Thursday, March 7, 2013

Publix digital coupons: Pros and cons


Welcome to this week's Frugal Follies Frugal Tip!

Publix is now offering digital coupons in all areas, or will be very soon!

Here's the schedule for the rollout of the digital coupons program:
  • Alabama: 3/8/2013
  • Florida: 3/8/2013
  • Georgia: 3/14/2013
  • South Carolina: 3/13/2013
  • Tennessee: 3/15/2013
However, it may be earlier - my local store was already accepting them last week.

How do they work?  You visit and create a user profile.   You'll need to give a phone number, username, and password.  Then, you select the coupons you want to use.

When you go to the store, you input your phone number on the keypad where you scan credit or debit cards.  If you've purchased an item for which you have a digital coupon, it will come off of your total automatically.

Although I've signed up for it, I haven't used it in the store yet.  However, here are some pros and cons that I see from the program.

  • This is a great way for the non-couponer to save some money.  All they have to do is select every coupon.  Then, if they happen to buy an item in the store that has a coupon, the coupon value will come off their total. 
  • There's no need to clip or print out coupons or to remember to bring them to the store.  You won't need to have a coupon binder or file drawer, and you won't need to spend time organizing your coupons.
  • No worries about expiration dates - if a digital coupon expires, it will be removed from your list.
  • If you have both a print coupon and a digital coupon, the print coupon will be taken first.  So there are no worries if you've selected a digital coupon that is smaller than a print one.
  • Expiration dates on some of the coupons are much later than newspaper or printable coupons.  Usually printable coupons expire in one month from the print date, and newspaper coupons expire in as few as a couple of weeks or as much as a few months.  In contrast, some of the digital coupons currently shown have expiration dates in 2014.  
  • If a coupon is available both as a newspaper or printable coupon and as a digital coupon, you'll be able to buy more of the product than if you just had to depend on newspaper or printable coupons.
  • Digital coupons are available everywhere; some newspaper coupons only appear in certain regions. A great newspaper coupon deal is no good if you don't have the coupon!
  • The main problem I see is that you can only get one digital coupon per product.  For printable coupons, you can generally get two coupons per computer, and newspaper coupons are limited to how many newspapers you purchase or otherwise get. 
  • If the coupon is for money off of one item, and the product is on a BOGO sale, you'll only be able to use one coupon.  Using two coupons on a BOGO sale is the way I generally save the most money. 
  • It isn't clear whether these coupons are manufacturer's coupon or Publix store coupons.  There is a pull-down menu that gives you the option to sort with Publix store coupons on top or manufacturer's coupons on top.  When I do this, I get the same results, so I am assuming that the current coupons are all manufacturer's coupons.
  • It also isn't clear if you can combine digital manufacturer's coupons with a Publix or competitor store coupon for the same product.  (Clearly, you cannot use both a printed manufacturer's coupon and a digital manufacturer's coupon for the same product.)
  • Digital coupon values may be smaller than newspaper or printable coupons.  For instance, right now there is a $1.50/2 Planters digital coupon.  However, there is also a $1/1 Planters newspaper coupon available, leading to a bigger savings if you have 2 coupons.
  • What happens if a coupon is not accepted due to an error?  With paper coupons, you can usually deal with it in-store as soon as you notice the problem - hopefully before your transaction is completed.  For digital coupons, you have to call an 800 number to take care of the problem.
  • What happens if you buy the wrong product or the wrong size?  With newspaper and printable coupons, the cashier will (or should, anyway) tell you that there's a problem, and you can run back to the aisles to pick up the right product.  With digital coupons, you probably won't be able to tell that the coupon wasn't used until after the transaction is over.  You'll have to return to the service desk and do an exchange.
Have you tried Publix digital coupons yet?  Share your experience below!

For more frugal tips, please go to my Linkup Parties page and check out the bloggers listed under Frugal Tips Linkups.  There are lots of great ideas on each blog and I'm sure you'll find lots of wonderful tips!

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Unknown March 8, 2013 at 12:35 AM  

I just signed up for this! Some good to know facts! Thanks!
Stopping by to say 'hi' and follow from the Social Media Hop on Jenn's Blah Blah Blog!

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