Monday, October 19, 2009

My thoughts on Ethical Couponing

Sometimes I wonder how the stores are making any money at all - with all of the awesome deals that are available for us to take advantage of. For the most part, the cashiers who ring up my purchases are wonderful, even excited to see how much I save. But recently, I have had a few nasty experiences with my coupons being scrutinized, and being treated as if I were a criminal because I am saving money. All of my coupons were legitimate, but there are some cashiers who have treated me as if I am going to reach right over their shoulders and swipe money from their register.
I feel this is what happens when people try to take advantage of coupons - using them in ways they aren't meant to be used. These people are abusing the system, and making it worse for those of us who are just looking for an honest deal. Sometimes, it may be someone who just doesn't know better. So, I'm hoping you'll forgive me if I get a little preachy on this post - but I feel like I should clarify a few things.

Be warned, if you're one of those individuals who is obviously abusing coupons - someone is going to call you out for your bad behavior eventually (I know I will!) When you do things the "wrong" way, you are punishing the entire couponing community by making cashiers wary of us, driving up prices, and encouraging manufacturers to print less coupons.

A few simple tips...

1. This should be very obvious, but you shouldn't make copies of coupons - even if your cashier isn't going to know the difference. If you take a moment to inspect that IP - you'll see a little barcode is printed all over it. That barcode is connected to you and your computer. Get caught doing it - and your printing privileges are gone (as well they should be). It hurts you and it hurts the store since they don't get reimbursed by the manufacturer for fraudulent coupons. Most internet printable coupons give you two prints per site. If you need more coupons, try a service or use a different computer/printer.

2. Don't use expired coupons unless your store permits it (I don't know of any that do locally. Even if they don't "beep" that doesn't mean it's okay to use them). Send them to soldiers and their family stationed overseas. They can use them for up to 6 months past the expiration day. Find more information about this program here or here.

3. Follow the "TAKE TWO" rule. See a great coupon booklet in the lobby of your favorite grocery store? TAKE TWO per visit, and leave the rest for others. The same goes for blinkies and tearpads throughout the store. I can promise you, if I see you grab for 15 booklets or ripping an entire tear pad off I am going to call you on it. Lots of other couponers feel the same way.

4. Be reasonable with your purchases. Do you really need 66 cans of diced tomatoes? Really? Here in the Southeast, sales run on a six week schedule. It will be on sale again. If you don't need it, don't buy it. By all means, if you will use those 66 cans of diced tomatoes before they go on sale again - buy them! I'll just stop by Customer Service and get a rain check!

5. Have a "fishy" coupon that seems too good to be true? Free 12pack of Charmin? You can visit the Coupon Information Center here to check it out, but go with your gut people! Stores don't get reimbursed for fraudulent coupons - again, making it worse for all of us! Not to mention that coupon fraud is a crime!

So, if you are new to couponing I hope that this will clue you in on what we "hard core couponers" consider okay and NOT okay. And thanks for letting me jump up on my soapbox for a minute...

:o) Oh, and by the way - it's TUESDAY! New ad day! Just at a quick glance, there are plenty of great deals to be had. I'll have the lists up soon for your best deals!


  1. How about taking all the freakin' tearpad coupons the first day they are out or swiping all the booklets the first day they are out! That really ticks me off!

  2. Amen sista .. I hate that people take advantage of stores, just like people that shoplift makes all the prices go up they are no better than them and can be so greedy. Sometimes I have been known to buy something I dont use if I find a good deal and a coupon to match but thats just to put in the food bank. You hit the nail right on the head.