Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Couponing for Beginners Part 5: Buy 1 Get 1 (B1G1) Basics

image courtesy of Google
One of the first questions I'm inevitably asked by people new to coupons is, "can I stack (so and so) coupon with a buy one, get one coupon and make it work?"

Buy One Get One (or B1G1 in coupon lingo) coupons are perhaps the couponers best friend next to actual free coupons and right below them is the wonderful high value (I usually consider those 1.00 or above for most things) coupons.

B1G1 coupons have a lot of different ways you can use them and not just by buying one item and getting another free, although that in itself is a nice thing indeed.  The first thing you can do with a B1G1 coupon is if your store is having a Buy One Get One Free sale on an item, you can stack a B1G1 coupon with it to get two items for free.

How does that work?  Well, let me explain.  When a store has a sale on an item and it's on sale B1G1, the store is essentially eating the cost of the second item to have you shop there.  Consider it like a store coupon that kicks on when you buy 2 items.  One of the first rules of couponing that is a CARDINAL good thing is that you can always stack (at least to date via every store's coupon policy that I know of) a manufacturer coupon with a store coupon.  That means you can combine the coupons together or, as couponers call it, "stack" the coupons together so that you have two discounts on one item because you have two different types of discounts.  A B1G1 sale is just like a store coupon, only you don't need to have a printed coupon from the store ad with you, it's already stored in the computer.  So, you can bring your B1G1 manufacturer coupons in with you and get 2 items for free and all of it is completely legal use of coupons.

Let me explain via a deal that is going on right now.  There's a coupon you can print off from Recyclebank (a website) for B1G1 Wonderful Pistachios.  At Carrs right now, Wonderful Pistachios are on sale B1G1.  So, this is how you'd get 2 bags of Pistachios for free.

Buy 2 Bags of pistachios on sale B1G1
The store takes one bag and makes it free when you purchase two
Use B1G1 printed manufacturer coupon
The Manufacturer "pays" for the bag of pistachios you have left to buy 
Final Price:  2 Bags free

See, there is no double usage on one item with the coupon used, so it's completely legal to do (no matter what an ignorant cashier or manager may say).  If you ever run into a problem where a cashier or a manager doesn't want to do a deal like this because they don't believe you should get anything for free, have them (if you have time) call corporate.  Be persistent.  Corporate will correct them if you can get them to do it.

A second way you can stack coupons to get things free is to use a B1G1 coupon with a free coupon in the same transaction to get 2 items for free.  And yes, you can use another coupon in conjunction with a B1G1 coupon, but ONLY if that coupon is being used on the item you are left buying!  For instance you could not use a 1.00/2 coupon with a B1G1 coupon because .50 would be taken off of your free item, which is double coupon use and not legal coupon use.

A B1G1 coupon is just, let's call it a voucher, saying that if you buy a certain item you'll receive this other item.  It's like a bonus coupon for when you buy an item.  So, yes, you CAN use a coupon on the item you have to buy to fill your pre-requisite to get your other item for free.

Now, here's the tricky part with using, say, a B1G1 coupon and a 1.00/1 coupon to get both of your items down cheaper/free.  Every single system I know of anymore, if you use a B1G1 coupon with another coupon on the item you are left buying, the system beeps.  A lot of cashiers will throw a fit that you can't do it, some managers will throw a fit that you can't do it and it can result in heartburn, headaches and calls to corporate to get it all straightened out.

Why does this happen?  Well, when you are buying 2 like items and you scan a B1G1 coupon the computer "pings" both items to make sure your count is right to get your item for free (as it should), but then it shows in the system that both of those items are "taken" in the item count and it doesn't "free up" the item you are buying for ANYTHING else.  So, when you go to use a 1.00/1 coupon (or any other coupon on the item you are buying) the computer "double pings" the free item you are getting (since it is just like the item you are buying) because it's the cheapest item on your count.  So, basically, it assumes you are doing something shady, even though you're not.  It's still a legal use of coupons (to date...I'm starting to think companies are trying to get around using coupons this way due to new coupon wording, but I'll tackle that in a bit) to do it that way, but be prepared to fight for your right to coupon (to paraphrase the Beasty Boys).

If you are ever concerned that this practice isn't "right" to do because the computer beeps, I challenge you to run this test.  Take a coupon for a B1G1 item that is UNLIKE itself (say, buy 1 Vicks product get a free thing of Puffs tissues) and THEN use a coupon for the item you are left buying (like 4.00/1 Vicks Sinex).  The computer will accept both coupons without even a hiccup because not only is your item count right, but you don't have two like items, so it's not pinging on your free item with your high value coupon.

There are some grey areas to B1G1 coupons that are up to your discretion and personal ethics if you want to do them or not.  For instance in a B1G1 sale at the store, a lot of people will use say 2 coupons, one on their free item too.  YES you are using a coupon on a "free" item, but people use the argument that you are using a manufacturer coupon on a store discount, so it's legal use of coupons.  And, they argue, the store WILL get reimbursed for the coupon because their inventory of items being sold is right (which is totally true actually).  Do I suggest you do it?  I leave it up to you, honestly.  Like I said it's a gray area, so I'm not going to get on a high horse and tell you that it is evil to do it, and nor am I going to extol on the virtues of how great a practice it is.  You aren't breaking coupon law by doing it, let's just put it that way, because the store will get reimbursed for the coupon.  Your mileage will definitely vary on whether it'll work or not though because it's going to depend on your cashier to accept the coupon on your free store item or not.

This is always a "heavy coupon" area to talk about, so if you have any questions, please feel free to ask them and I'll try to explain it in a way that's not as clear as a black hole.


BEFFY! said...

Thank you for your post! I've been researching B1G1 coupons and found this link-
(whew, that was long) that tells which B1G1 coupons can be stacked with other $ off coupons. B1G1 end in the numbers 14? The other $ off coupon will beep and can't be used (I get this all the time and cashiers won't and can't take them).
This has greatly helped and improved my time and frustration at checkout.

Alaskan Bargain Hunter said...

I'm sort of concerned about the future of stacking anything with a B1G1 coupon right now. I saw on a few coupons I've used lately the words, "Only one coupon per PACKAGE of items" that could quickly kibosh stacking coupons together if manufacturers start sticking that on B1G1 coupons :(. We'll see how it pans out though. Thanks for passing along the bar code information, though, that'll help cut frustrations down a bit (hopefully :).