Commissary 101

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Old 05-25-2011, 10:28 AM
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Pushpin Commissary 101


Commissary 101


If you are first starting to learn about couponing at the Commissary this should help you to get started.


Offical Webpage:
http://www.commissaries.com/

Official Facebook Page:
https://www.facebook.com/YourCommissary

What is the Commissary and DeCA?
The Commissary is the grocery store on all military installations throughout the world (currently there are 250). The Commissaries are run by the Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA), so often when you read anything on policy we will refer to DeCA. DeCA maintains the regulations and Coupon Policy for all Commissaries and has authority over the Commissaries.

Who can shop at the Commissary?
Authorized shoppers include active duty, retirees, National Guard and Reserves and their family members. Medically discharged with a 30% or higher disability are authorized as well. You have to have an ID card and it has to have Commissary written on the front under “Authorized Patron” (active ID does not have this written on them). If in doubt get a hold of DeCA and ask.


Why shop at the Commissary?
The Commissaries tend to run 30% cheaper than average grocery stores and can offer wonderful deals. It is stated that the Commissary cannot profit from grocery sales. Customers buy groceries at cost plus a 5 percent surcharge which is used to fund commissary construction and renovations. So there are great deals to be had at the Commissary, and their liberal and well-written Coupon Policy is also a great factor in shopping there.


What is the Surcharge?
Although tehre is no tax at teh Commissary there is a 5% charge added to each item purchased at the Commissary. This is used to improve and build Commissaries. The Surcharge is charged to the pre-coupon price. This is an important point to remember since a free item isn’t truly free because you still need to pay the surcharge. Also, it is important to account for the surcharge when looking at overage items.


Is the Commissary Coupon Friendly?
As a general rule Commissaries are VERY coupon friendly. Commissaries process 4 times the number of coupons per person than the average grocery store. Coupons can be found throughout the Commissaries, and the Commissary definitely promotes coupon use. DeCA frequently says "Increase your savings with coupons". So don't hesitate to use coupons at the Commissary.


What is the Coupon Policy?
The Commissary has a very detailed Coupon Policy that must be adhered to by ALL Commissaries. I have a separate thread covering the details of the policy here: DeCa Coupon Policy and Other Policy Details Some basics to get you started: Internet Printed Coupons (IPs) are accepted (even in black and white), Coupons are accepted at face value, and there is no limit to the number of like coupons or total coupons allowed in one transaction. They also accept Walgreen’s Register Rewards and Manufacturer coupons that have another store’s logo on it as long as it is a manufacturer’s coupon and doesn’t say redeem ONLY at… along with a few other restrictions. Check out the other thread to get all the details on the policy.

Doesn’t the Commissary Accept Expired Coupons?
The Commissary only accepts expired coupons at overseas locations. Alaska and Hawaii are not considered overseas for this purpose. Overseas locations accept expired coupons up to 6 months past their expiration date. Conus locations do not accept expired coupons under any circumstances.


Can I stack the Military Coupons with Manufacturer Coupons?
No. There are often coupons that can be found in the Commissary that will say “Military Coupon” or “For Use in Military Commissaries Only”. It may be tempting to think these are store coupons and can be stacked with manufacturer coupons but this is incorrect. All coupons, whether they say military on them or not, are manufacturer coupons and cannot be stacked. Only one coupon, no matter the type, can be used per item.


Do commissaries ever have "double coupon" or "triple coupon" promotions like those offered by commercial stores?
No. The "double" or "triple" coupon promotions offered by commercial stores involve doubling, tripling (or otherwise increasing) the face value of a coupon. Commercial stores who offer these types of promotions get paid by the coupon issuer only for the face value of a coupon, and have to absorb the costs of "doubling" or "tripling" coupon face value in their pricing and profit structure. Because commissaries are required by law to sell goods at prices set only high enough to cover the cost of those goods, commissaries make no profit from which to pay the costs associated with "double" coupon promotions. Additionally, DeCA cannot use funds provided for the operation of commissaries to support such promotions, because law strictly prescribes the uses of these funds, and "promotional support" is not among the allowable uses of these funds.


