How Catalina Coupons Cause Store Theft

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Catalina Coupons Cause Theft?

Catalina couponsWhen we think about coupons, a lot of things come to mind: savings, stacking and possibly even fraud. However, I am fairly certain that if you were to jot down the first five things that come to your mind when I say the words “Catalina Coupons,” theft would not make your short list. In my case, it would be at the very top! When you shop in a store, you typically have a completely different perspective than someone who has run one. Certainly Catalina Coupons are a great way to save money for the avid couponer. For the store manager, they are an accounting nightmare and a huge opportunity for rampant theft in your operation. How, you say? I am glad you asked! This article will explain it and leave your head spinning!

Think back to the days before you were a couponer. Remember all the bad habits you had? How often did you take the coupons, especially Catalina coupons, from the register when you checked out? Do you even remember? If you did take them, did you use them or did you throw them away? Where did you throw them away? In the store, at your home or did you just do the old “no look parking lot toss” and let them land wherever they ended up after they left your hand? In any event, it’s safe to say that aside from serious couponers, point of sale checkout Catalina coupons are seldom redeemed. In most cases, the customer never realizes what they are and simply leaves them hanging from the coupon printer at the register.

Do Stores Get Paid from Catalina Coupons?

Many of you may have read the article that we put out earlier about how stores get paid for coupons. In that post, we walked you through the reconciliation process from the perspective of the cashier as well as the entire cash office.  This is where the real fun begins.  Say you are Johnny Anti-coupon and you don’t want any more clutter with your bags than the bags themselves so you choose not to remove the bright red and white coupon that will save you $2.50 on your next order.  You are certain it’s a scam because, after all, no store is just going to “give” their merchandise away, right?  So, you take your bags and off you head. When you do, the cashier promptly removes the coupon and saves it for later.  They will make a notation somewhere as to the value of the coupon and then continue with the next transaction as if nothing has happened.  This will happen over and over and over again throughout the course of the day, until it’s time for the cashier to go home.

How the Theft Occurs

When the cashier is ready to leave, they will take a total from their notes as to the total value of the Catalina Coupons that they have in their pockets.  When they pull their cash drawer and head to the office, they will slide the coupons into their drawer with all the others.  At the same time, they will remove that same amount of cash from their drawer and slide it into their pocket.  Of course, they are not going to stand in the middle of the front end of the store to do this. They will be slick about it.  By doing this, they have just guaranteed that their “overall” drawer total will balance. The discrepancy? The coupons will be over and the cash will be short. The Catalina Coupons that were left by the customers have now become the star player in a well thought out theft.

This scam is typically pulled in denominations for $10.00 or $20.00 and the cashier will get greedy, over-perform the transaction and eventually get caught.  The common answer to dodge this is “Well, the customer didn’t tell me they had these coupons until the end.  By the time they pulled them out of their purse and handed them to me, the total had been cashed out and I had shut my drawer.  I waited until my drawer opened for the next transaction and when it did, I simply put the coupons in the drawer and handed the customer the cash so that they didn’t have to wait any longer.”  Believable? You bet! True? Not so much. I can’t tell you the number of cashiers that try to pull this stunt thinking they are the very first ones to come up with the idea.  I am sure that you never in a million years would have thought of something like this.  After reading this article and seeing what happens behind the scenes, you will begin to see why prices continue to go up and front end staff continues to diminish. Let’s face it, the old saying “Good help is hard to find” is pretty much true. What’s harder to find is good, honest help.



  1. I know when I had my convenience store it was the hardest thing to find reliable honest help. If I could of I would of paid top dollar for honest help.

  2. Arlene Aesthetic says

    I used to work for safeway, and I didn’t see this happen at my store (the drawers were cumulative and would only be cashed out by the supervisors or the book keeper in the evenings. HOWEVER, one BIG problem that I haven’t seen you announce (although I haven’t been avidily following until now) is when the cashiers STEAL the coupons. What they do is, they’ll allow the catalina machine to print said coupons, but instead of handing the customer his/her coupons, they “forget” to give them to the customer. At the end of their shift they collect all coupons from ALL their customers & their orders and take them home for their own personal savings. ALOT of cashiers are doing this, especially with couponing being as big as it is right now. Some cashiers have been fired because stores consider that theft as well, given it is the customers property whether they want it or now. As a cashier we were told that if a customer doesn’t want their catalina or we forget to give it to them, we are to rip them up and throw them in the trash, but no one ever does it. Most people are figuring out ways to keep the coupons without giving them to the cashier. I’ve seen this at safeway as well as Target 🙁

  3. Gail Devine says

    Secretly I want to believe most everyone is honest and good but your post just popped that bubble. The people I surround myself are good, and I would be shocked to find my favorite clerks would do something like this. When my husband & I are at the register one of us watch the prices and verify with the advertised sale and coupon in hand, after my husband takes the register receipt he hands them to me and I verify everything the clerk said especially Catalina rewards (free money), but I wonder how many people have a tag team approach to make sure nothing goes awry? Thanks for the insight, I have printed and or forwarded the link to friends and family, thanks for the eye opener.

  4. Nice article – Arlene your extra post was nice as well

  5. Now what about other customers taking Catalinas? The grocery store near me it seems nobody who uses the self check out takes their coupons they are often hanging there. So when I enter the store and before I check out I walk past them and see if the coupons are left behind are ones I can use. One time there was a $10 Catalina left behindNow I am wondering is that okay to do that?

