What if my Catalina doesn’t print?

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Updated this post since it was getting views and needed more current info!

OK, not the new millennium, but it’s just so fun to type. I thought I’d update this without the outdated YourBucks references and add it to the “New, Start Here!” list for everyone’s reference.

With all the new Catalina craziness and new readers, a lot of new questions, so…

What if my Catalina doesn’t print?

Here’s the run-down. There is an element of risk to Catalina deals, especially when we’re doing Catalina deals before they show up in a store’s ad — or the ones that never show up in the ad. And yes, there are times when my Catalina doesn’t print either. So here’s what we do.

Minimize your risk.

  1. Before you ring up your items, make sure that the light on your Catalina machine is a solid green. Red = Bad. Blinking = Bad. This is one reason I use the self-checkout so often, because it’s easier to check the machine.
  2. Check your items against the UPC list, if available.
  3. Look at what other people are doing. Folks are great about sharing their scenarios in comments here, in addition to the ones I post, so it’s often really useful to see what has and hasn’t worked for others. If you haven’t made a habit of reading the comments, you might want to check them out.
  4. Ensure that the cashier doesn’t punch in any of your coupons as “grocery.” If you have a previous Catalina that’s faint with red lines through it, it won’t scan, and that’s their first instinct. Three other options: Ask them to scan a “good” catalina and keep the bad one, if you have another for the same amount; have them punch in ALL the numbers under the barcode; or, pay in cash and then go redeem the Catalina later at customer service.
  5. Don’t shop between about 11PM and 3AM if you’re doing Catalina deals. Catalina goes down sometime in there to update, so, when they’re down, no Catalinas for you.
  6. If you’re going to be doing very quick back-to-back transactions at Jewel, alternate preferred cards. Sometimes it takes a minute to “reset.” (This is more likely to happen on instant savings deals, but couldn’t hurt! Just get one in your significant other’s name, or your cat’s name, or…)
  7. If you’re very new at this, dip in gradually. Try one deal at a time — and if you want to be safer, wait until a Catalina deal appears in the ad or on shelf tags, so you have something to point to.
  8. If you are rolling a store Catalina, note that sometimes this reduces the price the register sees you as paying for your items, because it comes off like a store discount. Rolling manufacturer Catalinas is fine.

OK, I did all that, and it didn’t print! Why not, and what do I do?

Some possibilities as to why not:

  1. Most of the time, this is because we missed something. I’ve missed a Catalina because I was off by $.05 (grr). Once, long ago, I grabbed… Fiber PLUS bars instead of Fiber ONE bars. (Don’t tell anyone!)
  2. The Catalina machine might be down, might have lost its connection, might have a paper jam, might be out of paper…
  3. Catalina might be down for that entire store.
  4. One of the UPCs on one of the items you bought might not be on the list, or may not have been entered correctly.
  5. The cashier entered one of your coupons as “grocery” rather than scanning it. (This reduces the price the register sees you as having paid for the items, so can prevent you from reaching the necessary dollar amount.)
  6. You shopped while Catalina was down for updates.
  7. You used the store card instead of your own preferred card.
  8. You forgot to scan your preferred card.
  9. You were doing transactions very very quickly and your card didn’t have a chance to “reset.”
  10. Some Catalinas print reallllly slooooowly. Wait. Fumble around for your keys. If it has printed something else, wait for the beep that indicates it’s done printing.

What to do:

  1. Deal with it in the store if at all possible. If you have a nice CS person, nicely say that you were expecting a Catalina to print and is it possible they could check on that or re-ring your items.
  2. Or, return the items on the spot if you wouldn’t have bought them otherwise. Don’t take them out of the store and then return them, because they have no way of knowing you didn’t get the Catalina at that point, and they’ll have to toss any perishables.
  3. If you’re already home, call up Catalina at 1-888-8COUPON or fill out their online form here (LOTS easier to do the form!).
  4. Doublecheck your receipt when you get home. See if you’re off by a few cents or bought a wrong product.
  5. Decide what your time is worth. If a missed Catalina is small, sometimes it’s not worth the effort. If it’s one of the $10 ones… deal with it right away! :)

So there it is in a nutshell. Did I miss anything? Comment here and I’ll add to this post.

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  1. patti says

    Just wanted to say thanks so much for putting all of these deals together and that it’s even tiring for some of us just to re-read the same questions over and over so I can’t even imagine having to answer all those emails lol!! Keep up the great work!

  2. Lisa says

    Also wanted to say thank you for all that you do. It is greatly appreciated…even if it doesn’t always seem like it. Thank you.

  3. says

    My q-tips cat didn’t print…but my jewel doesn’t offer the quantity listed on the your bucks sheet…so beware..make sure you get the right quantity! I am keeping them…I mean come on, I hardly spent anything tonight at Jewel 😉

  4. Julie says

    Thanks for all that info!!

