Saturday, January 23, 2010

So...what's the big deal?

Several people have commented that they don't have a problem with the changes and they really don't see what the big deal is. Let me see if I can explain why I am so upset by the limits.

1. This new policy really affects two groups of people.

First are the people who are limited in their shopping trips that may live in rural areas, or only have one vehicle in their family, or have a large family and can't drag them all to the store 5 times a week. These people are limited in the trips they can make to the store and can't go running all over the place to do their shopping.

Second are people who stockpile and extreme coupon. This group of people buy large quantities of items when they are on sale so they don't have to buy items at full price when they need it.

Let's look at these two groups. Ironically, these are the groups that Publix has been targeting recently with all their new marketing (seen those billboards that say "" ? Yeah.) What Publix is really known for is their high prices. They have recently spent a lot of marketing money trying to target people trying to save money- and these people are exactly the groups they will run right back out the door by limiting deals. These are the people who are bulk buying and using a lot of coupons buying sale items. These are the people who were previously shopping at Super-Wal-Mart and Aldi's, Sam's and Costco trying to save money.

From a business standpoint, Publix is shooting themselves in the foot.

2. Publix stores do not have a loyalty card. This means they don't have the ability to enforce the limits like a Harris Teeter does. A shopper could easily go to four different stores to buy all the limits at each store to get the bulk that they want...if they have the time and inclination to go to four other stores. This also means that if the whole point of this is to try to prevent shelf clearing (which I'm not totally convinced IS the point, but I'll know more when I speak to the DM), it won't work. Let me show you a scenario.

Kraft dressing is bogo. Sue and Janet both want to buy 20 bottles of dressing, but their store will only let them buy 12 each. Both of these ladies live near Store A and Store B. Sue normally shops at Store A and Janet normally shops at Store B.
Prior to the new limits, Sue would have bought her 20 bottles at Store A along with the rest of her items, likewise, Janet would have bought her 20 bottles at Store B, leaving each store out 20 bottles.
But they can't do that now, and they both really want 20 bottles of dressing. So instead of each of them buying their 20 bottles at one store each, now Sue goes to Store A, buys 10 bottles, then heads over to Store B to buy the other ten.
Janet, when she goes out, goes to Store B, buys her ten bottles, then makes the trip to Store A to get the other ten.
Guess what the outcome is? Yes, the same as before, both stores are out 20 bottles.
Only now, both Sue and Janet are a little frustrated because they had to take an extra hour out of their day to get the items they wanted and should have been able to buy in one stop.

The stores are still in the same situation and all they have done is frustrated their customers.

So it simply doesn't make sense. Because eventually, the customers are going to tire of the shenanigans and just run to Super Wal-Mart, or one of the myriad other stores that have lower prices.

3. Sure, the store has the right to make these changes and I have the right to shop elsewhere. My intention in posting the contact info, and saying that if these new policies upset you to contact them, is that the only way changes get made is by retailers/businesses hearing from consumers. If we just take it and go on then nothing will change. In telling them that their new policies could cause me to shop elsewhere, I am informing the store that they are perhaps not making as good of a decision as they thought, especially if dozens of people call to complain.

4. The customer can still get "around" the limits by going to multiple stores, but for people like me, who drive two hours to shop at Publix, I don't have the luxury of being able to shop at multiple stores or on multiple days. I shop one day at one store. So this limit really hurts me. Once it stops being worth the gas money I spend to get there I will no longer shop there. I am not the only one.

5. If I want to get more than the limit of an item, I have to explain why to a manager and see if it's ok. I shouldn't have to defend my need to purchase an item to my local grocery store. It's invasive. I should be able to walk into the store, buy what I need and go on with my day.

**I will be approving comments from Nashville-local shoppers for this post as it doesn't apply to other areas. Thanks.


  1. More power 2 ya! The first time they limit me I'm calling and Emailing some one!

  2. Thanks for posting all this great info. I'm really glad there is SOMEWHERE to get opposed to just being surprised at the cash register one day and being told the rules have suddenly been changed.

    It doesn't seem fair to change the rules and not have them posted….or something…I don't know what. I wish they would post an official policy on their website. Then again, this is just regional….so I also wonder there is not a company wide policy that is available. Do you know why they choose not to?

    I agree that these new policies really aren't great for business and I personally can't understand why any store would want to limit deals as I would think, from a common sense perspective, that the more they sell the better. I guess maybe I don't understand about stock and how it works...but I often wonder why they just don't order more if it is a hot item.

    I am wondering, if the average shopper is even aware of the benefits of couponing at Publix as opposed to other stores...I know they say they accept competitors on a sign, but I bet most people don't really think much of it or what it means. I know none of my friends were aware until I explained it. I think this new policy really hurts the couponers more than anyone because a lot of people aren't aware of extreme couponing. So, to me...that's kind of the problem. Maybe they won't get enough complaints from many people about it, because the average person didn't even know there was so many of these great deals out there in the first place and they weren't taking advantage of them anyway.

    Interestingly enough, at the first Mt. Juliet store, they were already kinda, sorta, going by these types of policies for awhile now. I wouldn't say very strictly, but I know one of the customer service guys, who kinda took the reins around there, told me that any BOGOS that said "quantity limits reserved" (or whatever the wording is) on the item meant a limit of 4. Personally, I wondered if that was the case, why they didn't just put that on the sign...they never seemed to really enforce it too seriously, but I usually kept it to getting about 6 of each, just in case. And I always was afraid to use more than one or two advantage buy coupons for the fact that they changed the wording to "one coupon deal per customer" on some or most of them. Nobody ever said anything if I used more than one, but I just didn't want any confrontation with the cashier. (So, I guess at least I know now that I can use 6 of these). They also never allowed any drugstore or Target coupons as competitors. Grocery store only.
    It seems like some of the Nashville stores...particularly MF are/were much more coupon friendly than the ones in Hermitage and Mt. Juliet. I didn't really realize just how much better it was.

