Speeding through checkout with Walmart discounted gift cards

We’ve been buying discounted gift cards from Cardpool and here’s how we’re making checkout a bit faster …

I’m a regular customer of discounted gift card sites.  We do our best to buy and use them safely, and it takes a decent chunk out of our Walmart trips.  (Nothing to retire on, but a decent chunk nonetheless.)

Cardpool sells what it calls “printable electronic gift cards” for Walmart and a number of other businesses.  These are good deals for a number of reasons:

  • They are sent by email, often instantly.  I’ve bought printable electronic gift cards before I go to Walmart.  The time between going to the site and having a printout I can take is about four minutes.
  • There’s no risk of having them stolen from the mailbox.  “Nuff said.
  • They can be used both online and at physical stores.  This is a lot of flexibility.
  • If I know about how much I’m going to spend, I can get really close to that amount with multiple cards.

How to overcome a slight hiccup at checkout

First off, I’ll say that I’ve been very pleased with how Cardpool has handled our orders.  No issues whatsoever, and the cards (both physical and electronic) arrive quickly.  I’ll certainly continue.

The last few times we’ve used their printable electronic gift cards at our local Walmart, though, it seems to have stumped the cashier, and maybe the front manager.  At first, it seemed that scanning the cards over the glass window didn’t work as well as using the hand scanner.  That would have been easy enough, but it was more than that.

These are the instructions that are given for the cashier on the printable electronic gift card:

  1. Total the order
  2. Select “Shopping Card”
  3. Scan the barcode on this page

What has ended up happening a number of times is that the cashier follows these instructions — which appear reasonable, right? — and quickly finds himself or herself in the process of trying to sell us a gift card, which is not what any of us want (including the people standing behind us waiting).

Speed through checkout with Walmart discounted gift cards

The case-cracker!!!

Finally tonight, my wife went over to customer service to figure out where the problem with this process was.  (The line of customers was getting bigger, so she just paid with our credit card tonight.)  They ended up calling a few people to figure it out, but eventually they found that there was a tacit step:

  1. Total order
  2. Select “Credit”
  3. Select “Shopping Card”
  4. Scan the barcode on this page

It’s the “select ‘credit'” part that indicates a payment is coming.  And, apparently, the system treats a gift card like a credit card at some level.

Perhaps sometime after these instructions were written, Walmart had upgraded its checkout software and changed the process the cashier sees.  The instructions on the sheet are now out of sync, and there’s some confusion.

It could be also that this doesn’t happen everywhere, and the instructions work just fine at other Walmarts.

But if you use these kinds of discounted gift cards, and if it’s a regular challenge at checkout, maybe this will fix things:  Tell the cashier to select “credit” first.


Six hacks to get things cheap or free

Use these six hacks to get things cheap or free

Are you a money-saving tip collector?  Then you can always use more, right?

Here are six hacks that you can add to your bag of tricks to get things cheap, or even free:

  1. Turn on the charm.  I know others can play the charm card far better than I can, but I managed to snag a free dessert by phoning in my take-out order while I was standing in a long line at said restaurant. I waved at the cashier after I placed my order, she smiled, and gave me the dessert for free.
  2. Say what you’re looking for.  A friend of mine is looking to start up mountain biking. He was looking for a bike rack for his vehicle. After striking out at a yard sale, the seller asked my friend what he was looking for. He said he was looking for a bike rack.  The seller went back to his shed, and pulled out a bike rack that hadn’t seen the light of day in years. “Like this?” he asked. “Yeah, how much do you want for it?” my friend asked. “Oh, I don’t know … five dollars?” He snagged it.
  3. Capitalize on mistakes.  My same friend look at Walmart for a bike rack for his other vehicle. The clearance section had a number of bike racks. One was in the $30-$40 range, which was quite a bit lower than the original price of around $120.  When he was in town he visited another Walmart, and found the same bike rack discounted quite a bit less: down to about $80-$90.  As far as he could tell, the second Walmart took 35% OFF the original price, while the first Walmart sold it for 35% OF the original price. Oops! But they sold it to him anyway.
  4. Pull out that contact list.  Our church gives our local Domino’s quite a bit of business. They give us one-topping pizzas for $6 all the time.  So when one of our musical groups was getting lunch the day of our concert, we said that we were with the church when we ordered. We got the discount. (We did this with a clear conscience. Not only were we with the church, but it was for a church function. I don’t recommend pretending to be part of a group that you’re not part of!)
  5. Peruse the clearance section, especially if your tech isn’t bleeding-edge. I inherited an iPad 2 from a previous role. I had never gotten a protective cover for it while I was using it, but decided I needed one.  Since my iPad is now several generations old, the accessories were on clearance.
  6. Peruse the curbside.  I know from experience that sometimes it’s an absolute relief to just get rid of something, especially something bulky.  But, it’s also fun to be on the receiving end of free stuff.  We got some nice patio furniture a few years back that still is giving us a lot of use in our sun room.  It was discarded by someone in our subdivision.  We just had to haul it away!

