In the interest of protecting our deal hunting in the future, I’m sharing my feelings on internet coupons and shared deals.
Have you ever wondered why we have coupons available for so many products, restaurants and businesses? Local businesses and national product chains offer coupons for products in the hope that we will buy the product or service, fall in love with the product and return again to buy them later even when we don’t have a coupon. That is the purpose of coupons. The main goal of the national brands is not about us saving money or stockpiling; they want us to get hooked on their products. That’s their job – to sell products and make money.
I use coupons because I want to save money for my family and enjoy services and products that are sometimes too pricey for my budget. But I feel very strongly that I should always use legitimate coupons that match the product exactly and come from the official source.
I subscribe to a lot of e-newsletters and loyalty clubs that products, brands and stores/restaurants offer. Sometimes these companies will email special coupons designed for individual consumers as a reward for their buying habits or to give them an incentive to revisit their place of business and buy another product. These coupons are usually intended to be used by the recipient and are not to be shared.
Unfortunately, when the intended recipients decide to share these coupons by posting them on deal sites, blogs, Facebook or email they are sometimes helping their friends and neighbors use fraudulent coupons. A few months ago, there was a coupon for a free Build-A-Bear animal that began circulating the internet. The coupon had begun as a legit reward offer for a select group of customers. When the rest of the world started trying to redeem the coupon, the company immediately put a stop to its use and confirmed that it was not valid.
Recently there have been several coupons floating around that looked like great deals. They may in fact have been legit coupons, but if I can not verify the origin of the coupon from the company’s website, I will not post or share those coupons on Real Life Deals.
There are several social bargain sites that allow you to post your coupons such as bargainez.com and dealigg.com. Just because you find a coupon on sites like these or on other money saving blogs does not guarantee their validity.
Using coupons in ways that are not intended will only hurt myself in the long run and make it harder for all of us to find great deals in the future. The one thing we need to remember is that when we use a coupon for a product, meal or service we are representing the entire world of coupon users.
Tips for making sure your coupon is legit
Coupon wording must match the item you buy. The picture will usually be for the most expensive variety of product.
Never use an expired coupon. If you try to use an expired coupon, the stores lose money and it makes it harder for us to get deals in the future.
If it is printed from the internet, check to make sure there is a valid, readable, unique bar code, address for the store to send the coupon to and a valid expiration date. Printable coupons are particularly suspicious when they print off multiple copies of the coupon with the very same barcode.)
NEVER copy a coupon on a copy machine. This is, in fact, fraudulent and illegal!
Print from the 3 big sites (coupons.com, smartsource.com and redplum.com)
Print from the manufacturer’s website.
Don’t follow a link that takes you straight to a coupon. Go to the source. I always encourage my readers to print from the homepage of a site.