"Couponing Gets More Difficult"... and companies can't even figure out their own coupon restrictions.

Here's an interesting blog post worth reading. Beth over at InGoodCents.com has written a nice piece on the increasingly strange restrictions on coupons called "Couponing Gets More Difficult." She touches on the Pom Wonderful controversy (Pom's coupons now state that they are invalid during a sale) and shows numerous examples of other coupons getting more restrictive, including:

  • Minute Rice restricting a store coupon from being stacked
  • Reynolds Wrap restricting four like coupons per day. (How will the cashier remember?)

She writes, "Couponing takes a lot of time and I don’t have a lot of time, so I always keep it simple. I’ll be the first one to admit that I’ll be skipping over the coupons with complicated fine print and moving towards brands that aren’t attempting to give couponers and cashiers a massive migraine when trying to keep it all straight. It’s like they are begging us to commit coupon fraud."

I agree. Especially when we're all trying to do the right thing.

On another note, here's an update on recent Facebook campaigns to get an answer out of Pom Wonderful as to why they would restrict coupons from being used during a sale; and Honey Bunches of Oats restricting shoppers to buying four total boxes of their cereal in one transaction, even though they have a national "Buy 5" Catalina offer running.

Pom still hasn't responded, but while Honey Bunches was "consulting" with their legal team for an appropriate response, they posted a photo on their Facebook wall of a family that made a pyramid out of 22 boxes of Honey Bunches of Oats. We responded... how can we buy that many when your coupons restrict us to four?

Hilarity ensued. Honey Bunches of Oats replied, "Only 4 like items may be purchased in one transaction" does not apply to the Catalina "Buy 5, Save $4" offer. The reason the 8/19 has this wording is to prevent coupon stacking."

What? How does that wording prevent stacking? Several of us asked that very question, and Honey Bunches replied, "I'll have to get back to you with guidance from the legal department."

If it takes a company three days of legal wrangling to come up with a definition for how couponers can use a limit-4 coupon during their own "Buy-5" sale, how are shoppers supposed to figure it out? Today, Honey Bunches posted their final response:

"We are thrilled that you all are such huge fans of Honey Bunches of Oats, and it is in no way our intention to limit your purchase! We do admit that the wording may seem confusing on the current coupons you are referring to. We will take your comments and suggestions into consideration when developing future promotions so that this confusion can be avoided."

It's in no way their intention to limit purchases, but they've printed "Only 4 like items may be purchased in one transaction" on their coupons. O-kay then.

Thanks to Rachel Singer Gordon for sending over a link to Beth's article... and for the off-blog conversation we've been having about the ridiculous rise in coupon restrictions.