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Seniors and tech-challenged struggle to use digital coupons

People who need grocery coupons most unable to take advantage
Posted at 5:00 AM, Jul 01, 2022

With grocery prices soaring, coupons can be a big money saver. But many shoppers these days are now having trouble accessing supermarket coupons because more and more of them now require a smartphone.

And some consumer advocates are calling the practice discriminatory.

Seniors struggle to get the advertised deal

Pat O'Brien is a Senior living on Social Security who is getting frustrated trying to save money on groceries during these inflationary times.

"They are making it too hard," she said. "I mean, seriously."

Like millions of seniors, she struggles with her smartphone and has been unable to access digital coupons that could give her a dollar off on some items. As a result, O'Brien says she is forced to pay the full list price.

Tina Hern, meantime, is an elder caregiver and says the move away from paper coupons is hurting many of her older, lower-income clients.

"I am actually a personal care assistant," Hern said, "and I shop for my older clients because it is so hard and complicated for them to understand."

The report claims many shoppers are at a disadvantage

A new report from finds many of the biggest sales are now digital-only, according to site founder and consumer advocate Edgar Dworsky.

"We found these issues with shrimp and chicken breast, so it wasn't just a can of coffee we are talking about," Dworsky said.

Dworsky says digital-only coupons put thousands, if not millions, of shoppers at a disadvantage.

"Anyone who's not connected today is missing out on supermarket savings," he said.

Digital coupons are not going away anytime soon, however. The founder of Coupon, Stephanie Nelson, says this reminds her of the introduction of loyalty cards decades ago.

"People adapted because you couldn't get the sale prices and you couldn't get your coupons deducted unless you used a loyalty card," she said.

Her advice:

  • Sort through paper and digital coupons before getting to the store.
  • Look on the store's website for coupons you can print at home.
  • Unhappy about hard-to-get deals? Shop somewhere else.

She says with grocery prices so high, you want to get as many discounts as you can.

"If you get to a point where you're buying the items at the right store each week instead of this high-low thing at one store, you're gonna save hundreds of dollars a year," Nelson said.

Nelson and Dworsky suggest checking with your store's courtesy counter if you can't access a coupon. But there is no guarantee they can give you the deal.

We reached out to the nation's largest grocery chain, Kroger, which now uses many digital coupons, but have not yet received a response. The reality is, that paper coupons might not "cut" it much longer.

Just like with loyalty cards, digital is the new reality if you want to save some cash at the store. That way you don't waste your money.


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