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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Honest Coupon Way

We received this comment from one of our Fabuless readers.

Amanda commented on this post.....
"That really sucks that doubles might go away!!! I can see why they might do that though. I was really upset.. I got the morning capri sun drink and got the last 2 on the shelf and then another lady got some regular ones after me and was in front of me at the register. She used the coupon that specifically said the morning kind and got 4 boxes with no problem!!!! I would have much rather had the other kind but was following what the coupon said!!!!! I really wanted to point it out then and there but thought better to not cause a scene!!! Just a little upset about it."

Click on the image to enlarge

The coupon states in black and white.

CONSUMER: One coupon valid for items indicated.
Any other use constitutes fraud.

Amanda, you were right to only use this coupon on the items stated. I saw the same thing on those Albies doubler days, women buying a different variety than stated on the coupon. I did not say anything either. I am very non-confrontational.

I value integrity and hope that many others still do. I think that many of us have done this before unknowingly or because we have been told by a blog, manager or friend that it is okay because it will ring through. I think most people try to do the right thing and I am not trying to call you out.
I am trying to educate you better though.

I have recently read some Fabuless posts on this subject and Nicole from one of my favorite blogs Being Frugal is Fabulous has agreed to do a guest post.

Nicole is a wife and mom. You can find her blogging regularly at beingfrugalisfabulous.com where she writes about coupons, freebies and finding the best deals at your local drug stores.

I hope you will all allow me to stand on my soapbox today and talk about using coupons the right way. I hope that I have gained the respect of you, my readers, and that you will let me nag you for a minute. This subject is something that I think is really important for several reasons.

Number one, my integrity is more important than saving a few dollars {and you all know how I feel about saving a few dollars!}. Many of the cashiers at my local stores know me and know that I use coupons in the right way. Consequently, they trust me and do not feel the need to scrutinize every coupon, therefore expediting my check out. But more importantly than that, I can feel good about the purchases that I make.

Number two, when someone uses coupons in the wrong way, it ruins the experience for others. If a cashier has had people try and use coupons in a way other than what is intended or try to use a fraudulent coupon, he or she is likely to be more suspect of coupons.

Likewise, last summer I had a heck of a time using ANY printable coupons at Target after someone took a legitimate coupon, that read “$5.00 off any toy purchase” and removed the word “toy” so then the coupon “read $5.00 off ANY purchase.” The coupon was widely distributed, it was even sold on eBay. One person’s actions thousands affected thousands of people’s couponing experience.

Here are my rules for using coupons in an honest and ethical way:

Don’t Use Coupons On Items They Are Not Intended To Be Used For. There are several ways that this can be done. For instance a coupon says $1.00 off shampoo but you use it on a bottle of hairspray. Many times these coupons will go through just fine. However, that is not the intention of the manufacturer. They put the coupon out to promote the shampoo.

The second way to use a coupon in a way in which it was not intended is to not buy the amount that is listed on a coupon. For example a coupon say $1.00 off of 4, and you buy only 2 of that item. Many times the coupon would still scan. However, again, this was not the intent of the manufacturer.

The third way to use a coupon in a way other than what it is intended is to use a coupon that is only intended for a particular merchant at another store. Like if a coupon is good only at Walmart, and you cut that part of the coupon off and take it to Target to use.

You may even have a cashier who allows you to do these things, but it really isn’t up to the cashier because it is not money coming out of the store’s pocket, it is coming out of the pocket of the manufacturer.

Never Use Expired Coupons unless your store has a policy to accept expired coupons. Many times you can use an expired coupon without a cashier noticing, but the store may not get reimbursed for the coupon since it was expired.

Never Photocopy Internet Printable Coupons. There is a reason that manufacturers limit most coupons to print 2 per computer, it is to enforce limits. Photocopying coupons is fraud. Some stores do not take IP coupons because they are leery of photocopied coupons. Many times internet printables are for a higher dollar amount than you can find in your newspaper. We don’t want to kill the goose that laid the golden egg by photocopying coupons.

Only Use One Manufacturer’s Coupon Per Item. I think that one is pretty self explanatory.

Be Careful About Coupons In the pdf Format. I am really careful about the coupons that I promote here on my site. Coupons of the pdf variety are frauds a great deal of the time. A few months back their was a pdf coupon circulating for Colgate. It turns out it was intended to be given to customers in a booklet. Someone scanned the booklet and distributed it via a pdf file. The only pdf coupons I ever list here come straight from the manufacturer’s website.

Be Kind To Your Cashiers. Many cashiers do not understand the rules of coupons. Many do not understand that their store will be reimbursed for the coupon you are using and that you are not trying to steal from the store. That being said, getting nasty with your cashier will get you nowhere. If a cashier will not accept my coupon, I nicely ask them to remove the item and then take up my concern with customer service or try again later.

Thanks Nicole! So please read the details of your coupon and follow what it says!

If you still have questions about the proper use of coupons see this post by Mindi at Mom's Need to Know!


Mama said...

Great tips- and wonderful reminders! Saving money is fun and exciting- and there are plenty of opportunities to do so LEGALLY and ETHICALLY. Honest mistakes here and there are bound to happen, but those who do so with the intention of ripping off the store ruin it for everyone.

Thanks for taking the time to write this!

-Devon (www.mamacheaps.com)

Julee said...

Great post!!!

Stephanie said...

I went throught the same thing at Albies the other day. I had a capri-sun coupon and I did exactly what the coupon allowed me to do {technically}. The woman ahead of me used it otherwise! Grrr....

I want to make my coupon experience pleasant and quick. I don't want it to get confusing or frustrated for me or the cashier.

If you're going to check out using coupons, by golly, be a good couponer!! I hate when one person ruins it for the rest of us!

Keri Lyn @ She Saved said...

I loved this post and I LOVE your site! I was made aware of your site and "good coupon ethics" after I did a similar (although not so thorough) post regarding my feeling on this matter. The bottom line is playing by the rules makes the entire process so rewarding.
I was told that my Walgreens asked someone to leave for clearing the shelves of RR products today ...I wanted to cheer! Get 'em!
Thanks for the great info!

Anonymous said...

I first heard of this whole world of couponing like 2 weeks ago- so exciting! And I stocked up on some great sale items last week at Albies- I had SO MANY coupons an being a newbie it was really difficult to keep track of how many and standing there and pulling them out to hand to the cashier, there was a $1 off Fiber One bars, the clerk kindly corrected me, that it was actually for the Fiber One Bars that say 'Omega 3'. I earnestly believed I had the correct product- I was NOT trying to be fruad or anything but I was treated as if I was stealing- it was embarrassing. I apologized and said that I was new to the world of couponing- I know that doesn't give me a free pass but there are a serious amount of options out there and I had no idea that it would be SO specific. Well, on a better note, buying what I normally would with the use of coupons I found to match, I have saved well over $100 easily in two weeks- THANKS KCL!