    It's really disappointing that things are going to be more difficult now. I'm sure they've given all the stores a big talking too and so as a couponer, especially if you happen to have a cashier who you are not familiar with…as tends to happen when you have a new store like I am at….you will be scrutinized more and the whole experience with be much less of a "pleasure".

  3. I'm already frustrated just because I don't know what is going to happen. I'm not sure what coupons will be honored. I'm not sure what the attitude of the cashiers/management will be based upon the changes. What is even more stressful is I know some stores are still going to enforce their on limitations. I'm sure some will not allow the six deals because they already limit coupon usage that others, like MF don't.

    Maybe my opinion would be different if I had the luxury of stopping by the store on my way home from work and not having to shop with children. It is winter and you can't just jump out and run in to several different stores with children, coats, car seats, etc... I really like the store I shop at now, but the last two times I've gone in I have been confronted with changes AFTER shopping for over two hours. The first night my husband was tired and told me to just leave it all. I really needed a few items and I had to step to the side; figure out what coupons were no longer taken; adjust my purchases and then get back in line to deal with a cashier who has seen me several times read EVERY SINGLE COUPON. Then I had to put up with the "conversation" with my husband for not leaving everything. My patience grows old after a while.

    I guess I'll head back to Kroger, Harris Teeter and CVS whom I had all dropped to shop at Publix. At least I know what to expect from them.

  4. I just want to encourage everyone to send an email to corporate commenting on your concern/frustrations, etc with anything in the new policy that you have. They need to hear the voice of the consumer to know how we feel.

  5. Earthy Mama,
    Thank you for helping us all address this head on. Remind me please I could have sworn you said somewhere they (publix) is limiting the coupons or am I wrong, so much being said hard to keep track.
    I do have a friend who said her cashier said only five like coupons. That defeats the 6 bogo deal I mean if you can only use 5 like coupons THAT IS CRAZY ....she has a 3 generation family living under one roof , which is not condusive to the new limits of the new coupon policy.
    Hopefully Publix can find a balance to letting us buy what we need in one transaction.

  6. Christa- yu're welcome. :) I haven't heard of any stores limiting coupons, only deals. (so that means a limit of 6 Publix Advantage Buy coupons for a "deal") but I've not heard of any store limiting manufacturer coupons! That is CRAZY!!! I would have her ask to speak with the store manager first to make sure that is correct. With all the new policies, some of the cashiers are bound to get confused. If the Store Manager confirms, then I'd tell her to go up the chain and send an email to corporate asking to speak to the District Manager about that, becasue that is discriminating against couponers. If they would sell you ten items, but only if you're paying cash? That's discrimination. Coupons are money. Just like cash. Better, in fact, since they will make an extra $.08 per coupon. So instead of you handing them a $1 bill, you're essentially handing them a bill for $1.08, but only giving the customer $1. They MAKE MORE OFF us.

    One of my local Kroger stores suddenly informed me they would only take three like coupons. I am waiting on a call back from the DM about that one.

  7. Thanks for sharing this post, Brandy. I will be emailing/calling Publix on this one, too.

    One of the main reasons I avoid Harris Teeter is this very issue - they limit your purchase (how many of 1 item/coupons/etc.) I have been doing the bulk of my shopping at Publix for over a year now. However, if these changes get to be too restrictive, there is a Kroger, CVS, Walgreens & Harris Teeter within a 5 mile drive of my house. Competition is out there! I will go wherever I can save the most money for my family.

    One the flip side of this discussion, I would like to add that there is a difference between stockpiling & hoarding. I would hate to think that Publix would feel the need to enforce these limits on us because we don't have the ability to restrain ourselves. As couponers, we have ethics that we should be abiding by. I would encourage everyone to think on their purchases. As we've learned, it only takes a few bad apples to spoil the bunch.

  8. Jennifer you're right I avoid HT too, as well as my local Kroger now that they have decided to limit three like coupons per PERSON. ugh.

    And, you bring up an interesting point- stockpiling vs/ hoarding. Hoarding is a serious, definable medical condition. I don't think most people who extreme coupon are "hoarders". Although I am sure there are a few out there. . . I know, I for one, have ended up with a nice little stash of Sundown, Phazyme and such. A lot of this has been and will be given to family and friends and the rest I will be donating to several organizations.

    In addition, at a highly couponed store, like MF, three people can come in, taking four mm's each and the shelves are cleared of them since their stock quantites are set fairly low. That's why I have taken to ordering ahead of time if I know there's something I want a lot of. I haven't purchased mm's off the shelf in quite a while, unless it's something I stumble across, and I try not to take more than half of what's on the shelf- if there's 6 of it, I will take two, if there's 8, I take four, so forth. Everyone has their threshold of what's appropriate and that's mine. It's not right for the next person perhaps, but I feel like I'm leaving some for someone else and also buying things I need.

    I do not know WHAT the reason for the new limits is, no one seems to really know. I am hoping that when the DM calls me I can get a better understanding of exactly what they're thinking.