Gut Rumbles

February 03, 2006

'splain it to me

My daughter recently sent me TEN one-dollar-off-per-pack coupons for Marlboro cigarettes, which is the brand I smoke. I went shopping today and redeemed all ten coupons at the grocery store. I was told that I couldn't use the coupons to get $10 off a CARTON of cigarettes even though a carton has ten packs in it--- I had to purchase individual packs.

Even with my horrible math skills, I calculated that a dollar off ten individual packs was still less than the cost of a carton, so that's what I bought. That's also where the scene became kinda bizarre, at least in MY humble opinion.

The cashier had only four packs in the Marlboro rack behind the register. She took those out, placed them on the checkout counter and then opened a fresh CARTON, from which she removed six more packs. She placed THOSE on the counter, then took the remaining four packs from the carton and PUT THEM IN THE RACK. She then rang up the ten individual packs and honored my coupons by deducting a dollar off the price of each pack.

I need some help from my readers here. Why couldn't I use the coupons for $10 off the price of a carton? I bought four packs that came out of the rack and six packs that came right out of a carton. Does the cigarette supplier have some nefarious way of KNOWING THE DIFFERENCE? Doesn't the store buy ALL of its cigarettes by the carton? Doesn't the supplier redeem those coupons for $1 each no matter HOW the cigarettes were sold?

I still ended up with a carton of cigarettes that cost me less than the regular price for a carton, so I'm not complaining. I simply am mystified by the process itself.

How do those coupons work?


Without knowing anything more about the subject than to make a wild-ass guess, maybe it has something to do with how the sales are accounted, for tax purposes.

But that's just my wild-ass guess. Could just be the bureaucratic gene is becoming more pronounced in Americans these days.

Posted by: Mike James on February 3, 2006 05:58 PM

Just to add to the wild-ass-guess collection ...
The barcode on the carton would ring up as "carton, one of" and the clever barcode on the coupons are "price.pack -$1". The built in figurer-outer in the cash register would then heat up, emit sparks, and bring down the power grid because *it* doesn't know that 10 packs=1carton. This is actually a good thing, because it proves the machines are still dumber than we are.

Posted by: bad cat robot on February 3, 2006 06:28 PM

I think Bad Cat is dead right. I run into that around here too with cig coupons.

Here's a good one. I have a carry out that I buy a carton of Camel Lights from every week. Now I don't know what cigs cost a carton there, but they are 37 bux here and about 4 bucks a pack (higher some places) . But Camel runs a buy one get one free promo all the time on individual packs and the carry out guy just sells me five of those whenever I ask for a carton. Saves me a lot of money, but he does have to ring up each 2-pack seperately to comply, even though they come in cartons of 10 packs like normal smokes.

Posted by: marcl on February 3, 2006 06:43 PM

The BLUE state that I unfortunately live in DOES NOT ACCEPT COUPONS! So this
f--in post really pissed me off.

You got my darlin friend, HUSH UP!

Posted by: Maggie on February 3, 2006 06:57 PM

Damn smoking is expensive. Good thing I don't smoke. I couldn't afford it.

Posted by: caltechgirl on February 3, 2006 06:58 PM

Here is how it works at Kroger anyways, (used to work there)

Cartons and Packs have different UPCs. Coupons have 2 UPCs on them. One for discount, (negative price) one for the original Product. Coupons that say, "X amount of of any marlboro pack" have the same first couple of digits for the marlboro product and then usually 0s for the remaining number. The difference between pack and carton is in the beginning of the UPC number.

When sending our coupons into clearinghouse for re-imbursement, we have to show a detailed log showing what each coupon was used for. If we don't, or the reports don't match up, we don't get reimbursed for the coupons.

Our electronic scanners are set up to not accept the pack coupons for cartons. This is the same program that won't sell beer on sunday, asks for ID on certain items, and decides whats allowable for foodstamps and WIC.

But that is how Kroger does it, I can't speak for other companies.

Posted by: Steph on February 3, 2006 07:09 PM

your cashier was an idiot. that's the explanation. i used to work in a smoke shop until a young hooligan went upside my head with an automatic pistol. she could have taken ten bucks off the cost of the carton, no sweat. OR given you the fresh smokes! LOL, what hath the u.s. education system wrought?

Posted by: richard on February 3, 2006 07:31 PM

All of the above. It used to piss me off when I managed a 7-11 too. Waste of paperwork is all it is.

Posted by: livey on February 3, 2006 07:48 PM

Holy crap!

I quit smoking cigarettes when they were .75 a pack from a vending machine. That was too much back then.

How do people afford it now?

Posted by: fat bottomed girl on February 3, 2006 08:00 PM

Of course the UPC's don't match. So what?

The idiot could have rung one pack ten times, put it back on the rack, and handed over the carton. Would have saved a few steps. But she was an idiot.

How do those coupons work? They confuse the cashier, is how.

Posted by: dipnut on February 3, 2006 08:13 PM

Reality is for the insane.

Posted by: anonymous on February 3, 2006 10:10 PM

She could of rang up 10 packs of cigarettes , individually by using one pack , put the other pack back on the rack with the other three after using it to ring up ten packs, gave you the carton and nobody would of been none the wiser.

Posted by: bugler on February 4, 2006 06:56 AM

But Bugler, that still would have been the price of 10 individual packs, not a carton. Rob asked why he couldn't get 10 dollars off of the carton price.

Posted by: Steph on February 4, 2006 07:32 AM

Dipnut hits the nail on the head.

With any luck the cashier may make it through beautician school or get a job in education administration.

Posted by: StinKerr on February 4, 2006 08:36 AM

Even with the UPC info, I think it was more a matter of how the clerk works than the coupons.

Posted by: PainterWoman on February 4, 2006 09:23 AM

Uh, guys, Chablis had it right. Stores get their cigs by the carton and prefer to sell 'em by the pack. It makes 'em more money. As was mentioned, cartons are typically priced so that you pay the equivalent of 8 packs worth.

And yeah, the cashier certanly *could* have given Rob a carton and taken $10 off the price...if she felt like taking the risk of being fired. Depends on whether Rob's a regular at the store, in part.

Posted by: Rick C on February 4, 2006 10:34 AM

Reminds of this scene with Jack Nicolson from "Five Easy Pieces":

Bobby: I'd like an omelet, plain, and a chicken salad sandwich on wheat toast, no mayonnaise, no butter, no lettuce. And a cup of coffee.

Waitress: A #2, chicken salad sand. Hold the butter, the lettuce, the mayonnaise, and a cup of coffee. Anything else?

Bobby: Yeah, now all you have to do is hold the chicken, bring me the toast, give me a check for the chicken salad sandwich, and you haven't broken any rules.

Waitress: You want me to hold the chicken, huh?

Bobby: I want you to hold it between your knees.

Posted by: Rich on February 4, 2006 12:46 PM

beats me. I'm still trying to figure out why, at bars in Oregon, beer made in Oregon get the "Import" price.

Posted by: pril on February 4, 2006 09:27 PM


It would have really completed the scene perfectly if you'd have had her put the 10 packs in the now-empty carton box so it'd be easier for you to lug around.

That said, Chablis is right. Though this be madness, yet there is method in't.

Posted by: Tim Higgins on February 5, 2006 01:15 PM
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