Saturday, November 8, 2008

Jewel Catalina -- The Final Reckoning -- $300 Worth for $10-$15

Note: I updated this post after returning from the really, truly final (and most bizarre) Jewel run.

OK, so after a final three transactions in the midst of the Saturday rush today (and then another run after bedtime) I'm ready to total up my Jewel Catalina haul. I spent between $12 and $15, depending on how I add it up (I put in about $35 cash and ended up with $20 in cats). If I am able to get my $4 refunded for the Pyramid catalina, it will be more like $10 bucks. Here is what I got for my $10-$15:

12 Yogurt multipacks (6-8 count)
1 Lipton Onion Soup Mix
10 bags Chex and Cheerios Mix
3 boxes Cheerios w/ $1.50 Pampers coupons
5 boxes Total
3 boxes Golden Grahams
12 boxes Progresso broth
15 cans Progresso soup
3 cake mixes
2 Breyers ice cream
2 Lipton Green Tea
5 Lipton Pyramid Tea
2 Frosting
4 Salad Dressings
8 boxes micro popcorn
1 bag Totinos pizza rolls
5 boxes Macaroni Grill
3 boxes Lipton onion soup mix (for chip dip!)
6 bags various Green Giant frozen veggies

Since I did 8 transactions worth about $30 each, I know I got about $240 worth of food at the full prices. Of course, I never would have paid those prices, but still. Amazing.

Another way to look at it: I could assign my $10 investment to the category I most needed to buy: Progresso broth for making homemade soups. I would have been thrilled to get 12 of them for $10, under $1 a box. Then, I got ALL THAT other food for free.

I'm so tired right now, and yet I'm tempted to go back one more time after the kids go to bed to get some frozen vegetables and Macaroni Grill entrees. If I can fit any more frozen stuff into my freezer.

My trip today went smoothly except for the last of three trips through the checkout. First of all I went up with all Chex and Cheerios mix, and a handful of mostly Internet coupons. Now, most checkers at my local Jewel will turn these down, but occasionally the checker accepts them, and I am afraid to try this deal on the self-checkout since so far I have failed to get the cats twice that way.

This time, the checker wasn't bothered by the nature of the coupons, but pointed out that many of them were expired. I shyly asked if maybe we couldn't just use them as long as they still worked. She paged the manager and I steeled myself to get denied. The manager turned out to be the same woman who'd "helped" me last night. Great. But, surprise surprise, she told the checker to go ahead and use the coupons!

Second deal went without a hitch, but when gathering the third round of groceries, my calculator fell on the ground and broke into several pieces. This for some reason drove Nutmeg to tears. So the third time around, without my calculator, I was especially anxious to make sure the total was above $30 before paying. The checker didn't ask me for my Jewel card, so I thought I was good -- until I looked up and saw the total was only $17. Huh? I asked. Apparently she had scanned some other card?? Then she scanned mine and I paid, but no cats. Sure enough, the shelf prices had been higher than the register prices, and I was $1.50 short of $30.

Back to the service desk and the same manager, this time with a very tired 4-year-old who was lying on the floor. That same manager greeted me and I told her wearily that I wanted to return this bag of groceries and re-ring it along with one additional item. To my shock, she went in the back and came back with three $5 cats. And I was out of there!

God bless that woman.

Then, Oh Lord, the second run tonight. I guess I should have left well enough alone. At first it seemed like it was going so smoothly -- I saw a really nice checker who had talked to me early in the day, and I gathered two transactions worth of stuff, figuring there would be no waiting and I could do the two groups of stuff one after another. First, she pointed out that two of my Qs were expired and she consulted another employee who happened to be walking by. First, he said I couldn't use them, then he got a pen and circled on the other coupons where it said "one per purchase" and tried to claim I could only use one coupon. Sigh. Somehow I got through that, but then she said I couldn't use two coupons for the bogo Fleischmann's. She called a manager who said no. I don't think that's right, guess I should have printed out that Jewel coupon policy before going, but whatever.

But then, the g-d Catalinas didn't print! I trooped over to the service desk, where both the manager and the employee who had intervened on the coupons tried to explain to me that I had to spend $30 after sales, coupons, etc. Yeah yeah yeah, just please return these so I can rering them.

