With couponing becoming so mainstream now thanks to TLCs show “Extreme Couponing”, there has been more and more fraud and misuse of coupons than ever before! From photocopying coupons, to using coupons on wrong items, or shelf clearing; all of these make it that much harder for honest couponers to save a buck! Stores have cracked down by making their coupon policies stricter and also by trying to limit consumers to the amount of an item they can buy but even that hasn’t seemed to help. Even manufacturers have upgraded bar codes on coupons to make it harder to use the wrong coupon on an item AND included “verify” codes on printable codes for retailers to be able to double check a coupons authenticity.
How YOU can help stop coupon fraud:
1: NEVER photocopy coupons- Printable coupons are a limit of 2 per computer or device. These coupons are coded like a personal check from your bank. That is how to manufacturer can keep track of what coupons have been redeemed. If you have a desk top and a lap top then you can print two of the same coupon from each device. Many couponers have invested in wireless printers so they can print from their tablets, smartphones and computers in order to get more of a certain coupon. Many will ask neighbors or family to print more for them as well. When you print a coupon, please remember that your IP address is inside of the barcode which means that the retailer and the manufacturer will be able to access your name, address and phone number. You can be fined up to $100,000 for photocopying coupons as well as face jail time!
2: Follow your stores coupon policy!- All stores have a policy in place to help curb coupon fraud. Get familiar with your stores policy which can usually be found on their website or at the customer service desk. Most grocery stores limit you to 4 identical coupons per day! They do this so others who are also looking to cash in on a deal have a chance to as well! A store has the right to deny your coupons and also has the right to ask you to stop shopping in their stores. I have been told by many a manager that they have a wall of pictures of people who have misused coupons and have been asked to never shop in a store again. Could you imagine how embarrassed you would be if this happened to you?
3: DO NOT clear the shelves!- Stores do not offer good deals for you and only you. They offer it to thousands of other people too. How would you feel if you packed up the kids, clipped your coupons and headed to the store for a great deal and the shelf was empty? You would probably be a bit pissed. Consider that others have the same feelings as you. If you don’t like it when someone clears the shelf before you, then don’t clear the shelve for the next person! There are times when there are only a few items left then that’s OK to grab the remaining few but buying 100 bottles of laundry soap when there are tons of other people who want to cash in on the deal is just unfair. It is people like this that cause stores to become more strict and to place limits on everyone else.
4: Follow the rules on the coupon!- If a coupon limits you to 4 identical coupons per day, then follow it! What you do not know is if a coupon is redeemed improperly, the store does NOT get paid back for it. For example, you have 8 coupons for Gillette body wash and the coupon limits you to 4 identical coupons per day but the cashier says“whatever”, and accepts them anyway, the store loses out on the money. You have now put a cashiers job at risk AND you stole from the store! Let me scare you a bit more. When you go to the store, most likely you have a loyalty card that you hand over to the cashier. There is now a transaction record of what you bought and what coupons belong on your transaction. Do you know what is associated with your store card? Your name, address, phone number and even email address! It is that easy for you to get caught misusing coupons.
5: Help Report Coupon Fraud: There are methods in place to report suspected coupon fraud. There is something called the CIC which is the Coupon Information Corporation and they are trying to curb misuse of coupons. Remember, misuse of coupons is ILLEGAL. If you suspect coupon fraud, if you are a manager of a store, a cashier, or simply a by stander; if you can prove that the misuse has happened, report it! The CIC will investigate and will report to local law enforcement agencies.
6: NEVER pay for coupons- It is illegal to sell coupons (or that crap line that you are paying for someones time to clip them!) The fine print on the coupon says that coupon is VOID if transferred, sold, reproduced or auctioned! It is one thing to give your coupons to your neighbor but a totally different ball game when you start selling them on social media sites or through other sites such as Ebay. Everything has a consequence. The consequence of resale of coupons is that major coupon companies such as RedPlum are exploring avenues to remove their coupons from the Sunday paper. They are starting one state at a time. Watch the video below for more information about this.
7: Do NOT use expired coupons- Don’t try to cut the expiration date off the coupon or use it at the self check out machine. Thats just plain wrong. The store does not get reimbursed for expired coupons so you just “stole” from the store.
8: Set an Example- Most couponers are simply smart shoppers who know a great deal when they see it. Unfortunately, the inappropriate actions of a few extreme couponers inaccurately portray couponers in a bad light. Try to raise the bar by following the rules, and being a courteous shopper. (Thanks CIC)