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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Target's New POS System

I guess I should point out that in this case POS = Point Of Sale, not the other one. ('Cause that's Walmart's system. Teehee! :-)) ((I also want to apologize in advance for this massive story hour-like post.))

I posted a comment to a question asked after a post that Totally Target made a week ago about using multiple manufacturer coupons to sweeten the current Biore deal that is valid now through July 10th. (Holy crap! That's enough time to buy a lot of coupons if you're missing some of them.) ((Anyway.)) Kerry at Totally Target (which is my FAV Target blog site as I'm addicted to Target) asked if could further explain, so this post is just that.

In short, if you don't want to read this whole post, A NEW SYSTEM IS IN THE WORKS, AND IT APPEARS THAT YOU SHOULD HAND OVER/USE YOUR COUPONS FOR FREE AND OR BOGO (B1G1, B2G1, B3G1 ect) ITEMS FIRST AS TO NOT GET SCREWED BY THE COMPUTER. You should also be hyper-vigilant with your cashier as well.

As of late, I've noticed that cashiers at a few of my stores (I'm in the greater Dallas metro, and if you knew how many Targets I frequent weekly, you'd be signing me up for rehab) have to take extra steps when it comes to using a coupon for a free or bogo item.

There are two ways of walking out of a store with a free item in your bag/cart. The first, which is my favorite, is when a coupon doesn't exclude a trial/travel size or is when the product has been priced at, put on sale to, or clearanced around the amount of the coupon, or when a mrf coupon stacks with a Target coupon. It's pretty easy, it's low fuss, and if you have your target coupon policy with you, all of the cashier's questions should be easily answered without the need of calling attention to yourself by way of getting a manager involved.

The second way of getting something for free is via a "free" or "bogo' coupon, and we all know how much *fun* those can be. Target DOES ALLOW you to use a BOGO coupon - some people have problems with this, but, if the coupon is legit, put your foot down(!), pull out your copy of the Target Coupon policy, and if it comes down to it, call corporate customer service right there in the store. (Anyway.)

This process usually includes the cashier (or manager) punching in a price for the item that is to be counted as free, which means that you and I either kept track of the price while shopping, or the cashier backs out of the price input screen, finds the item on the register screen, checks the price, may or may not ask to see the item in your bags, re-scans the coupon to yet again go to the price input screen - it causes a lot of headaches, wastes a lot of time and creates the perfect opportunity for unscrupulous individuals to fleece the system, thus ruining it for everyone.

To spur people from claiming a bogus coupon amount and also to combat the recent surge of fake coupons floating around the web (did you hear that someone made a coupon for a "free" PS3 game station - easily over $300 - and that a Walmart employee took it?!? I had a hard time getting those damn $.89 sponges with the $1 off a few weeks ago.) Target has started to overhaul their Point Of Sale (POS) System and now the cashier is no longer able to "take your word for it" and punch in a price, even if they are the ones who checked it with their own two eyes. (For those concerned at this point, I haven't yet had system trouble with pushing a coupon, as in trying to use a $1 coupon for a trial sized $.97 item - that still works just fine, depending on your cashier.)

Now when a coupon is scanned for a free item (just free and bogo items, not regular $ off coupons that we use on trial or normal sized products), the transaction is immediately suspended and sent to a new screen that lists all the items in said transaction, where the cashier is to then select which item is to be discounted and literally attach the coupon to the item. (Since there isn't a picture or screen shot of this on the web and I'm a visual person, I'm going to make an example for those of you who are like me.)

Example:

Cherry Coke ........................ $1.50
Biore Pore Strips ................. $5.94
Biore Cleanser .......................$5.99
Biore Cleanser .......................$5.99
Chicken ..................................$3.12
Tissues ..................................$1.59
Tissues ..................................$3.00
Kraft Cheese Bites............... $2.99
Kraft Mac & Cheese .............$1.29

etc. etc. etc.

