What does SnipSnap do? In their own words:
Never forget your coupons at home again. SnipSnap is the 1st app that lets you scan and redeem ANY type of printed coupon on an iPhone. You’re welcome, America.
With the SnipSnap app, instead of carrying your coupons with you, you can take photographs of your coupons. SnipSnap converts your photos into clear, scannable bar codes. And, once coupons are loaded into SnipSnap, you can view, share or use any coupons that anyone else has loaded as well.
What could possibly be wrong with this? Everything.
First, most store and manufacturer coupons have a non-transferability clause that voids the coupon if it is copied or transferred. SnipSnap does both. Second, there are many free-product coupons on SnipSnap that were likely issued to a single person, but now they’re being shared by thousands. And worse, when a customer hands their phone to a cashier to have the barcode scanned, they don’t see this low-quality photo of someone’s hand holding a coupon:
(Note that I’ve blacklined the barcodes for my SnipSnap screenshots. But if you download the app, your barcodes are perfectly clear.)
SnipSnap’s Facebook wall is filled with complaints from shoppers that stores like Kroger and Target are no longer accepting SnipSnap coupons — as they shouldn’t. But unsuspecting cashiers may scan the app, believing the offers were authorized by the store.
Blogger Tiffany Ivanovsky opened a discussion of SnipSnap’s legitimacy on Facebook today, and while SnipSnap has deleted some comments, most remain at this link. She also wrote a great post on her blog after speaking with Target’s corporate, which confirmed that they “do not accept coupons in this app” as it violates their coupons’ transferability clause. Definitely read her post too as it contains some interesting commentary from SnipSnap’s CEO.
SnipSnap maintains that they intend their app to be used on store coupons, not manufacturer coupons. He stated to Tiffany on Facebook, “Manufacturer coupons cannot be shared or redeemed through the app. Period.”
It took me less than two minutes to locate a manufacturer coupon on the app. Here’s a $2 On Your Next Order Catalina that clearly states “MANUFACTURER CPN” across the top:
– This app is not the intended form of distribution of these coupons. Distributing them in this way violates the copying and transferring portions of the terms of many of these coupons.
– Many of these coupons were intended to be limited to specific people. The app contains many free-item coupons that were likely distributed to a limited number of people. You can find photos of coupons for just about anything and everything:
None of these coupons are intended for the masses – they were issued to a limited number of people. But, by allowing thousands of people to share the same photograph of the coupon, far more products are potentially walking out the door than the creators of these coupon campaigns ever anticipated.
Interestingly, SnipSnap seems to know its offers may or may not work at the register, so you can even provide feedback as to which coupons worked. These are moved to the top of their highest-rated and “Staff Pick” coupon lists:
I think there’s an enormous amount of liability hanging over SnipSnap for encouraging this kind of coupon copying and usage. And regardless of it recently being in the headlines, I can’t recommend that people use it. If you wouldn’t walk into your store with a handful of photocopied coupons and try to convince the cashier to take them (and you shouldn’t!) then you shouldn’t use this either.
Interestingly, last month I received an email from SnipSnap’s PR agency asking me to write a story about their app. I replied with several questions I’d already had in mind – why do they feel they can encourage redistribution of coupons that the store won’t be reimbursed for or aren’t authorized? They never responded to my inquiries.
Well, SnipSnap, I finally wrote about your app. But I’d guess this isn’t quite the story you had in mind.