    • when I see catalinas left at the self-check out by other customers I ask the store personnel there if I could have them. they say yes since they just toss them in the garbage bin.

  6. I am a newbie to couponing..This is a great article and an eye opener… I will be taking my coupons from now on…Thanks

  7. I know this to be true because last summer Kroger had Wisk Catalina’s out for I believe 2 dollars. I had bought many of them but I didn’t know about the Catalina I was just trying to use my coupons. This young lady checked me out and only gave me some of my Catalina’s I knew she couldn’t have given me all of them because it didn’t add up. So I went to Customers Service to ask the associate about it she said she wasn’t sure at that time the cashier who checked me out over heard us and took the Catalina’s that had printed out for me and gave them quickly to the women behind me who didn’t buy any wisk. I knew something was wrong because she examined the Catalina’s and then gave me a portion of what had printed out. During that time I didn’t really know how Catalina’s worked, I do now. I asked an associate at another Kroger one day just talking about what happens to those Catalina’s that get left behind and told her my story. I was told they can’t use your Catalina’s because they are attached to your card, but now it makes sense . Not everyone is honest

  8. Wow! I work retail but one where coupons are not used as much so I would have never even thought of this! Very eye opening thank you!

  9. Marie Shackelford says

    Very interesting and I have actually seen cashiers not give the customer the coupon or even offer it. Gonna keep a better look out now. Me however I never forget mine,lol..

  10. thery try anything to make a few pennies its not worth getting caught

  11. sure does make you think!! There’s a cashier at a local Walgreen’s who NEVER gives me the register rewards-she always looks me straight in the eye & says-‘nope, nothing printed’-I never have that problem with any other cashier there. The Catalina machine at that register is situated so the customer cannot see it. I’m a trusting person (and newer at this) so I’ve always believed that there was something wrong with the machine, or the way I did the transaction. After reading this-I can say THAT won’t ever happen again! Sad part is that things like this will probably make it harder for the honest people around.

    • If you know that you should be getting an RR and the cashier doesn’t give you one or says that it didn’t print, then I think you have all the right to talk to the manager and complain. I never had any problems with my local Walgreens, but there was a time that this happened (not done purposely by the cashier though, she had problems with her cash register), the manager fixed everything and gave me my RR.

  12. I understand that theft by employee does happen but not as often as you say. I very much resent the tone in which this article is written. You are insinuating that cashiers, in most part, are theives and dishonest people. I must whole-heartedly disagree with you on this. On the whole, cashiers and other store employees are honest and hard working people. These people cannot afford to lose their job over stealing money from their registers.

    I will not tell you how; but I am associated with the Kroger Corporation and have been for many years. Let me turn the tables for just a minute. I am an avid couponer-binder and all! I will venture to say that money lost or actual theft in grocery stores comes from the consumer! Shoppers are constantly trying to “sneak” coupons into a large stack-hoping that the cashier “will just let them through”. Don’t think for one minute that cashiers do not know that you profile them. They know exactly what you are doing. Sure the young boy is an easy target because “he just doesn’t care”. He doesn’t care because his parents are most likely supporting him and it is a part-time job. The middle-aged woman who scrutinizes your coupons is only doing her job. She is doing what her manager or corporate office has told her. The men, women and even young adults are doing their best to keep their job in this horrible economy. They may be the only source of income for their family. Please remember that your cashier is only doing their job and is not “out to get you” the next time you go through their line.

    • Teri, if you have read my posts enough, you know that I don’t “insinuate” anything. I am pretty much black and white. Nowhere in this article do I state that “all cashiers” or “most cashiers” are crooks. I simply showed an example of how disregarded Catalina coupons can cause store theft. I would like to think that as discerning adults, we would be able to read this article and realize that only those cashiers with a poor moral compass would be the ones to actually attempt this. In no way was this to lump all cashiers into the same category. Again, if that’s what I wanted to do, the title of the article would have been “All cashiers are thieves that steal Catalina coupons”.

  13. Wow- nice article. I never thought for even a second about cashiers stealing catalinas. Now I will be watching all cashiers very carefully.

  14. Lisa Hebert says

    Very good article, very sad though, so much fraud comes from inside the store and not the customer!

  15. I wonder how many walgreens register rewards I have thrown away over the years.

  16. Kim mahoney says

    Wow! I cannot believe the lengths people will go to to steal! Thanks for writing this article. I will definitely never make the mistake of leaving them behind again…of course I wouldn’t because I am a Wizkid!

  17. Articles like this make me feel so UNcreative, ha! I would never have thought of that.

  18. Susan Clark says

    Great article. And your right I would of never had that on my list. Sooner or later you will be caught. It is not worth it.

  19. Nice article. I think CVS probably doesn’t have as much of a problem with this because you have to have your Extra Care Card to use your ExtraBucks. Smart move, CVS!

  20. Christine Smatlak says

    Wow, another great article. I see people leaving their cats all the time and I ask them do you want this, its like money and most just give it to me. But of course, I just another consumer and I ask first. 🙂

  21. Randi Greene says

    I now always make sure I am handed everything that comes out of that machine. Even if it’s something I won’t use, I get it. I shudder to think of how many of them I let go a year or two ago.

  22. Christine says

    Carol, I have never, anywhere in the country, been in a Walgreens where the coupon printer was hidden from view. I wonder if that cashier hides it on purpose? Especially when you say that you don’t have that issue with anyone else in that store.

    And being a cashier and bank teller for many years, I never would have thought of trading coupons in for cash out of my drawer. The places I worked, had that happened, it would have been written up everyt ime.

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