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Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Work Your Rainchecks for Maximum Savings

Since I've been using the Grocery Game to save money on our grocery bills, I've tried to schedule our weekly shopping for Sundays. But things don't always work out as I've planned.

This weekend was a perfect example. I was hit by a bad bug and spent most of Sunday in bed. So, no grocery shopping. I ended up doing my shopping on Tuesday night in advance of the new store sales on Wednesday.

Because of this, however, my stores were sold out of many of the sale items that I wanted to buy and combine with coupons. But I didn't let that deter me.

As they're ringing up your order, most cashiers will ask, "Did you find everything you were looking for today."

If the store was sold out of anything that was on sale, here's your chance to speak up. Unless the sale is advertised as "while supplies last," most stores will issue you a raincheck for the item. I've found this is particularly advantageous on items I stockpile, say toilet paper or paper towels or boxed macaroni and cheese.

I have a limited space in my home and garage where I can store these items. But a raincheck is like a virtual stockpile. (Just be careful to check the expiration date of your raincheck. Some are good only for a limited period of time.)

I got two rainchecks last night and spent one. And I even got a carton of orange juice for free.

How did that happen?

My store, Harris Teeter advertised its brand of orange juice on sale 2/$5. I'm a member of the store's e-VIC program, which sends me information about sales and specials through email. As an e-VIC member, I was eligible for an automatic $2 coupon on the orange juice, meaning I could get it for 50 cents a carton. But alas, the store did not have that brand in stock.

When I explained the problem to the manager, he told me I could pick another orange juice, and he ended up giving it to me for free. (I would have been happy to pay 50 cents for it, as I had intended. But he said he had no way to make the price adjustment, so he gave the OJ to me for free.)

This store manager really bent over backwards to provide me with excellent customer service. That's one reason I continue to shop at Harris Teeter, even though the prices are at times slightly higher than other stores in my area (but not when you're playing the Grocery Game.)

Don't be afraid to ask for rainchecks if your store is sold out of an advertised special. Most are happy to give you one.

Just last weekend, I went to CVS to redeem an email coupon for some free antibacterial wipes. The store was sold out of them, and the coupon was for a short time only -- three days. However, the cashier made a note on the coupon that will allow me to use it once the store has them back in stock.

As I've said before, it never hurts to ask for a good deal. You just might get it.

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