What is a rain check?

neil on 30/05/2012 at 12:00 pm, filed under General

On a recent thread, a user wrote about how they were frustrated that they were not able to get a Telstra $30 sim card for $10 . He pondered whether he can just buy it now, await another sale, refund the original, and buy again for the sale price. Sure, I guess you can but there is no guarantee that it is going to go on sale again.  Why not just get a rain check? Much to my surprise, some weren’t aware of this very handy bargain tool.  I must admit up until a couple of years ago, I had no idea what it was either.

There are often times when the two major supermarket chains, Woolworths & Coles advertise specials so popular that the items end up selling out. Any supermarket specials heavily voted on by OzBargain are likely to be out of stock. So what can you do?

  1. Go to the service desk and ask for a rain check on the out of stock item.
  2. They should check to see if there is any stock in-store but this rarely happens in my experience.
  3. The service desk will check the price of the current item in the catalogue or by scanning the item.
  4. They will write you out a rain check, slightly bigger in size than a business card.  On this paper, it will usually state the date, advertised price, product name, and the maximum quantity you can claim.

You have 30 days to redeem the rain check and are free to do so in any branch of the store. To redeem, just buy your product as usual but when checking out give the rain check to the cashier.

A selection of popular stores that do rain checks:

Note: Some stores have exclusions to what items you can obtain with a  rain check.  In the thread mentioned above, they refused to give him a rain check as they said sim cards were exempt from rain checks.  It’s always worth asking regardless of policy.


What’s the origin of the word “raincheck”?

The original raincheck was American. It was a special ticket issued to spectators when a baseball game was cancelled on account of bad weather. This raincheck allowed people to come to another game at a later date. These rainchecks have been around since at least 1884 (see the Oxford English Dictionary). So a raincheck has nothing to do with the check that means “to examine or establish something”. (We would more usually spell this one cheque). The meaning has changed considerably — first, it broadened to include a ticket issued at any outdoor event and the later it meant simply that you could take up an offer at a time more convenient. For example, if someone invited you to dinner, but you were busy you might ask to take a raincheck.

Source: ABC TV


Image credit: Simple Living Sherrie


  1. ANdy:

    Agreed. one other problem is the desk always no one there, when you start ask for raincheck, the staff will called the supervisor or manager and it will took nearly 10-15 min, I just have no idea why the staff so not want us to get raincheck? they not even OWN the coles, but pretend they are the boss!

    31/05/2012 @ 10:29 am
    • Stingo:

      Only some staff are authorised to provide rainchecks.

      10/03/2015 @ 4:01 am
  2. Shirley:

    A frustrated shopping experience at Woolworth shop at Blackburn North today. I got a raincheck for 6 packages of Huggies Nappy 44 bulk pack for $14.98 while it’s $19.98 today. I want to buy 2 packages of crawler pack with the price on the raincheck but was refused and was told have to buy 6 packages at one time. Confused. Normally, they will cross the quantity has been used and write the balance on the raincheck. Never be requested to buy all quantity on the raincheck! Anyway know where I can find the conditions of using woolworth raincheck, pls kindly advise me. I feel treated unfairly today:(

    23/09/2012 @ 2:45 pm
    • neil:

      Sounds like incompetent staff. It’s best to talk to a manager/supervisor next time you are there.

      23/09/2012 @ 3:33 pm
    • Stingo:

      The rain-check is provided to ameliorate any disadvantage to you caused by insufficient stock being available during the time the items were available at the advertised price or to be more cynical about it so their stores can’t be prosecuted for using bait and switch tactics.

      The rain-check is not provided for you to gain an additional advantage.
      If you know the store will honour partial redemptions you can request a quantity far higher then you would have bought during the time on special and receive the benefit of the discounted price over a longer period.

      I believe the staff member acted acted wrongly so far as not giving you the option pf purchasing any quantity up to 6 in exchange for your recheck but presumably you would have found that option equally unacceptable.

      Now as to what Woolies policy about partial redemptions is, I can’t say but I would guess it is more likely to be rain-check must be surrendered for partial or full redemption rather than partial redemption is at the discretion of staff members and probably not partial redemptions are acceptable.

      To see why consider the possibilities of a rain-check for what ever quantity you have consumed since then,

      10/03/2015 @ 4:37 am
  3. raf:

    as I checked for catalogue product on special this week at Woolworths as its popular as I went to customer service after I finished my shopping she called duty manager as she was very rude I said please can I get raincheck ,, she replied no we cant give you araincheck as this product while stock last I laughed I said its on catalogue of this week she said other stuff okay but not that chicken,,!!!!

    06/02/2015 @ 9:36 pm
    • Stingo:

      Yes, they can avoid giving you a rain-check if the catalogue states “while stocks last” or “no rain-checks”. What’s rude about that?

      10/03/2015 @ 4:43 am
  4. John harper:

    Do customers have the legal right in any shop to get a rain check

    04/09/2017 @ 7:45 pm
    • No. It’s up to the store policy and/or discretion of the employee.

      05/09/2017 @ 2:13 am
    • Stingo:

      While there isn’t any legal right per-se stores are mindful of being prosecuted by the ACCC for bait and switch tactics, so the large stores typically either advertise items as “while stocks last” or offer rain checks. If I’m not mistaken the ACCC has menaced retailers for having trivial levels of stock despite disclaimers. So you might have some success by having a discussion with a senior person in the store or company about this. I vaguely recall some Aldi managers have helped people obtain some of the “special buys” despite the usual Aldi disclaimers.

      As for your legal rights, good luck getting enforced: the ACCC doesn’t act on every complaint and most of us don’t have the resources or inclinations to launch legal proceedings on retailers using bait and switch tactics.

      01/10/2017 @ 10:28 am

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.