Couponing Ethics: Is it wrong to buy and sell coupons?

This is the third in a series of articles exploring couponing ethics.
You may also enjoy the previous articles in this series:
Couponing Ethics: Reader made countless photocopies of coupons
Couponing Ethics: Blogger advocates coupon misuse for deeper discounts


 

Among coupon enthusiasts, there is perhaps no more controversial topic than that of the resale of coupons. While it may seem illogical to pay for coupons, for some shoppers, the temptation to buy larger quantities of identical coupons is great. And, it's also pretty easy to buy coupons on the Internet. There are quite a few coupon clipping services online where shoppers can buy coupons, and popular auction sites often have a plethora of coupon listings too.

With all of these coupons "for sale," it must be okay to buy and sell coupons, right? Even though there are many places selling coupons online, in most cases it is not okay to sell them. And, I completely understand that this may be confusing to new coupon users. Years ago, when I first began couponing at a more-enthusiastic level, I saw numerous clipping services online and assumed that because they were there, the services were legitimate and legal. (As an aside, I have not purchased coupons from a clipping service or an auction site.)

But, as I became more educated about the legal terms and ramifications of buying and selling coupons, I understood that in most cases, coupons should not be bought or sold. Let's take a look at the fine print of some manufacturer coupons:

  • Coupons may not be combined, sold, auctioned, or otherwise transferred or reproduced.
  • Void if transferred, sold, auctioned, reproduced or altered from original. Any other use constitutes fraud.
  • Coupon cannot be bought, transferred or sold.

An argument I often hear is, "I bought the newspaper or printed the coupon. It's mine, and I can do whatever I want with it." The websites of many clipping services often state that you're not actually paying for coupons, but rather, "you're paying for our time to clip them." (If that is true, why does a $5 coupon cost more than a .50 coupon? Does it really take longer to cut a higher-dollar-value coupon out?)

Unfortunately, neither argument can be true.

It's important to think of a coupon as a contract between you, the manufacturer and the store. While you may own the actual piece of paper that you cut out of the newspaper inserts or print online, you do not own the contract itself. If at any point any of the terms of this coupon's contract are violated, the coupon is considered to be void, and the manufacturer does not have to pay out the reimbursement for that coupon.

How does the manufacturer know if a coupon has been sold? There is no single, definitive way to know. So, coupon redemption houses and clearinghouses utilize a variety of indicators to identify whether a coupon may have been sold at some point. If the manufacturer believes a coupon may have been sold, the coupon is void, and they do not have to reimburse the store for it. One method of identifying possibly-sold coupons is via the coupon's condition. The term "gang-cutting" refers to the practice of stacking multiple, like insert pages on top of one another, then cutting through the entire stack at the same time, either with a scissors or with a paper cutter. This is the method most often used to cut individual coupons by resellers. Gang-cut coupons are also often in mint condition, meaning that they haven't been held or handled enough to indicate that they were hand-cut by consumers.

Look at the terms on this coupon:

  • Void if... coupon is reproduced, gang cut or mint condition.

Whether you like it or not, or wish to continue arguing "a coupon it's mine, I can do what I want with it," the truth is that the manufacturer ultimately holds all of the cards in this particular game. Again, you own the paper it's on -- not the actual exchange of money that it represents. Even if your store accepts coupons that you purchased, which were gang-cut by a reseller, the manufacturer may refuse to reimburse your store. Then, your store is forced to take a financial loss. If you wouldn't shoplift from your store, you shouldn't pass coupons that they will not be reimbursed for either. Some stores have added clauses to their coupon policies that they will not accept any coupons that appear to be gang-cut either, because again -- as far as the manufacturer is concerned, those coupons are void. (Learn more about the gang-cutting of coupons at this link.)

Another argument I often hear is "the manufacturer prints all of these coupons, why do they care how many we use?" I've previously written another post on this topic, but in brief, it is important to understand that a manufacturer budgets for a free-standing insert coupon campaign fully expecting only a small percentage of those insert coupons to be redeemed. With the average coupon redemption typically running at less than 6%, it means that statistically speaking, 94% of the coupons a company issues for a particular campaign will not be redeemed. But, it also means that when a company runs a coupon campaign, their expected payout for the coupons redeemed during that promotion will also likely fall into that same low, expected range of return.

