Target registers


First on Coupons in the News:

If you coupon according to the rules at Target, you may not notice anything different the next time you shop there. But if you’re the type of couponer who likes to see what you can get away with, if your store is lenient about overage, or if your favorite cashier is liberal with the K1 override key – get ready for some big changes.

Target has updated both its point-of-sale cash register software, and its coupon policy, in an effort to ensure that coupons are accepted correctly. The coupon policy changes are subtle, but it’s the smarter software that’s behind the biggest changes. One of the biggest is that the K1 cash register key – the one that Target cashiers press to “push through” a coupon when the system won’t accept it – will no longer be an available option.

No more K1 key?? To anyone who’s ever been saved by that magical key, when all else failed and a coupon just wouldn’t go through, this sounds like a worrisome development.

But Target wants to reassure shoppers – and cashiers – that it’s all for the best.

The new and improved software is better able to match coupons to specific items. Despite all of the information contained in modern-day coupon bar codes, Target’s old software didn’t actually read all of it. That allowed some couponers to take advantage of “glitches” in the system, and use coupons incorrectly on other items made by the same manufacturer. If there was a high-value coupon for, say, a 12-pack of Charmin, the old software would blithely accept the coupon on any Charmin product – or even any Procter & Gamble product. So some coupon glitchers would use the coupon on the lowest-priced P&G product they could find, hoping to get the item for free or maybe even with overage that they could apply to the rest of their purchases.

Now, not only will the registers match coupons to specific products, but overage itself is a thing of the past. It’s always been Target’s official policy to deny overage, and adjust down the value of a coupon that exceeds an item’s selling price. But it’s been up to the cashier to spot it, and make the adjustment. And that ever-present K1 key meant that some cashiers didn’t adjust down coupons, and some couponers ended up getting overage anyway.


But not anymore. The new register software will be able to automatically adjust down the value of coupons if they’re greater than an item’s retail price. That change is hinted at in the new coupon policy published this morning, which has changed from “Coupon amount may (emphasis added) be reduced if it exceeds the value of the item after other discounts or coupons are applied” to “We do not give cash back nor do we apply any overages to the remaining items in the transaction if the value of a coupon is greater than the purchase value of the item.”

“No overage” policies are always somewhat controversial among couponers. When Target adjusts down your coupon, they’re still going to submit it to the manufacturer for its full face value. So why should Target get the full value of a coupon and not you? Shouldn’t the manufacturer “adjust down” the coupon when it reimburses Target?

It’s an imperfect system, but given the choice, manufacturers would rather give the extra money to Target than to you. Sad but true. Many manufacturers have their own “no overage/no cash back” policies, to discourage shoppers from clearing the shelves in order to cash in on “moneymakers”, even if it means that overage ends up in retailers’ pockets.

Another change in Target’s coupon policy is that stores will only accept “manufacturer coupons with a scannable GS1 data bar. We do not accept UPC-A coupon barcodes.” The older, shorter UPC-A bar codes have been phased out anyway, largely due to the fact that they’re easier to misuse. So Target will only accept the new bar codes, as another way to help thwart coupon fraudsters.

Finally, back to that K1 key. All of the register software changes are designed to minimize cashier intervention to the point that Target says the K1 key is simply no longer needed. The smarter software is meant to be able to match each coupon to its corresponding product. If it can’t for any reason, the cashier will no longer be allowed to just push the coupon through. The register will prompt the cashier to “attach” the coupon to a specific item in the transaction. And if there’s no match, the coupon won’t be pushed through – it will be handed back to you.

It’s not always a good thing when computers take precedence over cashiers – other retailers who’ve implemented policies that state “if it doesn’t scan, we can’t take it” have caused plenty of frustration when perfectly good coupons are rejected just because a fussy checkout scanner won’t read them properly. But Target hopes it has come up with the best possible happy medium – let the computer sort it out, and if it can’t, have the cashier explain exactly why the computer got it wrong.

Ideally, only couponers who abuse the system will be affected by the changes. Everyday couponers shouldn’t even notice. And in an age of increased coupon limits and restrictions, a change that benefits honest couponers by thwarting the fraudsters, may be the most welcome kind of coupon policy change of all.

Photo by Patrick Hoesly


  1. I am fairly new to couponing. However, I would never cheat the system like I hear a lot of people do. I just spent two and a half hours in the Target on FM 1960 in Houston and ended up leaving everything that I had put in my basket at the register. Most of the things I had in my basket were from Clarence. I was very careful to match every one of my coupons perfectly and to not even go over. At the checkout, the cashier informed me that they no longer take coupons for items on clearance. I was appalled! That was two and a half hours of my life spent in that damn store and I walked away with nothing. And they lost $200. I’m so frustrated! I will never ever ever shop at Target again.

    • Sorry to hear about your experience, but my advice would be to always read the retailer’s coupon policy before investing the time and effort. Target’s policy is clear on the use of coupons on clearance items. Also, I’m guessing no one is making any money when you can use coupons on items that are already deeply discounted. The price you’re paying doesn’t even cover the cost of producing the product.

      • Where does the Target policy state clearance items cannot have coupons?

