A Step in the Right Direction Regarding Wal-Mart and GS1 DataBar Coupons

Have you been having trouble redeeming newer coupons that look similar to this? Hopefully a solution is on the way...

In my recent post Attention Couponers: What does GS1 Mean to You?, I discussed my discovery that coupons with the new GS1 DataBar on them and without the traditional UPC would not work at Wal-Mart. The reason for the problem is that Wal-Mart’s coupon policy requires that they scan all coupons, and these new databars could not be scanned. According to the comments from you readers that I received in response to my post, printables, insert, and package coupons all had the new GS1 codes on them.

As mentioned, I put in a media request with Wal-Mart to find out if they were aware of this issue, and what they were planning to do to resolve it. I had previously contacted my local store on numerous occasions to no avail– both employees and managers had not even heard of GS1.

I was getting a little worried until I received an emailed response to my request yesterday. Here is what a Wal-Mart spokesperson said and that they wanted me to pass along to you in regards to this issue:

“Walmart is working on improving the acceptance of all GS1-format paper coupons. In the interim, stores have processes in place to first visually verify the correct item is being purchased and then manually key the coupon for redemption.”

I was glad to have received a response, but concerned at the prospect of cashiers having to learn a new system, and how long the process would take. I checked Wal-Mart’s online coupon acceptance policy to see if any changes had been made, and I did not see any. I contacted the representative back who provided me with this information for further clarification, but I have not heard anything further.

Today I had to go to Wal-Mart to pick up my son’s birthday cake, so I decided to do a little test. I brought just a couple of coupons with me– one with both a UPC and GS1 on it, and a new one with only the GS1. I also printed out the emailed response that I had received from Wal-Mart as back-up in the case of a problem.

I was shocked to find that both my regular UPC coupon and the new GS1 coupon were both scanned without issue! I even confirmed it with the cashier to make sure that I had seen correctly, and she laughed and seemed blissfully unaware as to why I would be concerned.

So this is definitely a step in the right direction. Next time that I head to the store, I will use some more GS1 coupons to confirm for sure that there will be no further acceptance problems.

If this is the case, that means that Wal-Mart may have already solved the problem completely. However, as much as I hope that this change is across the board at all Wal-Mart stores, I cannot be sure, so if you can provide some insight either way on what your experience is, that would be greatly appreciated. Feel free to comment below.

At least according to this blog’s stats, it seems that coupon users are starting to pick up on this change. Here are some of the web searches that are connecting people to this blog within the past week: “upc on coupons,” “what do the numbers mean on new gs1 codes coupons,” “no upc bars on the coupons,” “does target take gs1 coupons,” and “coupons printing without upc.”  This public awareness is a good thing, as it will encourage stores to update their systems and policies ( if they have not already done so) to accept these coupons.

Pretty soon coupons with these UPC bar codes on them will be a thing of the past.

About JLLopez1006

*Creator, writer, and designer of Live Simply, Live Thrifty, Live Savvy blog. *Contributing Blogger for FreeShipping.com blog.
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11 Responses to A Step in the Right Direction Regarding Wal-Mart and GS1 DataBar Coupons

  1. Good to know that they are starting to take these new coupons. Still no luck here but then again I do live out in the middle of nowhere so we may be the last to have this problem solved.

    • jllopez1006 says:


      Sorry to hear that, but do let us know if the situation changes. I have not tried any stores other than Walmart, so it is good to hear what is happening with others.

      Enjoy your weekend.

  2. Faith says:

    Could you forward the email you recieved from Walmart so I can share with our Walmart Manager?

    • JLLopez1006 says:


      My apologies for the delayed response. I do not know if I can forward the information received from the rep for Walmart, since they did not seem to want that. However, I have shared the information that I was allowed to share, so maybe you can use that in the same way that Lisa just did to take it to her local Walmart store?

      Thanks for being concerned about and involved in this issue.

      Enjoy your weekend.

  3. Lisa says:

    The WalMart here in Jacksonville, NC only take coupons with the GS1 code. I wasn’t aware of any changes and there I was at the register completely lost! The Asst. Store Mgr. explained that they can no longer manually input the coupons OR use the handheld scanner. I’ve contacted corporate but no response yet. I also have contacted all the coupon websites I know of with an email explaining this new policy as it was explained to me. I really wish the online coupon policy was updated with these changes! I check it before I enter the store and if it’s still the same, then how am I, or anyone else, supposed to be aware of this??