The new screen looks something like that, and while it lists product names and prices, if you are buying varying ounce sizes, brands, quantities, or even different products that fall into the same line (like Scrubbing Bubbles Toilet Gel and Scrubbing Bubbles Toilet Wand) things could - and very well might - get confusing for both you and the cashier. If you aren't paying attention, a coupon for a free item could be directed to a cheaper or different product than what is intended.

Getting back to the TT post - a coupon newbie asked "does it matter which coupon is scanned first" and was referring to using both a BOGO and a money off q for the item(s) that is(are) not free. With this new POS System, the answer is YES!, possibly.

(*Edit, 11:45Pm - this is a YMMV BUT most BOGO coupons do allow you to stack another MRF coupon for the item that you are not getting for free, rather, the item that you are buying. Some coupons will say "no other coupons can be used with this offer" but most don't. However, just because we're all cool and understand this doesn't mean that a cashier won't follow the drift.)

While I'm not 100% guaranteeing that this is the norm, not saying that the issue I had was simply because I was using a Target Q (and those are always picky), and I'm also not saying that there is a flaw in this new system, I AM saying that it seems that if you use the money off q first and then the bogo, there is a chance that the money off q could count towards to the item that you are trying to get for free and in the end that upsets the balance of the deal you are trying to score.

While it doesn't really matter if the BOGO items are the same price (if you buy Thing A and Thing B, both $5, and you use a bogo + a $1 off, in the end one will be $4 after a $1 off q and the other will still be free) it DOES MATTER if you have an intricate scenario involving free items of varying prices.

I personally haven't done the Biore deal above or the super awesome Scrubbing Bubbles Toilet Gel/Wand/Free Gift Card deal; however, I did trouble when purchasing a few CoverGirl items in a transaction that looked like this:

LashBlast ........... $7.49
LashBlast ...........$7.49
eyeshadow ..........$3.29
eyeshadow ..........$3.29

I used four coupons - one BOGO face product from CoverGirl which I used towards the LashBlast mascara, one $1 q for the mascara I wasn't getting for free, and two Target coupons that were for a free eyeshadow when you bought one LashBlast, found on the Lashblast product. (I used two because I was buying two.)

I intended to walk out of the store having spent just $6.49 for all four items; however, due to the way my coupons were stacked when handed over to the cashier, the money q was scanned before my bogo and free item q's were, so the $1 ended up coming off of one of the cheaper eyeshadows, causing my scenario to go up a buck. (I know, I know. It's just a dollar. But I've gone up to Customer Service before to get a quarter back when the cashier failed to give me five bag credits, so I was not about to let this one go.)

Of course we (the cashier and I) didn't know any of that at the time.

After the cashier scanned my bogo q and the first free eyeshadow coupon (and attached the items to the coupons, of course), the page looked like this:

Lashblast ....... $7.49
eyeshadow ......$2.29

(with the new system, once an item has been discounted - either free or money-off wise - the price reflects the discount OR the item is absent from the screen to serve as a visual clue to the cashier that the product has already been reduced to the point where it is free and to not discount it any further, which is why you now only see one of each of the mascara and eyeshadow.)

I instantly knew that something was wrong - yes, I'd still get the eyeshadow for free, but the remaining mascara was supposed to be a dollar cheaper, not the eyeshadow.

I thought that it'd be alright in the end, that I could still say that the remaining eyeshadow was $3.29 - which it was - and I could recoup the lone dollar after all if the cashier typed the original price in, because it would cause overage that would effect the mascara; however, with the new system THERE IS NO TYPING IN OF THE DOLLAR AMOUNT.

I caught the mistake of the last coupon before it accidentally was rung for the wrong amount, and the cashier said that there was a way around the selection-and-attach process that he could try (which wouldn't you know is the exact same type-in-a-price old-system method) but even after trying to manually type in the correct $3.29 dollar amount, the register came back with a big, red, embarrassing X ultimately saying that there was no item in the transaction for $3.29, which was technically right because the stupid register/computer took the dollar off the stupid cheaper product. (Again, had I been paying outright, it wouldn't have mattered which item received the dollar discount - the mascara or the eye shadow. But I had one lone coupon left; you'd also think that the cashier could just apply the $3.29 product price toward the more expensive mascara, but that couldn't have been done because the coupon was for a free item "not to exceed X amount", not a coupon that read "good for one free eye shadow or up to $3.29 off." )

After trying for a few unsuccessful minutes to fix it, and not wanting to pay $1 more than I knew I should, I talked my awesome cashier into deleting all four of the coupons from the transaction (which he did) and to just re-ring them up (which he did) but the second time we saved the $1 off for last and everything worked out without a hitch.