        • There is no such no-coupons-on-clearance policy.

          And, the retailer gets the full value of the coupon — plus the handling fee of a dime or more.

          So, using a coupon on a clearance item at Target (or anywhere else) has no bearing at all on whether Target makes a profit on the sale. In fact, it’s clear that Target makes at least a dime more using the coupon and even more if Target pockets any overage.

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  3. Once again target will lose more customers. ..too much stress to use coupons anymore and no one has to shop at target.

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  5. Target had a lawsuit a couple of years ago because the overage was going to store instead of customer.

  6. yay.Great move target.I understand they will have some issues until they figure out matching qs to products,but overall i am happy.This means
    1.lesser cold stares whenever i pull out my coupons at the register.
    2.No more glittering or balanced coupon-ing whatever name you give to it,it is just a way to cheat the system.
    3.More products for everyone.
    4.As the other commenter said,i don’t care if the manufacturer gives the additional coupon amount to the store,because i am still saving than paying full price.

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  8. What sucks is people should get to use that overage. The store gets reemberst for the full value of the coupon PLUS 8 cents so why gip us so they can make more money?!?!?

  9. Any move that puts stops to coupon fraud and glitching is a good move in my book. No overages? Heck if youre getting a free product that should be enough.

  10. I don’t have a problem typing my words, the letters come out just fine (woohoo). And, I don’t have a problem with not allowing overage. If the manufactures would rather give that overage to the store, then that’s their choice. I’m good with it.

    Thanks for another well-written article.

    Cheers and boogie boogie 🙂

  11. My only objection is food items. If my coupon doesn’t work and I decide not to take the item, they throw away perishables! It’s like I’m helf morally hostage if i don’t buy it anyway. Their price checker needs to have the capacity to scan Qs. If it’s not recognized there, I can have the option not to take a perishable item to the register.
    BTW: what’s whith this site? I type a word and the letters show up 3 or 4 characgers after I type. Typos galor that way

  12. Good on Target! I used to work as a GSTL there and the B’s and excuses people would try there were pathetic and just petty. People would search out new or young cashiers to bull or harass them into givng them extra or try to make other unrelated coupons slip though. If the cashier called me over the guest would often yell and cuss at me. This was not everybody but this was the norm, the exception was people legitimately using coupons. But the scammers, the management knew who they were, very easy to spot.

  13. The upgraded system has a glitch. I purchased Tide pods (42 count) from the Spring location n Houston, used $3/1 Tide/Gain coupon. When the cashier scan the coupon, error message appeared on the register “coupon does not match product”, the manager came over, read the coupon n viewed the Tide pods, which match the merchandise, he informed the cashier to key in the $3.00 coupon manually.


  14. They need to some type of rewards/cards so they can do only one or Two transaccion because people dont care and clear all

  15. Lumos – what store? that doesn’t seem right. I hope I never have my internet print at home coupons denied by a manager 🙁

  16. Yes experienced it today on the ho pockets. No overage but 0.00 oop.

  17. A sad day for the glittering community. I’ve lurked in a few glitching Facebook groups over the last year or so. It was very clear that Target’s POS system was still stuck in UPC-A days and was really only looking at the manufacturer code when scanning coupons.

    This article was recently posted to one of those groups, although they would tell you they just do “balanced couponing.” Whatever. They’re currently dismissing the article and this website as “anti-coupon” and lacking legitimacy.

    • If your talking about the “too” groups, they do NOT allow glittering at all. Balanced couponing and glittering a very different things.

      • Glittering is fraud. Balanced couponing is fraud. Glittering is merely the current innocuous term for glitching. Glitches come in several varieties. Just because so called “balanced couponing” is brand on brand glitching, doesn’t mean it’s not glitching/glittering and fraud. You can rationalize all you want, but it’s fraud. As for being “very” different, no it’s not. Balanced couponing is just a subset of glittering.

  18. Hah more money lost… cashiers keep there selves out of a job keep talking dummies…..

  19. It is illegal for them to adjust the coupon amount!!!!! It is against the Federal Trade Commission Act!!!! The coupon clearly states that the company will get back the full face value of the coupon and some. It is illegal for a store to make money off the coupons like that. People need to contact the coupon international corp. about this cuz they have NEVER lost a lawsuit!!!

  20. Wonderful move by Target! Major kudos!!!

  21. These are good updates to the policy, I just hope that Target will find a much better way to deal with internet printable coupon fraud.

    My local Target (which is the only one I have access to) stopped taking all internet printable coupons – both manufacturer and store coupons from target.com – back in May because of this. The manager said that the only way that the only legit internet printable coupons have the shiny foils (like those on free coupons), never mind that they no coupons print with them and even then people are making fake coupons that have shiny foils. Haven’t been back to Target since and don’t see myself going back anytime soon.

    • Oops, left out a couple words in a sentence. Meant that the only way the manager would take the internet printable coupons is if they had shiny foils. Pretty sure what I meant was clear, but wanted to make it clear. 🙂

      Manager still stood by that even after admitting that they don’t print with foils and that printing something with a foil is not even a regular household printer can do, smh.

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