Fake or Photocopied? Scammers, or just not aware?
How do we know what is legit and what is not?
Who are the thieves and who are the uneducated newbies?
With the popularity of couponing, we are encountering more problems using coupons at our stores. The reason for this is some couponers are not aware of the proper way to use coupons, some people scam the system, and some retailers are not keeping up to date with what is available in coupons currently. Unfortunately, there will always be people out there who commit fraud, by altering printable coupons or photocopying coupons. It is up to the rest of the coupon clippers, to be honest, and not get carried away with what looks like a "great deal". Be aware of what is out there in legitimate coupons, and if you think it may be fake, check with the manufacturer. Often times, if it looks too good to be true, it is not legit!
How to determine if a coupon is FAKE :
- Value: If the value on the coupon is high enough to make the item free, or give you an overage, it may not be a valid coupon.
- If it has NO Bar Code, do not use it!
- If it has NO Expiry Date, do not use it! (some manufacturer's coupons may state "no expiry" on them, but it has to have those words on it to be valid. Also, most stores will not accept any printable without an expiry date, even if it is a legitimate coupon)
- Photocopies: Never photocopy coupons, it is illegal.
- Address: 97% of coupons are processed through a clearinghouse. NOT through the Manufacturer themselves. If the address shows the manufacturer's name and a mailing address, then be cautious.
- If you are not sure, CALL the Manufacturer. They will gladly let you know what is valid and what is not.
There are so many places to find legitimate coupons, coupon clippers should simply not use any coupon that looks questionable. The retail stores can only absorb so much of the loss that comes with accepting fraudulent coupons. If it becomes too costly and cuts into profits, the only solution could be to stop accepting certain coupons. (in most cases printables)
This is happening on occasion and trial basis at many stores already. By using fraudulent coupons, coupon users will ruin a good thing. We can save dramatically on our purchases with the coupons that are legit, and we need to report anyone we see or know using fraudulent coupons. It is illegal and in cases where people are distributing these coupons, they can be charged.
Here in Canada, we cannot do a lot of the things they do in the US. Because the cash registers do not scan the coupons, and they are entered manually, it causes more incidents of fraud and allows the stores and manufacturers to be taken advantage of.
As a cashier or manager at a retail location, if you have a customer come through with many fraudulent coupons, you should kindly let them know you cannot accept them, and ask where they got the coupons. It could be that the person thought the source they received the coupons from was legal and valid. We cannot assume the person using the coupons was intentionally trying to "scam" you. They may have been simply printing coupons they thought were valid. It's tracking down the source of these coupons that will help stop the practice.
Education in the proper usage of coupons is also key. It is up to the stores to be aware of what is out there in coupons and what to look for if they are not sure. As a coupon user, it is key to understand store policies and also know what sources are secure and reputable when it comes to providing coupons to you.
Please be a responsible coupon user, and if you work as a cashier or are a manager at a store that accepts coupons, please take some time to know what is going on in the coupon world.
If you have any questions or need help with a specific situation, be sure to contact manufacturers or ask here, I am more than willing to help out!
For more savings articles visit our Savings section here on the blog.
~ Ruth Ann
the Moncton Coupon Lady