When coupon restrictions go too far
Some shoppers have pushed the limits to save by using coupons in improper ways.
Many manufacturers and retailers have responded by adding more restrictions to coupons. Shortly after TLC’s “Extreme Couponing” hit the airwaves, with episodes depicting coupon shoppers clearing shelves, several manufacturers added a “Limit 4 like coupons per transaction” rule to coupons. Other manufacturers made their coupons even more restrictive, noting the coupon is “Limit one per person per day.”
While I love to stock up in 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. Sometimes I’d like to buy more, but I never lose sight that coupons are a privilege. Manufacturers can choose to issue them, or not.
But I believe it is possible for coupon restrictions to go too far. A brand of juice went on sale at stores in my area. There were coupons in the newspaper inserts, but shortly after the sale was advertised, I began receiving reader reports that stores were rejecting the juice coupons.
Buried in the fine print of this coupon was this restriction: “Cannot be used during any in-store promotional offer or discount.” The coupon could not be used in a sale! I was stunned when I read this. If other manufacturers decide to follow suit, this restriction would change couponing as we know it. Combining a coupon with a sale price is key to saving on groceries. I watch for the lowest prices and use a coupon when the price dips, reducing my bill.
Companies print coupons to encourage customers to buy a product. Yet this manufacturer was effectively restricting the days on which the juice could be bought. What if every local store had the juice on sale in the same week? There would effectively be no way to use this coupon.
Other shoppers and I asked about the new coupon wording on the company’s Facebook page. It responded that because it pays stores to put the juice on sale during specific weeks, it did not want its coupons used for additional discounts.
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 her budget, the very audience coupons target. So, the manufacturer spent money on an ad campaign, printing coupons that could not be used during any sales.
After consumers complained, the manufacturer said: “We have changed the wording on future coupons so they will no longer prohibit usage in combination with retailer promotions.” The moral? Shoppers’ voices are still being heard.