A Dilly of a Pickle: The Coupon Dilemma

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As a “couponer”, I have had my fair share of experiences where a cashier refused to accept perfectly good coupons, hassling over the deals gotten with these coupons, and just downright nastiness…  I believe it is just par for the course in the world of coupons and couponers, and I have learned to accept this, and have taken proper measures to ensure that I can politely argue my case, when the situation arises.  

However, the other night, I found myself on a completely different end of couponing, and found the experience equally uncomfortable.  Hubs, tot, and I decided to indulge in one of our favorite places* for dinner, with coupons and a $5 giftcard in hand.  As I ordered, I asked if using more than one coupon (each good for a free large soda) was allowable.  (This place has always accepted multiple coupons in one order, but I find it’s always polite to ask.)  The gal said that it was permissible.  She saw that I had additional coupons for additional various items.  She indicated that I could use those coupons to bring down my total, even if I didn’t want said items.  In other words, she would take off the price of the drink ($1.65-ish), even if I didn’t intend to order the item indicated on the coupon.

That’s when it got uncomfortable…  The cheap-cheapie in me was quickly excited at the idea of getting our meal for even LESS out of pocket…  However, morally, I just didn’t feel that this was precisely how this particular franchise intended for their coupons to be used.  So, I compromised: I used one additional drink coupon (which took off $1.65ish), and held on to the other three coupons.  Thus, I came away with two chicken sandwiches, a waffle fry, and two large sodas for less than three dollars out of pocket, after using three coupons and a $5 giftcard.

I could have come away with a completely free meal and had some left over on the giftcard, but I just didn’t feel that was right.  This restaurant, this particular location, has been exceptionally wonderful to us, as I know it has to many of its other customers.  “Beating the system” by using the additional coupons simply didn’t feel right.  To be honest, I feel slightly bad for using a third coupon the way I did, but it was a decision quickly made in the moment, and I cannot undo it.

As a mother, I strive to teach my daughter to be an honest, responsible citizen.  I firmly believe the best way to teach this is to lead by example.  Therefore, I try to always be honest and responsible in the way I shop, even if it means passing on questionable deals.  In the past, I’ve gone all the way back in to the grocery store after loading up our (reusable) grocery bags, to pay for the soda I’d forgotten to pay for while initially checking out. 

…I digress.  I found myself in an unlikely situation the other night that I did not expect to be in. Further, I don’t think this kind of situation will arise very often.  I simply hope that I can, indeed take the morally high road, if for no other reason, than to serve as a good model for my children.  :o)

Readers: have you ever found yourself in a morally sticky situation while shopping?  How did you handle it?

*I will not mention the actual restaurant, but you can probably figure it out from the story…  

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