I am finally sitting down to explain the Just For U program as I understand it. The only way to really understand a program is with a lot of trial and error so I will do my best to answer questions but I am certainly no expert. Also, a lot of my knowledge is based upon the feedback I hear from you guys, so please be sure to let me know how things are rolling along for you. You can also feel free to correct any errors that I may make in explaining this program-Just For U is totally new to me so I may have misunderstood specific points or left out important details.
Here is basic info about this program. It has only rolled out in 3 markets thus far: Hawaii, Illinois and Northern California. It should be rolling out to the entire family of stores (Vons, Genuardi’s, Randall’s, Pavillion’s, Tom Thumb, and Dominick’s) very soon. Safeway is putting a huge amount of resources behind this program so expect to see lots of hoopla at your store once it hits your city. They are also offering a freebie (one dozen eggs) to most markets for people who register when it rolls out- you will need to load the coupon to your card to get your free item.
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There are three components to this program:
1. COUPON CENTER.
In a nutshell they want you to stop printing coupons altogether and transition to a load to card system. They also intend to be your one stop resource for coupons- meaning they will have the same coupons as manufacturer web sites, coupons.com, red plum etc.. All of these coupons can be loaded onto your club card and will supposedly come off automatically at the check stand when you scan your store card.
So this has obvious benefits- saving ink, saving time, not having to keep track of your coupons or deal with any beeps at the register etc..
I do have some very big concerns about this feature that makes me very leary of this program:
- If you live in an area with double or triple coupons, the coupon will only be redeemed at face value. So by loading them to your card, you essentially forfeit your doubles.
- You can only redeem that coupon at Safeway stores. Now as of right now this does not appear to be the case, but it will be the case at any time so I would be very careful of this. Safeway intends to have the same coupons that you can find at other places- take coupons.com for example- they will offer the exact same coupons that are available at any given time on coupons.com. We all know that printable coupons almost always have a limit of 2. So let’s take an example, if coupons.com is offering a coupon for .50 off Colgate toothpaste and Safeway has the same coupon available to load to your card- let’s say you choose to load it to your Club card. Well now if you go directly to coupons.com, you will not be able to print that coupon. The coupon will read “print limit reached” just like if you had gone ahead and printed the coupon. So now you will give up the ability to use your coupon at whichever store you feel like shopping at. Even worse, we all know when you print coupons there is a limit of 2. Well guess what? If you decide to load the coupon to your club card you get one coupon one time. So in the example above, if you had printed that Colgate coupon you would have 2 coupons to use at any store you wanted to use them at (including Safeway.) If you live in an area with doubles, your coupon is actually worth $1. You also have 2 of them. If you had decided instead to load it to your card, you would have one coupon, valued at .50 only, that can only be used at Safeway stores.
- You lose control of your coupons. I have a teensy control issue so this is a biggie for me. I like to hand my coupons one by one and be sure that they are all applied. My experience in the past both personally and from what you guys tell me, is that the Safeway loadable coupons do not seem to actually work for many people. (Not Cellfire or Shortcuts, but the coupons that Safeway previously offered at Safeway.com). Safeway indicated that the employees are fully trained to immediately correct any issues at the cash register with personal prices and with coupons not being applied (more about this later). So I am a little torn because on one hand, it would be lovely to not hassle with handing over a zillion coupons at the check stand but on the other hand I can foresee major headaches if the coupons don’t come off as they are supposed to.
- And as we already guessed this is the end to stacking Cellfire, P&G and Shortcuts e-coupons with paper coupons. So this will certainly end many of the amazing freebies and super cheapie deals we have all enjoyed.
- You can not stack loadable coupons with paper coupons. Some loadables are store coupons that can be stacked and many are manufacturer- so you get one manufacturer coupon per item only.
The good stuff:
- These coupons will be tied to your club card so they are supposed to work for online orders! Now that is a major plus since Safeway has a $15 off $50 promotion for your first online order. The $50 needs to be spent prior to coupons- so for your first home delivery this could really be a great deal. (NOTE: We were told that some people might need to be assigned a virtual club card in order to redeem coupons, but for the most part they should come off your total bill when your delivery arrives.)
