Super-Couponing Tips: When restrictions go too far
As couponing has grown in popularity, some shoppers have sought to push the limits and maximize their savings by using coupons in improper ways.
Manufacturers and retailers are aware of coupon misuse and many have responded by adding more restrictions to coupons. Shortly after TLC's "Extreme Couponing" hit the airwaves, with episodes depicting coupon shoppers gleefully clearing shelves at stores around the country, several manufacturers added a "Limit 4 like coupons per transaction" stipulation to their coupons. Other manufacturers made their coupons even more restrictive, noting that the coupon is "Limit one per person per day."
While I love to stock up during a good sale, I also respect a manufacturer's wishes. If I'm limited to using four coupons per transaction or one coupon per person per day, I comply. Is it possible for coupon restrictions to go too far? I believe so. Not long ago, a well-known brand of juice went on sale at several stores in my area. There were coupons in the newspaper inserts that made the juice a bargain. But shortly after the sale was advertised, I began receiving reports from my blog readers that stores were rejecting the juice coupons at the register. Why?
Buried in the fine print of this coupon was a restriction I'd never seen before: "Cannot be used during any in-store promotional offer or discount." The coupon could not be used during a sale!
I was stunned when I read this. Should other manufacturers decide to follow suit, this restriction would radically change couponing as we know it. Combining a coupon with a sale price is key to saving on your grocery bill.
Companies print coupons to encourage customers to buy a product. Yet in this case, the manufacturer was effectively restricting the days on which the juice could be purchased.
While the manufacturer's argument seems legitimate, coupons are also used to encourage shoppers to buy. Did the company consider the ramification of thousands of shoppers picking up its product, deciding to buy it, then being told at checkout that they couldn't use the juice coupon to buy it?
Coupon shoppers care about the money they spend. Creating a coupon that can be used only when an item is at full price will eliminate its use by nearly everyone who is watching his or her grocery budget — the very audience coupons target.
The moral? Shoppers' voices are still being heard. However, this is likely not the last time we'll see new restrictive wording on coupons.