Diary of a Discount Shopper: Dealing with Hateful People


Last Tuesday, I took the winner of our Facebook ‘Go Shopping with Alicia’ contest to Dillons.  I’m so glad I did, because she took this very flattering photo of me at checkout. 

What her photo so artfully blocks out is the ‘not so nice’ girl that was behind us in line.  I have rarely had problems with other customers when couponing, or at least in recent years.  I’ll admit that when I first started (way before it was cool and people understood it), I was occasionally met with minor distaste.  I’ve found that nowadays, people are more curious than snotty, and actually like to see someone spending so little on their purchases.

Tuesday was definitely an exception to that.  For starters, the store only had one lane open.  Instead of opening another line, the other cashier (who is a coupon HATER) just hung out behind our cashier watching everything.  At one time, there were at least 5 people behind us in line.  Before Steph, my shopping partner, even whipped out her coupons, the girl behind me was acting very weird.  She was huffing and stomping around like a child.  She was probably 25 years old and had two very well behaved children with her. 

As Steph whipped out her coupons, the huffing got louder.  Our cashier took his time and was very thorough.  By the time he got to my items, she was on the verge of a nervous breakdown.  Then I whipped out my coupons…

Instead of moving to another lane, this girl chose to stay behind me.  She actually banged her head on the counter and bent over her stopping cart, burying her head beneath her item.  At one point, she actually shouted, ‘Why don’t you pay for your items like the rest of us?’.   I would have been offended until I realized that she was holding a food stamp card in her hand.  So many people are going through hard times right now, there is absolutely no shame in receiving assistance in paying for your groceries.. HOWEVER, some of us do not qualify for those programs and are doing everything possible to stretch our income and should not be publicly faulted for doing so. 

Instead of letting my mouth get the best of me, I just kept my head down and pretended she didn’t exist.  It’s probably a good thing that I have absolutely no peripheral vision, as there were probably some not-so-nice mutterings and hand gestures coming from her mouth.  I did chuckle to myself when the computer froze up and required a manager’s key to override it.  That took a few extra minutes.  Then I laughed out loud when the register didn’t have enough tape to print my receipt.  I laughed even harder when I *mistakenly* entered the wrong PIN number with my debit card, not once, not twice, but THREE times!  Her huffing sure didn’t make me move any faster.

I’ll admit that I was glad we had the whole buddy system thing going, because I was slightly afraid she was going to follow us to the parking lot. 

Something kept nagging at me afterwards.. something that I couldn’t put my finger on.  Then it hit me.  She could have easily moved to self-checkout and another lane (when they finally opened one).  If she was in such a hurry, why didn’t she?  Oh yeah!  It was because she was interested in seeing exactly what those coupons did for my total.  My official receipt says that I saved $237 and spent $97.  Not my lowest out of pocket trip, by far, but definitely a money saving one!

I’m not sure I handled it as well as I should have.  Maybe I should have politely tried to introduce her to couponing.  Maybe I should have referred her to the pharmacy for a Xanax. 

What would you have done?  Have you ever had a hateful customer behind you in line?  How did you handle the situation?  Leave a comment below and tell us about it!

Like this post?  Read more in the Diary of a Discount Shopper series!


  1. says

    Hi Alicia,

    I have run into this scenario on several occasions, and it never ceases to amaze me that people are oblivious to realize just how much money they too could save, if they spent just 15 minutes a week clipping coupons. I have dealt with this scenarios various ways, I think it all depends on what the person is doing, how badly they are reacting, and what type of mood, I find myself in, at the particular moment. Often times, I will just ask the person, why they seem to have such a problem with another person saving money? with a follow up comment, you handle your money your way, and I’ll handle my money, my way, or why they feel the need to express such anger when I just saved “X” amount of dollars? Could it be you are jealous? other times, I simply point out that the self checkouts are just a few lines up. I have been known to to tell them straight out, that their anxiousness wont make me go any faster. and yet other times, I just don’t say anything, and let them fester. Again, it all depends on the situation at that moment.


    Alicia Reply:

    Thanks for commenting! I fully agree that every situation is different- this one surely took the cake!

    I’m sorry you have had to go through this on multiple occasions. It amazes me that with everyone being in the ‘saving money mindset’ there aren’t more supportive people. One would think that with all of the media coverage, blogs, and word of mouth, that more people would be aware of the resources available to save some serious cash!


  2. Alicia says

    I let them know before they even have the chance to get mad over it….if I know I have a lot of coupons and I want to be thorough, I find the longest line so I am less likely to get someone in a hurry behind me and then I have plenty of time to organize my items/coupons in line. Then I can also watch as the items ring up. If someone does get behind me, I warn them “I have a lot of coupons so this may take a while” and usually that puts them in an understanding enough mood that they don’t have the guts to be rude. And if it is a troublesome checkout, then I always apologize before they have the opportunity to start getting cranky. Usually they are overly nice then and a conversation starts up about how much I save/where I get the coupons. I’ve learned you’re just better off to go ahead and take the first step in apologizing for their inconvenience, even though we really don’t have anything to be sorry for. I guess being polite first hinders people’s ability to get frustrated later :)


  3. Lavonne says

    I love it!!! I finally got to see the “Extreme Couponer” on TLC!! One lady was totally DEBT free due to couponing :-)
    I love the thought of “you manage your money your way and I will manage mine, my way” approach (then after my final total comes up, I can then share that I saved X amount by couponing)


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