Monday, March 7, 2011

Will Couponing Go Away?

real coupon vs fraud coupon sample Will Couponing Go Away?
While I don’t think couponing will go away entirely, I do believe it is changing and will be changing for some time to come.
We’ve already seen some changes take effect like certain stores no longer accepting internet printable coupons. And some manufacturers do not offer nearly as many coupons as they once did, lower amounts and shorter expirations.
Why the change?
Well, one of the biggest reasons is because of fraudulent coupons.
Fraudulent couponsare out there and it is important that you are aware of how to identify them. No one likes to be at the register with a coupon and be treated like a criminal because the store mngr. thinks the coupon is fraudulent.
Here are some general tips about how to avoid falling prey to fraudulent coupons:
  • Simply use the coupons you obtain from your newspaper, manufacturer’s web site, Facebook page or their authorized coupon distributor (all of our resource links are to credible coupon sources).
  • Never pay money for a coupon (coupon books from trusted retailers excluded).
  • Do not download coupons from Internet forums (these could be altered especially if the coupon is in a pdf. or jpg. format – do not use these).
  • Google a deal or coupon if it seems too good to be true.
  • If a friend e-mails you coupons that look unprofessional, especially high value or free product coupons, they may be counterfeit.
  • Most manufacturers follow common sense practices about Internet Print-at-Home Coupons, for example, the coupon itself should not be visible on your computer screen.  A copy of these guidelines is available here.
  • For a copy of guidelines and to see a list of identified fraudulent coupons, go to Coupon Information Center’s website (you will notice that all of these are very high dollar amounts or for free products).
Even knowing all of these things to look for, we can all be fooled from time to time. Some of the bigger red flags to look for are coupons that come from an address ending in .jpg or .pdf. These are types of files that can be altered using any photo editing software. Also, be on the lookout for coupons that are specific to certain people or email addresses. We have even seen some where the person took the bar code out completely and tried circulating it.
We try extremely hard to make sure that eveything we print is legitimate. But, we aren’t perfect. Following the guidelines above will send you in the right direction to keep you from one of those embarrassing ‘coupon-fraud’ cashier scenes.
What do you look for in your coupons? Have you ever been embarrassed at checkout with someone accusing you of having a fraudulent coupon? Any other advice?
Thanks in part to Katharine.

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