(End of my personal, long, boring story.)

Even if you aren't going to participate in some long, crazy, drawn out and very involved scenario like the CoverGirl, Biore or any other "deal" where you have to buy 50 products to come out ahead in the end, you could still very well get screwed by the Target register - by both the "new" and "old" system - simply because you're buying two products made by the same company and because computers are NOT perfect.

(Have you ever looked at your receipt and everything comes out to the right amount in the end but you look over the itemized part and think what the heck? I didn't use that coupon for that product.)

In the first example near the top of the post, I included a box of Kraft Mac & Cheese as well as a bag of Kraft's new 100 Calorie Cheese bites. Lets say that in that transaction you are planning on using a q for $1 off the cheese bites but have a q for a free box of the Mac. It's simple enough for any untrained cashier to recognize - cheese coupon with cheese, mac coupon with mac. But the computer inside the register scans the bar codes of the coupons and looks for items in the transaction that contain the same or similar numeric order in the products UPC's - once it finds a match the computer connects/links/attaches them together. However, the computer doesn't know the difference between the two products so if the codes in both the coupons and the Products UPC's simply reads "Kraft ... Cheese", the computer doesn't get that the two products are different and just selects one of the items in question to attach to the coupon with. (How the computer decides, I don't know. Either it goes with the more expensive item or the cheaper or the one that was scanned last.) SO if your $1 off the cheese bites is scanned first, it could quite possibly be attached to the blue box instead of the bagged bites and when its time to claim your free product coupon, with the new system you'll also be out $1.

I realize I may have just confused the heck out of you with that last example - so how about this. A new system is coming to Target, and to get through your transaction with the least amount of confusion and stress for both you and the cashier, hand over your coupons for your free and bogo items FIRST while watching the monitor and the cashier at all times, to make sure that he or she selects the proper item to be discounted, and then when its safe, use the rest of the coupons in your stack.

And if something wacky happens, say something. I talk to my cashiers throughout the entire transaction process and I apologize when I notice something, as to not sound crass or bossy. They say that they honestly appreciate being notified then rather than having to void out the entire transaction and re-do everything, or have their manager yell at them about it later when hours or even days have passed because you went to customer service.

So with all of that said, I hope you don't run into the same problems, and if you do, just have the cashier delete the coupons and re-scan them in the way that gets you the most bang out of your coupons. Happy Targeting!

~K

*Edit* 5:21Pm
The new system also prevents you from using a MRF coupon on an item that Target is giving you for free, by either a Target coupon (like the awesome Kraft BOGO's from last week) or by an in store special (like the buy 3 boxes of cereal get one free promos. You could still use 3 MRF coupons on the ones you are buying, but you cannot use a 4th on the one that Target is giving to you, because with the new system it is already discounted.) Yes, you still can still hand over that extra coupon, but you will not be rewarded with the overage so it is just a waste of a coupon.

*Edit* 6:11 pm*
AND, One last exception to add - if you have a coupon FROM TARGET that is one of those "Spend $50, get a free $5 Gift Card" or "Take $5 off when you spend $X amount", you need to use that one FIRST, BEFORE ANY OTHER COUPON, because the register includes coupons in that total you need to reach; so if your total was $75 before your coupons and you're standing at $42 after, if you try to use the $5 off/free Gift Card, the register will beep saying that you didn't purchase enough, and the cashier has no way to push that $5 coupon through. The Fix? Use the $5 Off/Gift Card coupon first and then the rest of your coupons and you should be good. (Should you forget about all of that just go to customer service - you'll have to point out that you did indeed meet or exceed the required amount but they should be able to help you.)

