Rachael Ray Nutrish dog food coupon

Maybe if the way companies name and categorize their products wasn’t so confusing, their coupons wouldn’t be quite so confounding either. The latest company to issue a coupon that’s generating excitement, befuddlement, controversy and even outright greed among some couponers is the maker of Rachael Ray Nutrish dog food. Some couponers are cashing in big time, as the company tries to clarify how the coupon “should have” read.

The coupon in question appeared in one of the two SmartSource coupon inserts last Sunday, September 8th. “Save $2.50 off Rachael Ray Super Premium Food for Dogs, any size or variety,” it read. Nothing unusual about that, at first glance.

But then some coupon bloggers noticed that Walmart sells single-serve tubs of Rachael Ray Nutrish wet dog food for $1.88 each. Do the math, and you’ll see why some shoppers had dollar signs in their eyes. Walmart allows overage, so using a $2.50 “any size or variety” Nutrish coupon on a $1.88 item, equals 62 cents cash back on every one you buy with a coupon. Multiply that by lots and lots of coupons, and you could end up with a houseful of dog food and a fistful of dollars to go with it.

But as the old adage goes, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

It turns out that not all Rachael Ray Nutrish dog food is considered “Super Premium.” Only the (more expensive) bags of dry dog food carry that distinction. There are also “Zero Grain” and “just 6″ varieties, and the wet dog food is called “Naturally Delish Wet Food For Dogs.”

Not “Super Premium”.

Adding to the confusion, a bag of “just 6″ is among the products pictured on the coupon, even though it’s not listed as a “Super Premium” product on the company’s website. And at least one promotional picture for Nutrish features the full range of products under the heading “Super Premium Food for Dogs” – even though not all of the products pictured are “Super Premium”.

So if you manage to memorize the subtitles on the company’s entire product line, disregard its contradictory promotional material, or read the minds of the people who created the coupon, you’d know that the $2.50 coupon was meant to be used on bags of dry dog food, and not on the $1.88 wet dog food.

The company is now trying to clear things up. “This particular coupon is designed to only offer savings on our line of Dry Foods for Dogs,” spokesperson Kelly Mahoney of parent company Ainsworth Pet Nutrition told Coupons in the News. “The computer is not able to scan this coupon UPC code in conjunction with one of our Wet Foods. What’s happening is that some consumers challenge the cashier, who then manually overrides the transaction, and gives the consumer a $0.62 cash rebate in error.”

That runs counter to what many couponers are saying – including some who innocently, mistakenly, used the coupon without “challenging” anyone at all. “The coupon is scanning at Walmart,” wrote one commenter on the company’s Facebook page. “It is also scanning at Dillons, Price Cutters… would someone from your company like to come to my town and I will take and show you it is scanning everywhere?”

Either way, the clarification came too late for some who had already cashed in. And it’s apparently not dissuading some others from going ahead and using the coupon anyway, as long as it “works”. Coupon message boards are filled with shoppers who are desperately seeking as many of the coupons as they can get. The coupons are all over eBay, presumably offered by sellers who are strictly adhering to eBay’s new coupon policy (right?) And at least one coupon blogger is even boasting about walking into Walmart with 100 of the coupons, arguing with a cashier who was wary about accepting them, and eventually getting the manager to overrule the cashier and happily take the coupons.

Won’t he be surprised if the company refuses to reimburse his store for them?

At a time when coupons are getting more and more wordy, this is yet another case of a coupon that’s not quite wordy enough. Back in January, South Beach offered a coupon for “$3 off South Beach Diet products”, and listed all the products it could be used for – but not the one product it could not be used for. By then, many had already used the coupon on the cheapest box of cereal bars they could find, only to discover that the company intended for it not to be used on cereal bars at all.

And a couple of months ago, there was a “$5 off of 2 Clairol products” coupon that some couponers used on inexpensive Herbal Essences products, because Herbal Essences is a “Clairol product.” In response to questions about the coupons, a post on Clairol’s Facebook page first advised confused shoppers to go ahead and “give it a try” on Herbal Essences products. Then, manufacturer Procter & Gamble stepped in to say it was their “intent” that the coupon be used on Clairol hair color products. “We understand that the wording of the coupon does not clarify hair color,” it went on, “and want to reassure you that we fully take responsibility and will honor the redemptions that have come through.”

Mahoney of Ainsworth Pet Nutrition said, rest assured, her company will also honor the $2.50 coupons no matter how they’re submitted. “At this time, we aren’t planning to send out any guidance to retailers, or withhold redemption to those who manually overrode the transaction and accepted the coupon in error,” she said.

So in short, will the coupon “work” on the inexpensive tubs of wet dog food? Yes. Does the company want people to use it that way? No. Will the company fully reimburse stores that accept the coupon on the tubs anyway, and give you cash back? Yes. So does that mean you should go ahead and use the coupon on the tubs, and cash in on the company’s carelessly-worded coupon? That’s up to you to consider your coupon ethics, and decide.

Here’s an idea – at a time when coupons contain more and more well-intentioned but largely unenforceable fine print like “void if shared or traded” and wording designed to discourage overage, companies may do well to use some of that precious real estate to actually spell out, in plain English, precisely what products their coupons are meant to be used on. The average shopper may not know what “Rachael Ray Super Premium Food for Dogs” is, but they’d certainly know what “$2.50 off a BAG of Rachael Ray DRY dog food” means.

And it appears the company, in this case, is heeding that advice. “To avoid any future confusion among bloggers and consumers, we will add to the coupon descriptor, ‘Dry Foods for Dogs, 4lb. size or larger’ for complete clarity,” Mahoney told Coupons in the News.

