F Word in Couponing, Are You Guilty?

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What Is the F Word in Couponing?

The F Word

Come on, did you really think I would go there? The F Word? You all should know me better than that. If you are new to the page, it won’t take you long to figure out. If it does, you are at the wrong page anyhow, so thanks for stopping by. The sad truth of the matter is that couponing does have an F word and it’s FRAUD. It amazes me how many people are quick to pull the trigger and lay down the fraud card as if it is the be all/end all of all things in the couponing world. Yes, I have written about it in the past. Yes I believe that coupon fraud runs rampant. However, I also believe there is an abuse of the term. People are quick to pull the trigger on coupon fraud and that is scary. It’s no secret that own an insert service. I am usually under fire a few times a week there from pious pharisees who are quick to criticize in public, but equally as quick to act in the opposite manner in private. The truth of the matter is that Fraud is a double standard. Those who are quick to call fraud are oftentimes guilty of the very crime they charge (if you take their accusations at face value).

The F Word & Transferability

I have read on the Coupon Information Corporation website that people who buy clipped coupons or inserts may be violating the “transferability” clause on coupons. OK, they also may be left handed, blonde haired or any other number of unrelated traits. Let’s talk about this transferability clause. Have you actually read a coupon? It’s amazing to me that people cling to this clause like a security blanket when there is honestly no consistency in it whatsoever. I ask again, have you actually read a coupon? I decided in the spirit of this post that I would read an entire insert worth of coupons. Here is what I found: about 1/3 addressed transferability to the consumer, about 1/3 addressed transferability to the retailer and the other 1/3 didn’t say a thing about it. WOW! We are going to hang our hat of fraud on what 1/3 of the coupons say? Well, hmmmmmmm. How was that job as a hall pass monitor in Jr. High, Sparky?

Coupon Fraud Is Real

F Word Newspaper ManSometimes the F Word IS applicable. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t dismiss coupon fraud. I do dismiss illegitimate claims. I think we need to figure out what the heck transferability means before we run around telling everyone they are violating it. Does transferability mean we can’t trade coupons? Does transferability mean that we can’t buy inserts or clipped coupons? Does transferability mean we can’t buy multiple papers? Honestly, my thoughts are that it means none of the above.

If we were to take transferability at it’s face value, how could any one of us buy a paper without violating that clause? Think about it for a second. Street vendors buy the paper from the printing facility. In turn, they sell the paper to us. Once they have paid for that paper and taken possession of it aren’t they technically “transferring” it to us when we buy it? How is a true insert service any different? While I can’t speak about others, I can tell you that the flat pricing structure for Insert Insanity contemplates me being reimbursed for the face value of the paper plus labor and shipping. How is that fraud? If it’s fraud, then don’t even think about giving your brother-in-law money and asking him to get you 10 papers when he heads to Wally World on his way home from work. You are a violator.

Buying Papers Doesn’t Generate the F Word. Why Should Services?

The truth is that it is all a big machine that is driven by advertising revenue. Companies that pay big dollars to newspapers for advertising want to be sure they are getting a return on their investment. They want to know that if 10,000 papers are being sold that they are going to 10,000 separate households. How is this our problem? If the paper has bulk sales, the responsibility for reporting those bulk sales numbers is incumbent upon the paper, not the purchaser. What I find to be laughable is that there are national blogs that hold themselves in the highest regard of anti-fraudulent couponing that have gone to their local papers and cut special deals for multiple issues to be delivered to readers’ homes on Sunday. Is that what Target wants? What about Sears? Honestly, as long as they know the number of multiple copy deliveries on the front end, they can factor that into the pricing rate that they are willing to pay for their advertising spots. No different than bulk sales. So again I ask, what is non-transferability?

Here’s a thought!  What if there is a Mom and Pop grocery store that accepts coupons, but has a cash flow problem. Is it possible that someone with a little coin in their pocket could swoop in and buy all of their coupons for pennies on the dollar and then turn them into the clearing house for full redemption value? Granted, they would need to be set up as a company that was able to do this, but think about it. A company has a higher than average gross profit, meaning they mark their groceries up higher than average, and they are in a cash crunch. They already have reached profitability through pricing, so why not sell off your redeemed coupons to a third party that will give you .75 on the 1.000 for them only to turn around and get 1.08 in 30-45 days?  I bet you didn’t think of that. That’s why they address transferability to the retailer. This is the real use of the F Word.

Insert & Clipping Services Are Perfectly Legal

As long as newspapers report their numbers correctly, there is nothing wrong with insert services or clipping services that are truly flat rate and based on reimbursement. Then again, we are begging a dying industry to be honest, in spite of the fact it will kill their profitability. It’s probably not going to happen. In the meantime, for all of the people out there that are on the fence, you may want to think twice before you use the F word. You may find yourself looking like another F word; Foolish. Do your homework and realize that true coupon fraud does not exist in mediums as obvious as clipping services and insert services. It’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing that disguises itself as a Whitestrips Coupon that works on toothpaste or a “fraud fighter” that is probably getting paid by the paper to sell multiple delivery subscriptions. In any event, get off of my case. I am 100% transparent on all of our fees, etc.  I sleep well at night because I know we help people. I am hardly Robin Hood, just a guy that fronts the money for a bunch of papers and lets his friends reimburse him.


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  1. Gale Kelly says

    Very well said David.

  2. Wow David you made the good point in there. Yes it is true there are people just conclude they did not look at first the facts…Anyway, thanks for the post..Keep it up.

  3. Stellar article. I love it that you say the truth that everyone needs to hear! Spread the word, people!

  4. Great Article !! I think that you are AWESOME & GREATFUL for what you do for ALL of us !!!!!

  5. Keep up the good work! Your insert service has saved me so much stress and time in my life, I love it!!

  6. As one of those friends, I thank you!!!

  7. clap clap clap. awesome article. love your service. love looking and stocking up on coupons that i dont have to clip and saving me money in the long run. I rather buy 10 coupons for 1.50 and save 8.50 or more (thats for 1.00 coupons less your service fee). like i did on the welchs grape juice. and with it buy get one free this week and 1.00 off each bottle i am savings lots. applause for my fav wiz.

  8. I thank you for this article. So many people have said that me buying coupons was illegal. Now I have an article that will shut them up once and for all. I get so sick of these “holier than thou” people who think that anything they do is fine but anyone else…fraud. Thanks David for clarifying the entire process, it makes it very clear to me that like you said we all are violators if you look at it the way some closed minded people do. Have a great day and keep up the good work!!

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