Photo Image Bob Smith
Much of couponing is black and white. For instance, most of us will agree that it’s not OK to pass expired coupons or photocopy printables. (And in case you were unaware, no, you can’t do these things.)
But the more you get into couponing, the more you’ll discover the gray areas – those situations where it may not be so black and white. In these instances, the question isn’t “can you do this?” so much as it’s “should you do this?”
One topic I’ve been mulling over quite a bit and would love your feedback on today is this: if a company makes an error, is it OK to take advantage of it?
For instance, recently I shared a Dove Register Reward deal at Walgreens that at first glance, looked like a killer unadvertised deal. However, several of you commented to inform me that this wasn’t merely an unadvertised deal, it was an error. At that point, I didn’t feel it was OK to advocate others do the deal, and I updated the post. While it may be easy to say, “well, too bad, so sad, it was their fault,” I would like to give pause.
Here are some examples I’ve seen in the couponing world. How would you handle each of these situations:
- A company puts a .pdf coupon up on Facebook. They didn’t set proper controls, and you quickly realize that you can print as many of these coupons as you want. The coupons yield a freebie with a current store sale. So, do you print 2 or 52?
- You are expecting a $1 Register Reward to print for a product you’re buying at Walgreens. Instead, two print from the same manufacturer, turning a good deal into a moneymaker. Do you then run home and email your pals (and maybe some coupon bloggers) and tell them to hurry and do the deal before it’s pulled?
- A grocery store’s ad has a deal pictured a little too good to be true. Do you clarify with the store first, or attempt to do the deal before they realize their mistake?
- A new online daily deals site is offering a hot coupon code that yield you free items. You do the deal once for yourself, and then proceed to do the deal for your husband, your 5 year old daughter, and your elderly aunt who lives at a retirement center three states away. Hey – it’s one per person, right?
I think it’s worth considering that company errors may result in negative impacts for couponers everywhere including raised prices, lower coupon values, or cancelled incentive programs. And behind these companies, remember, are people. People who perhaps made an honest mistake and perhaps now have a job on the line.
What I’m not talking about here? Deals that are just plain…hot! It’s true, you can snag great freebies legitimately. I share them all the time! I also am not talking about the times when it’s not clear a company has made a mistake. I’m talking about those instances when you’ve got a pretty good hunch a company goofed.
In thinking about the above situations, I’ve decided that I want to make a best effort around here. If I see a deal that seems too good to be true (aka an error), I’m going to do my best to get some clarification for you before posting. At the end of the day, it’s not just about saving money in my book. It’s about feeling good about the way you got those deals in the first place.
I would love to hear from you on this topic. Do you agree with me in thinking that responsible couponing means asking “should” I do this deal versus “can?” Or, do you disagree and think that if a manufacturer or store makes a mistake that it’s their loss? Or, maybe you see it another way altogether? Weigh in!