What other tips help you to get things cheap or free?

Ten power tips for buying and selling at yard sales

With summer starting up, yard sales are all over the place.  Here are some ways to increase your purchasing power, as well as sell more for whatever good cause.

Last weekend was a big one in our area for yard sales.  Our county’s YMCA had a yard sale event with about 25 different tables.  And not one, but two churches had yard sales to raise money for mission trips to Peru.  (This was two completely independent mission trips.)Ten powerful tips for buying and selling at yard sales

Truth be told, we don’t hit yard sales as much as we used to.  For me, seeing a yard sale used to be like a bell to one of Pavlov’s dogs, and if we had other places to go I would get noticeably irritated if we didn’t stop.  That, and we just were accumulating too much stuff; we’re a bit pickier now.

But with two fairly big yard sales happening nearby this past weekend, it was a good time to check out a lot of items.

Tips for buyers

Here are some buyer tips that will make those deals even better:Smart tips for yard sale buyers

  1. Remember, a purchase at a yard sale is still a purchase.  If you have absolutely no need for the item, then it doesn’t matter if you buy it for a nickel.  Or, if the item will take up half your garage, it doesn’t matter that the owner sold it for a song.  Treat it like any other purchase: with care.
  2. Check items carefully for damage, missing pieces, etc.  We bought a couple of word dice games from a retired English teacher.  I looked in the box to make sure that the correct number of dice were there by reading the instructions, which mentioned the contents of the box.
  3. Factor in what the container is worth.  One of the first items I spotted was an unused latch-hook rug kit.  My wife and daughter are crafty ladies, but I actually had my eye on the carrying case that had all of the pre-cut pieces of yarn.  When the lady told me she was selling it for $2, I didn’t even care what the rug would look like.  The carrying case without the yarn was easily worth $10.
  4. Compile a list of look-for items beforehand.  My wife has been putting together seasonal wreaths for our front door.  Before we went to the first yard sale, she told my daughter and I to look for old, ugly wreaths built upon a solid ring.  She knew what she was looking for, and also knew what the item would cost new from a craft store.
  5. Negotiate wisely.  Consider your audience and use common sense when working someone down on price.  If they are really looking to get rid of stuff — and say as much — then you can be more aggressive with your pricing.

Tips for sellers

Want to raise a bunch of money for a good cause, or for yourself?  Consider these:Smart tips for selling at yard sales

  1. Get the word out.  Obvious, right?  Tell people about it on Facebook, either on your timeline or on local Facebook groups.  Submit the sale to Craigslist.  If you’re doing this on behalf of a non-profit organization, there may be other options, some of them free.
  2. Take advantage of drive-by traffic.  Even if people hadn’t heard about the sale beforehand, they may see it going on.  If you’re on a road that’s well-traveled, make sure that it’s blatantly obvious that there’s a sale going on!  If you’re off the main drag, then post signs on the bigger roads (subject to local ordinance, of course) with clear directions, dates, and times.
  3. Sell things that people want to buy.  People who frequent yard sales demonstrate that they are careful with their money.  They’re unlikely to buy junk.  Though it’s true that one person’s trash is another’s treasure, some trash takes a very special kind of person to treasure.  If most of what you’re selling is that kind of trash, then … I wish you well. :)
  4. Presentation matters.  Having some items on tables or at least off the ground saves people’s backs.  Getting the items out of boxes encourages people to browse.  Information about larger-ticket items helps inform would-be buyers.
  5. Make it clear how things run.  Who can answer questions about the items?  Who’s collecting the money?  If people are confused, they may keep their wallets in their pockets.

What power tips do you have for buying at yard sales?  Or, how do you really kill it when you sell?