Let’s get real. Whether you’re new to couponing, or a veteran Binder Lady, this new bar code stuff can be really frustrating and confusing! You may have noticed some changes lately – not just with the coupons, but with the stores that are accepting (or NOT accepting!) the coupons. This, friends, is the transformation of the bar code. It’s the Evolution of Coupons, and we are witnessing it, first hand! We’ll break down this technical and often aggravating new system, to make it easier to know what’s going on with our coupons!
The picture on the coupons told you what to buy. The verbiage was simple, and easy to follow. Values were smaller, because products were cheaper. Ahhhh, the 80’s.
Coupons are switching to something called the GS1 Databar. Sounds fancy, doesn’t it? In the modern coupons above, you’ll notice 2 bar codes. The one on the LEFT is the original, old style bar code. The NEW bar code is on the right. It’s longer and stacked. While stores are updating their systems to read the new bar codes, manufacturers are leaving the old bar codes on the coupons. Problems arise for us in the store, when the store’s system hasn’t been updated AND the old bar code isn’t on the coupon. If the store can’t scan the coupon, why would they accept it?
Now, for the good news! This phasing out of old bar codes won’t last forever. This new system will also help manufacturers more easily specify what the coupon is for, and it allows for different values and unique offers, as well. The old bar code doesn’t allow for these things. Instead of having to wait for a manager to come clear your coupon, or debating with a cashier that it IS a valid coupon, the barcode specifies EVERYTHING via the register when it is scanned….leaving the cashier’s only job to scanning it.
This new system will ALSO reduce coupon fraud, because manufacturers are allowed to embed much more information in the bar code with much more specific restrictions. Coupon fraud hurts EVERY couponer and consumer. Values of coupons drop, stores tighten the reins on their acceptance policies, more shelf-clearing occurs, and couponers as a whole, get a bad rep. This system will combat fraud, which HELPS us!
Yes, the transition is frustrating for us right now. When in doubt, simply ask the manager of the store if they have updated their systems to allow customers to use GS1 bar code coupons. Stores will miss out on being paid for allowing consumers to use coupons, so they are working hard to get their systems updated ASAP!
For you technical and research-y folks out there, you can get more information about the GS1 Bar Code System by CLICKING HERE!
*Just a note – The Binder Ladies will NEVER teach you how to “read” a bar code. That’s not for us, as couponers and consumers to know. It does you no good to have that ability, in fact, it makes coupon fraud much easier when this is learned. As moral couponers, we can coupon like pros without having to “read” bar codes!