How & When To Ask For A Rain Check On Grocery Store Discounts

In the face of inflated food prices, every money-saving trick at the grocery store can help — and if you've never heard of rain checks, you may want to give them a try. A rain check is when a vendor promises to sell a product at a lower price on a later date because the product is out of stock when the customer hoped to purchase it. 

To make sure the grocer makes good on a rain check, you can ask an employee to get a paper voucher that will allow you to buy the product at the sale price when it's in stock again. According to the FTC's Unavailability Rule, retail food stores can't advertise prices for products unless they have them in stock at the price they promised. Before this rule was in place, customers would arrive at the store anticipating a sale, only to find that the discounted items were no longer there. 

There are, however, still some guidelines around how and when you can ask for a rain check, which you'll want to keep in mind before walking up to a cashier.

Know the rules surrounding rain checks

While rain checks can be a great way to buy items on sale, they may not always apply. For example, if there are any restrictions on the sale — like a BOGO offer or clearance discount — the products may not qualify for a rain check. Also, a sale item typically needs to be advertised on a flier or in a booklet to qualify. Finally, if the sale advertisement includes a phrase like "while supplies last," this proviso will likely relieve a store of any obligation of granting a rain check. 

If you have a question, you can ask an employee or store manager, and be tactful when doing so, particularly in the latter case because some grocery stores have policies that dictate rain checks can be given at the manager's discretion. If you have a rain-check voucher in hand, make things easier on the cashier and give it to them before they start scanning your items. Not only will they appreciate the heads-up, but they may need to enlist a manager's help or send you to the customer service counter.

Rain checks can be a great money-saving tool, but to save yourself time and disappointment, know what to expect before asking for a discount.