When are the sales at the Commissary?
The Commissary has a different sales structure than traditional grocery stores. The details of what sales type there are, when they run, and how to get information on them can be found in this thread here: A Guide to Commissary Sales and Sale Cycles

What’s the deal with the Baggers?
Baggers can be found at all Commissaries. They are there to help you bag and load your groceries. But the key difference between them and baggers at traditional stores is that they have no wages and only work for tips. So if you have them help you make sure that you tip them. If you don’t want to tip then you can tell them that you do not need help.


Can I special Order? How Do I?
You should be able to special order any item that is listed in the Commissary's system, even if your specific Commissary does not carry it. DeCA prefers that you special order larger volumes of items instead of clearing shelves. Special Ordering is supposed to be a simple process but some stores make it a severe pain. Here is how its supposed to work:

Just tell any cashier that you want to place a special order. In smaller Commissaries they will have the form at the checkout and in larger stores they carry the form at the cash cage or customer service desk. Or to make it easier - here is the pdf link. Fill out the form with as much info you can. Then turn it in to the Commissary. Try to turn it into the person that handles the special orders but if that is not possible then give it to a front end manager. I strongly recommend you follow up by phone about 48 hours later since often the form magically disappears. The order typically will take 5-7 days to arrive, but if it is in high demand or difficult to locate it may take several weeks. They should call you when it arrives, but this does not always happen. So call on the day they expect it to arrive (they should give an estimate when you turn it in or during your follow up call). If it hasn't arrived then call in every few days until it does.

Once the order arrives they are supposed to call you. You then head in and tell the cashier or front end manager that you are there to pick up a special order. They will locate it and check you out. There is no such things as rainchecks at the Commissary and no guarantee of the price when you special order - you pay the price of the item when it arrives. But on the flip-side, you are not required to buy the item if the price changes or if it arrives after your "required by" date. Often if the price does change the managers will honor the older price, but only as a courtesy. They are under no obligation to do this.

If you have any problems will getting special orders placed and completed contact your Store Director. Remember that high demand items, such as overage items, may be near impossible to get. This is not the Commissaries fault, its a distribution issue. As long as the Commissary keeps an open line of communication that is all you can ask of them. Now, repeatedly losing your order form or items, or failing to ever contact you, is another issue.

Hopefully your special orders are a simple easy process.


I had a problem at the Commissary, how do I contact DeCA?
You can go here and send a message to DeCA: Commissaries.com - Contact DeCA They are usually good about getting back to you but it may take a few days. Another option is to get in contact with your store director. Most are really good and willing to straighten things out very quickly. You can find their info by finding your store here: Commissaries.com - Store Locator and their contact information is listed under management. If you have a general question the DeCA Facebook page is pretty responsive: https://www.facebook.com/YourCommissary


If you guys have more questions you would like to see addressed here please post them and I will get them answered. I hope this is helpful!
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Last edited by nomadicpixie; 10-19-2011 at 06:56 AM. Reason: adding
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  #2  
Old 05-25-2011, 10:39 AM

RE: Commissary 101

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Appreciate the refresher on commisary coupon rules and regs. It is a big help as I do about 90% of my shopping there. Thank you!
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Old 05-25-2011, 11:13 AM

RE: Commissary 101

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Just made my first trip and bought 10 rolls of Scotch Tape for .78 each with $1 coupon, so an overage of .22, so I bought the new lean pockets pretzel bread(should of had my BOGO coupon), and ended up paying .07 for it all. One thing I found out it is alot easier to goto the regular cashier then the shelf checkout.