Of course, the company wants as many people to buy its product as possible, but there's a newer element in the mix that companies have had to contend with - the extreme couponer. When a extreme couponer orders large numbers of coupons online, an "artificial demand" is created for that product. The same shopper that might buy one, two, four or five of a product might now be buying 20, 30, 50 or more of them. And while the shopper certainly can buy however many the store will allow them to, like it or not, a manufacturer isn't too thrilled about the same person redeeming that many coupons for the same item. They want us to buy their products, but when the quantities move into the extreme range, they also know that person is purchasing far more than he or she would normally buy if coupons weren't a factor.

Manufacturers are reacting. Any regular coupon shopper has noticed that for many coupons, the statement "Limit 4 Like Coupons Per Transaction" appears, the expiration dates are getting shorter, and in some cases, dollar values are going down too. Why? According to some of the manufacturers I spoke with at an industry conference last year, the shortened dates and lowered values are being used to combat the resale of coupons. With shortened dates, the window of time that those coupons can end up on the resale market is shortened as well. Another manufacturer's representative was even more candid. The rep said "If we see too many of our coupons on Ebay, we know the dollar value was too high, and the value of the coupons we issue goes down next month." (Learn more about manufacturers' reactions to resale and over-redemption at this link.)

Another significant reason not to buy coupons online is coupon fraud. The number of completely-free product coupons being "sold" online is surprisingly widespread. Again, the fact that they're being sold would void most of these coupons if they were legitimate in the first place... but many of them aren't. If you look, you can find numerous coupons that are already on the CIC's fraud list being sold online, seemingly "legitimate." And, when people buy coupons and get an envelope full of color photocopies, or worse, professionally-printed, realistic-looking counterfeits, is their inclination going to be, "Well, I shouldn't use these because they don't quite look real?" It's more probable that they'll think "I paid for these, I'm going to use them!" If you don't purchase coupons in the first place, you nearly eliminate the risk of passing counterfeit coupons -- as well as the risk of being prosecuted for passing counterfeit coupons.

The simplest reason not to buy or sell coupons, though, is because the coupons themselves state not to do it. If the ethics of what we do are important to you, following the rules that the manufacturers have set is the best and most ethical way to enjoy the savings that coupons can provide to us.


If selling coupons is wrong, why does Ebay and other sites allow it? Why don't the manufacturers do anything?

Indeed, some coupons don't contain a "Void if Sold" clause, though most do. But if you look at the image above, you'll see that this particular coupon does not contain this clause. Technically, if the coupon does not state that it can't be sold or auctioned, there would likely be no penalties for doing so.

Ebay has a special policy specifically for coupon resale in which they state that sellers should review coupon terms to make sure the coupon can be sold... and then they go on to say that they don't usually remove coupon listings anyway. They also warn that stores may not accept coupons that they believe have been sold:

Make sure you review the terms printed on the coupon before you sell it. The terms on some coupons state that selling them is restricted or not allowed. While we don't monitor the site for possible violations, and we usually don't remove listings based on third-party contracts, we ask that you carefully review the coupon's terms and conditions when you're deciding if you want to list it.

Also, sellers can't claim that the price of the coupon is based on the value of the labor involved in clipping the coupons instead of the coupons themselves. Under eBay rules, the coupons themselves are the items being sold.

Coupon buyers should also note that retailers might refuse to accept coupons that have been obtained in a way that violates the terms on the coupon.

Ebay seems more concerned with collecting fees than stopping coupon fraud, and they're placing the responsibility to sell valid coupons back onto the sellers. Even when counterfeit coupons appear on Ebay, they often allow the auctions to continue. Check out this news report about people who bought fake coupons online and how angry they were that they were out significant sums of money... that they paid for useless pieces of paper. Even after this report aired, the same counterfeit coupons were still available to purchase on Ebay. And if you bought them, Ebay and Paypal would do nothing, allowing the sellers to keep the money paid -- even when the people that received counterfeit coupons filed disputes. As far as Ebay seems to be concerned, you paid for a piece of paper, and you got one.

