June 16, 2012

HEB Fresh or Free policy explained



Are you ready to learn the best-kept secret about finding terrific bargains at HEB?  


If you've ever seen another HEB shopper checking out expiration dates on food items throughout the store, you probably saw someone working the Fresh or Free policy.



The HEB Fresh or Free policy is really simple -- basically, if you find an item in the store that's expired, your store will reward you with a fresh version of that item for free!


So here's an example of how it works:  Say you are buying Yoplait strawberry yogurt, and you notice some of the cups on the shelf expired yesterday.  Bring one expired cup and one that's within date up to the registers.  Your cashier will give you the fresh one for free!


You can also use the Fresh or Free policy on produce -- if you find withered or past-its-prime produce on the shelves, you can take those up along with a fresh version to get it free as well.


You can get up to one free item per shopper -- so if you stumble across a whole display of expired products (which has happened to readers of the San Antonio Budget Grocery Facebook page) you need to call everyone you know to come take advantage of the free food.


If you've ever used the HEB Fresh or Free policy yourself, please share your story in the comments below!


Got a great HEB bargain to share?  Follow me on Twitter, check out my boards on Pinterest, or keep up with all the action on Facebook. 

47 comments:

  1. I didn't know this applied to produce! Thanks for the explanation.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for sharing!! I had never heard of this! So could you take Strawberries up there that had a couple mildewed strawberries and get a pack for free?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Here's the HEB page that talks about this on their website: http://www.heb.com/store/whats-in-store/departments/produce/800018

      The way I read it, produce does qualify for Fresh and Free -- and I've heard other shoppers have used it on produce before. But I have to say my store, which is the Kitty Hawk location, is VERY good about weeding out old produce, so I've never had the opportunity to test it out myself. :D

      Delete
  3. I remember doing this with my mom when I was younger. We would go to the store and do our shopping and look at other food and come out with alot of free food cause they didn't check their dates real well where we used to live.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I use this policy all the time, there are a few things I feel the need to point out. Only some stores will honor the policy with produce that is not dated. For example I have found several of the party trays with cut fruits or veggies and gotten one of those for free since they do have an expiration date.On the other hand if you find something without a date but obviously bad, like MKs example of moldy strawberries some stores will let you have one free and some won't.The policy has nothing written about undated perishable items so the manager can use their own discretion. You said one item per shopper but the policy is one of each type of item per shopper. I get multiple items just about every time I go. The policy is nowhere on hebs website and many stores cant seem to find a copy of the policy, although all the managers are familiar with it.If you email corporate they will email you the written policy.It states “We guarantee the freshness of all products in our store. If you find a product with a sell date earlier than today, we will gladly exchange it for a free FRESH replacement item (not redeemable for cash). Limit one free item on any like UPC. On bulk items normally sold by the pound you will receive one pound free.” I have gotten lots of items that sell by the pound, such as meat and gotten an amount equal to what I find expired for free.Ive never had a store give me a pound only of the item but I have heard of some stores doing that.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I used to find stuff all the time at the HEB Plus on Zarzamora. I'd bring it to their attention but never got anything for free. :/ I'm always checking dates just because I'm not about to pay for expired food. Now that I know this, I gotta try it out at my Lincoln Heights and Oak Park HEBs!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I live in that area Lincond Heights is really really good about keeping expired items off the shelfs. I regularly find items at oak park.Look for organic items and the expensive cheeses in the deli area. Also reach to the back of the shelf as they always put the new items in the front instead of rotating. I found some dried peaches there a few days ago that had expired feb 2010.I also got 3 boxes of cereal by reaching to the back. If you really want to find alot the HEB on Austin hwy is a good location to look in.

