Last week, I shared an email from a couponer anxious to determine if it was OK to photocopy coupons. It isn’t. Photocopying coupons violates the “Coupon may not be reproduced” clause in coupon redemption policies. It’s also the most common form of coupon fraud. The reader said she learned the photocopying “technique” from a coupon instructor, but she confessed that she wasn’t sure if, ethically, it was the right thing to do.
This isn’t the first time I’ve heard from couponers who learned less-than-ethical methods from someone teaching couponing techniques. Listen in:
A $1 coupon good for a 128-ounce, 54-load or larger size of laundry detergent worked for me last night when I purchased a 33-load bottle for $1.99. I was so excited! I figured I would at least see if the store would take the coupon and it did, no questions asked. I am new to this whole couponing thing, just started earlier this month. I asked a friend of mine who has couponed for years and years to help me learn all the ins and outs. She told me that if the coupon scans, no matter what it says on it, it can be used. – Sandra T.
Using a coupon for a specific product on a less-expensive, similar product made by the same manufacturer is a common form of coupon fraud. Most coupons carry the statement, “Valid only on the brand and size indicated.” Manufacturers often release coupons for larger sized products with a correspondingly larger dollar discount to offset the higher price of the larger item. People who wish to try to beat the system may attempt to use a high-value coupon that’s specifically for a large size on a smaller, less expensive item.
The new GS1 bar code on coupons is designed to help prevent this kind of fraud. In addition to making sure a coupon is used on the correct product, the bar code can also determine whether the shopper purchased the proper size and variety to qualify for the coupon savings. Since some stores are still in the process of transitioning to registers fully equipped to read this bar code, misused coupons may slip through the system.