I've received many emails over the years from shoppers who state something like "Because Ebay allows you to buy coupons, I thought it was okay. Why don't the manufacturers or the CIC do anything?" While the CIC is the industry's watchdog group and maintains a regularly-updated list of counterfeit coupons that are circulating, it primarily represents the companies and manufacturers that are members of its organization. The CIC is constantly monitoring and releasing alerts on fraudulent coupons that are circulating, But, if a manufacturer chooses not to be represented by the CIC, that manufacturer is left to monitor and prosecute coupon fraud on their own -- or not.


Fake Coupon

Read this on Budget Savy Diva. She also has section on how to tell if coupon is fake.

NEW FAKE COUPON ALERT

What are the penalties for coupon fraud?

Longest prison sentence: 17 years

Highest financial penalty: $5 million

Prison sentences of three to five years are not uncommon. Financial penalties generally vary, but have often been in excess of $200,000.

This is why Budget Savvy Diva is SUCH a great resource – I give you all the updated coupon news happening in your world – so make sure to check back daily. If YOU have a fake coupon – there is a high chance that it will be accepted at the store BUT you can easily be tracked so make sure to know where you are getting your printable coupon information from. MANY fake coupons will be in BRICK format – meaning it will be the only coupon you can print…

I cannot stress enough about where you get your printable coupon information — I know someone who found out about a “fake” (they did not know at the time) coupon from another deal site and was caught and fine the $2,500.

This coupon has been confirmed fake

There is a $2500 reward for For information leading to the successful prosecution of the individual(s) responsible for producing this counterfeit coupon.

She has pix of $3 Coke coupon.

It is fake because

The manufacturer did NOT approve this coupon to be product

High Value: The value of the coupon is simply to good to be true.

Thanks! CIC
And also thanks to Budget Savy Diva.

Coupon newbies read this

These are exactly the rules you should follow when learning to coupon! Stay on the light side!

if they want to, they would do something about it

Jill, while this article is very informative, I can understand why a lot of couponers disagree with a lot of points mentioned.

For one thing, I have read people rant about reporting to NewsAmerica and Valassis about couponers in boards that sell tons of complete inserts in their areas and up to now, those same couponers are still enjoying brisk business selling complete inserts ranging from .10 to .25 each plus flat rate shipping. While the good side of this is that it keeps the USPS in business, why can't the inserts publishers do something about widespread selling of inserts on ebay and coupon boards? Can't they just send a warning to coupon board admins about these type of business activity and these will completely stop? The fact that they won't send a cease and desist order, simply means they do not have the law to back them up concerning this business activities. If they can stop complete inserts sellers, maybe the newspaper industry will be saved because people who want more coupons will have no other choice but to buy their papers to get more coupons that they want. As to dumpster diving, the authorities should have done something to the TLC show that glorified dumpster diving with one of the participants shown defying a notice that prohibits going inside the dumpster. If they are really serious in cracking down on illegal activities, they know where to start; if there are just more action than talk, then people will probably listen.

Therefore, if it is not illegal, nothing that they can put on their coupons makes it a law. Unethical trading/selling? probably, but unless they figure out ways and means to totally get rid of all these coupon selling, people will do all they can to stretch their dollar.

We can sit here and debate

We can sit here and debate whether or not it is legal or morally ethical (I believe it to be morally wrong at that is my opinion) and we can debate all day long but the fact of the matter is because such practices like this are taking place it is hurting all of us couponers in various ways.

As Jill stated when a manufacture puts out these coupons they dont expect a high redemption rate, and when more than they expect are redeemed (because of purchasing on line, dumpster diving and other ridiculous practices) the next round of coupons they issue have shorter expiration dates, limits per transactions and lower values.

When I started couponing almost 3 years ago we saw $4 airwick coupons, $5 maalox as so on you definitely dont see that anymore. This is in part due to the show as well as the many of people who feel its ok to clear shelves and sell these items at garage sales.

