Saturday, June 27, 2009

Ethical Couponing

I am the firstborn child. I am a rule-follower. Down to my very core. Can I be legalistic - goodness, yes! Daily struggle. Even driving more than 3 mph over the speed limit gets me a little on edge (yes, I do speed from time to time).

I carry my rule-following nature into my bargain hunting. I am realizing that many clerks and managers don't really understand how coupons work. I have heard stories of cashiers refusing to take a coupon because it would make the item free and the store doesn't give away freebies because that would be stealing (that cashier didn't realize the store gets reimbursed for manufacturer coupons). I have had a couple run-ins where I have had to explain why I am right when using my coupons. I want to make CERTAIN that I am doing my deals on the up and up just in case I have to clarify to a manager.

We all want to play nice. We want the coupons to keep coming. Manufacturers have a specific intent in their coupons that we need to follow to stay on the up and up. Here are some big no-no's I have gotten as I venture into coupon-land to keep us all from committing coupon fraud.
  • Using a coupon for product xyz when coupon is actually for product abc
  • Photocopying a printed coupon (most can legally be printed twice per computer by using the back button on your browser). Internet coupons are regulated by the manufacturer to only allow so many prints.
  • Using more than one coupon in one transaction that states "one per transaction"
  • Knowingly slipping more coupons to cashier than products you have on hand
There is a coupon course out there that teaches bar code matching. Theoretically, if certain numbers in the bar code of a product match a coupon, no matter if the product itself matches, the coupon will work. Manufacturers clearly state in writing on the coupon what products that coupon may be used on. Using a coupon for a kitchen cleaner on laundry detergent just because the bar codes match, in my opinion, just is not ethical. The manufacturer's intent was clear. Many companies have a generic portion of the bar code that appears on all products and coupons.

Stay tuned next week to learn all about shopping for deals at CVS!

Happy deal hunting!


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