EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Lifestyle

December 28, 2012

Fraud or Unethical? You Be the Judge

(Continued)

Emma C.

Unethical. While it’s particularly bad couponing etiquette to take every coupon book on a display, it’s not likely to be legally prosecuted. Most coupons have a legal value of 1/100th of a cent. She would need to ‘steal’ 100 coupons to accumulate one cent in tender ‘value.’ It would be nice if the store stepped in and asked her not to clear the display.

Dear Jill,

We have an extreme couponer in our town who holds extreme garage sales. I see him all the time buying a lot of the stuff that’s cheap with coupons, like razors and makeup and things. Then he has a garage sale in our town each summer with bunches of this stuff. I wonder what we can do to stop him. Some of the products he buys say right on the coupon that the coupon’s not valid if products are purchased for resale. Doesn’t that mean it is fraud because ‘any other use’ of the coupon is fraud?

Virginia M.

Fraud. The manufacturer’s intent is that a couponer buys products for his or her own household’s use. Buying products for resale with coupons violates the ‘not for resale’ clause. So, what he’s done does constitute fraud. The likelihood he will be prosecuted for it is low, although some stores are fighting this kind of resale. I’ve seen strong-adhesive tags, the kind that canÕt be peeled off easily, on razors at my local pharmacies advising the customer that if they’re purchasing the item at any other location outside of the store, they should call the number on the tag to report the resale. These ‘stockpile sellers’ often argue the First Sale Doctrine, saying that once they buy something, it’s theirs to resell. But I think it takes some questionable ethics to allow yourself to ignore the not-for-resale clause on a coupon, and then resell the items.

Jill Cataldo, a coupon workshop instructor, writer and mother of three, never passes up a good deal. Learn more about Super-Couponing at her website, www.jillcataldo.com. Email your own couponing victories and questions to jill@ctwfeatures.com.

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