Coupons 101: Do not double

Most coupons that are issued in the Sunday paper will say "manufacturers coupon" on the top. Many will also say "do not double" or "do not triple." (In couponer slang, that's DND or DNT). This confuses a lot of people, but it is really not confusing.

Store policies vary, of course (see my previous Coupon Corner post for the rules for doubling at each store). But most manufacturer's coupons will double — as long as you are shopping at a store that doubles coupons and are within the store's limits for doubling (coupons worth up to 99 cents at Harris Teeter and Lowes; 50 cents at Kroger).

In 95 percent of the cases, they will double regardless of whether they say DND or DNT. The 5 percent of times that a coupon does not double is because of a little technicality with coupons. If you look at the bar codes on your coupons, the very first number on the very far left is either a tiny little 5 or a 9. Most of the coupons in the Sunday paper begin with a 5. The coupons that come from those little "blinkie" dispensers in grocery store aisles often begin with a 9. It is the ones that begin with a 9 that do not double in stores' register systems. As long as the bar code begins with a tiny little 5, it will double, regardless of what the coupon says. That's the majority of coupons, so in general, you shouldn't have to worry too much about it.

NOTE: In May 2010, Lowes Foods changed its official coupon policy to state that any coupons that state "do not double" will not be doubled. Cashiers actually inspect each coupon and manually enter those that state do not double. This of course overrides the whole 5 and 9 system. At the time of this update, Lowes is the only store in our market with this policy, so the 5 and 9 system works at other stores still.

So, why then, do manufacturers go through the trouble of putting DND or DNT on a coupon?

There is actually a reason.

If you read the fine print on most coupons, you'll note that the manufacturer promises to pay the store back the face value of the coupon, plus usually 8 cents for handling. But with many stores offering double or triple coupons all the time, the manufacturer wants to be clear that it will only pay the face value. When a store chooses to double or triple coupons anyway, the store is basically taking a loss on the doubled part of the coupon.

So, for example, if you have a 50-cent coupon and the store doubles it to $1, the manufacturer will pay the store back 50 cents for the coupon, plus that 8 cents for handling. But the other 42 cents comes out of the store's pocket. Many stores choose to go ahead and double coupons anyway because it's a way to compete with other stores in the super-competitive grocery industry. And that is really good for shoppers!

Updated: May 10, 2010


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Coupon managing

Most stores in the Northwest do not double, although occasionally there are “clip and save” coupons in local ads. If you want a at great discount just visit Many stores are currently changing their policies to become more competitive and “supportive” in the new economy. Check regularly with your local stores or customer services to assure you can take full advantage of their offers.



But thanks for the heads up. Cashiers have been doing this on and off for awhile now, but it does appear that they have officially changed the policy:

Double coupons at Lowes Foods

Any way we can get the powers that be at Lowes Foods to read this article?

I went to Lowes yesterday to take advantage of their triple coupons, and was surprised to see the cashier key in two of my coupons instead of scanning them. Afterwards, I checked my receipt and saw that those two coupons didn't even double, much less triple. I went to the customer service desk to ask why this was, and was told that Lowes Foods' new coupon policy is to not double coupons that say "Do Not Double". (I checked on their website later, and sure enough, it's listed in their official policy.) I'm guessing that the DND coupons still double when you scan them, so the cashiers have now been told to key them in...

I was quite disappointed... This means I'll have to scrutinize my coupons a little more when I shop at Lowes.

Sue - any news on your end why Lowes Foods changed their policy?


Wow, thanks for posting that!

MANUFACTURER LETTER confirming the Author's article

I would like to thank the author for this very important and informative article, clarifying the REAL REASON for "Do Not Double" printed on Manufacturer coupons. After I shared your article with my local grocery store manager and corporate office, I no longer have a problem with the store doubling all of my coupons! Now I, along with other shoppers, can use our coupons without feeling uptight every time we want to RIGHTFULLY redeem these type of coupons.

Another shopper shared this letter, they received, from a MANUFACTURER regarding the REAL REASON for the printed "Do Not Double" on coupons and it backs up your great article:

March 15, 2010

Reference Number: 6104226

Dear Mrs. Graham,

Thank you for contacting us about Clorox Liquid Bleach. We always appreciate hearing from our consumers.

Some stores will double the value of the coupons and give the consumer twice the value of the coupon off their purchase. "Do not Double" is informing the stores know that if they do this, they will not be reimbursed for more then the face value of the coupon. If they still choose to double the value of the coupon anyway, then that is their choice. I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

Again, thank you for contacting us.

Sherri Knight
Consumer Response Representative

Re: Coupons 101: Do not double

Great comment, thanks. This post is a few years old, but things are pretty much the same.

I do not think that a manufacturer would try to stop a particular store from carrying a particular item at a steep discount. The stores change their sales too often for this to really be effective. Plus the only way to prevent it entirely would be to discontinue selling that product to that store, and that of course conflicts with the overall goal of selling more products to consumers.

As I said before, I think the manufacturers are just being extra cautious and covering their bases to make sure they are not held liable for a doubled or tripled coupon value. It's generally accepted that they are not, but this just makes certain.

Re: Coupons 101: Do not double

I was searching for an answer to why some coupons say "do not double" and your blog was the only place i could find that anyone ventured a guess. It's something that's always puzzled me, because stores usually double them anyway, and why would the manufacturer care if the store decides to further discount the item.

I don't think there is any reason a store would expect to be reimbursed more than the face value just because the store decides to double or triple the coupon. Clearly, the manufacturer is only going to reimburse the face value (plus 8 cents or whatever the case may be). So I don't think its necessary for the manufacturer to make this clear to the store. If that were the case, the DND language would be in the fine print along with the rest of the terms of the redemption policy.

Instead, DND seems to be a command to the cashier and the store to not double the coupon - EVEN IF the store is willing to. Perhaps the manufacturer does not want the item selling for too cheaply, which arguably debases the brand - just like many companies would no doubt cringe to see their brands being sold at discount stores like TJ Maxx or Big Lots.

Admittedly, my theory has its own problems. Can a manufacturer stop a store from simply selling an item on sale at a deep discount as a loss-leader? I doubt it. So, why try to stop the store from doing this with a few coupon clippers?

I see your article is a few years old - any new ideas on this since?

Re: Coupons 101: Do not double

There is no one source for this information. This is my cumulative knowledge from researching coupons, writing about coupons for years and of course shopping myself. Keep in mind that a lot of people who work at retail stores or who even work for retail companies do not fully understand the intricacies of coupon redemption...

Re: Coupons 101: Do not double

Hi would you please verify where you found this info. I have contacted the Kroger store, and one of the manufactures who offered a coupon for a product that listed on the coupon do not double...all I am getting is either ignored and or a run around.

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