For a while now, you’ve been use to seeing two barcodes on your coupon, like in the image above. What many don’t realize is that this isn’t the standard coupon barcode. In fact, it’s a transitional barcode launched in 2008 that was designed to help during the transition from the old UPC Barcode to the new GS1 Databar Expanded Stacked Barcode.
Many questions have been rolling in since New Years, because 2012 is the beginning of the final phase of this transition and many coupons on popular printable coupon sites and in inserts are now sporting the new and improved barcode.
Why the change?
Notice how I said the transitional coupon barcode system was launched in 2008? That means, contrary to popular belief, this isn’t the fault of TLC’s Extreme Couponing. The powers that be have been aware for a while now that the current coupon system was flawed and needed some changes.
Why are the new barcodes better?
The new barcodes have the ability to code a large amount of information into a very small area for complex coupon offers such as size/weight restrictions, quantity requirements, and expiration dates.
In addition, instead of limiting companies to a choice of 100 different values, the new barcodes allow companies to code coupons in any dollar amount up to $999.99 and help companies with prefixes greater than 6-digits. And, finally, with the right equipment, the new barcodes should be easier to scan, making checkout faster.
Basically, the new system will cut down on the misuse of coupons and coupon fraud, making sure consumers use them before they expire and on the product for which they were meant.
What does this mean for me and my shopping trips?
Now, more than ever, it’s important to read the fine print on your coupon. As I’ve said, a coupon is a contract, and you’re agreeing to that fine print when you use the coupon. These coupons may be coded in detail, so it’s all about what the coupon says!
My stores aren’t taking my coupons! What do I do?
Stores have had since July 2011 to upgrade their systems, but many customers are having issues. Some stores are holding onto their old system and some seem to be completely unaware of any changes.
If you’re holding onto coupons with the new barcode and struggling to redeem them, here’s some tips to help.
- Remember, be nice, not confrontational. Cashier and managers tend to respond better to kindness.
- Call your local store to see if they’ve updated their system and are accepting the new barcodes before shopping.
- Print the Barcode Graphic page to keep in your coupon binder to help cashiers and managers understand your coupon is valid. Or better yet, show them on your phone.
- I’ve heard these coupons are meant to scan with the hand scanner and not with the product scanner, so if your coupon isn’t scanning, ask your cashier to try the hand scanner.
- If the store does not have the new scanner, the coupons may be entered manually, so ask your cashier to manually input the coupon.
- Ask for a manager, who is more likely to be informed about the barcode changes.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here’s a few of the questions coming my way and what I’ve found out for you:
What about double and triple coupons?
The old 5 and 9 system is gone, which allowed some coupons that said “do not double” to double regardless. Here’s what I’ve been told about the new system:
- Some coupons say “do not double” in the tiny fine print, so read your coupons carefully.
- If your coupon says “do not double”, you should expect the coupon not to double.
- Depending on the store’s software, the new barcode MAY prevent coupons that say “do not double” from doubling.
- Coupons that do no say “do not double” should double as normal.
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