As you might have noticed, I take a pretty conservative stance around here when it comes to coupon deals that I share on the blog. Where matters are gray, I err on the side of caution. Two reasons:
- I want the deals I share here to work for the majority of readers. I don’t want to waste your time or efforts!
- I see myself as a leader – someone that can make an impact for either good or bad. I want to make a positive difference for both couponers and the stores and manufacturers that provide us the deals.
What this means is that you’ll often find me silent on coupons and deals other bloggers are reporting. In many instances it’s not because I’m not aware of those coupons or deals, it’s because I have specific reservations in sharing them with you.
A couple of years ago, I decided that entering zip codes to obtain printable coupons was something I wanted to steer clear of. I came to this conclusion after a conversation I had with an editor at Red Plum.
After watching this practice continue to grow, I decided it was time to see if anything had changed. Was there more I could learn on this topic? I approached two of my affiliate contacts for Coupons.com. It is through these affiliate relationships that I serve the Coupons.com links here at The Coupon Project.com. (For more information on my affiliates, please see my Disclosure Policy.)
The answers I received differed from each other. One response indicated that it was acceptable to share the different zips (but without a definite policy in force), while the other had some more specific guidelines and official stance on this topic. Here’s what I learned from the latter affiliate:
- The only coupons I can highlight are the ones nationally available – that means without having to input a zip code. This means if I find a great coupon that’s available at zip 12345 and nowhere else, I should refrain from sharing that with you.
- I can state what zip I happened to find a nationally-based coupon in. For instance, I might say, “I found $4/4 Kellogg’s printable coupon under zip code 33333″ as proof that the coupon is available and my posting is not in error.
- Couponers may not be able to redeem coupons they print from other zip codes. For this reason, suggesting you print coupons for zip codes you don’t live in is discouraged.
After some further clarification with that affiliate, the issue may be more of a practical one than ethical one. I don’t want you heading to checkout with coupons that potentially won’t work. What I’ve learned recently echos what I was told a couple years prior – that some manufacturers may wish to release a certain coupon offer in a select market. Why? Well, I don’t know. But should it matter? Sometimes offers are available in certain areas. I’m alright with leaving it at that.
I also contacted the CIC for additional thoughts on this topic, but as of this posting, I’ve not heard back. According to this forum discussion, Jill Cataldo (“Coupon Maven” in the thread) is also researching this topic and is planning on sharing soon. I greatly admire her insight and ethics stance, and will be curious to see what she discovers. Thus, more thoughts on this topic may be forthcoming.
So what do I do with all this? One group is telling me it’s OK, another had something different to say, and then there’s the conversation I had a few years ago. But most of all, there’s my gut feeling that says there’s something that just doesn’t sit right with me about it, again for both practical reasons and ones that bug my conscience a bit. Therefore, you can continue to count on me to only promote coupons that are available nationally. If you see me reference a zip code on occasion, note that it’s to validate the coupon’s existence (as per #2 above), and not to highlight a coupon as being only available in one zip code. If you have problems seeing a coupon appear, I would suggest you start by entering your own zip code. (Heck, you should be entering your zip code anyways – you might see some coupons you won’t find otherwise!)
From an ethical standpoint, there are bigger fish to fry in my opinion. I feel more strongly about say, copying coupons or barcode decoding. However, I wanted to give my personal conclusion on the topic since it’s coming up more and more, and I hope this post serves to clear some of that up for you.
It’s always possible that my stance, opinion, and thoughts on this topic will evolve as I continue to learn more for myself and for your information. On a personal note, thank you for following my site, even if it means you aren’t always notified about all those “hot” coupons and deals out there. And thanks to those of you who are invested in wading through all these meaty “gray” topics with me.
PS. Feel free to leave your comments and questions on this topic today. Heck, I welcome opposing viewpoints as well so long as it’s kept nice.