I don’t want your vouchers

Filed in Blog by on February 20, 2012 11 Comments
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Mrs Green and her unrequested vouchers

Mrs Green and her unrequested vouchers

I love Sainsburys supermarket.

It has a great range of organic and fairtrade products, well stocked shelves and happy-to-help staff.

But I do have one gripe.

Every freaking time I go in there and get my receipt (10 out of 10 by the way for being one of the first companies to offer double-sided receipts which, effectively halves their paper use) I get vouchers!

These vouchers are printed automatically at the till, are in full technicolour and I don’t think I’ve ever used one (except for the time I got the 5p off a litre of fuel jackpot voucher and filled up my tank to celebrate).

They really annoy me with their ‘get x amount of bonus nectar points when you spend x on your next shop’ because the amount I have to spend to get the bonus points is about £10-£15 MORE than I usually do; so it’s clever psychology, based on my past spending patterns, aimed at getting me to spend just that little bit more on crap I don’t need.

Then there is the  ‘half a billion nectar points when you take out car insurance’ or ‘Get a dinner date with Brad Pitt when you apply for our credit card’ . (Ok, there isn’t but you get the drift).

Then there are promises of yet more bonus points when I spend £20 on clothing that I don’t need.


I don’t WANT these things, but more than that I don’t want the vouchers either. I don’t want the pieces of paper with their toxic inks in my purse which I then have to recycle. I already receive about 1kg of  paper receipts per year in useless receipts.

And no, you can’t stop the vouchers or request not to have them because it’s all automated. According to their website, Sainsburys have over 18 million customers per week. If everyone gets a couple of vouchers that’s 36 million pieces of  (mostly unused I’d hazard a guess) paper ending up landfilled or recycled.

What about you – any gripes this week which are getting in the way of you doing your bit for the environment?


About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (11)

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  1. Pinkoddy says:

    Tesco do it too. Or send them through the post to use in store when they know you use their home delivery service!

  2. nicola baird says:

    A great post Mrs Green. I try to avoid supermarkets, although obviously use them sometimes. I notice at Waitrose they give your plastic green coins that you can then use to back a particular charity by popping into a special charity box near the exit. Now that’s a wonderful way to “reward” customers and to give to local charities. Maybe you could ask Sainsbury’s to consider doing something similar – they must find the voucher situation wastes their staff time anyway.

    I’m guessing you could also use these vouchers shredded as pet bedding – although I think the new trend is to use washable fleece (eg, for not too pooey animals, like hamsters and guinea pigs. It would not work with my ducklings!). Nicola

  3. Monique says:

    I’ve become so much more aware of these sneaky forms of waste since we’ve moved to the UK and are more aware of recycling and trash. If I have a choice between two products, I’ll purchase the one with less packaging so I’m not bringing waste in to the house. I resent junk mail, because not only is it an advert I don’t want, it is more work for me! And my poor dear mother doesn’t get why her care packages — mailed with *packing peanuts* — make me a little crazy. Do you have any suggestions for anything useful at all to do with packing peanuts?! I don’t know where she even finds them!

  4. Kate says:

    Target does that here. I just leave them on the counter in case the person behind me uses whatever product or spends however much money.
    I’ve seen people grab and use them a couple of times…or if it’s a kind-looking person there I ask them if they would use whatever it is.

  5. Teresa says:

    I never realised those money off vouchers were attributed to past spending patterns to get you to spend more. I thought that they were to do with an average spend in the store by all card holders. I never use them anyway unless there is the large item in the store I want to buy and there is a good deal on it.

  6. Jane says:

    I agree about all this buy-more-than-you-want-now-because-we’ll-do-you-a-deal business. I’d rather no store was allowed to do it on anything with a short life. I think it encourages over-buying, over-eating and waste. Anyone who has just found their favourite thing on offer won’t agree!

    I never seem to have vouchers on me at the right time, they often have conditions eg the product mustn’t be on offer at the time you use the voucher and I don’t like all the info that they often want from you. Everybody is collecting data. I gave the wrong date of birth for something trivial like that recently and I wasn’t allowed something because I hadn’t thought about having to be over 18! Who do they think they are?

    Sainsbury’s is my closest supermarket and I do generally like it. I would like to send them a bouquet for the change in packaging to the mesh fronted recyclable LDPE plastic bags but also a brickbat for the enormous plastic boxes the turkey leg is packed in – that is probably a Trading Standards overpackaging issue. It is nice to see them keeping us more informed on the packaging than some other supermarkets. who you can’t take your plastic bags back to and who don’t identify their packaging so you can make a decision on it. Even better of course to avoid all you can! Somebody suggested the other day that it was all sent to Head Office freepost on Radio 4 (not me this time). 🙂

  7. Carrie says:

    Oh how true. I shop at Sainsbury’s too and it is especially annoying at the moment because you often get a voucher which tells you nothing more than how much cheaper your shop was at Sainsbury’s that day, normally about 24p or something daft!

    One thing I do find really annoying, is that gift vouchers are no longer paper, but often plastic cards, which look a bit like credit cards. Over Christmas we got them for Vue cinemas, Waterstones and Amazon, and once you have used them their is nothing you can do with them 🙁 At least with paper vouchers you can recycle or compost. What a waste of plastic; honestly, who comes up with this stuff??!!

  8. Jane says:

    @Carrie: The ‘credit card’ vouchers are brilliant for scraping the ice of your windscreen and much safer to use than your actual credit or debit card!

  9. Frustrating! Ack! It is so good to hear someone else think the way I do. I’m not the only one annoyed by these moments of waste I feel I have no control over, especially when they’re “for me” or my convinence.

  10. Carrie says:

    @Jane: Great idea Jane, I will stick one in the car for the next frosty morning 🙂

  11. for awhile our local hy-vee store put out printed coupons for silly offers..i shared my receipts with others who would be candidates for such wasteful products–until i realized i was promoting the sale of such..
    of course i did wrinkle my nose as i shared. but if it’ s not good for me, it’ s not good for them either so i told the manager that i’ d prefer slightly lower prices on in-store merchandise than all these long print colorful ads..
    the ads disappeared soon enough…prices did not however, they keep riding upward..at least i don’t have to deal with extra junk..

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