Wednesday, January 14, 2009

These Cat Deals Will Kill Me

So there I was this morning, with a local news photographer in tow, at the self-checkout at Jewel-Osco, doing my very last Catalina deal of this promotion. In order to not be flustered in front of the photographer, I had preplanned my deal very carefully: eight cans of Progresso soup and one pack Pampers. One of the Progressos was to be only a buffer.

I rang up my order, the self-checkout machine had problems -- this time, the store cashier told me, it was because "It gets messed up if you don't wait until the end to scan your coupons." The cashier had to do some sort of override, and as has always happened to me in such a situation, the Cats did not print. And of course, I had used a couple Cats to pay so a return was not an option.

Instead of arguing with the staff there -- I knew they were going to tell me I had not paid $30 so could not get $15 in Cats -- I called Jewel customer service this afternoon. In my fantasy, I would be connected to a Catalina expert who would know all the ins and outs of the deal and who could also tell me definitively that the promo was MEANT to work on register prices and that this was not a glitch.

Instead, I got a lady who was not aware that a Cat deal was going on, and when she tried to look it up, she said, "It shows here that that deal ended in November." I gently encouraged her to look for a Cat deal ending today, and after being put on hold many times so she could research the situation, and reading her all the UPC numbers of my items, I was put on hold again so she could call the store. The store told her, of course, that I had not spent enough money to qualify. Oh, and also that only the Progresso Light and Low Sodium soups qualify, which come to think of it is in fact what the ad says.

So I dunno, I guess that was the problem. And I guess I am screwed, unless I get over to the other Jewel today and ask the manager if he can take the stuff back. But I am kind of tired of the rigmarole, so let's just total up the deal as it stands:

I spent $60 ($205 minus $145 in Cats back), and I got all this:

(Not pictured is my last run late this afternoon, brought on by Nutmeg's disappointment that we hadn't grabbed a couple of her favorites that were part of the promo. So we snagged a couple Yoplait Kids Cup yogurts, a carton of OJ, cake mix and frosting for Pebbles' upcoming birthday, Fiber One Complete pancake mix, 2 boxes Fruit by the Foot and a couple more boxes of Total -- all that for $3.75 after deducting the value of the Cats I got. I updated my totals to include this last run.)

I'm not going to add up the shelf price value, but I would not be surprised if it approaches $300. And here's a very handy way to look at it: I usually think it's a good deal if I get a Jumbo pack of CVS-brand diapers for $8 each, and I got 7 of those (Pampers) in this deal, so that's most of my $60 right there. (For reference, the same amount of Pampers at would have cost $64 or more.). The last $4, I'll say I spent on paper towels, which is still a steal for that huge package.

So here's what I got for free, looking at it that way: 12-pack Charmin, 10 boxes Total, 19 cans Progresso, 4 boxes Fiber One granola bars, 1 box Fiber One toaster pastries, 6 boxes Cascadian farm organic granola, 7 boxes Cheerios, and 5 boxes fruit snacks, 2 6-packs yogurt, carton OJ, 1 cake mix, 1 frosting and 1 box whole grain pancake mix.

OK, that kind of takes the sting out of not getting those last 3 Cats. I guess when doing a deal like this, I should just factor in that not every single transaction will work and live with it. OR, I have to have the willpower to just not roll those Cats because the possibility of needing to make a return is too high.

I'm going to eat some granola now and -- my God, it's Wednesday and I haven't even LOOKED at the grocery flyers yet. I was too busy being a local media star. I'll be back later with the best deals for the upcoming week.