Why you shouldn’t buy coupons online!

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Personal Coupon Coach

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I wrote this post a long time ago but I am reposting because it looks like the industry is getting more serious! It has been reported that several Facebook pages are getting shut down for selling coupons and also I know of at least one clipping service who was sent a notice from Valasis stating that selling coupons is wrong and to stop.  I will keep everyone updated as I get more info and if you hear anything please let us know!


It's time for another lesson from your personal coupon coach. I know this is a touchy topic but I think it's important that we go over this again. Many people will tell you it's OK to buy coupons online simply because they say the coupons are free and you are only paying for their time. Commonsense will tell you though just because you find a loop hole or way around something doesn't mean it's OK.

The one thing that gets me is that right on the coupon it states:  VOID IF COPIED, TRANSFERRED, PURCHASED, SOLD OR AUCTIONED!

It's black and white people.You can't get any plainer than that. It's Obvious that manufacturers do NOT want to have people selling their coupons.

Some of the excuses I've heard:

  • “It's says void, not illegal” – So let me get this straight, are you telling me that if someone has a set of rules for their business, product etc. we don't have to follow them unless they can seek legal action? That's like telling our kids to go to school and listen to your teacher but you don't have to follow her rules unless it's something illegal and mommy and daddy could be sued for it.
  • ” A coupon is the form of advertising and as long as the coupon is used on the product (even if out of state and they don't want us too) there is legally nothing they can do it about.”  – OK REALLY? Did that just come out of your mouth. Again revert back to my response to #1. I really hope we are not teaching our kids that you don't have to follow the rules if you find a loophole around it.
  • Or….. I love it when someone who has never worked for a brand says well… the brand REALLY means this, or the brand only put this on their coupon because of…… I am going to assume these people have actually had a conversation with a REAL marketing person on the phone for that specific brand and that is where they get their information otherwise it's just their way of justifying what they are doing.

In fact the Coupon Information Center in Washington DC says:

” When a person buys coupons, they may be inadvertently purchasing stolen property or counterfeit coupons. Even if there is not a direct criminal penalty involved, both coupon buyers and sellers open the door to potential litigation when they buy or sell coupons because they are in violation of the “nontransferability” clause printed on all coupons distributed within the United States. The transfer makes a coupon void. Coupon sellers often include legal disclaimers stating that they are selling their time, a service, or even envelopes that just happen to contain coupons instead of the coupons themselves. Such statements are invalid and do not offer any legal protection. Rather, such statements suggest that the sellers know that their coupon sales are inappropriate and wrong.

Many manufacturers including the one I worked for will not even work with bloggers who promote the buying of selling coupons anymore. It's not just the manufacturers either. The Coupon Network had told me that they did not allow any blogger who promotes the buying of selling coupons be a Coupon Network affiliate when they worked with them.

An Inside look:

I thought I would give you a little inside knowledge that I have learned since working for a manufacturer. Each brand has a coupon budget. They will take that budget and spread it around for FSI (newspaper insert), Digital FSI (online) and onpack.

FSI – Manufacturers can choose to do a national FSI or regional FSI's. Each have a different cost. Some of those decisions are made because they want to move a product in a certain area because of sales or fighting for shelf space with their competitor. When those coupons are being sold online to other regions you are  defeating the manufacturers purpose. Not only that but you are miss using what they budgeted for.

ONPack – Again manufacturers use on pack coupons to spark sales at particular stores or to a specific region. When people take those on pack coupons, tearpads, peelies or whatever else you want to call them and sell them online to other regions you again defeat the manufacturers purpose and take away from their budget. Not only that but you could be one of the causes that product didn't make it to shelf because no one could use the coupons like they were intended for and they lost the shelf space to their competitor.