*end edits*

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

WITH THIS NEW SYSTEM IF YOU ARE GOING TO MAKE A VERY COMPLICATED TRANSACTION I THINK WE SHOULD KEEP AS SIMPLE AS POSSIBLE(THAT MEANS LESS PRODUCTS) ITS EASIER FOUR US AND THE CASHIER DONT END UP HATIN US!.ANYWAY I HAVE A QUESTION.. ALL YOU EXPLAINED IS IT JUT FOR MANUFACTURER Q. OR TARGET Q TOO?. WHAT I MEAN IS SHOULD BE HAND THE Q FOR FREE ITEM LIKE THE KRAFT AVAILABLE LAST WEEK AND THE MANU. Q.? I THINK IS THE BEST IF YOU WANT TO USE AND EXTRA $1.00 OFF ON THE TARGET Q TO GET A LIL OVERAGE?? RIGHT? BUT WOULD THE SYSTEM THEN REJECT IT?.

Start Out Saving said...

Anon - you're right, we should try to make it as un-complicated as possible for both the cashiers and ourselves. However, sometimes stuff just happens.

With the new system, it seems that no matter if the coupon in a MRF or a Target, the BOGO or Free item coupon should be handed over first, to cause the least confusion when the computer is selecting which item it is to attach with that coupon.

You asked how we should use the Target coupons, specifically the wonderful printable BOGO's that were avaliable last week; I'll use the Nabisco Cookie one as an example. That was B3G1; You can still use 3 MRF coupons with the boxes you're paying for, but with the new system as soon as the BOGO Q is scanned (either first in the middle or last), one box automatically of cookies comes off the purchase screen. It's gone. Its as if you're buying 3 boxes of cookies and the cashier has one hidden under his/her stand and slips it into your bag for you.

You don't have the option of stacking a 4th MRF to it because it has already been counted as free, so they won't even give you a chance to add an extra coupon to count as overage.

YOU STILL CAN hand over 4 MRF coupons before the target BOGO, but it doesn't make sence to do so because the price of the 4th box - which is ultimately going to be counted as free - will drop, you won't gain the difference in overage with the Target coupon as it (the Target Q) will only take off the amount that is left in the product, not the full original product price. (So if the cookies are $2.50 and you use a fourth $1 MRF on your "free" box, the cookies are now $1.50 BUT the Tar Q will only take off $1.50 that is left, NOT the original and full $2.50 shelf price.)

I hope that helps!!!

Kim E said...

Thanks so much for this explanation! I've been so frustrated lately with the registers at Target, and now I feel better that it's not just me having these issues. I will definitely try it in this order at my next visit and see if it helps. My only concern is that I've noticed some cashiers have started going through your stack of coupons and making their own little piles before scanning. This all makes me think Target is really scrutinizing coupon use.

Start Out Saving said...

Kim - I completely understand your frustration. I've come to the point where I hand over my coupons in my own little piles (the first pile is free items, the second is bogo's and the last two are broken up into target q's and manu q's) - if the cashier doesn't like it, I don't care.

I know you know this, but keep at it and eventually you'll find a cashier you like, or can simply work with. (and when that fails, go straight to customer service!)

Akazukin said...

Thank you for the information! I've had various problems with coupons. One shopping trip a coupon didn't go through and the cashier kept it. Now I pay close attention. Target should give more information to the cashiers or stop accepting coupons.

Anonymous said...

Excellent info! I noticed the new system today, and I am so glad you gave such a thorough explanation! Then again, I like details and can appreciate the thought and articulation that goes into making this so perfectly understandable. This is my first visit to your blog (linked from TotallyTarget), and I now will visit regularly. Thanks again!

Stephany said...

That explains EVERYTHING! (well, almost) I had the Buy a Scrubbing Bubbles toilet gel (3.94), Get the SB toilet wand thingy free (forget the exact name, but it was 6.99 or so) and the computer kept trying to give me the gel for FREE - and the cashier couldn't find the product to attach the coupon to (even though I had BOTH products and we both agreed that is what the coupon said). I did this twice at 2 different Targets - and had to have a manager correct it both times (after showing the products and careful reading of the coupon - I'm taking a magnifying glass from now on!). My local Target must not have this yet, because it was odd to me. NOW I get it!! Thanks for explaining! Sure wish they all could keep it simple!

