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Extreme couponing may be popular with some consumers, with several blogs and TV shows dedicated to showing how to get the most bang for your buck. But the practice can be detrimental not only to retailers but to other consumers. Publix, based in Lakeland, Fla., has revamped its coupon policies in its more than 1,000 stores located in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, the Carolinas and Tennessee. "We had a very generous coupon policy and we want customers to continue to save money and look to us to save, but also want to better serve all our customers," says Maria Brous, director of media and community relations. "We want to provide an opportunity to save money but also have products available."
She cited some of the major changes in policy as clarifying the limit of how much of one product a customer could buy using coupons. The policy now reflects a limit of eight coupons of one product per household per day. Publix also defines a household as a single family; so a child cannot redeem more coupons once a parent has reached the limit of eight.
Another change was that money back now goes on a Publix gift card rather than as cash back to the customer. So, for example, if a customer has a coupon for $1.50 off an item and Publix has the item on sale for $1.25, the 25 cents owed to the customer will be placed on a gift card to be redeemed on a future purchase.
Brous also notes that stores will now only honor coupons that refer to product size.
Some other new policy guidelines include no mobile coupons, only originals – no copies of coupons – and customers can redeem only one manufacturer’s coupon and one store or competitor’s coupon per item for a maximum of two coupons accepted per one item. A manufacturer’s digital coupon also cannot be combined with a manufacturer’s paper coupon. Only managers can approve use of a coupon whose value is greater than $5.
The policy took effect on Oct. 1 and updates the chain’s last revision of its coupon policy, which occurred in May 2011. Publix will continue to provide consumers with its popular buy-one-get-one-free weekly promotions and still accepts manufacturers’ coupons, internet coupons and local competitors’ coupons for the same items sold in its stores.
The new policy came about from customer feedback as well as input from store management. "We want to ensure customers can save money, but we also want to be in business and be able to serve all customers," Brous adds. "It was more an issue of seeking clarity.