IMO when people obtain an excessive amount of coupons it leads to fraudulant use, shelve clearing, resale of these items and wiping out warehouses such as walgreens and cvs (did you try to find speed stick deodarant) warehouse wiped clean and while some may only want a few now they cant get them because the coupon expired before they could restock.

Bottom line this hurts the consumer in so many more ways than just is it legal or not or does e bay have the right to sell them. You can save an incredible amount of $ by following the rules and having some integrity...I will get off my soap box now :)

Actually understanding THE LAW

What CIC and the manufactures have actually been able to do.

Force the clippers and ebay that sell whole inserts to be able to prove where they are getting their inserts. In other words. If that person is getting their inserts buy buying them legitimately they have been allowed to stay in business. If they were going to the recycle bin..they are not.

Beyond that Manufacturers cannot do anything because it's not ACTUALLY ILLEGAL TO SELL COUPONS. CIC has no actual means of stopping anyone. They can scare people, and they certainly can help be on the look out for fraud..and are very helpful with that...but they don't have the actual legal means to stop anything.

CIC and the Manu's however cannot and have been trying unsuccessfully for 8 years to put a stop to ebay..and don't expect ebay to go anywhere in the sell of coupons. It's a piece of paper. Manufactures can put whatever fancy legal wording they want on it, but until it's getting redeemed at the register it doesn't mean anything, unless it's being copied illegally. Joe Schmoe that sells it for a nickle, it doesn't matter.

Honestly I don't even care about the sold coupons on ebay..if they would just stop selling the completely fake coupons that are sold on ebay....I would be ecstatic. CIC should be putting 99% of their focus there. That is what is hurting all of us, not some mom that is buying 20 Cereal coupons. It's the one buying the $9 P&G tide coupons..that we ALL KNOW IS FAKE!

I realize Jill your trying to sound super knowledgeable on the ethics of coupons, but if manu's had the legal means to stop all selling of coupons..they would of done it by now, and they certainly wouldn't of started with ebay..the people with the biggest pockets and attorney's..they would of started smallest with sites that have no means to protect themselves, and the only means they could was force those that were selling whole inserts to buy their inserts from an actual distributor. Beyond that, they've been able to do nothing, and they've never gone after a forum in any way...and they could shut them down in a heart beat...except obviously they don't have the legal means because their is no law on the book to back them up.

aren't manufacturers sending mixed messages?

I thought the same thing that if manufacturers really want all coupon selling to stop, they surely can. With all lawyers on their payroll, they can simply send a cease and desist order to coupon board admins to stop all forms of coupon selling whether individual coupons or complete inserts. What coupon board will not be intimidated if the giant manufacturers send them a C&D order? Your guess is as good as mine whether they really want all these coupon selling/trading to stop.

coupons

I'm with you on how they get the inserts.
unless they are getting the papers free don't see how
they make any money.
I don't know how people are getting them days ahead to post them on line.
I would like to do that because mine are always different but have been unable to find out how to do that. I don't want to sell them just want to know what is up in my area. It would make a difference in how many papers we buy. There have been times i went after papers and they were worthless to me and have a 15 mile one way trip to get them. With the price of gas now that would be a great savings.

Let's be honest

Let's be honest. The cost of food is going up. But if all manufacturers stopped producing coupons and if the stores just lowered their prices, then it would be benificial for every shopper. The name of the game is to make your grocery money stretch, but because of all the "wheeling and dealing" with coupons, there is a desire to make it stretch farther and not everyone plays by the same rules thus there is going to be fraud. Elminate the coupons, eliminate the fraud. Simple as that.

Truthfully, I want coupons, I want to feel in control of my $$$,

I want to feel that I'm being rewarded for being savvy, smart and frugal, I want to feel that I'm contributing to my family's efforts to save money. If these little pieces of paper afford me (and maybe others) a small sense of control and pride, then so be it.

Just wait ... Penney's recently got rid of their coupons and sales with a huge media blitz about their new direction ... just for us consumers [cough-cough]. I can almost see the cobwebs forming.

