Couponing 101: Complete Beginners Guide – Part 3


Ask for rain checks!

Sometimes you have prepared yourself, gone to the store, and they are out of what you want.
Rainchecks are the solution: they give you the sale price on the item when it is back on the shelf, even when the sale is over.
You may have anywhere from 2 weeks to a year to get that price, depending on the expiration date of the raincheck.
(Some stores’ rainchecks never expire!)
By that time, you may have newer and better coupons!

Understanding Rain Checks

Do you wait for your local sales announcements, and rush to the store to cash in on the too-good-to-be-true pricing?
If so, you have probably experienced the “empty shelf” syndrome.
Hot sales prices on one or two advertised items can drive customers in quickly, depleting the stock on hand.
Late comers must choose between purchasing alternate higher priced items or checking back regularly in hopes of finding the item restocked.

A third choice is available, providing a blessing in disguise for smart shoppers. This choice is the “rain check”.

In 1971, the Federal Trade Commission issued the Retail Food Store Advertising and Marketing Practices rule; also know as the “Unavailability Rule”.
Amended in 1989, the Unavailability Rule protects consumers against grocery stores that advertise bargains to attract customers but fail to have adequate stock available.
Unless an advertised sale states clearly and adequately that “quantities are limited” or “not available at all locations”, the store must offer customers a comparable offer, either:

A “rain check” that allows customers to buy the item later at the advertised price
A substitute item of comparable value to the sale item
Some kind of compensation that is at least equal in value to the advertised item
Most stores offer customers a “rain check”.
These paper vouchers are a valuable “I.O.U.” guaranteeing consumers receive the same sale price at a later date of the customer’s choosing.
Consumers are not required to check back during the advertised sales period.
Rain check vouchers are available immediately at any time during an advertised sale, whether or not the store receives, or plans to receive, an additional supply.
And to ensure the product is available in the future, rain checks are typically valid for up to one year from date of issuance.

This provides some key advantages to obtaining rock bottoms prices:

Rain checks are sales, not coupons, and can be combined with other manufacturer offers.
New coupons or additional special offers and rebates may be issued during the rain check period, providing an even lower overall cost.

Rain checks
are not required to be redeemed.
They can be used during another promotion on the same item; if the “current sale” price is higher, use the rain check to receive the lower sale price.
If the “current sale” prices are lower, save the rain check and purchase at the current sale price.
Or, if the store is out of stock once again, pick up another rain check for the better price.

If storage, refrigerator, or freezer space is an issue, “capture the savings” on the rain check, and wait until space is available before purchasing the items.

If items are not needed immediately, or a stockpile has already been purchased, save the rain check until it’s needed.
Purchasing items later generally provides fresher product with a later expiration date.

If you know income or finances will be limited in an upcoming month, stockpile rain check sale prices along with your coupons to stretch your grocery dollars during that period.

There are several techniques to augment the value of rain checks.
Some consumers check back to see if the items have been restocked during the sale, and receive an additional rain check with every inquiry.
They may also check with different store locations within the same grocery chain: rain checks can be received at each store where the product is unavailable.
Also, if a store is out of only one specific product or flavor, e.g., the store is out of Kraft Fat Free Ranch salad dressing, but other flavors are in stock, a rain check can be received for the Kraft salad dressing sale price.

So, next time you find the perfect sale, you might not need to rush out to the store.
Just remember to walk up to the customer service desk and get a rain check.

I do my shopping for stuff I already have coupons for early in the sale.
Our sales here end on Saturday night at the grocery stores or Saturday night for the other stores (drug stores).

I always hit the grocery stores one last time on Friday night for rainchecks.
You can get rainchecks for items out of stock.
That’s what they are there for.
So if “Hot Pockets” are on sale and they are out of just one flavor I get a raincheck.

Often times you can tell them that you need a raincheck for the item you want and they don’t really care or check to see if its out of stock.
So theoretically they don’t have to be out of stock of something in order to get a raincheck, but that is dishonest, to each his own.
I personally play the you’re out of “Diet Coke” can I get a raincheck on the Coke products on sale for .80 cents please. Does that make sense?

With raincheck now in my hand I now have TIME to collect coupons!
You can trade for them or buy them!
None of the rainchecks here have expiration dates on them but some stores may..I don’t know.
I have rain checks issued to me from a year ago. I get rainchecks on stuff that doesn’t have coupons, too.
Meat especially. When boneless skinless chicken breasts go on sale for $1.49LB
I buy a bunch (40lbs or more) and freeze it… then I get a raincheck too in case it doesn’t go on a good sale by the time I run out of chicken.

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