What happen to the Barcode?

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Have you noticed a change in coupon barcodes? Manufacturers have begun removing the 12 digit barcode (seen on the left hand side of the coupon) and are only using the longer barcode, called a DataBar barcode which you will find on the right hand side of your coupon.

And most stores have already started to update their POS system to be compatible with these new barcodes.


The old 12 digit barcode looks more like a UPC and is intended to link directly to a product. We all know there are more than a few products in the store, so manufacturers have had a huge challenge to make a coupon for a specific product.

For instance, a shopper may be able to use a coupon that is intended for a 4-pack of yogurt for single yogurt cups with no “beepage”. Because the bar code cannot be linked directly to the 4-packk yogurts, but rather the company who makes the yogurt, the coupon scans fine at the register.

Manufacturers have a problem at this point because coupons are being used outside of their intention. Also, some shoppers and stores have the motto that they don’t read the wording on the coupon – if it scans, it must be legit. (I am in no way suggesting to you that this is acceptable coupon usage!)

The Fix:

The DataBar barcode contains much more information than a UPC code does. For example, it accommodates longer manufacturer identification numbers, which check to see if you purchased the correct item. Also, These barcodes contain the expiration date, weight of the products accepted, exact products, quantity and any other information that the manufacturer would like to put in the coupon.   Also, since there is minimal human readable text, this means the end of barcode decoding!

Retailers that utilize DataBar will experience automatic expiration date checking, reduced cashier intervention and improved scan rates. This means your checkout experience should be much less painful and will be faster.

Of course, in order for these coupons to scan, the retailer would need to update their POS system to accommodate the new barcode. Most major retailers like Target and Walgreens already support DataBar barcodes, with other retailers soon to come.

What are your thoughts?


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  1. amanda says

    i’m guessing vons hasn’t updated their POS systems because the cashier had a hard time scanning my coupons with the new barcode! and this happened at two different vons stores!

  2. Izabela says

    I used some of these coupons at Rite Aid today. They all scanned perfectly without any problems, while the old ones used have issues from time time.

  3. Kris says

    Does anyone know yet how to determine if a coupon will double (i.e. old barcode “5” will and “9” will not)?

  4. Lola says

    My Wal Mart won’t accept these new coupons but haven’t had any issues at CVS, not sure if i’ve used any of these at Target.

  5. Jolleen says

    I tried to use these coupons this week at Walgreens, one was the tylenol precise $3 coupon and the other was the $1 reach floss coupon. They would not scan at my Walgreens. The manager accepted one coupon that she had to put in manually, and refused the rest. I had to go to a different Walgreens, where they also did not scan.

  6. Leticia EM says

    Thanks for posting about this, i had posted to the Forum about the issues i was having. Our Walmart in Lakeside, will not take coupons with the new Bar Code, no the Vons next door. I like the idea of limited fruad, however i wish that everyone would update the scanners. My Husband works on POS systems and says they have to update each register and scanner manually for something like this. Which is why it might take a while for it to roll out everywhere.

  7. Ana says

    I wish they would hurry and update because just about every store I’ve been to tells me that I can’t redeem those coupons.

  8. Tara says

    It’s so frustrating! I went to Vons and they treated me like a criminal because my coupons didn’t have that extra barcode. They said there was no way they could take them, “It’s a corporate wide policy” said the manager when I asked if I could use them at another Vons. It’s such a bummer I am missing out on some good deals and it seems (with my experience) that the cashiers have no clue. When I told them at Vons that this is how the coupons are going to be now, they just shrugged their shoulders and said well we won’t be able to take them. :(

  9. Judy says

    I am super excited about these new coupons because maybe the cashiers wont have to read each and every coupon any more if it is harder to use the coupons fraudulently. I hate waiting for them to read each coupon and go through my bags and make sure that is the item I got. If this eliminates fraudulent coupon use, maybe it will eliminate cashiers having to read the coupons. I can’t wait to see how this pans out.

  10. says

    I have used the new coupons at Albertson’s and Rite Aid with no problems. I think coupon fraud is just that – fraud. I wonder if checkers will start to have a better attitude toward couponers once all of the systems get updated. I hope so!

  11. akb says

    i have problems with the new coupon (barcodes). even if it is the exact item in the picture there are some scanners that give some warning. target’s sometimes will say the “item is not there” then it becomes a gamble if the cashier will go through the effort to push it through. like others have said, when theres a problem, they make us feel like criminals.

  12. Gina says

    has anyone tried using the BIC coupon from 1/8/12 I tried using it at 2 different Walgreens and it came up EXPIRED!!!!

  13. myla says

    @Gina – I used it at Staples, it it didn’t scan. The cashier had to put it in manually. I guess they’re not updated. =) By the way, I got 4 Bic Permanent markers 5pk for FREE. Paid .35 cents for tax.

  14. Gaby says

    @akb – Seriously they do. Some cashiers act as if we are stealing or as if they have to pay for what we save with coupons. This is why I won’t shop at food4less anymore since their coupon policy is horrible (only 5 coupons seriously?). The cashier was also badmouthing me as I left since I didn’t buy anything and just left it there.

  15. Maritza says

    Thanks for putting this up. I have a handful of coupons I printed from coupons.com and they came out only with the long barcode only so I thought my computer might be on the fringe. I was very close to throwing them away or using them for scrap paper.

  16. Mandy says

    Do you know how we can tell if the coupon doubles? With the old 5 or 9 in the beginning it was clear, but now it is often a 0 and I cannot tell if it doubles or not. Thanks for your help.

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