Coupons are not a right
My recent column about consumers feeling entitled to coupon discounts has generated many reactions from readers. Here’s a sampling.
Q: I read with dismay your recent columns about others who think they have some legal right to discounts and coupons. It reflects the sad state of our once-prosperous country that people have gotten so accustomed to “free” stuff from the government that they now think they can demand the same from private companies. We need to educate people about what capitalism means and how a free market economy is supposed to work.
A: I agree. Coupons are an incentive that retailers and manufacturers use to persuade us to purchase items. They make a price more attractive or coerce us into buying something new or buying multiples of something we’ve bought before. But they’re a privilege, not a right.
If a product is selling extremely well, a coupon may not even be needed. I’m reminded of the story of Carmex lip balm. Invented in 1937, it was never advertised in any way, shape or form until 2006. In 2006, Carmex expanded its product line, and now we do see coupons on occasion for Carmex. It’s worth keeping this story in mind if you ever wonder why you don’t see coupons for some products.
Q: Your article on coupon entitlement brought to mind two things. First, a friend told me that she regularly goes to a large chain grocery and does great with coupons. She explained that just the other day there was a high-dollar coupon for guacamole and she presented it to the cashier. When the cashier could not find the item, she asked the friend if she had bought it.
The friend told the cashier no, but she had bought all the ingredients to make it, and she persuaded the cashier to override the register and take the coupon. No wonder so many shoppers are questioned.
Second, I saw a statement in a store ad I previously had paid no attention to. The ad talked about what shoppers needed to do to “earn coupons” to shop there. This somehow struck me as offensive. I feel a store and company should earn my business.
A: To clarify what we already know, buying an avocado and some seasonings is not the same as buying a brand-name package of guacamole dip. The manufacturer intends to reimburse when its product is purchased. Your comment on “earning coupons” is interesting, too. It may not have been the best choice of wording on the store’s part, as I, too, believe stores should earn their customers’ business.