Digital FSI: What you may not realize is that manufacturers DO put coupons in a specific region for a REASON. They have certain marketing budgets that they have planned out for the whole year. Fighting for shelf  space can be a tricky thing when you are up against a competitor product and manufacturers have to get creative to spark sales to justify why that retailer should put their product on the shelf instead of their competitor. When you use a coupon that was NOT meant for YOU, the people the coupon was meant for  miss out on a great deal because you chose to find a loop hole. The brand that put the coupon out there could actually have a product removed if they promised so many sales and did not make that goal. This actually happened to our product at Publix when bloggers started posting our printable coupons saying to use the Florida zipcode. Our coupons were printed within a couple of hours by people from all over the U.S. when the coupon was meant for Florida residents only. (There went our Publix budget). We didn't make our sales goal and Publix pulled our product from the shelf and gave the shelf space to the competitor. (This is why you will NEVER see us post zipcodes)

We have to start realizing that our own coupon habits can have quite an effect on other people and their business.

You see, I am not hear to pick on you and try to make couponing more difficult than it is and actually what I am telling you is plain and simple, black and white and states right on the coupon. I want to keep couponing enjoyable for both parties (the consumer and the manufacturer). You don't need to  try and cheat the system in order to save a buck.

I am sure there will still be some people who will disagree with me and that is OK.  I can only say that my conscious is clear and that I try to bring you the most up to date information that has been given to me. If something changes or a brand personally reaches out to me and tells me otherwise I am going to stick with all my statements above. I am not trying to be the coupon police as I am only stating what is written in black and white on the coupons themselves.

Melissa is a mom of 2 and savings specialist who enjoys getting a good deal. She uses her site as a ministry to help moms fight the rising costs of the economy by showing them ways to cut costs through couponing, shopping for sales and frugal tips. She believes that couponing is a privilege not a right and works closely with manufacturers and retail stores to bring couponing to a level that is beneficial to both. Melissa also enjoys working on Social Media campaigns for major brands. She believes in creating a personal relationship between the brand and their consumers. She is very much into taking the corporate out of the brand and bringing it down to the level where consumers can feel comfortable interacting and taking the brand seriously.

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  1. Completely agree with you… I have been preaching this on our group web-site… Just where and how do people come up with hundreds of inserts. even a day or two before they would appear in the papers… Trading and sharing is one thing. Trade what you don’t use for something you do use – great. Buying coupons is even counter-productive… you have to make up the cost before you start saving… figure the cost of the coupon. then the gas to go to the store, then even the tax on the product. do the math….

  2. When various manufacturers consistently provide less valuable coupons where you live it’s disheartening. My prices aren’t lower! In fact on vacation we bought the Sunday paper in the metroplex. Imagine my surprise when comparing ads from Target, Walgreens, etc to find lower prices in the metroplex ads – yet every mfg I contacted about coupon values claimed its due to our lower cost of living out here.

    I have to pay $2 for my Sunday paper. I’m buying coupons. The rest of the paper is trash.

    Luckily I have family far and wide who send me coupons. When Redplum is good we get all the ones trashed at the PO (we are a mail only region).

    I will continue to use various zip codes for IPs.

    Manufacturers need a better plan.

    1. I can understand your frustration, but just because we don’t get something that someone else does doesn’t make it OK to NOT follow the rules that the manufacturer set forth. Having worked for a manufacturer for 5 years and explaining why zipcoding is not acceptable it disheartens me that you would still want to continue to do that. You say manufacturers should come up with a better plan but why should they reward BAD BEHAVIOUR?

      If my neighbor makes more money than me and can afford cable but I can’t, does that give me the right to go tap into their cable just because I CAN do it even though I know it’s wrong? Wrong is wrong no matter how you try to justify it.

  3. Thank you so much for that information. I knew about the buying/selling problem but never knew about the zip coding issue.
    The only frustration I have with couponing from my computer is that Redplum’s printing
    App is not playing nice with any of the browsers I’ve tried.
    Anyway, I hope folks learn to not abuse the system or it will disappear. Thanks again for
    the work you do for you site. Take care, Jackie Gregory

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