Ethical Couponing means you’re using your coupons the right way, as they were intended to be used. You save money AND the stores get paid.
Here at The Good Penny we will not endorse unethical or illegal coupon use… ever. No matter how much we’d all like to save money, in the long run, it just isn’t worth the loss of integrity, loss of coupon privileges or possibility of prosecution for using coupon fraudulently. It’s serious business!
These are a few things that I feel as a couponer are important -
#1 Never Photocopy Coupons!
Each coupon is unique! Making copies of prints is not only unethical, but illegal as well.
Did you know that most internet printed coupons have unique identifiers? Many have pin numbers, time/date stamps that are unique to each individual coupon and even your IP address printed on them! When they pass through the coupon clearing houses their validity is verified. Stores do NOT get paid if you make copies. Think they wouldn’t know where they came from??? You’d be guessing wrong…they have a record of when and where YOU printed from. At the very least you could get banned from printing coupons. Worst case…prosecuted for theft and/or fraud. Just don’t do it!
#2 – Don’t use coupons in a way they are not intended to be used.
Stores may not get reimbursed if coupons are used incorrectly. Each coupon says what it can or can’t be used on. Size restrictions (if any) are listed on the coupon. In addition, the coupons will usually say how many items are required to be used per coupon and will specify if there is a limit to how many coupons can be used in one transaction and may even specify that they are to be used at a certain store only. Adhering to the instructions on the coupon will ensure that you’re using the coupons as intended. Often, it’s all in the fine print!
#3 – Only use one manufacturers coupon per item.
You may use ONE manufacturers coupon per item. Stores often issue their own coupons. These will generally say “store coupon” or “store name coupon” on them. These are not the same as a manufacturers coupon.
#4– Do not use expired coupons
Most stores do NOT accept expired coupons. Some areas do have stores that accept them, however, it is not common in the Northwest.
#5 – Beware of Counterfeit coupons
Using counterfeit coupons is fraudulent. Even if you obtained the coupons legally, using them can land you in BIG trouble!
How can you tell a counterfeit coupon from a real coupon? Well…that can be a little tricky but if the coupon seems unusually high for the item and was obtained from an unknown source (like an auction site, craigslist or such) beware. Use this website to check coupons that seem to good to be true. It’s located here at Coupon Information Corportation. They list current and past counterfeit coupons.