Coupon Ethics: The Rules of Couponing

January 2, 2013

Coupon Ethics: The Rules of Couponing!
As a couponer, it is really important to understand how to use coupons ethically! If people use coupons unethically, then it ruins it for the rest of us! Of course I don’t want that to happen since we all benefit greatly from the use of coupons, right?
The complete responsibility of correct coupon usage falls on the consumer, not the store employee or manufacturer of the coupon. Because of this, you want to make sure you’re following the rules, so here are the basic guidelines for using coupons.
Read the Fine Print:
  • Make sure you are purchasing the size, quantity, type, etc. that the coupon intends for you to purchase.
  • Often, you will see the phrase “Limit one coupon per purchase.” Some retailers unfortunately tend to interpret this phrase wrong and think that it means you can only use one coupon on your entire transaction. This phrase, when properly interpreted, basically means that you can use one manufacturer coupon for each item you purchase. If you have a $1.00 manufacturer coupon for a box of waffles, you can only use one coupon. You can’t stack coupons and attempt to use two $1.00 manufacturer coupons on one box of waffles. If you wish to redeem both coupons, you will have to buy two boxes of waffles. Some stores (like Target) will allow you to stack one manufacturer coupon with one store coupon and that is OK.

Check the Expiration Date:

  • Most stores will not accept coupons past their expiration date simply because they will not be reimbursed by the manufacturer!

Be Aware of Counterfeit Coupons:

  • Recently someone emailed me a PDF file of a FREE 1 lb. box of Velveeta Cheese and they wanted to know if it was real. That coupon was a scan of a 20-year-old coupon with no expiration date. Using that coupon would mean you were committing coupon fraud! The stores that people used that coupon at will NOT get reimbursed a dime from the manufacturer since it was not a legit coupon! You can read more about that coupon HERE. See a complete list of counterfeit coupons that the CIC has tracked and identified as fraudulent.
  • If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is! Be cautious of any coupon in PDF version. If it is in PDF file call the manufacturer or store to verify that it is legit. I realize some PDFcoupons are legit and can be found directly on the manufacturer’s website, just make sure it is so you don’t unintentionally find yourself committing coupon fraud.

Photocopying Coupons:

  • It is illegal to photocopy ANY coupon! It is because of people photocopying Internet printable coupons that some stores will not accept them. Each Internet coupon has a unique serial number in the upper right hand corner. The manufacturer will NOT reimburse a store that has accepted more than one coupon with the same number. Once the coupon has been redeemedit is no longer valid!

Returning an Item:

  • If you return an item that you purchased with a coupon, that coupon must be taken off your return amount. It is not ethical to return an item to make the money off it. Believe me the stores catch on to this and then that just causes them to scrutinize every coupon and to buckle down on their return policy! I just spoke to Target Customer Relations about their coupon policy and they mentioned that they are aware of people doing this and are coming up with a policy to prevent it from happening. I will talk about this more in my Target Coupon Policy post!

Coupons can be a great tool for savvy consumers like us, but only if they are redeemed properly. I hope you will take into consideration these tips concerning correct coupon usage in mind the next time you head to the grocery store! Happy Saving!

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Coupon Gal January 4, 2013 at 9:10 am


You are so very welcome! I’m glad I could help ;-) It is frustrating when cashiers get cranky with coupons. I’ve felt the same way as you have.

Coupon Gal

2 Jessica January 2, 2013 at 8:06 pm

I am so glad to see this post. I sometimes get irritated with cashiers that get cranky with me for using coupons but then I remind myself that there are people out there that are not using coupons the right way and then these same cashiers get in trouble for not catching the fraud.
I just wish people would be honest and use the coupons the right way!
Thank you for this great post to remind people to do the right thing.

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