30
Oct
2010

Safeway: New Just For U Program

10/30/2010. This post may contain affiliate links. Read my Disclosure Policy.

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.

CLICK BELOW TO GET THE FULL SCOOP ON JUST FOR U:

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?

3. YOUR CLUB SPECIALS.

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:

  1. 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.
  2. Any coupons you save take 30 minutes to load before they can be redeemed.
  3. 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.
  4. 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?

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{ 64 comments… read them below or add one }

Angela November 1, 2010 at 4:18 PM

So I checked it all out online and I am interested to see how it goes at the store.

I noticed this note at the end of my list:

(*Club Prices are shown for [MY LOCAL STORE ADDRESS]. Club Prices are based on the store where you do most of your shopping. Prices may vary at other stores.

Once offers are added to your card you can use them in the local geographical region that you reside in.)

So my club card offers are only good at my store, but the other coupons and stuff will work anywhere. I only see this becoming a problem when I call my husband and ask him to pick something up… because he stops at whatever store he may be closest to at the time.

Lori November 4, 2010 at 7:20 PM

CVS has limits to their ECB deals. Is it really going to be any different for Safeway limiting the in-ad coupons to per-card? I rarely purchased more than the limit in the ad anyhow, so that won’t affect me as much.

And I don’t think Safeway is making these changes specifically to discourage couponers. I see this as a way to generate loyalty between Safeway and the general public. Think about it – Safeway generates a lot of hype about this JFU program. They drive you to their website, and you find out you can load hundreds of coupons to your card, that will automatically come off as you shop. While you are there, you notice that ground beef is on sale for $1.99. “Gee, I wasn’t planning on buying ground beef this week, but that seems like a good price. Guess I’ll get some!” It drives sales up.

As couponers, we are willing to put in a bit more work, generating much higher rewards for us. I’m sure we cost Safeway a bit due to a lack of impulse shopping, and a higher awareness of prices. But, in the grand scheme of things, I don’t think we hurt them all that much. I see too many people who never use coupons, who completely impulse shop, and who refuse to use a club card. Plus, we generate some hype for them anytime we go to our friends and say, “I spent $37 at Safeway on $150 worth of food!”

Like I mentioned earlier, JFU has not rolled out in my area yet, so ask me in January what I really think about it. Right now, from what I am hearing, it sounds like a cross between Harris Teeter and CVS, and that does not scare me. Bugs in the system scare me, but not the overall program.

dancinmama November 5, 2010 at 2:00 PM

JFU is available in my area and I am not going to rush into signing up for it. I got eggs for $.49 a dozen today at Safeway ($.99 and used a BOGO coupon) so a free dozen eggs is not a huge incentive to me. IF I will be unable to print coupons on coupons.com that is a big negative for me because I use far more of those coupons at the drug chains than I do at Safeway.

So far I see more negatives that positives to the program, so I’m just going to sit back and listen to what others have to say before I jump in.

Amy January 12, 2011 at 10:02 AM

I do not have this in my area but I have loaded coupons to my card in the past and it did not take off multiple. So I bought 3 jars of spaghetti sauce but only one coupon is on the card to only one applied. Also hun I am with you…I want to see my coupons come off and see that all have been applied. They say the cashiers are trained for errors but no one can train there attitude about the stituation. I am not for this at this time.

laurra March 23, 2011 at 12:49 AM

i just wish there were a limit of items per family member because not everyones household is the same size and if the limits are there than us big households are feeling cheated!

Julie March 30, 2011 at 9:08 PM

@Laurra, have your husband get a card using his work number.

I think this will work out well for everyone except extreme couponers. It’s their way of making sure that deals are available for everyone.

Angela July 19, 2011 at 5:41 PM

I loaded coupons and they didn’t come off. I had .75 off Sorgento sliced cheese. Which determined whether or not I wanted to buy it.

Sandi July 28, 2011 at 8:08 PM

About the Just for U coupons (I live in Nor Cal). What exactly does one time coupon mean? Does this mean you can only buy one item at this coupon price or does it mean you can only come in and use the coupon once? I want to take advantage of the $2 off Oral-B I also have BOGO coupons that expire on the 31st of July. Could be a pretty sweet deal if the reg. price is right. I have 5 coupons. So I want to get (10) wondering if that’s possible.

Monica August 3, 2011 at 9:54 PM

If you sign up for the Just for U program, are you then unable to use printed coupons altogether?

Charlene August 3, 2011 at 10:10 PM

No Monica you can still use them!

ranchmom November 3, 2011 at 2:48 PM

Just made my first trip to Safeway for the first time and was really impressed. I may have drove a ways to get there, but I am hoping that using some coupons will make my drive worth it. I noticed that the store must be getting ready to start into this JFY program. I am interested to see what everyone else’s opinions are on it.
The store had big posters up in there about something having to do with money off fuel?? Anyone know anything about this? Really needing all the help that I can get!

Charlene November 3, 2011 at 3:00 PM

Ranchmom- would you mind sharing what area you live in? So far the program is in Hawaii, Chicago and Nor CA- are you outside of those areas? The program has gotten much better in the last few weeks. If it is branching out to other regions I will need to do a new post with more up to date information.

Monica November 4, 2011 at 8:58 AM

I’ve been using this feature for some time. I LOVE it. if you find items in J4U that are not in the store they will substitute a similar item (and they even took a paper coupon that was for the non-stock item). Also, at my store you can use the paper coupon along with J4U. This is awesome since no stores in my area double. It’s the closest I can get to doubling. It’s a lot of work to do my own match ups, but so worth it.

Barbara February 15, 2012 at 10:35 PM

Here in Northern California, I quickly signed up for the Just for U Program when it began.
My husband, who does the shopping, comes home almost every time from Safeway tremendously disgusted! He reports to me each time about his usual argument with check-out clerks about the registers not being loaded with the coupons and “Personalized” prices that I have chosen. Each time, the Manager checks out my printed list and refunds lots of dollars that I was entitled to. Too many times, my husband has even had to make a trips back to the Store to get things corrected.
It could be a wonderful program if the Store’s registers were efficiently maintained in alliance with the program.

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