Returning them literally took an hour. The manager left and the other guy was perhaps mildly mentally impaired. I don't mean to be mean but he had the hardest time going through my receipt with all the coupons I'd used and doing the return. While I was waiting I walked over to the self-checkout, rang up my second order, paid out of pocket and got the cats no problem.

I showed the receipt and the cats to the employees who had said I couldn't get them for paying less than $30. I had just paid $13.

Then the employee tried to give me more money than I had paid. He was giving me back my coupons too, and I actually tried to argue with him that he was giving me the wrong amount. He went back to poring over the receipt, and in the end ended up giving me back exactly what I had paid, as I had explained to him would be correct. But he ALSO gave me back my three $5 cats.

Which is hilarious because if he had just given those to me to begin with, I wouldn't have needed to go through the return. I rerang the items at the self checkout that just worked, and it failed to print cats AGAIN. The employee helping the self checkouts told me it was because I had just gotten three cats on my card and it wouldn't do it twice. Sheesh, these employees are all full of Catalina myths and legends.

So obviously I won't bother complaining to Jewel that I didn't get the cats, since I got my old cats back in the end. My only guess as to why my transaction failed on two different registers to print cats? I may have taken the wrong size pizza rolls.


Cassie said...

now that is a great haul right there! good job!! :)

Annie's Antics :-) said...

Nice work!!!

I thought Jewel's claim to fame is that they ALWAYS accept expired Q's?!

You've inspired me to head back out - my 4yo is in bed so it's now safe to do so. LOL!

Melissa said...

I keep saying that I couldn't resist.. I went for one more shop.. yup.. another one tonight with my son.. the ALL was calling my name.. I am sure there was other stuff calling my name but I am tired of going through my coupons time and time again looking for another way to get in one more deal! lol!

SavingSomeGreen said...

Love it! This was similar to our catalina deal at Albertson's this week. Doesn't it just feel so good to stock up for practically nothing!?

Melissa said...

My son realized the deal included GoGurts so I had to run back.. this time for the first time in 7 transactions my CATS didn't print.. so I sorta stood there waiting and the cashier asks me "was more suppossed to print" and I said yes, so he handed me back my $15 in Cats I just gave him! Not sure if they will work but I'll fight it!

Anywhoo.. HE told me that he has had several people do between 4-8 transactions with him throughout the last few days just rolling the coupons each time. So the little myth that 3 is the max is just what you said A MYTH and to add to that, he also said that because his register is right next to self checkout that he's seen people actually scan the $5 Cats in, type in the codes themselves and then KEEP the cats! he shrugged and said there was nothing they could do!! Woahhhhhh I know there are other hounders out there in my area, tons of them becaues the shelves are clean of great deals EVERY WEEK on day 1 of sales but yikes.. some of them are crooks too! yikes! not good.

Carrie said...

Yeah Melissa, that would definitely be fraudulent. I don't know why the guy would say there is nothing they can do!

By the way, we got four packs of Gogurts which I plan to send to my daughter's preschool for snacktime.

Annie's Antics :-) said...

I finally found a Jewel that was likely built in the 21st century! The one I had been going to was a dinosaur and I couldn't get the deal to work to save my life!

I tried the newer Jewel (Oak Lawn - 95th and Pulaski) and I did self-checkout so I could make sure I had enough and I had enough for TWO deals so it spit out 6 Cats when all was said and done. Yay!

I can't believe the story about the people keeping the Cats! I hope those bad apples don't ruin it for the rest of us!! Grrr!

Anonymous said...

Hi! I couldn't believe what an awesome deal. The Jewel I went to had no problems at all - I made 2 trips, seven transactions total. Stocked my small kitchen, and donated a few bags to the local pantry. However, the manager who helped me make sure of the specifics of the deal told me that they had trouble getting the cats to print on transactions that were on the same card when done too close together. She said they had to be at least a half hour apart, so with her suggestion, we used both mine and my husband's card at about 15 minute intervals, and it worked great. I got about $400 (albeit overpriced) food for about $20. Yay!!

Anonymous said...

I'm a total newbie, someone please tell me what a Jewel "Catalina" is!???