Interesting read if you've got a couple minutes. Did the former Apple and Target exec pull a bonehead move?
http://finance.yahoo.com/news/j-c-penney-gets-rid-151954852.html

No BIG Sale at Pennys

I like the concept of just an everyday low price. After having read the article, it states that you can still find things marked down,(stuff still has to be cleared out for new merch), but now customers don't have to go crazy trying to make it to a sale that starts at midnight or 4am. I just went to Kohl's last weekend and bought my daughter some new dresses. At the store everything in her section was 40% off. Not great, but do-able prices. Then on monday, while checking my e-mail, I noticed that I could have gotten another 15% off with a web coupon. How upset I was to find that, because it was only good for the weekend. I was mad that I didn't just get the marked down price from the start, but needed an additional coupon to save my money. Not cool! As for store coupons. I too am an avid user, but honestly wouldn't it be easier, just to go to a store and know that you got the lowest price the store and manufacturer could give without jumping through hoops we call sales and coupons. Plus you can not create fraud where there is nothing to duplicate or steal from. The playing ground is now even!

I agree

I like the concept of coupons and getting deals through a little extra effort on my part. I feel as you said savvy, smart, and frugal when I get my grocery bill or any bill down to the minimum that I can. It is a good feeling and I appreciate every penny that my effort saves me.

Yeah, I'm thinking JCP is going to regret that move...

I think they already have....

Just yesterday in the mail, I got a $10/$10 or more purchase. Almost fell off my chair as I thought they weren't going to sent those out anymore.

Coupon Clipping

Nicely written Jill. Always appreciate you trying to teach the correct way.

Another great article

Thanks for another great article Jill! I was wondering, can you recommend any websites for sending coupons to for military families? I often end up with a bunch of ones I don't use & I'd love to send them where they can do some good.

Sites for military

Two sites to get started with are the Overseas Coupon Project (www.ocpnet.org) and Coupons to Troops (www.couponstotroops.com.)

Illegal according to Jill

Well, according to Jill, that's unethical and illegal. You are not allowed to transfer it to anyone else.

See how a good idea will come to bite you in the butt?

Let it go

Tazz let it go. The best part of this article is that she didn't tell a thousand newbies best places to buy coupons. Imagine the alternative.

Not quite...

Reproduce means to make a copy in the same form...

Transfer mean taking something from one place, form, medium (in this case), whatever...to another(aka different).

I'm thinking if it were illegal/unethical then the stores I frequent would not have bins in the front where people can put their unused coupons and browse through the stacks to see if there is something they need as well. I believe that is known as trading.

From the English Major

Definition of Transfer:

1. to convey or remove from one place, person, etc., to another: He transferred the package from one hand to the other.
2. to cause to pass from one person to another, as thought, qualities, or power; transmit.
3. Law . to make over the possession or control of: to transfer a title to land.
4. to imprint, impress, or otherwise convey (a drawing, design, pattern, etc.) from one surface to another.

So, to transfer can mean any or all of these things. Therefore, you are picking and choosing kitty cat.

However, Jill...I just nabbed this from P&G:

Coupons are non-assignable and are void if transferred from their original recipient to any other person, firm or group. P&G does not
permit the unauthorized distribution, collection, sale, auction, trade or assignment of its coupons for any reason. Therefore, coupons
are not to be used in swap boxes, taped to product, placed on hooks near P&G products, gathered and distributed by any person or
group for charitable fund-raising purposes, or otherwise used in any way except as described in Requirement 1 above.

So, this makes me question the legality also of couponing swaps, and also the military areas where we send off our unused coupons to them.

Honestly, Jill on this point I'd like your input because it made me rais an eyebrow.

Great questions

I have been told by several manufacturers' reps that the "transfer" referred to on coupons indeed refers to transferring the medium, not simply handing it to someone else. How could Vocalpoint's coupons, many of which are from Procter & Gamble, say both "Void if transferred" and "Share this coupon with a friend?" on the same coupon if that were true? By that circular logic, the coupon would be voided the moment you hand it to someone else, even while the coupon itself is instructing you to do so.

But, you have raised an interesting question about the swaps and the APO/FPO military addresses. (The text above, by the way, comes from P&G's Coupon Terms of Proper Redemption.) In reading the longform document, P&G is clear that it does not want their coupons used in a swap or for charities, and I would have to say that it is then not okay to use P&G coupons in either of those ways.

