Monday, May 9, 2011

Couponing Honestly

Hello everyone. I had a question sent to me this week, and I really thought it deserved more attention, and that everyone new to coupons would benefit from. There has been a lot of talk lately, much of it due to the TLC program Extreme Couponing, surrounding ethical couponing, and coupon fraud. This is very important topic.
There are several "rules" to be followed when couponing.

1) First, what is written on the coupon is what the company intended. There is chatter lately about coupon decoding. This involves the numbers under the bar code on the coupon. Those barcodes tell the register how to deduct the coupon, and the numbers actually let a person understand how it will be deducted. "Some" coupons are not always coded in the same manner intended and people take advantage of those discrepancies- getting the wrong product, the wrong size, different varieties, etc. This is something that is not approved of, and could cause several affects. For one, the store may not get reimbursed for coupons redeemed in an unapproved manner. Secondly, it could cause you great embarrassment at the store level if you are caught trying to use a coupon in a wrong manner. It could also cause the checkers to scrutinize further transactions of yours, knowing you tried to pass off a bad coupon. It could also have a long term affect on companies putting out coupons!

2) If it is too good to be true, it probably is. There are some people out there who know how to create fake coupons. When you see a coupon, especially one that is online, emailed to you, or is an extremely high value, take caution. That is not to say all coupons are fakes- you can contact companies about a product concern and they will often times send you a free item coupon, but those are generally on glossy paper and look like a real coupon. Others may look real, but aren't. A good place to double check on a coupon you get is The Coupon Information Center. This is an agency looking to prevent coupon fraud and will monitor and post all coupons deemed to be fake.

3) DO NOT COPY printable internet coupons. This is a BIG NO-NO!!! Just because you are able to print it out on your computer printer does make it legal to copy the coupon. Internet coupons have many safe guards on them to make sure they are not copied. Some will have a watermark that will show up when copied. Almost ALL coupons have an extra barcode on top of the coupon that has a unique code that is printed on each coupon print.

Therefore, if you do copy it, it will have the same "unique" code and the company will not reimburse the store. Many stores will just opt to NOT take ANY internet coupons due to the misuse as it costs the store $$. Worse yet, that code can be tracked back to the person/account on which it was printed. Do you want to chance a coupon fraud allegation just to save an extra $1??
You are able to print 2 coupons per computer at most coupon sites. You can print from as many computers as you have in house. Get your family/friends to print some if you need/want extra. Please DO NOT copy coupons!!!!!

4) Be Considerate I am one of those folks who believe you catch more flies with honey than vinegar. I always warn customers in line behind me that I may take a while because I have a lot of coupons- nothing worse than having heavy sighs and eye rolling going on behind you when you are checking out.
I am also nice to the cashiers. They can make your transaction go smoothly or not, and I feel if I am polite and friendly to them, they will be the same.
And those folks that argue with the cashier over every little thing, and have the ENTITLEMENT attitude, ugggggg they drive me crazy! Coupons are put out as an enticement to buy a product, not a god given gift. Don't take it too seriously. You win some you lose some, that is how life goes. If they are out of stock (OOS), then politely ask for a rain check or inquire when the next shipment will be. Don't stand around yelling and screaming. You only make yourself look childish and the cashiers will remember you as "that couponing lady"- and I don't mean in a good way!

I urge you to keep it honest and real when couponing. Those of us doing this for some time have seen many instances where coupons have been misused and the repercussions that have come from that. I would like to share a friend of mines FaceBook Page- Ethical Couponing Intiative and encourage you to join in her cause and coupon ethically!

As far as Allegations go stemming form the TLC Extreme Couponing show, the CIC has put out a statement that I thought you would all enjoy reading.


  1. Great article Thanks for the information. Question about internet coupons...

    On some items, the coupons are usually at their print limit by the time I realize I need them. Do you recommend just printing them all out in the beginning of the month and then trashing the ones you don't need or is there a better method? Are you allowed two prints per coupon in a certain time period? Or is it just two prints per computer?

  2. Well, if it is a really great coupon/high value, I will print it out right away. Others that are pretty much the same as the insert coupons, I will hold off on printing till I need them- no need to waste ink if I already have it or won't use.
    As far as the number of prints, if it is a "bricks" coupon, you print once, hit back a few times and refresh and it will print again. Those must be printed at the same time. On some "bricks" coupons you can click the help link on the bottom and get them to mail one to you!
    Now for the Smart Source/ you can print one and then come back another time to print the second one.
    See the Printable Coupons link to the right under Pages for lots of places to print coupons!


Thanks so much for your comments! It reassures me I am not talking to myself :)