Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Coupon Ethics

This topic is very important to me.  I hear stories every week of stores who have altered coupon policies (and have become less coupon friendly) because of an incidence of coupon fraud.  It makes me sad that the actions of a few people seriously hinder the savings ability of all of us who use coupons correctly.

My goal on this blog is to only pass along deals and information that are completely legit - no grey area and no hint of fraud.  If there is ever a deal posted that you question, please don't hesitate to contact me so I can investigate further!

Basic Coupon Rules:
  • One manufacturer coupon per item (unless otherwise stated on coupon).
  • Internet coupons may NOT be photocopied.
  • For coupon printing sites, you may use your back button to print usually 2 copies per computer.  Manufacturers have built in a print limit for each computer and a maximum amount of prints per campaign. IP's have unique codes to prevent fraud.
  • Coupons are to be used on items written on coupon.  There are some programs out there that explain in detail how some companies have less-specific coupons where a coupon intended for a specific item can be used on a list of items due to how the coupon is coded.  Using coupons this way is fraud.  The manufacturer has clearly stated what item the coupon is intended for and the coupon should not be used on anything else.
Some stores just are not very knowledgeable about coupon use and try to deny coupons that are legitimate.  Some stores have altered their policy to decline certain coupons (such as for free items or internet coupons).  Arm yourself with information about proper coupon use plus with the store's coupon policy.  I have found that in most cases, either a manager or customer service can remedy any coupon issues.

Common Confusions by Stores: (don't let these deter you - get help from customer service or a manager either while checking out or after - if they can't/won't help, contact the corporate office via phone or email - stores want to keep customers and keep them happy)
  • You are saving too much.  I can't let you get these items so cheaply.
  • You can only use one coupon in this order. (some stores limit how many "like" coupons they will accept - my Kroger only takes 3 "like" coupons in an order - most of the time, the checker is confused between purchase and transaction)
  • You didn't purchase the item in the picture.  (sometimes the coupon won't scan right - it happens.  If you have purchased the item that is WRITTEN on the coupon, you may use that coupon - it does not NEED to match the picture since often coupons can be for multiple items and only one picture is used)
Now for a little controversy.  I read over and over how it is fine to stack an electronic coupon with a paper coupon.  I've done it.  It works.  Well, the electronic coupon companies often do not endorse this practice.  P&G had an ecoupon service that shut down because of coupon stacking.  Shortcuts.com has been very vocal about how they do not permit coupon stacking.  Check with the individual ecoupon site for their policy regarding this.  From time to time, I honestly have no idea what is on my card (I know, shame on me!) and end up unintentionally stacking.

As I get more information from the various ecoupon sites, I will pass it along to you.  I would love to see a simple change in coding on ecoupons to enforce any policies to help us stay on the up-and-up.


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