Lesson 7 – Coupon Fraud & Why You Shouldn’t Do It!

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Why shouldn’t you commit coupon fraud (besides it being dishonest)???  The answer is simple, stores lose money when you do this and it can cause them to quit doubling coupons or stop taking them all together for a length of time (this has happened at Homeland more than once) or they may never accept coupons again.

How do stores lose money?  The stores have to prove they have sold an item before they can get money for the coupons they collect.  They have to match the coupon to the item on their cash register receipts at the end of the day.  If the coupon does not match EXACTLY to the item, then they don’t get their money.  So if you use a coupon that isn’t for the SPECIFIC item(s) it calls for then the store loses money.  Even if the coupons scan without a problem they still have to match at the end of the day. A lot of manufacturers put their products into groups so that’s why a coupon may scan for several similar items even though the coupon is only good for a specific one.

What is coupon fraud?  It’s using a coupon in ANY other way than it’s intended use. Some examples of coupon fraud are:

1.) Having a coupon for one size product and using it on a different size:

Buying 26oz. Cheer and using a coupon only good on the 50oz. size
Buying a 6-pack of Coke and using a coupon good on an 8-pack

2.) Having a coupon for a specific variety and using it to buy a different variety from the same brand:
Buying Campbell’s Tomato Soup or Chicken Noodle & using a coupon that excludes these 2 varieties
Buying regular Lay’s Chips but using a coupon only good on the Baked Lay’s

3.) Having a coupon for a specific number of items but using it to buy less:
Buying 1 box of crackers but using a coupon for $$ off 2 boxes
Buying 2 cans of soup and using a coupon for $$ off 3 cans

4). Using a coupon  for a totally different item that what the coupon calls for:
Buying  Tide Detergent but using a coupon for Bounce.  This is called “coding” and it is illegal! Sadly there are some people teaching how to do this in coupon classes.

4.) Using Expired Coupons (unless your store accepts them- most do not)

6.) Using your printer to make extra copies of printable coupons (this is a big no-no, if caught, you get a fine and if on a big scale…jail time) Each coupon that you print (unless a PDF) has a unique serial number printed on the front of the coupon.  If you make copies,  all the coupons will have the same number and if your cashier sees this…busted.

7.) Using your computer to capture coupons from websites and reprint them over and over.  Sometimes called “snipping”This is very illegal and if caught you will be prosecuted. The CIC (Coupon Information Corporation) has never lost a case they have been involved with since they started in 1986

8.)  Using multiple manufacturer’s coupons on one item:
Buying 2 cans of soup using a $1.00/2 AND a $.50/1 coupon

Please stop and think before you do something you know isn’t right…… stores are losing money left and right because of coupon fraud and they are starting to react by not accepting internet coupons, putting limits on how many coupons you can use, and generally starting to be couponer unfriendly!  I remember the days when you could walk into the store and use as many coupons as you wanted and have them all double….but those days are gone due to  people clearing the shelves and committing coupon fraud.  It’s only going to get worse as stores lose more money.  Why do you think Walmart gives couponers such a hassle?  It’s because they are tired of losing money so they over react by denying any coupon they don’t understand…..the cashiers are so concerned about getting into trouble that they question every coupon and are more likely to not let you use it because people have tried to “get one over on them” too many times. Ok, I’m off my soap box now…..there are just so many legit deals out there that you don’t have to resort to any of the above to get them 🙂

If you missed any of our previous lessons just click the one you’d like to view from the list below:

Lesson 1 – Coupons: Where to Find Them
Lesson 2 – Oragnizing and Storing Your Coupons
Lesson 3 – Shopping With Coupons
Lesson 4-  Coupon Money Makers
Lesson 5 – Learning The Lingo
Lesson 6- Are You Really Saving Money and Other Coupon Traps to Avoid

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13 Comments

  1. A few weeks ago I was in Walmart and after my purchase I had to go to the service desk. She saw my garbage bags and said there was a coupon attached to the box and she was going to take it off my order and give me the money. I told her thank you but I’d already used a different coupon on the bags. Without thinking, I just did the right thing. It wasn’t worth being dishonest over and your article reiterates that. Thank you.

  2. A few weeks ago I was in Walmart and after my purchase I had to go to the service desk. She saw my garbage bags and said there was a coupon attached to the box and she was going to take it off my order and give me the money. I told her thank you but I’d already used a different coupon on the bags. Without thinking, I just did the right thing. It wasn’t worth being dishonest over and your article reiterates that. Thank you.

  3. Most coupon sites will let you print a coupon twice per computer. Snipping is when you SAVE a particular coupon (or link to a coupon) PDF to your computer and use that to print a coupon out over and over when that’s not what the manufacturer intended for you to do. A few manufacturer’s have PDF coupons that they will allow you to print out every time you visit their site but those are few and far between. You get to where you remember the coupons you print out especially if they’re really good ones.

  4. I have a question about #8. I was told that stacking coupons was okay. Especially if the coupons say ‘per transaction’ each item is a transaction and you can have one coupon per item. So if you have a $1.00/2 and you have 2 coupons, you can save $2.00, saving more. Just like on the buy one get one free. If you bring 4 items to the register and you have 4 bogo coupons, you receive all the products for free. Is this wrong?

    1. Nope, you can only use 1 BOGO free coupon per 2 items. Manufacturer’s do not allow you to use more than 1 of their coupons per item. Once you use a $1.00/2 coupon it covers both items and you can’t use any other coupon to purchase those two items unless it is a store coupon. When you use a BOGO free coupon you are using it to buy a product and get one free….can’t use another BOGO free coupon on top of that because you are not paying for the second one so aren’t “buying it” to get another free. Hope this helps.

  5. today i purchased from walgreen >>the store had deal on secret deoadrent and olay body wash (buy 1 get 1 50%)+i had 2 coupons said i can save (1 $) on secret deoadrant if i buy 1 olay body wash + another coupon said save( 1$) on olay >>>i used ’em and save about 4.5 $(deal+coupons)……so is that coupon fraud?

  6. I have a manufacturer coupon for Iams dog food that states “buy 1 get 1 free” buy any one (1) bag of Iams dry dog food, get one free up to 15 lbs (up to $19.99) no where on the coupon does it state of equal or lesser value. I bought a 3.5lb bag of dog food for $5.24 and wanted to use the coupon to get a 14lb of dog food for $17.99 for free. Target would not honor the coupon that way. They only gave me the $5.24 free. I thought maybe I was reading the coupon wrong so I cancelled the order and went home with my coupon and no dog food. I re read it and called Iams to verify and they agreed with me that because of the way it is written on the coupon I should have been able to purchase any size and still get up to 15lb or $19.99 bag free. They advised me to try a different retailer, My questions is does Target have to honor the coupon as written or can they honor it the way they want?

    1. Hi Tricia, Unfortunately any store can refuse or honor a coupon any way they want, even if it’s a legit coupon. There’s no law that says a store has to even accept coupons. I’m sure Target was worried that Iams would not reimburse them for the larger bag. I’m really kinda doubtful you’ll find a store that will be willing to let you have a bigger size for free – if you do, that would be great. Good Luck and let us know if you’re able to use the coupon 🙂

  7. Most Bed Bath and Beyond stores accept expired coupons, as well as coupons from other stores. They are very open about this too.

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