Cutting and using coupons isn't difficult. It's easy, it saves money and it can even be fun! But some readers want to push the limits of what can be done.
It's always important to use coupons correctly. Use them on the correct sizes and products, use them within the expiration date guidelines and never make photocopies.
Some reader questions.
Q: The expiration date on most coupons shows only the last two digits of the year. For example, it might read 8/14/11 instead of 8/14/2011. Can I argue that the expiration date is 2111 and not 2011? My reasoning is that the coupon will be good in 2111, 2211, and 2311 and beyond. My kids and their kids can use this coupon if saved and passed down. When only the last two digits are shown, what says that it is 2011?
A: While coupon dates may be abbreviated, showing just the last two digits of the year, understand that it refers to the current year and not a year centuries from now. In fact, the four-digit year is encoded into the bar code on the coupon. And, the store's register will recognize that a coupon dated 8/14/11 is no good on 8/15/11.
Even if your argument held water, it's unlikely that all of the products available in stores today will be available hundreds of years from now or that the coupon discount would be significant.
One of the first coupons ever issued was for Grape-Nuts cereal in the 1890s. While the coupon did not have an expiration date, it offered a one-cent savings. Even though Grape-Nuts is still available today, a savings of a penny isn't much to get excited about.
Q: Following the bad advice of a friend, I copied printable Internet coupons for a few months. I did not realize the magnitude of the problem, honestly. I also never knew those coupons could be linked to your computer's IP address. Any chance someone is going to come after me for the few months of coupons I used that are apparently considered fraudulent?
A: If a coupon distributor sees identical printed coupons submitted for redemption, it can track them back to an IP and hardware address of the computer that printed the first coupon. One major coupon site blocks printing privileges permanently and sends a message that if it identifies "further evidence of fraudulent activity, we reserve the right to take additional action against the owner or user of this computer, including pursuing legal or criminal actions."
Jill Cataldo is a a coupon workshop instructor. Visit www.jillcataldo.com.