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.