And had to laugh at the Walmart comment - I've stopped trying to get things less than $1 with $1 off coupons - they just don't get it! One clerk even gave me trouble over the BOGO My Little Pony coupon a few months ago - saying they weren't allowed to take computer printed coupons anymore (WHAT?!). I suggested she call her manager (I'd wait - we were in the garden center where it's easier to get in and out parking-wise) or I could go to Target down the street and use them. She finally took it, but wasn't happy with me. I've since chosen to be VERY choosy about if/when/why I shop at Walmart and Walgreens (that's another story all together).

Crystal said...

Thanks for the info! I noticed this week when I used the buy 1 Scrubbing Bubbles toilet gel, get the brush thingie for free that the cashier had to go in and choose the free item. It pretty much just said Scrubbing Bubbles, so she kept saying she was giving me the toilet gel for free. NO! I told her it was the $6 item that was free, not the $4 item but she kept reading and re-reading and trying to convince me I was wrong. Finally a manager had to come over and help her, and I did get the right item deducted. You really need to pay attention with this new system though - I don't like it - too much room for human error!

ellemenopii said...

My local Targets have the new system- in Omaha, Ne. It screwed me out of quite a bit of $ and didn't realize it until I got home and literally studied the receipt for an hour! (It was for a B1G1 on Pedialyte.) Ever since then, I have been super vigilant at the check out and make sure each coupon is scanned AND the money is taken off. Sometimes they get in a hurry and scan too quickly and don't check to see if the coupon actually got accepted. Thank you for your post and I, too, am a visual person so I loved your pretend screen print. :) (I also am here from the link from TT)

~Sally~ said...

Same Scrubbing Bubbles trouble here...except I didn't notice until after I left the store. I was too tired to try and figure out if the total was correct. I got $1 off a $6.29 starter kit and got one of my $3.94 toilet gel free instead. My store has the new system and I watched him bring it up each time and have to select the free item. Too bad I wasn't more on my toes to make sure he was choosing the right ones!

Lisa said...

I posted a comment yesterday, and it never showed up! Anyway, I wanted to let people know that with this new system at Target, you can receive a "free" gift card, prompted by a coupon or purchase, only to end up being charged for the gift card, once the cashier enters another of your coupons that affects that transaction; i.e. if you give them a Target coupon for a $5 GC when you purchase 3 items, then give them a mfg coupon that makes one of those items free. When this happened to me, I realized I had paid $5 too much. I took the receipt to Customer Service and the clerk insisted that I was not charged for the GC. I told her that I was sure that I was. She checked with someone in the back office, who determined that I had been charged for the GC. She then refunded me the $5 in the form of a GC. Target made it right, but you have to be sure to check your receipt, and bring it to their attention. Just because the computer screen prompts the cashier to give you a GC, do not assume that it will end up being free.

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to comment on my personal experience with the Biore deal since you had mentioned that you didn't actually do that one... I bought 6 products (3 pore strips and 3 cleansers)...used (3) Buy a pore strips, get a cleanser free coupons and (3) $2/1 Biore coupons. I handed over the (3)$2/1 coupons first and then my BOGO's. The last BOGO beeped and said item not found. I saw the new screen that you are talking about and the only item it showed left was one of the pore strips...then I realized why it happened that way...the first $2/1 coupons attached themselves randomly to any of the 3 Biore items I purchased since they were for ANY Biore item. So one attached itself to one of the cleansers I was supposed to get for free...so long story short, they cancelled the transaction and after a long drawn out conversation with the manager about why I wanted the transaction re-rung and why the coupons weren't going through, she re-rang it, used the BOGO's first, then the $2/1's - NO beeps, NO problems...so for that specific deal there was a a certain order to hand then in to aviod beeps. Hope that helps someone!