It does make me wonder how P&G handles redemption for coupons for their products on sales that originate from overseas bases. If people there are using P&G coupons, there's only one way they could have gotten them on a base that's halfway around the world. Do they deny those redemptions under a blanket assumption that the coupons were transferred via a charitable coupon drive and are at that point voided? I may look into this.

Not sure what that's worth

That Coupon Terms document is really interesting reading but look at this part:

**P&G does not authorize any coupon promotions that can be printed on computer equipment. Coupons printed on computer equipment will not be honored.**

Does this mean they will not honor their own printables that are on Coupons.com for Pampers wipes and diapers right now?! This seems to be full of contradictions...

Fantastic question

I just printed those to see what they look like, and I have to believe that if they're on Coupons.com, they're legit. One more question to add to my list for P&G... thanks.

And after you check it out. . .

it's time for more "troll herding" (IMHO). Sheesh - thanks for another great article on a subject that has, and is still evolving.

As a coupon trader with many great people on this blog, I am interested if I am doing this legally or not. Hopefully, they (all the vendors) will all agree that "transfer" means copy.

Deleted my post....

...for fear that I'd be labeled as a troll and booted from this site.

Not a troll

Jill's shown remarkable restraint over the years in not removing people. I like the free discussion here which really is the web is all about. The only person who got removed really was a horrible troll (KAY9) who ripped into Jill and other posters for like the past 3 years and finally she went crazy one day and got removed. That is the only person I think ever got taken off here.

If P&G denies redemptions

IMO, that would be terrible. Why should our military families suffer and not be able to use the same coupons we do?

If P&G denies, the stores overseas will eventually stop accepting those P&G coupons all together (or maybe they already have if this is indeed happening).

I may be tempted to avoid P&G products if this is the case. Would be interested to hear what you find out, Jill.

need to add requirement 1 to make things slightly clearer

From the same site...

1. Coupons are redeemable only by a consumer purchasing the brand/size(s) indicated thereon with the face value of the coupon deducted from the retail selling price. Multiple P&G coupons (two or more, in any form including using a paper and digital coupon together) may not be applied against the purchase of the same item. Coupons are not redeemable by an individual who is purchasing products for resale which may be evidenced larger than normal quantities of coupons presented in a single or multiple transactions.

Therefore, coupons
are not to be used in swap boxes, taped to product, placed on hooks near P&G products, gathered and distributed by any person or
group for charitable fund-raising purposes, or otherwise used in any way except as described in Requirement 1 above.

This phrase in the context of #1 tells me that they are referring to the store taking perhaps the coupons from unsold papers and taping them to the products or having a bin of them near the products to up reimbursements...the fund raising again sounds like the selling of coupons and such to me...large scale reimbursements. I have a hard time believing P&G is so opposed to me (who doesn't have children) giving my diaper coupons to my friends who do have children in diapers. I'll be interested to see Jill's input here...

Do not Agree

Jill. While I appreciate your research and arguement here I do not agree with you. Coupons have entirely to many loopholes and are NOT considered a contract with us, the store and the MFC. For example one coupon above states "Void if transferred to any person". Well why we can all interpret this in many different ways it could also be left room to say that when you buy the newspaper it is trnsfrd from the store making it void. Or if the newspaper company takes it to a store to be sold it becomes void. When you purchase coupons online you are paying for "clipping". I understand that you say "Why is 1 more expensive than the other" but that is still not your call. That is your "opinion" but that statement has no legal basis and this is why coupons have never been removed from the web! I for a fact know that MFC and companies have sent legal notices to several clipping service websites to be taken down and have failed. So put the topic to rest!

JillCataldoSpoofer

Your screenname is a clear indication that you are only here to cause trouble. Jill can post any topic or opinion she wants. That's why it is called JillCataldo.com....If you feel so strongly about your opinions I'm sure Google could locate a different blog which shares your point of view.

Wow

You are welcome to disagree, but your reference to the newspapers falls flat. The coupon services (Red Plum, Smart Source and P&G for example) all contract with the newspapers to distribute those coupons to their readership (either through subsciption based sales or direct sales at supermarkets, etc). The newspapers are a means of ethical distribution that seems lost on you.

