So I thought now would be the perfect time to discuss the difference between stacking coupons and piggybacking coupons -- and how one is acceptable under the current HEB coupon policy, while the other is not!
What does stacking coupons mean?
A coupon stack is when you use two coupons -- a manufacturer coupon and a store coupon -- on the same item for double discounts at the register.
So for example, if you have a manufacturer coupon for $1.50 off any Cover Girl product, and a store coupon for $1 off Cover Girl, you combine both coupons on the same item for a total of $2.50 off.
Although many other chains offer and encourage coupon stacking (think CVS, Walgreens, and Target) HEB ended their stacking policy back in January of 2013. If you haven't printed a copy of the HEB coupon policy since before then, grab yours here.
What does piggybacking coupons mean?
A coupon piggyback is when you have a store coupon for a free item X when you buy item Y, and you also use a manufacturer coupon for item Y, which you are paying for.
In this instance, you are buying two or more items, and using two or more coupons to discount the items. The manufacturer coupon attaches to item Y, and the store coupon attaches to item X.
Here's a more concrete example of piggybacking:
Buy a Stouffer's Large Family Size Entrées (priced around $10 per box), get a free pack of Nestlé Toll House Cookie Dough and a free bag of Nestlé Fun Size or Assorted Mini Candy with in-store coupons. Use this $1.50 off Stouffer's coupon to drop your price even lower. Your price drops to around $8.50 for the Stouffer's, and then you can use the HEB in-store coupons to get the cookie dough and the candy for free.
Piggybacking is acceptable under the HEB coupon policy, but can freak some cashiers out. Be prepared to show your copy of the HEB coupon policy -- which says "one coupon will be accepted per qualified item" -- or ask for a manager as necessary.
Or, if you feel weird about any possible confrontation at the register, it's totally acceptable not to do the deal -- that's cool too!
What about piggybacking coupons when you have a BOGO coupon?
The gray area in the coupon policy comes when you have a true BOGO coupon involved, where you buy item X and get a second item X for free.
If the BOGO coupon is a store coupon, many stores will allow you to use a manufacturer coupon on the first item (the one you would otherwise be paying full price for.)
On the other hand, if the BOGO coupon is a manufacturer coupon, it will attach to BOTH items in the register -- which means your store coupon will beep and probably be refused (which it should be, since the store runs a big risk of not being reimbursed for the coupon at that point.)
My store won't let me piggyback coupons! What do I do?
My first question would be: did your cashier refuse the piggyback, or did the store manager?
If your cashier refused the piggyback, I have a series of suggestions here on how to deal with a coupon-challenged cashier. The best way to resolve the situation, either at the register when it's happening or going forward, is to talk to a manager.
In my personal experience, store managers have a much broader awareness of the coupon policy than individual cashiers might, and will be willing to help address training issues in their store.
If the store manager or manager on duty refused your legitimate coupons, you have a couple of different options.
You can email HEB Customer Service to share your experience and ask for clarification. Most of the time, HEB will email you back a letter that you can keep in your coupon binder to show at the register, and they will also follow up with the individual store.
You can also simply go to another HEB store that is more coupon-friendly! I am a big believer in spending my hard-earned cash with businesses that want to do business with me. If you're not sure which HEB stores are coupon-friendly, readers on the HEB Bargain Hunter Facebook page are ALWAYS glad to share their stories and advice about this!
Finally, you can always simply decide that piggyback coupon deals are not for you.
Not everyone has the time and stomach for the occasional argument at the register, and if that's not how you want to spend your time, I totally get it. Sometimes life is just too short to stress out over a missed deal!
Hopefully you found this discussion of coupon stacking and coupon piggybacking useful. Feel free to share your experiences with piggybacking at HEB in the comments below!