Coupons

With continued supply chain issues facing the country right now, consumers are finding shelves might not be restocked as often as they would like. This is frustrating, as good sales and promotions often are what motivate us to go to the grocery store in the first place. It’s disappointing to go to the store for a few great deals and find they’re just not available to you.

If you’re not taking advantage of rainchecks in these situations, you should be. Rainchecks function as special coupons issued by the store, allowing you to shop at the sale price that existed at the time you were unable to find the sale items on the shelf. Rainchecks are designed to extend the sale, giving you the opportunity to pick up the items at the same, reduced price once they’re back in stock at a later date.

To get a raincheck, head over to your store’s service counter and simply ask for one for the product that’s not available. The staff likely will verify the sale price with the store’s ad or shelf tags. Some rainchecks require the store to list the quantity of the items you would like to buy when they come back in. I recommend choosing a number of items that’s slightly higher than the actual number you want. This gives you a little flexibility in case the product’s availability is affected down the road and you opt to purchase more than you intended once it comes back in stock.

I have a few raincheck strategies I’m happy to share with you, too. First, I keep a small notebook in my coupon wallet. When I’m walking through the store, I’ll jot down any products that aren’t in stock I might want to get rainchecks for. For example, if I would like to buy coconut-flavored granola bars, but they’re out of stock, I still can get a raincheck even if all of the other flavors happen to be in stock. The variety I would like to buy isn’t, so it qualifies for a raincheck.

Once I’m done shopping, I’ll visit the service counter and get rainchecks for every item on my list. In normal years, I typically wouldn’t need to get more than one raincheck, but as we know, what’s going on in our stores isn’t exactly quite back to normal yet.

Once I have my rainchecks in hand, I’ll take note of the expiration dates for them. One of my local stores issues rainchecks that are valid for 30 days, but another retailer offers 60-day rainchecks. Knowing I have a fairly long window of time to redeem my rainchecks, I’ll look and see what coupons become available for the items I’m holding rainchecks for. If new coupons are issued during those weeks, then I’ll return to the store, look for the items that previously were sold out and pair coupons with the sale price that was extended for me by obtaining the raincheck.

Another favorite raincheck tip of mine: If you use a coupon wallet with individual pockets labeled for each store you shop, place the rainchecks into the store’s pocket, along with any coupons you might have for the rainchecked products. The next time you go to the same store, the rainchecks and coupons will be in that specific store’s pocket in your coupon wallet, reminding you to check the shelves to see if your items are back in stock.

If for any reason you still haven’t been able to find shelves stocked with the items you want before your raincheck is set to expire, take the raincheck to your store’s service counter and ask them to re-issue the raincheck with an updated date. If the store is truly having ongoing stock issues, it should not be a problem to get a replacement raincheck with a new end date. This again will extend the time you potentially can pick those items up for the previously advertised sale price.

Jill Cataldo, a coupon workshop instructor, writer and mother of three, never passes up a good deal. Learn more about Super-Couponing at her website, jillcataldo.com. Email your own couponing victories and questions to jill@ctwfeatures.com.