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As the largest grocery chain in the country, Kroger has often been one of the most maddening for couponers. Different divisions, and even different stores, always seemed to have different – and unpublished – coupon policies. And sometimes those policies would change, and customers wouldn’t find out until they got to the register.

Frustrating!

But now, Kroger is finally taking steps to standardize its coupon policy across all divisions. The supermarket has published an actual coupon policy on its website, applicable to all Kroger stores.

(UPDATE: Oddly enough, it turns out the policy has been posted there for several months now, but most people weren’t aware of it until this week. Kroger has never publicized it, nor does it have a direct link to the otherwise hidden policy on its website. Go figure.)

The standardized policy states that shoppers may use a maximum of five paper manufacturer coupons, of any kind, for like products. On printable coupons, the policy hedges a bit – “in some instances,” it says, “internet coupons may be limited to two coupons per customer in a single day.” Presumably that means internet coupons for like products, and not a grand total of two internet coupons of any kind.

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The policy also includes the potentially worrisome point, that printable coupons will not be accepted if they don’t scan properly – which makes sense in theory, but not if you’ve ever had a perfectly legitimate coupon that simply refused to scan.

A bright spot in the new policy is that Kroger officially will accept printable coupons for free items, which many stores do not. The rest of the policy is pretty standard stuff – limit one manufacturer coupon per item, paper and digital coupons cannot be combined, expired coupons will not be accepted, plus the catchall statement that gives local stores some wiggle room: “Store Management has the right to accept, decline or limit the use of ANY coupon(s). Store Management has the right to limit the quantity of coupons and/or items purchased in a single transaction, by a single Customer, or in a single day.”

Curiously, the policy states declaratively that “all coupons will be accepted at face value.” That’s true of most – though not all – Kroger stores. Since Kroger’s Michigan division phased out double coupons effective this past Wednesday, every Kroger division except the Nashville/Central Tennessee division has discontinued double coupons. Does that mean the new policy supersedes Central Tennessee’s own double coupon policy? It appears not, at least not so far. “We do still double manufacturers coupons up to 50 cents in the Nashville area,” Kroger spokesperson Melissa Eads reassures, though that doesn’t necessarily mean that the local policy won’t change in the future, or that the corporate coupon policy isn’t meant to signal that change is coming.

The move toward a single, consistent coupon policy runs counter to what Kroger’s soon-to-be largest competitor has been doing. Albertsons, which soon will own Safeway as well, makes a point of not having a standard coupon policy. “We don’t have a blanket policy that fits every store and every market area, because your store, just like your community, is unique,” the store states.

That can be quite frustrating for Albertsons shoppers who never really know what to expect from store to store. And the lack of a corporate coupon policy has been plenty frustrating for Kroger shoppers as well. So Kroger’s move toward standardizing its policies comes as welcome news to most.

There are plenty of scenarios that the new policy does not address, including whether coupon overage is allowed, and whether you can use coupons on both items in a “buy one get one free” sale. But for a major supermarket chain that hasn’t had a corporate policy at all, for so long – it’s a start.

Image source: Flickr/Nicholas Eckhart

One Comment

  1. Pingback: Kroger Coupon Policy - Ch-Ch-Changes Coming!

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