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Old 02-20-2012, 01:39 PM
 
Location: Zone 6B ~ Northern VA
1,781 posts, read 2,378,761 times
Reputation: 554

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That sounds typical of how every other business handles coupons. At times they may have them at the counter, but typically if you get one then, you cannot you it until your next visit. A coupon is simply an incentive so I don't hold Merrifield Garden Center at all responsible given the situation. If the customer makes an assumption that the business is always going to have them available at checkout, then that is a chance the customer would have to take.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Caladium View Post
Just a heads up if you're planning to use Merrifield's coupons this year. In the past they had coupons in the store, but this year you must bring the coupon that was mailed to you. I was just at the Fair Oaks store and had to drive all the way back to Loudoun County just to get a frickin' coupon. And the clerk who told me I had to do this was not even sympathetic about it.

I'm not sure if she was rude or if maybe she was just dense--either way I expect better customer service than that. My time is valuable, gas is not cheap, and they couldn't even be bothered to say "I'm sorry."

I've been a good customer for decades and until now happy to recommend them, but this new attitude has rubbed me the wrong way. I was willing to put up with the higher prices because I thought they had good service, but I don't think I'll be using them anymore.
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Old 02-20-2012, 02:56 PM
 
Location: Virginia
18,717 posts, read 26,837,713 times
Reputation: 42860
Quote:
Originally Posted by movin2Reston View Post
That sounds typical of how every other business handles coupons. At times they may have them at the counter, but typically if you get one then, you cannot you it until your next visit. A coupon is simply an incentive so I don't hold Merrifield Garden Center at all responsible given the situation. If the customer makes an assumption that the business is always going to have them available at checkout, then that is a chance the customer would have to take.
I don't mind if a large anonymous big box chain store wants to act that way. But one of the big reasons I patronize an overpriced but independent store like MGC is that I expect to be treated a little bit better by them than I would be by a chain store. Especially since I've been going there for years. You know, I've been going to that store since I was a little girl. I'm now about to retire. It's a gardening store in the middle of winter--it's not like it's their busy time or that I got a new clerk who was busy with a long line of customers. There was maybe one other customer in the store at the time.

And while I'm venting, you'd think they'd know their regulars after a few years. I've spent a lot of time and money there over the last few decades. In fact, I'm a little surprised they don't know me by name, or at least know my face.

Here's how I would have handled it. I would have said "Our policy has changed. Last year we gave out coupons but this year you need to use the ones that are mailed to you. But since you're here, let me call the store owner and see if there's something we can do." Or, they could check their customer files and see by my sales history that I'm a good customer. Then they could say "Well, just this once" and ring it through on a store coupon that they keep at the register for their regular customers.

At the very least the clerk could have said "Gee, I'm really sorry." I didn't even get that. No, I was basically made to feel like dirt. And by one of my favorite stores. Formerly favorite, that is. I guess I'm switching over to Lowes now. If I'm going to be treated no better than a chain store customer, then I'm going to the store that has better prices.

It just amazes me. Why have a stupid policy like that. If you're going to have coupons, make them available so people can use them. How does it benefit them to tell people they have to go home and get their coupon? I'm glad business is so good for them that they can afford to lose a customer over a piece of paper.

Last edited by Caladium; 02-20-2012 at 03:04 PM..
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Old 02-20-2012, 04:49 PM
 
1,339 posts, read 2,959,179 times
Reputation: 2219
Quote:
Originally Posted by Caladium View Post
It just amazes me. Why have a stupid policy like that. If you're going to have coupons, make them available so people can use them. How does it benefit them to tell people they have to go home and get their coupon? I'm glad business is so good for them that they can afford to lose a customer over a piece of paper.
That would really depend on the coupon. If it was a generic coupon, then stores should apply it even if you have forgotten it. But if it was a coupon sent specifically to you and other targeted customers, then they have every right to ask you to produce it in person. If you search Web sites like fatwallet and retailmenot, you will find people posting coupon codes, etc. A targetted coupon is meant to reward loyal customers; not have any random customer say I have it at home when he/she doesn't really have it but heard of it through a friend/Web site.
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Old 02-20-2012, 05:49 PM
 
Location: Virginia
18,717 posts, read 26,837,713 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kutra11 View Post
That would really depend on the coupon. If it was a generic coupon, then stores should apply it even if you have forgotten it. But if it was a coupon sent specifically to you and other targeted customers, then they have every right to ask you to produce it in person. If you search Web sites like fatwallet and retailmenot, you will find people posting coupon codes, etc. A targetted coupon is meant to reward loyal customers; not have any random customer say I have it at home when he/she doesn't really have it but heard of it through a friend/Web site.
You know, I get the concept--but the problem is that kind of program backfires, as you can see. Telling someone to go home and get your coupon is just not a smart way to do business, IMO. It can't be that hard to look people up, if it was a matter of verifying whether or not I was a loyal customer. I'll tell you one thing, this loyal customer did not feel rewarded, I got ticked off. And now I most likely won't be a customer anymore.

