Shoppers face an array of coupons in electronic form: print-at-home coupons, e-coupons that can be loaded to a store's loyalty card and coupon apps for smartphones and tablets. Technology can make it easy to access discounts. But some shoppers feel the rise of digital couponing is leaving them behind.
Q: I use coupons. I get the Sunday paper, clip away and check sales. Now I find myself 55 and disabled, and discounts are sent to shoppers via cell phones. So my daughter got me a cell phone. I gave my cell number out so I could receive discounts but my phone does not print or even show the discount code. It's not a smartphone. My daughter got me a laptop, but I do not have a printer. I have to go to the library to print. Is there a better way?
Q: I think switching to digital coupons is a conspiracy to take coupons away from people who need them most! We are online but we don't have a printer. No data plans, no cellphones, can't afford it. We have a pay-as-you-go phone. Companies switching to high-tech coupons are leaving people like us hanging. We need discounts but can't afford tech toys to get them.
A: The world's going digital, and couponing's going with it. An April 2012 Pew Research Center study says 90 percent of Americans making $50,000-$74,999 are online. For Americans earning more than $75,000 annually, that number jumps to 97 percent. Just 62 percent of Americans making less than $30,000 a year are online. With so many people online, retailers and manufacturers are meeting people where they're at. Print-at-home coupons have been around more than a decade. Load-to-card e-coupons have risen in popularity in the past four years. And smartphones have added a new element to couponing.
I understand that the push for digital coupons is leaving a segment of the population underserved. I don't believe companies intentionally exclude anyone. They're seizing an opportunity to deliver discounts via the media most people are using.
Suggestions: If your store offers e-coupons that can be loaded to your shoppers' card, go to the store's website to see if you can load e-coupons via the web. It's likely you don't need a smartphone to load digital coupons to a loyalty card.
Printable coupons are easy to take advantage of if you have a printer. If buying a new printer is out of reach, how about a used printer? Check the thrift or resale stores. Buying refilled ink cartridges will help save money.
Print coupons on the back side of scrap paper, fliers or mailers.
Notice about comments:
The Post and Courier is pleased to offer readers the enhanced ability to comment on stories. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point.