Understanding the Walgreens Register – Updated

Lately I have gotten a few emails from readers expressing their frustrations while shopping at Walgreens.  There are a few things I have learned from my shopping at Walgreens that can help you avoid some grief while shopping that store.

A common complaint is about beeping coupons.  At Walgreens any coupon that is above the value of the item will make the register beep.  In theory, the coupon could be adjusted down but it has been my experience that cashiers at Walgreens are always reluctant to do this.  Register tip #1:  The Walgreens register adds up the value of all of your items and applies the discount of each coupon to this value.  In layman’s terms: if you are buying four products priced $0.79 each and want to use four $1 coupons.  You know the register will beep and the coupon will need to be adjusted down.  The register has added the value of all of these items and you have $3.16 in value to use coupons against.  So, if you want a beepless experience instead of handing four coupons, hand three and you will pay 16 cents for your purchase.  I think this is better than walking away empty handed because the cashier refused to adjust your coupons down.

Another common complaint is: “I was not allowed to use a buy one get one coupon with a buy one sale”.  There are three ways buy one get one sales are handled by the Walgreens register.

  • Let’s start with the worst one:  one item rings at full price and the other rings at $0.00.  In most cases really it will depend on the cashier you have and how well s/he is trained in coupon usage whether s/he will let you use a buy one get one coupon to get both items free.  In my experience I have been asked to “buy one” and get the rest three free.
  • Another way buy one get one sales are handled at Walgreens is when an in-ad coupon deducts the second free item.  In this case, I always hand my manufacturer coupons first.  Then after all of my manufacturer coupons have been applied I hand out the Walgreens coupons.  This is actually a tip I got from the Hotcouponworld forums: keep the Walgreens coupons out of sight until all of your manufacturer coupons have been scanned.  If the cashier insists on getting the Walgreens coupons first then s/he can go through the circular on her own and figure out which coupons apply.
  • Finally the last way buy one get one sales are handled is when the value of the free item is deducted at the end of your purchase.  In my experience this is mostly the case with make up or some vitamin sales.  In this case, when the item is being scanned you will see the initials BGLP next to the price of the item.  When you see this, you can expect the value of the free items deducted to be in one single line at the bottom of your receipt.

Edited to Add: I forgot to mention another common complaint:  “The register beeped when the cashier scanned my register reward.”  A register reward is considered a manufacturer coupon.  If in your order you are buying six items and have six other manufacturer coupons, plus a register reward to help pay for it, the register reward will beep.  Like another reader commented if you have the register reward scanned first and then all of your coupons, your purchase should be completed without any beeps.  I have tried this and some times it has worked and other times it has not.  The simple solution is to add a “filler” item to your order: a small inexpensive item like a pencil or a piece of candy.  The register reward then will “attach” to this item.  The rule at Walgreens is this: you must have as many items as manufacturer coupons you have.  Notice I bolded the word manufacturer because this rule doesn’t include Walgreens coupons.

Full disclosure: if you think this post was about circumventing the Walgreens register please know this: I have not, in any way, advised my readers to use this information in any way that is illegitimate.  If an item is buy one get one free and the person has a buy one get one coupon, the store will get reimbursed the full value of the coupon from the manufacturer.  The customer is mainly using the coupon as a form of payment.  Also, in theory, coupons should be adjusted down to match the value of the purchased item but by refusing to do this most stores are actually losing a sale and maybe even a customer.