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Lifestyle

June 7, 2013

The ins and outs of overage

Coupon shoppers love overage. Overage occurs when the dollar value printed on a coupon exceeds the selling price of an item: If I buy a box of pasta that’s on sale for 79 cents, but I have a $1 coupon, I’ve got 21 cents in overage. What happens to that 21 cents?

Depending on how your store handles overage, one of three things may happen. You may get that 21 cents back as cash; the 21 cents may be applied to your end balance at the register; or the store may keep the overage, adjusting the coupon’s value down to match the sale price of the item.

Now, you may be thinking that 21 cents isn’t a big deal. But overage can equal both big business and big savings. It isn’t always pocket change. Recently I had a coupon for $4 off any cosmetic product from a major manufacturer. Cosmetic remover was just $1.14. (And yes, cosmetic remover is a cosmetic product!)

Now, I had $2.86 in overage. What happened to it? Well, my store’s coupon policy allows shoppers to receive their coupon overage back in cash, and I essentially was paid $2.86 to take the cosmetic remover home. That’s a deal! And, because I had four coupons, I bought four removers and was “paid” $11.44 to buy these products – my favorite kind of shopping.

Several of my readers have asked questions about overage recently, so let’s further delve into overage and how it can be handled in different situations:

Dear Jill,

Sometimes I have a coupon for an amount that exceeds the item’s sale price, usually when the item is a store markdown. I have encountered three different responses.

If I purchase the item alone, the store either accepts the coupon but usually doesn’t give cash back. If I buy other additional items in order to get a total that exceeds the coupon value, I get the full coupon discount. How does the manufacturer reimburse the store for these different situations?

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