Coupons with “complete clarity” – a wise move. Otherwise, companies risk paying the price. In this case, a steep one – paid out 62 cents at a time.


13 Comments

  1. This wasn’t a loophole – The wording, and pictures on this coupon lead everyone to believe they were intended for the whole product line. I had no idea about this – I actually used 45 of these coupons without knowing there might be a question as to if Walmart would get reimbursed. This was unbelievably stupid of the manufacturer.

  2. when this coupon first came out i used the coupon for the wet dog food and i never had to get a supervisor to over ride the transaction the cashier read it and scanned it and it went through fine I didnt justify anything or say two words to anybody she took the coupons and went on her business! They’re even more strict about their coupons now at walmart and have a scanner specifically for coupons to tell them if the coupon is valid for that product or not and when they scanned it the coupon was approved! I understand now that it wasnt intended for that wet dog food product but whenever they all have premium dog food on it and you have to really read the ingredients to find out which is more premium no ones going to do it. and even though there was a picture in the coupon of dry dog food that doesnt always mean its just for that product! if that was the case coupons would be and entire 8×10 piece of paper! it is the companys fault for not wording it correctly! just like the clairol coupon that came out a couple months ago, it said on any clairol product, well herbal essence is a clairol product and even tho it had a picture of the box of hair dye on it which it was intended for they said ANY clairol product, they clearly have more than hair dye for their products which is why everybody was using them on herbal essence shampoo and conditioner making them free! we emailed the company and they did say its intended for the hair dye however they will honor that coupon because it was their mistake! you cant blame the consumer for the error of the company especially when there are people out there who use coupons on a daily basis and as a hobby. At the end of the day unless they can get the stores to deny the coupon (which they probably will eventually) its not gonna stop people will do it and the stores and company will have to work it out somehow because you can’t blame the store for the error either they can’t know every single coupon that comes out and what they company means by it whenever they dont specifically say it on the coupon.

  3. When a company posts a picture with the wet dog food, and the wording above that exact same dog food is the SAME wording as what is on the coupon, they need to be MUCH more specific, if they only want it redeemed by one line of that group of products.

    this may be an expensive lesson for the company, but hopefully they will learn from it and be more careful in the future!

  4. I read one women bragging about using over 700 coupons and getting 480.00+ in cash back as a bonus and the store had preordered it for her.

  5. Thank you for finally clarifying this. I was the first to post on their FB page and they continued to give me no direct answer except to say the coupon was not intended for the tubs.

  6. Pingback: Rachel Ray Trip I'm Planning - Page 2 - WeUseCoupons.com

  7. why be greedy says:

    All the people who are using this are just greedy fools. It happens all the time someone finds a loop hole in a coupons wording and its off to the races! You wont find the product because to many people are trying to pocket money! And the worst thing is they all know they are pushing the limits and say whatever they can to justify it!

  8. Rachel Roberts says:

    I used mine at Publix and so did many others and the coupons scanned never had to override anything.

  9. Apparently you didn’t read my entire article at Examiner.com. We never asked the manager to overrule anything. The coupons scanned just fine. That wasn’t the problem.

    The problem was Walmart’s front-end manager either didn’t want to give us the overage or he didn’t understand his own company’s coupon policy which states the customer will receive any overage in cash or as credit toward the rest of his purchases.

    He tried to tell us the coupon said “One coupon per TRANSACTION” when it clearly said “…per purchase.”

    We used 18 coupons on 18 tubs of dog – one coupon per purchase – and, as my article clearly states, we did it merely to test the Walmart coupon policy AND the ridiculously worded manufacturer’s coupon – NOT so we’d have something to brag about.

    If you’re going to get snarky, at least get your facts straight. Your lack of attention to detail makes the rest of your content suspect.

    • Attention to detail would show that Walmart’s coupon policy states “If coupon value exceeds the price of the item, the excess may be given to the customer as cash or applied toward the basket purchase.” May, not will.

      Yes, that wording is about as vague and frustrating as the wording on the coupon, but in the end there’s nothing to “test” – Walmart’s coupon policy is what it is, and the dog food company has made clear what it intended the coupon to be used for, regardless of whether it “scanned just fine.”

      • It says “may nor will” exactly it will not be given as cash back or applied to the basket only when the coupon specifies not to do so when coupon exceeds the price.

        So she was right when arguing to get credit toward her basket or the cash because that is walmart coupon policy.

        The writer should definitely dig more about walmart coupon policy before making assumptions.

    • I just had this problem Sunday night with a CSM at walmart. My daughter had picked out some Rimmel nail polish, well actually 20 of them and the CSM had to approve using that many coupons. He tried to tell me since the coupon said one per purchase that it meant 1 per transaction. I told him that meant 1 coupon per item. I even showed him another coupon that said the 1 per item and underneath said limit of 4 per day. He then argued and said well this coupon meant 1 per day. He said he would let it go this time, but next time he wouldn’t approve it. After I got done, I went to the Customer Service desk and spoke to the manager of the store and he apologized and said I was right and I didn’t do anything wrong by using 20 in a transaction since there was no limit on the coupon of how many I could use in a day or a transaction. He told me that he would make sure that he understood the coupon wording and Wal-Marts policy on there not being a limit on the number of coupons I could use in a transation unless the coupon said so. I have more problems with the Wal-Mart in my town that I have called Corporate 3 times because of how I was treated or that they wouldn’t honor a coupon or go by the coupon policy. I even went back in and got money back because they changed the price of my coupon saying they didn’t allow overages.

    • Carissa Polet says:

      Ironic you are calling this article snarky- “the ridiculously worded manufacturer’s coupon”…. talk about snarky.

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