Frequently Asked Questions: Why Are My Coupons Printing Without a Barcode?

I have received quite a few questions and comments from readers asking why their coupons are printing without a UPC barcode.

See, previously, most coupons looked like this:

But now both your insert and printable coupons are looking more like this:

This is because since summer of 2011 manufacturers and retailers are supposed to be transitioning to the new barcode system known as Databar and move away from the old UPC barcode.  While the change is being adopted by manufacturers and they are issuing their new coupons using the new databar, most retailers have been slow in adopting this change.  That is because retailers need to change their registers to be able to recognize and scan the new databar.  This is why these new coupons are beeping at some of your stores.  It is not the coupons are invalid, but because the registers are not yet updated to recognize and scan the new coupons.

So what can you do about it?

  • Complain to both your store management as well as the manufacturer about these coupons not scanning.  If you voice your concern to both parties, retailers may speed up the process of updating their registers.  If you complain to the Manufacturers they my also pressure retailers to update their registers.  Going back to the old UPC system is not a solution as the Databar is the new standard.
  • As time consuming as it may seem, sometimes the job of educating cashiers pays off.  Instead of spending time with your cashier arguing the validity of your coupons, explain to them the change and show them the differences and why the coupon won’t scan easily.  Explain to your cashier that since the coupon won’t scan the coupon will need to be entered manually so the discount can be applied.

I hope this helps answer the question of why coupons are looking differently these days.

Thanks In Good Cents!

  • Carol

    Is there a way to tell which ones will double from looking at the new barcodes?

  • Ruth

    GREAT Information…. Thank you.

  • Rebecca

    I’m having some trouble with the new databars not scanning and a lot of the retailers, including Walmart, in my area are not accepting them if they don’t scan.

    • smdelay

      This is my problem also. Some of the retailers are saying that if the coupon doesn’t scan we can’t take them and then we lose.

  • Rob

    As a manager in retail, Databar is a dream come true for stores and a possible nightmare for couponers who try and cheat the system. The information that Databar contains helps the register automatically know if the coupon is expired, or is not for the item that was purchased due to a different size, weight, etc. There’s nothing like a so called extreme couponer who gets upset at a cashier and then makes them call a manager over all because they can’t read a coupon properly. Going above the stores to Corporate is one of the best ways to speed up the process if stores in your area aren’t accepting the new barcodes. With that being said, the coupons that still have both codes can still be used improperly so have fun while it lasts.

  • pennyscents

    I would think stores would want to get on board with anything that would prevent coupon misuse. Hopefully they update their systems quickly. Especially WM, b/c I do know that they will not accept a coupon that will not scan. I do hope there is a way to tell which ones double, and which ones don’t, though. There are some things that I would, or would not buy depending on if it was, or wasn’t going to.

  • Tracy N.

    Thank you for this post. It has brought new information to light. I hope it helps eliminate coupon fraud, making life a little easier for the honest people.