Sunday, February 20, 2011

Rainchecks, feel it on my fingertips...

Before I get into the drugstore matchups today, I figured I would go into a little more detail about rainchecks - when to get them, how to use them, fine print, etc. You know last week's 2 toothpaste moneymakers at CVS and Rite Aid? Yep, well, so did everyone else, because the shelves were stripped bare at CVS. Rite Aid was also out of the free/moneymaker Dove deodorant. But not to worry!

A raincheck is just a note that the store gives you when they are out of a product that is on sale. The note entitles you to get that product later, whenever it comes in, at the promotional price. Since it was the store's fault they were out of stock, they owe you the opportunity to still take advantage of the sale.

Where it gets a little trickier is when you start throwing store rewards, like Extra Bucks, Register Rewards, and +Up Rewards, and/or manufacturer coupons into the mix. Each store deals with rewards and rainchecks slightly differently.

CVS: I'll start with them, since they are the easiest and also the most generous. When you want a raincheck for a product that is advertised as earning Extra Bucks, CVS writes out the raincheck to include both the sale price, and the ECB code. When you go to buy the product later with your raincheck, they can manually change the price, and prompt the ECB to print, just as it would have during the actual sale. This means that you can treat scenarios on a raincheck exactly as you would have normally, including coupons, and that if it's a moneymaker deal you will still get it. That's not always the case, as you'll see below, and it's yet another reason why CVS is far and away the most coupon-friendly store out there.

Rite Aid: Now it starts to get complicated. When you want a raincheck for a product that earns +Up Rewards, Rite Aid will give you a raincheck that includes both the sale price, and the reward. But when you go to buy the product, they will change the item price to reflect the net of the sale and the +Ups, rather than having the +Ups print separately. So, take for example the Dove deodorant last week: My raincheck states "2 Dove deodorant at 2/$4 with $2 +UP Reward." When I buy them, they will change the price to $1 each to reflect the sale and the reward. ($4-$2=$2, or $1/ea) Which is nice in that it often means less out of pocket, but can be a PITA if you planned on using coupons to make it a moneymaker. If, for instance, I had 2 of the $2/1 Dove coupons, I would not be able to use them anymore, because they would now be for more than I was charged for the item. I know it's confusing - here's the comparison:
Original sale
 $4.00  Buy 2 Dove deodorant
-$4.00  Use 2 $2/1 coupons
 $0.00  Out of pocket
-$2.00  +Up Reward
 $2.00 moneymaker
With Raincheck:
 $2.00  Buy 2 Dove deodorant, price changed to reflect net of sale and +Up
 $2.00  Out of pocket & Net price for 2
This is really only an issue on moneymakers, where the value of your manufacturer coupons is greater than the net price of the item. Still, since those are the best deals and hence the ones that tend to sell out the fastest, it will affect a disproportionate number of your rainchecks. Now, you can usually get a sympathetic manager to at least adjust the price of your coupon so you can get the item for free, but there's no guarantee. So plan ahead to get there early on really good deals, and be prepared to make your case to a cashier or manager.

Walgreens: Aaaand then there's Walgreens. I guess you can give them credit for simplicity, at least - Walgreens doesn't give rainchecks for Register Rewards. I hear they used to do price changes similar to Rite Aid, but as far as I know they won't even do that anymore. You can still get rainchecks for sale prices.

In each case, a lot of raincheck policy is set by the individual store, rather than by corporate, so make sure you ask:
  • Does this raincheck expire? (Usually within 30-60 days, although some stores might issue them indefinitely)
  • Can I use it at any store, or only at this location? (You should be able to use at any location, but some store managers are funny like that)
  • Double check that the information is correct and legible! You don't want a sloppy $ to turn $4.99 into $14.99. You don't want the raincheck to be rejected because the cashier forgot to enter a date or a size. Make sure if it's at CVS or Rite Aid that they included any rewards in addition to the sale price.
Once you have the raincheck in hand, clip it to the coupons you plan on using it with and then remember to use it next time you're in the store! Keep an eye on your coupon expiration date, too.You might not have a lot of time if the coupon expires soon.

One last thing - while to my knowledge there are no rules against getting a raincheck on Week 1, finding a coupon in an insert in Week 2, and then using them together on Week 3, I shy away from doing it. The purpose of the raincheck is to allow you to get a sale price that you missed out on because of the store's fault. I don't feel that it's ethically OK to use it to get a deal you would not have been able to get under the original terms of the sale. Other people may disagree, but to me it's just not the Not-Crazy Couponing Way.

No comments:

Post a Comment