Sunday, April 19, 2009

Guest Blogger: Using Coupons the Honest Ethical Way

Nicole is a wife and mom. You can find her blogging regularly at 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 [...] 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.

These are my best tips for using coupons in an honest and ethical way. Thanks for letting me get a little preachy today!

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