When you first learn how easy it is to get things for free or bring home a cart of groceries for next to nothing, you may feel like you are getting away with something. The only thing you are getting away with is shopping smart. At Inexpensively, we strive to find the best deal available, but we will only report legitimate offers and encourage responsible couponing. When couponing rules are circumvented, it leads to companies ending the promotions that we count on to live our lives for less.
There are steps you can take to maintain the integrity of your coupon usage and ensure that more deals are always around the corner:
- Do not use photo-copied coupons. Only original coupons clipped or printed from reputable sources are valid.
- Never buy printable coupons from third party sources; you have no way to verify their legitimacy.
- Read all restrictions. If a coupon says one per household, you may not use one for each child. If the coupon reads “one per visit,” you must visit the store multiple times—even if it is in the same day—to redeem multiples of that coupon.
- Use coupons only on the product indicated. There are brand, type and size restrictions listed on most coupons.
- Pay attention to limits. You may only use 1 manufacturer coupon and 1 store coupon per item. Some stores impose additional limits on coupon acceptance and/or doubling.
- Be sure to use coupons before their expiration date. Some stores may have policies allowing expired coupon acceptance, but check with the store manager. A coupon redeemed past its expiration date means the store may not be reimbursed for the coupon.
It is important to practice ethical couponing as coupon fraud and misredemption affect consumer pricing for everyone. Any lost revenues will be reflected in price increases with fewer and less beneficial promotions. Stores that are victims of coupon fraud will also tighten their coupon policies and altogether cease promotions that are valuable to smart shoppers. We will continue to share the best coupons and offers as they become available, knowing that our community will use them responsibly.
Great article. I used to work at a Wal-Mart, and after people kept bringing in fraudulent coupons, we actually had a time period where we stopped accepting any online coupons at all. A few bad seeds will ruin it for the rest of us.
Sandy M says
On another spin, if you are lucky enough to have access to military commisary’s or PX’s, they are able to accept coupons that are 6 months past their expiration date.
Heather Sokol says
Yes, Sandy – excellent point. If you know any military family’s who utilize the commisary, send them your expired coupons!
Robby Slaughter says
It’s also worth noting that there is an industry body called the Coupon Information Corporation. Here’s something from their FAQ at http://www.cents-off.com/faq.cfm#11
What are the penalties for coupon fraud?
Penalties for those convicted of coupon fraud related crimes vary by each case and the number of laws violated. As of this date:
Longest prison sentence: 17 years
Highest financial penalty: $5 million
Prison sentences of three to five years are not uncommon. Financial penalties generally vary, but have often been in excess of $200,000.
Not one defendant has been acquitted in a CIC related coupon fraud case since operations began in 1986.
Heather Sokol says
The CIC is also a great resource for checking out those “too good to be true” offers. Their counterfeit coupon alert updates will give full details on known fraudulent coupons. http://www.cents-off.com/body_coupon_counterfeiters.cfm