      Delete
  6. Sadly people take advantage of this policy. In my opinion I wish it didn't exist since heb has customers whom hide items a day or 2 from expiration so they come back to get it along with the free item. I work for heb so I see it all the time. :/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I do too, but for my store the pre made veggies and fruits are pulled two days in advanced,, it ups on shrink,, but keeps the freebie shoppers at bay,, the two hebs I shop at regularly mark down there mat in the evening one does ground beef the other will do jalapeño bombers just depends on where you go

      Delete
    2. Once every few months, I buy fruit and open it with it being moldy inside, and I have been understanding about it in the past. I would have never considered using this policy until about a month ago, when two weeks in a row, the bread was moldy. The first time, I just threw it out, not wanting to go to the trouble of returning it. When it happened again, I had to wait in line at the store, wasting my time, and having to buy bread all over again. All I got was my money back for the one loaf I didn't throw away after having to make a special trip to purchase a new loaf both times, I told the employee about the first loaf, and was not compensated at all for that, since I had thrown it away. Since it is clear to me now I have to spend my time checking if the bread is expired every time I shop, I can either use the policy from now on (I haven't yet) or shop at another store.
      .

      Delete
  7. I used to work at heb ..its true but its their out of date garrenty. They don't publicize it they in fact canceled It at one point in time till outraged people complained if they can't honor that garrenty then who do they expect them to honor its product garrenty which if its doesn't meet or exceed expectations they will cheerfully refund your money. I have used this garrenty before and cooked a full bbg on hebs tab..its just alittle embarrassing .. but free makes up for it..

    ReplyDelete
  8. I didn't know this was available. I have brought expired things to workers attention on several occasions but I never got anything free.... I will make sure I ASK next time! Denise Y

    ReplyDelete
  9. This applies to any dated items. I've gotten quite a few cake or brownie mixes that were out of date. Also had luck with the fruit & veggie trays that are dated. I've heard of people getting cakes & cookies in the bakery but every time I've looked in the bakery it is all neat and in date items.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I was VERY excited to find moldy strawberries on Saturday at the HEB on Grissom & Tezel. Only to bring them to the register and have a manager tell me because they don't have an expireation date, they could only take them off the shelf- not give me a free one. I was very disappointed and couldn't find the policy online anywhere to see if I was right or they were. :(

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Heather -- Here's the URL for the fresh produce guarantee at HEB: http://www.heb.com/store/whats-in-store/departments/produce/800018

      I hope that helps!

      Delete
  11. hi,i will like to share my experience with this policy i was in mcallen heb store and it was me and my mom and we found alot of expired products well the manager got mad do ,he folow me to my car and the folow my mom to the bus stop in a public waithing stop,they where stocking us ,well the guy talk to my mom saying that u cant do that if u are family u cant rite togeter and alot of crap.please people dont let this guy try to go over you.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I am so tired of buying clementines and getting home and a few already being bad. A lot of times I don't even buy them because they aren't fresh. So yesterday I remembered this policy and took up a bag of clementines that had some really bad ones in it. Mentioned the free thing, and was told it's not for produce. Only for expired items. May need to print out the produce guarantee. Wonder if that is more of a policy for if you bought it and discovered it was bad, you could bring it back for a new one. Heck, I could buy the bag and turn around and go to customer service if they weren't busy. Not that'd I'd try this all the time. Just curious.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is exactly what the policy means. If you buy produce (which does not have an actual expiration date), you can take it back for a replacement. You don't get anything free at the register.

      Delete
    2. My friend from work does this all the time- she does it at the register and showed me her register where she got about ten things free.

      Delete
  13. I tried this with a bag of clementines that had a whole bunch of spoiled ones in the bag on Monday. I was told it doesn't apply to produce, only expired items. So I just bought the good bag anyway. So I came back to re-look at this post. Going to mention the fresh produce guarantee next time. maybe they just mean if you buy it and it's bad you can take it back for an exchange. IDK. I'd be interested to hear if anyone has had good luck with the produce part of it.

    ReplyDelete
  14. the HEB on 24th and culebra are really bad about rotating stock. I use to watch the regulars leave with hundreds of dollars worth of food several times a week. I unfortunately couldn't use the policy at the time because I was married to an employee and his boss would threaten him each time i tried.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I have a question regarding the freshness guarantee. Since most of the products (meat, fish & produce) have a date & time stamp, would something qualify as expired if it is on the same day you are shopping, but past the time you are there?
    Thanks,
    Brian

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You mean if it says "2:30" and you're there at 5:30...? That is an interesting question.