What's the worst thing that could happen if a new customer got a "loyal customer" coupon, anyway? The store might get another loyal customer. Sounds less risky to me than ticking off a genuine loyal customer. Just my two cents.
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Old 02-20-2012, 06:37 PM
 
Location: New-Dentist Colony
5,738 posts, read 8,943,215 times
Reputation: 3857
Quote:
Originally Posted by movin2Reston View Post
That sounds typical of how every other business handles coupons. At times they may have them at the counter, but typically if you get one then, you cannot you it until your next visit. A coupon is simply an incentive so I don't hold Merrifield Garden Center at all responsible given the situation. If the customer makes an assumption that the business is always going to have them available at checkout, then that is a chance the customer would have to take.
I don't know; Petsmart on Route 50 (next to Target) gave me the benefit of the doubt when I didn't bring the coupon they e-mailed to my wife. (She had only briefly glanced at it and told me it was a storewide 15% discount.)

The manager was pretty cool; he was a little reluctant at first, because he said each e-mail coupon is linked to the individual recipient, and if he did the credit, there'd be nothing to stop us from using her coupon at a different store later. But it was great customer service to trust the customer.

Obviously, Merrifield has lost a long-time customer in Caladium, and that's bad business. Not only did they lose however much she'd have spent over the years, but now they're the subject of bad word of mouth--and that's very hard to undo.
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Old 02-20-2012, 06:38 PM
 
Location: Alexandria, VA
11,370 posts, read 20,163,370 times
Reputation: 16344
Seriously, stop and think about it from the business point of view - do you know how many customers say "I have a coupon but forgot it" hoping to get a discount? Then there are those that have used the coupon but try to get away with using it again (and again....) - You forgot your coupon, let it rest.
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Old 02-20-2012, 06:42 PM
 
Location: New-Dentist Colony
5,738 posts, read 8,943,215 times
Reputation: 3857
Quote:
Originally Posted by Flamingo13 View Post
Seriously, stop and think about it from the business point of view - do you know how many customers say "I have a coupon but forgot it" hoping to get a discount? Then there are those that have used the coupon but try to get away with using it again (and again....) - You forgot your coupon, let it rest.
They could easily prevent both of these by 1. keeping a handy list of what coupons they have going at any given time and 2. collecting coupons when they're used.

I get what you're saying, but I think there will always be a few people taking advantage. I think stores have more to lose by achieving a 100% abuse-proof system, because something that airtight will also mean they can't give honest customers the benefit of the doubt--and I think forfeiting those customers is probably a bigger long-term loss than the relatively minor losses incurred from people gaming the coupons.
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Old 02-20-2012, 06:43 PM
 
421 posts, read 819,114 times
Reputation: 417
Sadly, Merrifield Garden Center has changed. Maybe it's because they opened the third store in Gainesville and it couldn't have been at the worst economic time if they'd tried , but they seem to be less customer oriented and more money oriented. I can't believe what they expect to get for a bag of mulch or a pumpkin lately.
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Old 02-21-2012, 04:26 AM
 
1,339 posts, read 2,959,179 times
Reputation: 2219
Quote:
Originally Posted by Carlingtonian View Post
Obviously, Merrifield has lost a long-time customer in Caladium, and that's bad business. Not only did they lose however much she'd have spent over the years, but now they're the subject of bad word of mouth--and that's very hard to undo.
I still don't know whether this was a targetted coupon or not, but I am assuming that's what it was and continuing with my thoughts... ...

Bad word of mouth? Really? Are people that naive on this forum? Caladium admits she forgot the coupon at home and (at that point) it was completely up to the store to allow it or not. In my last very many years of shopping, I have never dismissed a store because someone wrote (in a store review) their coupon was not accepted because they forgot to bring the coupon in the first place! And I do not select a store based on whether they are lenient with customers who forget coupons.

I am pretty sure that the coupon said "must be presented at time of purchase." Merrifield has thousands of loyal customers, and it rewards their loyalty with targetted coupons. If they break rules for one loyal customer, then they will end up annoying the next loyal customer when they follow their rules. And before you know it, everyone is conveniently forgetting the coupons at home! Not good for Merrifield's business at all!! It's better for them to lose one customer than create this feeling of unfairness among other customers (loyal or not).

Finally, Caladium calls herself a loyal customer because she has shopped at Merrifield several times. Loyalty means you are comfortable with each other's policies and appreciate them. It doesn't mean bend your rules for me just because I am loyal! Still, there's no way of knowing if her average spending puts her in the same bucket of customers Merrifield truly considers as loyal. I don't think Merrifield lost a loyal customer. I just think they lost an unreasonable customer. I take full responsibility for my actions so when I know that Michaels does not accept expired coupons or when Bed Bath & Beyond does, I plan and shop accordingly.

And a couple of things:
1. Nine out of ten times, the cashier has no way of knowing whether you really received a coupon. The databases are totally separate.
2. Lots of times, cashiers cannot even pull up your shopping history.

Last edited by kutra11; 02-21-2012 at 04:44 AM..
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Old 02-21-2012, 06:03 AM
 
Location: Virginia
18,717 posts, read 26,837,713 times
Reputation: 42860
You know, I get what you guys are saying and it's also true that you shouldn't damn a store based on a snotty attitude from a cashier. Maybe I just happened to hit someone having a bad day. Still..... I think my loyalties are switching to Lowes. Maybe I'm unreasonable, maybe not, but it really rubbed me the wrong way and that's how you lose customers.

At any rate, I'm glad to share this tip so that those of you who shop there will know that you now need to bring the coupon. They no longer keep them at the registers.
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