    I think you figured out what went wrong!! The cashier input some of my YBs that I was using to pay with (and yes they had the reddish/orangish colored UPC lines) as grocery!! Guess that did it. But the weird thing is that like 5 of 7 did print…

    Anyways, thank you for all you do!!

    Hopefully the YBCatalina people will email me back tomorrow. I used the form on the website. I heard other people got fast responses that way.

  5. newbie says

    Thanks for all your hardwork!! Your tips have been a lifesaver for my family in this economy! I really appreciate it!

  6. says

    Today I had to argue because I had the goofy printed ones that wouldn’t scan. Had to stop her real quick to not let her key them as grocery or I wouldn’t get my $7. She finally scanned a $1 YB over and over (5 times) for the ones that wouldn’t work. whew.

  7. Julie says

    Is anyone bothered when they read on CW that some people have already done 80 Suaves? (and Ragus, etc…) That is crazy to me. Some may get upset with my opinion on it, but I feel it is abusing a good thing and will contribute to the end of this awesome program. Well, it’s already set to end in May, but I bet they either end it for good or make substantial changes to it.

    I have no problem doing maybe 2 or 3 each day. But 80 in one day??

    I was just curious what other’s opinions are about it?

  8. Emily says

    thanks for the post! one more thing i thought of (don’t think you mentioned it). I have read your cat might not print if you are using the same preferred card for two same transactions in a row, right???

  9. kristine says

    i agree, because in addition to massive amounts of the product being sold, it doesn’t leave much for other people. but on the other hand, yourbucks COULD set limits of a certain amount per card if they were too worried about it. I just find it more frustrating from the perspective of someone who might go to that same store and find empty shelves

  10. Lisa says

    Julie~ since you asked for opinions on more than a couple transactions per day… I can only say that I hope the product is not going to waste. I try my best not to buy item’s I won’t use but when its a momey maker (such as the suave) I see nothing wrong w/ someone doing 10-20 or 80 transactions as long as they will use or donate those item’s. However, my jewel does not have a u-scan and I would be embarrased tying up a “line” for more than 2-3 trans. per visit/ waiting in the line.I don’t think its “abusing” at all. Your bucks program offers $2 back WYB ANY Suave product (be it 0.89 or $3)

    Here’s my take on your bucks. While its fun to get all these “deals” for now…I was told by several jewel employee’s this week that they are reducing their “variety” by 20%. IMO that 20% may just be the items we are taking off their shelf for “free” JMHO 😉

  11. mara says

    Rachel I really feel bad people are e-mailing (bothering) you with their catalina’s gone wrong. What a pain for you! One thing I wanted to add, if I mess up and my transaction doesn’t produce a catalina I go straight to customer service. If I return the product due to my error I always never leave the store and tell them at customer service that the item never left the store and can be put back on the shelf. It can be resold! That is really important to me. I’d hate to abuse the system and have the store suffer from my stupid behavior.

  12. adrienne says

    so, for youbucks, I can buy more than one item per transaction and get more than one cat? Like, I could buy 2 All detergents and get 2 cats back from that? I just assumed it was one like item per transaction.

  13. Christy says

    Great post, Rachel! I hope this will cover most of the questions you’ve been getting!

    I’ve had many transactions where the cat won’t print. I usually go to CS and nicely tell them I was expecting a cat. 9 times out of 10 they are super helpful, but once in a while there’s a sour CS rep who just doesn’t want to help. Usually the machine is out of paper or the cats aren’t printing at that time. Once in a while I’ve miscalculated (it’s hard to get to the scanner sometimes with so many kids in tow), so I just tell them I didn’t buy enough and I need to add one more thing to get my cat.

    I contacted Catalina company for the first time this week, providing all the information and a scan of my receipt. It probably wasn’t worth going to all that trouble for $3.00, but I’m curious to see what happens. And it’s the principal of it all :)

  14. says

    Emily — if you’re doing REALLY QUICK back-to-back transactions, it’s a good idea to switch off cards, especially on instant-off deals. Sometimes it takes a minute to reset.

    adrienne — no, one like item per transaction.

    mara — good point. They can’t resell perishables once you take them out of the store.

    Lisa — Actually that 20% reduction is part of a larger corporate policy. Note the red clearance tags that have been out for the last few months — a lot of those are on items or varieties they’ll no longer be carrying.

    Julie — If you read back further on CW, this isn’t unique — a number of people there will do huge numbers of transactions on any money-making deal, have done so for years, and it hasn’t affected the Catalina programs. So I wouldn’t worry about it from the standpoint of ending good Cats. Some of them do special order cases of items on these deals so that they’re not clearing shelves.

