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Lifestyle

June 14, 2013

Coupon entitlement: Take 2

My recent column about consumers feeling entitled to coupon discounts has generated many reactions from readers. Here’s a sampling.

Dear Jill,

I read with dismay your recent columns about others who think they have some legal right to discounts and coupons. It reflects the sad state of our once-prosperous country that people have gotten so accustomed to “free” stuff from the government that they now think they can demand the same from private companies.

We need to educate people about what capitalism means and how a free market economy is supposed to work. Thanks for all your great work. I enjoy reading your column each week and using your ideas to save a few bucks.

Howard L.

I agree. Coupons are an incentive that retailers and manufacturers use to convince us to purchase items. They make a price more attractive or coerce us into buying something new — or, buying multiples of something we’ve bought before. But they’re a privilege, not a right.

If a product is selling extremely well, a coupon may not even be needed. I’m reminded of the story of Carmex lip balm. Invented in 1937, it was never advertised in any way, shape or form until 2006. The product sold well with no coupons or ads at all, so why issue them? But in 2006, Carmex expanded its product line, offering flavored lip balms and new products — and now we do see Carmex coupons on occasion. It’s worth keeping this story in mind if you ever wonder why you often don’t see coupons for some products. Some products don’t need them to sell well.

Dear Jill,

Your article on coupon entitlement brought to mind two things.

First, a friend told me that she regularly goes to a large chain grocery and does great with coupons. She went on to explain that just the other day there was a high-dollar coupon for guacamole and she presented it to the cashier. When the cashier could not find the item, she asked the friend if she had bought it.

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