Consumer groups want grocers to ditch digital-only deals

Nov 16, 2022, 5:07 PM | Updated: Nov 17, 2022, 8:11 am
A digital-only coupon for Pampers brand baby wipes is displayed at a Kroger in Ann Arbor, Michigan,...

A digital-only coupon for Pampers brand baby wipes is displayed at a Kroger in Ann Arbor, Michigan, on Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2022. A coalition of consumer groups is calling on grocers to stop offering digital-only deals, saying they discriminate against people without smartphones or regular internet access.(AP Photo/Dee-Ann Durbin)

(AP Photo/Dee-Ann Durbin)

A coalition of consumer groups is asking grocery chains to rethink their digital-only coupons, saying the deals discriminate against people who don’t have smartphones or reliable internet access.

Digital-only deals __ advertised online or on store shelves __ can offer significant savings, but they generally require customers to electronically clip a coupon in a grocer’s app or on its website.

For example, a Kroger in Cincinnati, Ohio, is advertising frozen turkey for 60 cents per pound this week; with a digital coupon, the price drops to 49 cents per pound. And a Stop & Shop in Somerville, Massachusetts, is offering a half pork loin for $2.99 per pound; with a digital coupon, that drops to $1.79 per pound.

“There’s nothing wrong with digital coupons as long as they’re equitable and everyone can take advantage of the advertised price in one way or another,” said Edgar Dworsky, a consumer advocate and former assistant attorney general in Massachusetts who runs the website Consumer World.

Dworsky and others __ including Consumer Reports, Consumer Action, the Public Interest Research Group and the National Consumers League __ sent letters this week to Kroger, Albertsons, Stop & Shop and Smart & Final urging them to make sure deals are available in both digital and non-digital formats.

Kroger and Smart & Final didn’t respond to requests for comment from The Associated Press. Stop & Shop said it will review the letter.

Albertsons said it offers digital deals as a way to reward customers in its loyalty program, who can download the deals into their apps. But the company said many of its stores also let customers present the weekly circular to cashiers so the discounts can be applied at the register.

Dworsky said that can be problematic, since customers and cashiers don’t always know that’s an option.

Albertsons also pointed out that it owns Vons, a California-based chain that Dworsky praised for offering “clip or click” coupons in its circulars, which allow customers to cut out coupons or download them to their apps. Pennsylvania-based Giant Co. also offers “clip or click” coupons, Dworsky said.

“We will continue to provide assistance to users of the rewards program in the store to help them ensure they get the best possible experience and prices,” Albertsons said in a statement.

Dworsky said some stores offer refunds to customers who ask for the digital price, but that requires the customer to make an extra effort. He wants stores to ensure cashiers will honor digital deals upon request, or even go to the lengths of Texas-based H-E-B, which puts physical coupons in its stores next to advertised deals.

Dworsky said seniors are the most likely to lack smartphone or internet access or the technical savvy to figure out how digital-only coupons work.

Smartphone access varies widely by age group in the U.S., according to a 2021 study by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center. The study found that 96% of people ages 18 to 29 own a smartphone, compared to 61% of those 65 and older. The same study found that 25% of people 65 or older don’t use the internet.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

Stowaways found on a ship’s rudder in Spain’s Canary Islands

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Spain’s Maritime Rescue Service says it has rescued three stowaways traveling on a ship’s rudder in the Canary Islands after the vessel sailed there from Nigeria. The men, found on the Alithini II oil tanker at the Las Palmas port, appeared to have symptoms of dehydration and hypothermia and were transferred […]
1 day ago
FILE - Mike Moscrop, left, from Orange County, Calif., poses with Amir Sieidoust, an Iranian suppor...
Associated Press

Iran-US World Cup clash rife with political tension

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — The last World Cup clash between the United States and Iran 24 years ago is considered one of the most politically charged matches in soccer history. This time, the political overtones are just as strong and relations perhaps even more fraught as the U.S. and Iran face off once again on […]
1 day ago
In this photo provided by the Philippine Coast Guard, a Chinese Coast Guard ship sails near a Phili...
Associated Press

US dismisses China objections to South China Sea mission

BEIJING (AP) — The U.S. Navy on Tuesday dismissed Beijing’s protests over a “freedom of navigation operation” conducted near a Chinese-held island in the South China Sea, in the latest incident drawing new attention to one of the world’s potential military flashpoints. In an unusual move, the Navy’s 7th Fleet issued a rebuttal to China’s […]
1 day ago
FILE - Pakistan army Lt. Gen. Syed Asim Munir attends a ceremony in Islamabad, Pakistan, Nov. 1, 20...
Associated Press

Pakistan’s new army chief takes charge of military

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistan’s new military chief took command of the country’s armed forces on Tuesday amid a deepening political rift between the government and the popular opposition leader, as well as a renewed threat from a key militant group that has been behind scores of deadly attacks over 15 years. The army has historically […]
1 day ago
A boy kisses a dog while he charges his phone at the heating tent "Point of Invincibly" in Bucha, U...
Associated Press

Ukraine’s ‘Invincibility’ centers offer refuge, resilience

BUCHA, Ukraine (AP) — Retired Ukrainian construction worker Borys Markovnikov is on the move again: This time, just a few steps from his home in the town of Bucha, northwest of Kyiv, to seek shelter and warmth at a “Point of Invincibility” — a government-built help station that serves food, drinks, warmth and ultimately, resilience, […]
1 day ago
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg gestures during joint statements with Romanian President Kl...
Associated Press

NATO ministers meet to drum up more aid, arms for Ukraine

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his NATO counterparts are gathering in Romania on Tuesday to drum up urgently needed support for Ukraine, including deliveries of electrical components for the war-torn country’s devastated power transmission network. Ukraine’s grid has been battered countrywide since early October by targeted Russian strikes, in […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
Consumer groups want grocers to ditch digital-only deals