It should also be noted that unsold newspapers (including their inserts) are required to be returned to the newsaper distributor. So, even the supermaket employees cannot keep them.

Your biggest risk with on line and auction sites is the increased potential for counterfiet coupons. That seems to be on the rise because so many people are desperate to save a few dollars.

I am greatful to Jill and her insights and constant strive toward ethical super couponing (not to be confused with Extreme Couponing on Lifetime).

Thats not true, coupons have sure been removed from the web

Last year a bunch of site reported that the big coupon clipper sites got letters from the manufacturers and many of them shut down for a while due to lawsuits. But I think it depends on what coupons you can sell from the manufacturers that don't seem to care if you do sell them. CouponClippers was shut down for a while as was another one Deede?

http://www.theshoppersapprentice.com/2011/06/20/lawsuit-over-coupon-clip...

http://meijermadness.com/couponing-101/do-you-buy-coupons-if-so-read-this

http://forum.couponmom.com/just-chatting-getting-know-each-other/48695-e...

this one from October says the CIC has sent letters demanding Ebay sellers stop selling coupons or "risk facing civil penalties" if they continue
http://abclocal.go.com/wabc/story?section=news/consumer&id=8400165

Let's just call it what it is

If you are buying from a clipping service--- you're doing what the coupon asks you NOT to do. Paying for the time it takes to clip is immediately disproven by charging more for different coupon values. It can be arguable that part of the paying is for the clipper's work-- but you are clearly paying for the coupon's value as well.

And the MFC has tried to take them down. Just b/c they failed doesn't mean that the clippers were right. The MFC asks you not to buy from clipping services. Let's just have some ethics!!!

Whose side are you on Jill?

eye roll....again you support and speak for the industry side! This piece does not represent what's best for everyone SHOPPERS interests! Goody two shoes....

it is obvious whose side shillandsellout is on...

If having integrity and a strong sense of right and wrong is a goody two shoes then please sign me up...I certainly wouldn't want to be on any other team!!

shillandsellout

Your screen name is a clear indication that you are only here to cause trouble. Name calling? Are you 9? If this blog doesn't align with your personal opinion, don't read it.

Sides

I have always been an advocate for shoppers, but I'm an advocate for ethics too. What part of "Void if Sold" is difficult to understand?

As for the industry, what we do as shoppers, and the discounts we enjoy, do not exist without the industry -- period. Manufacturers issue the coupons. They control the values, the offers, and the terms. How is it not in our best interest to comply with those terms? In this post "Extreme Couponing" world, we've already seen how the industry is reacting to misredemption, fraud, and abuse. Really, "Void if Sold" should be a no-brainer.

it is a give and take relationship

I think it is a "you scratch my back, I scratch yours" type of relationship. Without consumers who buy manufacturer's products, will they continue to be in business? Coupons are just a form of advertisement and that is one reason some mfr put out free product coupons to boost their sales so they can claim "we're the number 1 selling brand".

Whether or not couponers comply with mfr terms there are no guarantees that manufacturers will have the consumers best interest. Manufacturers are not in the charity business, they are after raking in as much profits as they can.

Absolutely

Back in the 90s, P&G did a (now-infamous) coupon test where they reduced the frequency of their coupons promotions down to nothing (meaning zero coupons) in New York, instead lowering the prices on their products to what we'd call an "everyday low price" so that no coupons were needed (again, in theory.)

It was disastrous for them - they lost almost 20% of their revenue share because consumers were angry to the point that they were boycotting and demonstrating against P&G.

No-brainer

You would think it would be a no-brainer but it is amazing to me how people can justify bad behavior.

Thanks Jill for a wonderfully written and informative article. I always enjoy checking out your site...

Sadly, there is a couponer who has a very popular blog in my area; she has even written a book and teaches questionable behavior. It is so frustrating because I want to use the site because it is local and has local deals but it is very difficult when I see her and the others talking about buying coupons from ebay and clipping sites. And to top it off they preach how ethical they are...

I wish you could cover the New England area...