Last edited by larey; 05-25-2011 at 02:50 PM.
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Old 05-26-2011, 07:25 AM

RE: Commissary 101

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Thanks for the shopping info on the commissary!
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Old 05-29-2011, 05:12 AM

RE: Commissary 101

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I am new to using coupons and have been researching the commissary and aafes a lot, I shouldve found you earlier! Thanks so much!
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Old 06-15-2011, 08:40 AM

RE: Commissary 101

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How do you special order at the commissary items that you need in bulk or that they are out of? Do you just go to the cashier window? Is there anything specific you need to know about the product? How long does it usually take to come in?
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Old 06-15-2011, 08:51 AM

RE: Commissary 101

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Quote:
Originally Posted by karrismith View Post
How do you special order at the commissary items that you need in bulk or that they are out of? Do you just go to the cashier window? Is there anything specific you need to know about the product? How long does it usually take to come in?

Generally you go to the Cashier's cage. If you don't know who to ask just talk to any cashier and they should be able to point you in the right direction. If at all possible you will want to order from the person who actually places the order with the warehouse since they have the best information, but that's not always possible.

It is generally best to know the UPC code and how many cases you want. So you should know how many are in a case so you know how many cases you need but the person placing orders may be able to help you with that. Other than that you'll need you contact info and what date you need them by (generally when the price will rise again or when the coupon expires). The big problem many people has is that Commissaries tend to fail to contact you when they arrive. Often I find they never call and just put the items on the shelf. So stay vigilant and call often to check on your order.
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Old 10-07-2011, 11:43 AM

RE: Commissary 101

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Thanks for this! Never knew you could use coupons. This is gonna be awesome! Since some stuff is already cheap
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Old 03-20-2012, 04:25 PM

RE: Commissary 101

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Old 03-22-2012, 02:37 AM

RE: Commissary 101

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I have been out of the couponing game for about 2 yrs and now I am stationed overseas and living off base...my question is can I print coupons from the internet(like coupon.com) with an overseas IP address? (my printer is broken so I can't test this on my own yet.)
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Old 03-22-2012, 07:35 AM

RE: Commissary 101

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Originally Posted by crystl_glss View Post
I have been out of the couponing game for about 2 yrs and now I am stationed overseas and living off base...my question is can I print coupons from the internet(like coupon.com) with an overseas IP address? (my printer is broken so I can't test this on my own yet.)
Yes you should be able to without a problem. It's been a few years since I personally have but I haven't heard of any changes or people complaining. So you should be good. Hope the printer gets back on its feet soon.
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Old 06-05-2012, 06:32 PM

RE: Commissary 101

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I'm so, so, so glad I found this forum! Thank you
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Old 06-05-2012, 06:50 PM

RE: Commissary 101

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Very informative thanks
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Old 07-23-2012, 12:06 PM

RE: Commissary 101

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How can you find out what is available for special orders? We are in Italy and dealing with special diet restrictions, so we're looking to find the easiest method to get hubs things he can eat?!?
I just logged into the commisary website to see the prices, only to be welcomed by the banner that reads only available within the us. Boo! Great resources though. How close are prices typically from one store to another?
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Old 07-23-2012, 01:38 PM

RE: Commissary 101

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Quote:
Originally Posted by loramichelle
How can you find out what is available for special orders? We are in Italy and dealing with special diet restrictions, so we're looking to find the easiest method to get hubs things he can eat?!?
I just logged into the commisary website to see the prices, only to be welcomed by the banner that reads only available within the us. Boo! Great resources though. How close are prices typically from one store to another?
If you call your base commissary, they'll let u know what you can special order. And in regards to your husband having a special diet, I'm pretty sure I read somewhere that commissaries located overseas will help patrons order the foods they need to maintain a special diet if the diet is related to a medical condition. I could be mistaken but its worth looking into!

And I'm also interested in seeing how similar prices between bases are... I cant imagine they'd be much different though. Have u tried logging in online thru commissaries.com & looking at the prices of items? Only sale items are online but you could estimate the regular price based off the savings percentage listed. And u can look @ sale prices for different bases to see how the prices differ between locations..
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