    • JLLopez1006 says:


      Sorry to hear about your coupon issues.

      Not sure if you read my most recent post on this issue, but if not, here it is:


      I am frustrated, as well, by these changes. A couple of weeks ago I was not able to redeem a perfectly good coupon due to these new standards. It is not the consumer’s fault if they do not scan. Thanks for sharing your experience.

      • Lisa says:

        Thank you so much! I was so tired when I was researching this subject and didn’t know of the other posts. They helped a lot! I’m still really new to couponing and it’s difficult enough to figure out without having these extra issues added. I’m actually meeting with the store manager of my local walmart this afternoon. He’s wanting the both of us to bring all info available to figure this out so that I can pass word in my area and he as well understands it better to pass word to employees. I will print your articles and take it to him so he can read them as well. Again, thank you! If not for these articles, I’d be hopelessly lost!

        • JLLopez1006 says:


          Thanks for sharing more about yourself.

          That is fantastic that you are speaking to the store manager. I have been thinking to get in touch with Walmart HQ as I did previously, because this policy is really distasteful to me. Unfortunately, these rules are coming down from HQ, so they will have to change their policy so that the stores can follow suit. The difficulty is that these changes have been made due to fraudulent “extreme couponers” and they are trying to limit damage due to such practices.

          Please let us know how your meeting went, as I am interested.

          As with all things, policies and practice change constantly, so it is a constant effort to stay informed.

          Thanks again.

          Enjoy your day.

          • Lisa says:

            The meeting went very well! Assistant Store Mgr Clint at Walmart on Yopp Road in Jacksonville, NC ( gotta give a shout out to him!) was VERY helpful! First thing we did was grabbed a few coupons with different barcodes (one with just GS1, one with both GS1 and UPC, and one with just the UPC) and we went shopping! He did some test scans and tried to figure out why certain ones weren’t working and we found that the old UPC codes have been completely phased out of the WalMart system. They literally cannot accept any outside source coupons unless there is a GS1 on them. However, the coupons pulled from the products and coupons clipped from sale papers and newspaper ads (pretty much anything not printed) they WILL accept, even if it only has the UPC code. They just manually enter those in. The cashiers at my store will be at another meeting regarding it so he can explain it better. He had his email from corporate and I had this article and a few others pulled up. I’m am writing an article with all the information I have found on sites and from him for my FaceBook friends that coupon. Part of the problem was that I wasn’t reading the information on the coupons fully. I’ve only been at this for maybe a month at the most. The customer service mgr looked through my box’0’q’s and she actually found counterfeit ones! Mortifying as that is, I’m going through the rest today! Any site I use I will validate first!

            • Lisa says:

              He also told me information that I must pass on to you and anyone else that emails corporate. Corporate bounces those emails back to the store! Any response you get is actually from that store! I don’t like that system at all but I was on the phone with the mgr I met with and he said he had just read my email I sent.

              • JLLopez1006 says:

                Thanks for sharing your experience, Lisa. That is interesting.

                Yes, I have experienced that previously where I contacted Walmart and received a callback from the local store, which was not the most helpful. However, I found another way to get in touch with them, and was able to actually correspond with an agent speaking on Walmart’s behalf.

                That is good that they are willing to manually key in certain types of coupons. However, the prob is printable coupons. Often they do not trust those, and if they do not scan, they will not want to honor them. I have gotten at least a couple of coupons directly from manufacturer’s Facebook pages through promos that they are running that could not be used due to this policy. This is something that companies themselves should be concerned about, as it may mean lost profit for them. I get my coupons through Coupons.com and similar verifiable websites, and sometimes they are simply fussy and will not scan. I do not believe that the consumers should be penalized for that. Also some coupons may not scan on the flatbed scanner, but can scan using the handheld. I scan all of my purchases through NCP, so I know how difficult it can be to scan some items even with a handheld scanner.

                Thanks again for reporting back on your findings. I do hope that this is something that Walmart corporate is looking into. Already they do not offer perks that other stores offer, like weekly sales that are really good and double (or even triple) coupons, so they really need to reevaluate. I am a Walmart loyalist, and it makes me question whether it makes financial sense to continue shopping there in light of these policies. I stopped shopping at Walgreens previously when they would not accept printable coupons, and they have since changed their policy, so I will shop there.

                Enjoy your weekend, Lisa! :)

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