- In ad coupons can be loaded to your card! I love this feature because who wants to fool with cutting out coupons from the weekly circulars. This is much simpler. The not so great thing though is that I THINK (not certain) the limits on the coupons will be enforced. So if Cheerios are .99 with in ad coupon with a limit of 1, and you have that loaded to your card- you won’t be able to do 2 transactions buying a box each time. They will track that you have already hit the limit and your second box will be at the regular price.
2. PERSONALIZED DEALS:
This aspect is super in some ways and stinks in other ways. First the good news, you get custom deals just for you. So for example, you might have a personalized deal that you can load to your card for $1.99 for Lucerne Butter. What that means is that you can buy as many of them as you want, for a 90 day period, and each and every time you will be charged $1.99. If the price happens to be lower that week in the store, you get the better of the two prices. Now if you happen upon coupons for Lucerne butter, you can absolutely use those with your personal price.
From what I have seen the personal prices aren’t terribly exciting BUT there are a few hidden gems. For example, I happen to have a personal price of $2.48 for Ben and Jerry’s pints. Well we all know those pints are priced at $2.50 pretty much all day everyday at most stores so whoopty-do right? Well I also happen to have a personal price of $1.99 on 80% Lean Ground Beef which is AWESOME. Now, where I see these personal prices being especially fantastic is on BOGO sales. Typically on BOGO sales the price of the item is raised for the sale. So take the ground beef as it is actually on sale Buy One Get One Free at my store this week. They have raised the price of ground beef to $3.99/lb- Buy One Get One Free. Well my personal price is the better of the two so it supersedes the sale price and I can buy Ground Beef at $1.99/lb Buy One Get One Free (or .99/lb.) So that is a FANTASTIC deal.
The major drawback I can see from a blogger’s perspective is that you will really need to do a lot more of your own matchups. The major drawback I can see from a Safeway shopper’s perspective is that this really does add an extra layer of time to your shopping. I know I personally check my list of deals (meaning the lists that I publish here on MFA) and then I shop off that list. Easy. With the new personalized deals, I can see that I will also need to cross reference my personalized deals each week, match up extra coupons and also keep track of what I have loaded to my card.
One very important point about these deals, Safeway would like to tie you to one specific store that you shop at most regularly. So if you mostly shop at the store by your home, and decide one night to stop at the store next to your gym, well your personal prices may not work at that store.
One other note, many of these deals are not terribly specific. So you might see a personalized deal of .99 for Pillsbury products 8oz-11 oz. Well many of us are trained by coupons to look for specific information so this might pose an issue. I mean who knows precisely what is included in that sale price- is is cake mix, is it refrigerated rolls, is it frozen biscuits, is it anything from Pillsbury with those sizes?
This I don’t really see the point of. Safeway tracks what you buy regularly and I think they just highlight what is on sale for you. I don’t know how beneficial this is to couponers because we don’t really buy the same items very regularly. I think this is worth having a look at because there are some deals that are not in the weekly ad, for example I see Lucerne yogurts at .29 this week. I had no idea those were on sale. There are also sales on other items- like green grapes for $2.99- that I would never consider paying that much for. You can add the sale items you like to a shopping list that can then be printed out.
So that is the gist of it. Here are a few other points:
- This is not available for any mobile devices except the iPad. Safeway is working on an app but as of now you can’t view your deals or save coupons or anything on Smart Phones.
- Any coupons you save take 30 minutes to load before they can be redeemed.
- There are supposed to be kiosks in each store to print out all your stuff. I do not have this at my store and if you have to print your coupons, your shopping lists and your personal deals at home- that is a lot of paper.
- If you run into any issues apparently the cashiers can handle things right at the registers, however they will expect that you have everything printed out to show them.
Final thoughts, I think this is just going to take some getting used to. I went into Safeway to test this out and I can tell you I was a hot mess. I had papers with personal prices, club specials, and coupon lists coming out everywhere and I spent considerably more money and more time than I would have otherwise spent. I sort of wandered the aisles aimlessly trying to find something that could possibly be a good deal and it was a real challenge. Much, much harder than just looking at a list of match-ups and deciding what to buy based on that.
I can also tell you, I am utterly delighted with the hot ground beef deal I scored this week so I guess it could work out to be a fantastic program that we all really love after all.
Now what are your thoughts and/or experiences with this program?