The Truth About Coupon Stacking in Canada
For those of you that didn't read our post on Extreme Couponers, coupon stacking is when you take multiple coupons for the same product with different UPCs and use them all toward the purchase of one item in a single transaction. In Canada, the general consensus among the coupon mavens is that no store except London Drugs permits coupon stacking as a purchasing tactic.
However, delve deeper into the issue and you find that no one really knows for sure. Rumors and speculation permeate the discount shopper forums, with various customers claiming that they heard coupon stacking is allowed at this store, or that they actually were able to pull it off at another store.
Go deep enough into the coupon stacking issue and you soon realize that nobody knows what the real story is. As a result, we went to some of the largest grocery and drug store chains in Canada to ask them what their coupon policy really is and find out whether they truly allow coupon stacking in their stores.
Zellers' coupon stacking policy has always been in dispute. Some coupon carriers have claimed that they've been able to stack at their local store, while others have said the practice has been refused by their cashier when they attempted it. It was subsequently speculated that coupon stacking at Zellers may be limited to a regional opportunity and dependent on where you happen to live.
Zellers spokesperson Stephanie Thornbury tried to put the confusion to rest, but inadvertently revealed that there maybe room to move if you hit the right store and the right cashier. "While there is not a specific policy prohibiting coupon stacking," she says. "Most of our promotional programs are specifically designed as stand-alone promotions for specific products or brands, and as a result, they cannot be applied in conjunction with other promotional coupons or discounts." So, you cannot use a product coupon in conjunction with an in-store promotion or sale, but there is no official rule when it comes to using multiple coupons on an item at regular price.
London Drugs is the apparent darling of the Canadian coupon community because it is widely known as the only store in Canada to publicly recognize coupon stacking as a legitimate method for obtaining discounts.
Here are the official ground rules, as listed on SmartCanucks.ca You can stack as many coupons as you want for 1 product as long as:
- Coupons are all different, or look different.
- Coupons have a different UPC. (Some coupons look the same but are from different sources, so they should have a different UPCs)
- The total value of the coupons cannot exceed the product value (ex. your product costs $2.50, but you have coupons that total $3)
- You still pay the tax on the full amount of the product (coupons values are taken off after tax has been added.
There is no limit to how many coupons you are allowed to use per transaction. However, keep in mind that if you have a lot, it can get confusing and the cashier might make a mistake.
You can still use the coupon if it says "Limit One Coupon Per Purchase". This just means you can use one of each type of coupon for each product. One purchase = One item (ie. You are purchasing 2 toothbrushes so you can use 2 coupons). Even if the coupon says, ""Cannot be combined with any offer," a sale price is NOT an offer.
Safeway's coupon policy as of January 28, 2011 states that it does not allow coupon stacking when it comes to paper manufacturer coupons, but they will accept one paper manufacturer coupon and one internet printable coupon for the same item. Hawaii is the only place this policy does not apply. If the two coupons presented are paper manufacturer coupons, only the first one will be honored. As always, if you have multiple paper coupons, but you have one like item to correspond with each of them, all the coupons will be valid for the overall transaction. Safeway also warns that it may change its coupon policy at anytime without notice or advertisement.
Loblaw Companies Limited
When it comes to coupon stacking, the Loblaw family of stores is a strange case. The Loblaw company includes the following stores across Canada: Loblaws, No Frills, Superstore, Valu-Mart, Dominion, Maxi, Provigo, Extra Foods, Zehr, Independent, Freshmart, Fortinos, Super Valu, Lucky Dollar Foods, Shop Easy Foods, Red & White Food Store, AXEP and Wholesale Club.
With so many stores across Canada, impacting thousands of customers every year, you'd think that Loblaw would want to publicize their coupon policy to make it easier on their customers. However, when asked what their stance on coupon stacking is, they responded with the following: "We have reviewed your request and are respectfully declining to participate at this time."
From research obtained through SmartCanucks.ca, this is probably because Loblaw has no national coupon policy. "We currently do not have our coupon policy listed on our websites. However, essentially, a customer may use more than one manufacturer's coupon up to, but not exceeding, the retail price of the item only if the coupon does not state a limit of one coupon per purchase," Geraldine Kearns, Sr. LCL Customer Relations Representative, Central Operations, told an inquiring customer in 2009. "Both a manufacturer and an in-store coupon may be applied to an item. However, the combined value cannot exceed the retail price. Online coupons should be accepted -- as long as the coupon indicates the retailer will be reimbursed -- the only time an online coupon is not accepted if there is communication sent regarding possible fraudulent coupons."
This policy has since been tested and it seems to only apply at Loblaw stores in Western Canada. Many Smart Canuck members who are also Loblaw cashiers have additionally confirmed that the Loblaw coupon policy varies from region to region.
For coupon stacking polices at other stores across Canada read 'The Truth About Coupon Stacking Continued' coming soon.