Are electronic coupons worth the work?

By Amy Davis - Reporter/Consumer Expert

HOUSTON - Coupons arrive by email, snail mail and, now, on your smart phone. With so many offers coming your way, it takes time and effort to maximize your savings at the grocery store.

Some chains are offering customized coupons which include deals on the items you buy most. But do those savings add up? Local 2 Investigates looked into Randalls' new "Just For U" program to find out.

If you have a store loyalty card, every beep of the checkout scanner divulges details about you to your grocery store.

"Do we care about what type of toilet paper or soda or laundry detergent you buy?" asked Randalls Vice President of Merchandising Ronnie Brennan. "Well, the answer is yes. We want to make sure we're offering you deals on the items that you buy or show a history of buying, as opposed to items that you don't buy."

You have to sign up online to link your Randalls Remarkable Card to Just For U. You can do it at home or in the store. You can also download the Just For U app for your smartphone.

"I can stand here today and download a deal on an item," explained Brennan. "By the time I get to the register, it's already on my card."

Randalls shopper Kathy Crippen said she saved almost $50 on a recent shopping trip using her Just For U discounts.

But Local 2 Investigates wanted to know just how custom are the personalized coupons? We asked for feedback on Facebook. Three Randall's shoppers already in the program responded. With their permission, we logged into their Just For U accounts. We went straight to the personalized deals to compare what Randall's sent to each shopper.

April had 40 custom coupons. Out of those, we discovered 22 were unique,  meaning neither of the other shoppers were offered those same deals. Christy had 15 unique coupons out of 28 offered. Her deals revealed she and her husband also have a sweet tooth. Randalls sent them exclusive deals on cookies, ice cream and Hershey's bars.

And most of the digital deals can be combined with your traditional coupons for extra savings.

"How can you say it doesn't save?" asked Crippen.

Brennan said the average savings per shopper is 10 to 20 percent.

"That being said, we've had customers that have saved 40 to 50 percent," added Brennan.

Randalls said it uses your shopping preferences to negotiate good deals with manufacturers, but it doesn't share any of your personal information with third parties.

Randalls isn't the only local grocery store offering customized deals. Kroger also tracks your purchases from your store card, but its personalized coupons come to you in the mail.

Randalls is giving us a sneak peak at a great offer every Just For U shopper can get beginning Wednesday. A half-gallon of Lucerne milk is only 99 cents when you use your Randalls Remarkable card and Just For U discount. You can only buy two half gallons at this price. The deal is good through Sept. 25.

To sign up for Just For U, visit Randalls' website.

If you have a news tip or question for KPRC Local 2 Investigates, drop them an e-mail or call their tipline at (713) 223-TIPS (8477). Copyright 2012 by All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.