As of September 1 Walmart has made some changes to their internal coupon policy and to the register systems. I will tell you about what the changes are and why. I will also tell you about what to expect and what you can do to avoid problems. You will not see any changes to the Public Walmart Coupon Policy, the changes are more procedural and clarifying then they are a change in policy.
Walmart Coupon Policy Changes:
1. All Walmart Register systems were updated to accept the GS1 Date bar Codes that most coupons have switched to and all eventually will go to.
2. All coupons must be scanned on the flatbed scanners, the handheld scanners are not supposed to be used any longer.
3. The coupon must scan (not a new change) . Cashiers/CSM’s or Managers are not allowed to override or manually enter coupons.
4. If a coupon does not scan they are instructed to return the coupon to you. This applies to Printable Coupons and newspaper insert coupons.
Here are a few major reasons for these changes:
1. Coupon Fraud- My local Walmart took a hit of over $6,000.00 in August of fraudulent/counterfeit coupon. The highest month they had exceeded over $20,000 and are consistently over $10,000. The average dollar amount of coupon fraud per Walmart location has been as high as $10,00 per month. This number doesn’t seem like a huge number for a store that does millions of dollars in sales, but this number comes right off of the profit margin. There are nearly 4,000 Walmart Stores in the US, if you take the number of stores by the average amount of fraud the numbers get as high as $40,000,000 per month.
2.Employee Coupon Fraud- There have been several stories about massive scale coupon fraud being perpetrated on Walmart stores by there own employees.
3. Coupon Bar Decoding- Yes, another form of coupon fraud. The old bar codes had a lot of info that could be deciphered and used on products that they were not intended for. The new GS1 bar codes will eliminate that.
How Does This Affect You?
1. This can be a negative and a positive- The decisions have been taken out of cashiers hands, the computer knows all and determines all. If the coupons scan they take it, if not they don’t.
2. All Printable Coupons should be printed at the highest quality, it doesn’t have to be color but it should be the best quality available.
3. This will hopefully severely reduce the amount of fraud and eventually lead to the return of higher value coupons.
I think there are going to be some growing pains in the fusion between the GS1 Databar and the systems that accept them. One would hope that all of the kinks would have been worked out prior to their launch, but I also realize that the absurd amount of coupon fraud led to some knee jerk reactions.
I know that many people are going to have similar knee jerk reactions in who they will blame for the changes. The number one scape goat will be TLC’s Extreme Couponing. We were on Extreme Couponing with one of the biggest culprits of Coupon Fraud/ Bar Decoders in the industry. I do think that TLC is culpable in as much as they didn’t screen the people or the process nearly well enough. I can also be sure that there isn’t enough info on the show for people to be able to figure it out. The people that deciphered the fraud and explained it step by step have just as much responsibility as anyone. The bottom line is that guns don’t kill people, people kill people. Coupon Fraud is the same, people make their own choices an unfortunately we all have to live with them.