    Lastly — people aren’t “bothering” me — I’m happy to help out when I can, and understand it’s really frustrating when you’re expecting to get a Catalina and nothing prints. I play this game myself and have the same frustrations! :) It’s just not feasible to keep answering the same questions in email etc. — and the other part of it is, I’m not there, so I don’t necessarily know why it didn’t print.

  15. Megan says

    I think it’s hard not to ask questions when we see the deals posted on one website and don’t no where else to ask (such as my pesky Hamburger Helper catalina – can’t imagine too many people pursuing that deal), but at least the beauty of allowing comments on posts is that hopefully we can all help each other if there are questions. If we’re all getting to be seasoned couponers, the burden shouldn’t be on you alone to answer everything.

  16. says

    I would say I think buying 80 suave in one day is a bit over the top. My sister in law was at a jewel this morning and did just one transaction and the cashier told her that people are abusing this deal. Wonder what jewel will do? If anything?

  17. says

    Megan — I LOVE that people are helping others in comments :).

    Heather — they’ll be going back today for another 80, if there are any left… The promos are run through Catalina and the sponsoring companies. Jewel makes money here because they are getting reimbursed for the coupons, so it’s actually in THEIR best interest to encourage people to buy as much as possible. What the Suave people were thinking offering $2.00 back on their already low-priced products, I can’t even begin to imagine. They have on very rare occasion tried to pull deals in the past but ended up having to put them back because they had a contract with Jewel and because it was advertised a certain way.

  18. Nancy says

    Thanks so much Rachel for all that you do-esp. with a young family. I don’t know how you do it (no sleep??) , but know you are appreciated! People need to understand that at times, things do not work out perfectly. You just have to reflect on the nearly free stuff you got on your last trip. Always halps me feel better! :)

  19. says

    I got this idea last night about the self checkout. Say there is 4 self checkout areas open. Jewel should dedicate 2 of them to people that will not be using any coupons. Then the other 2 lanes should be dedicated to people that are going to be using at least one coupon in their transaction. Then the cashiers would know that if someone is using the ‘couponer dedicated’ self checkout they will need help at the end to get their coupons scanned. I wouldn’t mind waiting for the ‘couponer dedicated’ checkouts………..just got this idea when I was doing a few transactions last night and a line started backing up in the self checkout. Maybe it wouldn’t work because sometimes people need help checking out even when they don’t have any coupons……but I was just thinking about it last night because there are so many people trying to do these deals.

  20. says

    Just put in all your deals ,Guarantee’s are not included. If you don’t succeed try again . Feel sorry for you and Jill with all the moanng & groaning you hear . You can always say ! OK do you want me to quit my web site LOL Us old couponers know that you win and loose some ,Heck I missed my cat. on a swiffer last night @Dominicks ,They say NOW you have to do a $25 after coupons :-( Going to try again later . Keep up the good work .

  21. says

    Tammi — you’re expecting people to read signs? LOL. I’m hoping that they’ll eventually go back to letting people scan their own coupons — Jewel is SO shortstaffed that the self-checkouts back up like crazy at peak shopping hours.

    letsshop — Dominick’s lied to you, you don’t have to hit that total after coupons — that’s what they say to make you go away :).

  22. Jill M says

    Hey Rachel,

    I wanted to run this by you & see if you had heard this. I had to acquire a new preferred card for Jewel back in December, since my daughter wrecked my previous one it had a good history on it too!! Anyway I had not been getting any Catalinas at all and was getting fed up, it had been long enough so I was ready to complain, I talked to Customer Service at the VP Jewel two weeks ago & they gave me the number for corporate & told me it could take up to 26 weeks of having a new card to build up history & there was nothing they could do to help me out but I would see nothing until then. Just wanted your thoughts, wondered if you knew of anyone else having this problem? Let me know what you think :)


    Jill M

    • says

      Jill — What?? That makes no sense at all. I actually got a new card myself back in August or so at one of the preferred card update events (my old one was falling apart and they confiscated it from dh!). It produced Catalinas immediately. I’m not sure what “building up history” is supposed to mean. Do you have a significant other with another card you can use? Otherwise why not go to CS and get another new card and see what happens, but it should work to produce Catalinas immediately.

  23. Jill M says

    Thanks I did not think that made sense either & it is making me crazy, I’m losing free money!! :)My husband does have one, but just the key card & the hole is broke so I would lose it :) I will definitely go & apply for a new card asap. Thanks.

  24. town says

    Rachel, I really think the catalina machines are getting a workout. Have a lot of yours printed with red ink, no black ink, or just very faint? Quite a few of mine have lately. Of course they don’t scan. I try to get rid of those right away. I don’t think the Catalina person has a chance of keeping up with refilling the ink being used :)

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