promotion. Many shoppers aren’t aware of this, but when an item is on sale at the supermarket, it’s not always the store that decides when an item is going to go on sale. In this case, if the brand of toothpaste wants to offer a lower, better price on their product, they can negotiate what’s known as a Temporary Price Reduction (TPR) with the store. For instance, if the toothpaste usually sells for $2.99, but the brand wants the toothpaste on sale for $1.69 that week, the brand may negotiate a payment to the store so that the store can offer the toothpaste at a lower price without the store itself losing money on the promotion.
You’re quite a savvy shopper to take advantage of all of these overlapping deals! While three overlapping promotions are not the norm, there’s nothing wrong with enjoying them all when the “stars” of these deals align. Here are a couple more things you can look for to maximize your savings when overlapping deals appear.
Watch for spending threshold deals: Sales like “Buy $20, Save $5” will give you additional savings when you buy a specified quantity of items. Sometimes this is an instant savings, and other times you may receive a coupon good for $5 off your next shopping trip.
Look for both store and manufacturer coupons: If your store offers their own coupons, you may find that these can be stacked with manufacturer coupons for additional savings. For example, if you’ve got a 50-cent store coupon and a $1 manufacturer coupon for the same item, you can pair them together to save $1.50 off the same, single item.
Jill Cataldo, a coupon workshop instructor, writer and mother of three, never passes up a good deal. Learn more about Super-Couponing at her website, www.jillcataldo.com. Email your own couponing victories and questions to email@example.com.