      Delete
    2. yes, it does count. but with meat and fish, or weighed items like that, you only get a lb for free, not the equal amounts of what you've found. or at least that's how they do it at my store.

      Delete
  16. yes thats why it has a time stamp! if they dont call heb corporate

    ReplyDelete
  17. On the evening of March 22 I found a couple of cheesecakes in the freezer with Sell by March 19 stickers on them. When I went to check out with other items as well, I was told that the "manager in charge" was not going to allow me to get a free one. At the time I was tired after a long day and I didn't feel like making a big deal about it, but on my way home I thought "I wonder if there is a clause in their fresh or free policy about them reserving the right to not honor certain items?" Anyway, I think I'm going to call the corporate office next week so I can be enlightened!

    ReplyDelete
  18. Here is the policy:

    -

    “We guarantee the freshness of all products in our store.
    If you find a product with a sell date earlier than today,
    we will gladly exchange it for a free FRESH replacement item
    (not redeemable for cash). Limit one free item on any like UPC.
    On bulk items normally sold by the pound you will receive one pound free.”

    Sincerely,

    H-E-B Customer Relations

    I go every day to both HEB's in Kerrville, TX. Here are some tips:

    1. If asked by an employee what I am doing, I politely explain that I am looking for out-of-date stuff.
    2. I am always friendly. Remember, this is not my policy, nor the employee's policy, but rather, it is the policy of the HEB employee's employer.
    3. I am never confrontational. If there is a dispute or disagreement, I will NEVER ARGUE with an employee in the store. Rather, I will call the HEB customer service number for clarification. Phone: 800-432-3113.
    4. I ALWAYS leave the product rotation in better condition than that which I found it.
    5. I am sympathetic toward special circumstances. For example, during a store inspection by corporate management, I was asked by an HEB employee if I would forgo my out-of-date shopping ritual for that day. I complied. It never hurts to accumulate good Karma points.
    6. I always thank the HEB employees who process the out-of-date transaction.

    Remember, life is short and quid pro quo. You reap what you so, so, be cool about things!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Tried this the other day and the cashier told me it only applied to items bought and taken home. Mean people.

    ReplyDelete
  20. When I was diagnosed with pre-diabetes, I was so happy to find "Glycemic Health" bread reasonably priced at HEB and ONLY at HEB. One day, they only had 3 loaves and all were expired. I didn't know about this policy then but just happened to come across an article/blog? later and Emailed the HEB customer service reporting what I found at the store. The local manager responded the next day and offered a free loaf. All I had to do was to mention his name to get it. I thought it was nice of them and the response was timely. Another day, the free item on the yellow coupon for 'buy this and get that free" was all sold out. So I asked an employee if I could get another similar item(brown rice in place of white rice, I think) and he said yes. Again all I had to do was to tell the cashier "so-and-so said OK" and he honored the coupon. I don't always have pleasant experience there, so these were notable events.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Today we found a brisket and a ham out of date, the manager refused to let us have a free one he said he could give us a lb free because these were considered bulk items? Calling corporate on Monday

    ReplyDelete
  22. I found lots of frozen meals and candy and donuts out dated it was so awesome to get them free...
    God Bless

    ReplyDelete
  23. I do this all the time.. It's fun and I save a ton of money..

    ReplyDelete
  24. I work at HEB and it's true. I do want to say, whenever I first started working there it made me really irritated because there use to be carts full of out of date items. Since we are expected to scan a certain amount of items per minute (they are calculated through the computer) it would drop our count down whenever we had to change the prices of everything (they take them so seriously that we managers hold small meetings with you to try to encourage you to bring your IPMs up.). But now I think its a great policy, not only does it force us to check the items we have on shelf, but it prevents us from selling items that can make people sick that would lead to much larger legal implications. So if a cashier or whoever is checking you out is a little agitated about it, just keep in mind that they probably are thinking more on Items scanned Per Minute (IPMs) than the larger positive implications that out-of-date hunters have on our stores. Happy Hunting. by the way, this policy doesn't apply to HEB employees either, so I'm a little jealous.

    ReplyDelete
  25. I bought some organic grapes this week and when I opened them they were full of spider webs and mold. I went to get a new pack and asked about receiving my item for free and getting the refund and they told me no, I could only exchange the item for a good one. Should I contact corporate? Those packs are NOT cheap..plus I buy 2 a week, at $5.98 a pack.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Me and my husband were informed yesterday that the policy was going to change. That HEB was only going to allow one item per customer with a price limit of $5. And that if the item was worth more than $5 then the item would be discounted by $5 dollars.

    So long to a good thing. :(

    ReplyDelete
  27. does this guarantee work if item expires that same day? like pack of meat says sell by jan 1 and i found it jan 1 is that legit?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nope, it has to have expired the day before.

      Delete
  28. This policy is amazing. We hit some tough times in the past, and would spend 5 hours on a Saturday every week roaming for different stores. We'd end up with around $150 in free produce, meat, snacks, and bread.

    We don't need it as much anymore, but we still check on occasion. We snagged two massive packs of brisket meat for the grill this past weekend, worth a whopping $50 total! I also managed some yummy smoked salmon, and a lot of gourmet cheese.

    For newbies, the best items to check for are:
    Yogurt, boxed/bagged salads, expensive breads ( less likely to sell in time ) items that are tossed behind shelves/look dusty, orange juice, vegan meat replacements, tubed ground meat, Little Debbie type pastries, Mexican cheeses and dairy product, and lunch meat.

    ReplyDelete
  29. I was told by an Heb manager that the policy is now that you can only take a TOTAL OF ONE PRODUCT FREE now. I had found multiple different expired iems but he would only let me pick one to have free. When I asked why, he said too many people were taking advantage of the policy and getting too much free stuff.

    ReplyDelete
  30. I was told my store in Austin doesn't honor this policy at all, even when I produced rotten clementines.

    ReplyDelete
  31. The managers at small heb here in Del Rio are so rude. Every time I go, they follow me and harass me because I find alot of expired meats. They argue and talk rude to you. They would say that its there job to harass you. They get mad because their workers can't do their jobs. I made complaints of their unprofessional behavior but nothing. How sad.

    ReplyDelete
  32. I use this policy all of the time in South Austin. Today I found 5 packages of brisket dated for yesterday. I did use the F or F exchange on the largest package of meat, and then I let the meat market manager know they were about to loose $100 on expired products so he could pull them.

    ReplyDelete
  33. I attempted to use this policy and was advised that they had until 8am to remove said items and that because the shopping took place prior to 8am they would honor they freshness guarantee. The manager stated that if this happened again they would involve the police!

    ReplyDelete
  34. Just an FYI...The policy that allows you to get a free non-expired item is called the Freshness Guarantee, not the fresh or free policy. You can only obtain a copy of the Freshness Guarantee by emailing the corporate offices.

    ReplyDelete
  35. So...we moved to San Antonio last year and this whole one-grocery-chain thing kind of makes me mad. I don't like one store having a monopoly because then it's hard to work with them on anything. And of course our chain only seems to have coupons for people who purchase processed food. So...is there anywhere in San Antonio that has good prices and/or coupons for primal compliant foods? I love Sprouts, but the Sprouts here are tiny, for whatever reason. Whole Paycheck is...well...just that. Trader Joe's rarely has good quality or prices. So I'm left with HEB (who only rewards non-Primal coupons) or central market...still HEB...who is more expensive still. I'd love some advice!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Lauren! Obviously this is a HEB-centric blog, but my advice would be to check out the small international grocery stores that are dotted around town. You might like some of our Asian grocery stores especially -- they have a lot of raw food ingredients at really reasonable prices. Hope that helps!

      Delete
  36. A Houston Manager sait the freshness guarentee is stoping in May. It that True?

    ReplyDelete