Coupon Ethics


Unfortunately, there are ways to abuse coupons.  I want to let my readers know that I am committed to 100% ethical usage of coupons and have been from Day One.  It’s important to save money, but it’s equally important you are not defrauding someone else in the process.  After taking some time to reflect, I came up with the following list that outlines my stance on this important subject.  While this may not encompass every possible scenario, I think it covers most of them. I also periodically review and update this policy in keeping with emerging coupon policy changes and trends.

Over the past four years, I’ve built some really fantastic relationships with stores I regularly report about here. I have worked hard to build mutually beneficial channels of communication between stores and the customers that shop at them. If I have questions on coupon policies? I email or call my store partners directly for clarification. If I suspect a store has posted a promotion in error? I notify them first – and not suggest readers quickly take advantage of their mistake. I very much see this site as a unique opportunity to bridge the gap between stores and couponers and encourage mutual respect and benefit and I take that responsibility seriously. As we’ve seen, one couponer’s actions can make a huge impact, for good or bad. Much more so a coupon blogger who is teaching others how to use coupons in the first place!

Please understand that I respectfully reserve the right to remove any comment on this blog that I feel violates these guidelines in any way.  Also know that you can hold me accountable that deals I post here at the site will adhere to the following guidelines:

  1. Use coupons ONLY as stated. I make sure to read the fine print on my coupons before redeeming them.  If it reads, “good for the products pictured above,” I won’t tell you to go ahead and use it on other products – even if it will scan at checkout.  If the coupon states “limit one per household,” I’m not going to suggest you head to the store with your spouse so you can get two.  There are blogs out there that will fudge the lines on coupon usage in various ways.  This is not one of them.
  2. Use coupons within store policies. The deals I share with you will be acceptable as per each store’s individual coupon policy.  For instance, if a particular store does not accept Internet printables, I won’t include those in on the deal. I do my very best to stay abreast of coupon policy changes and I’ve cataloged local coupon policies at my Coupon Policy page.
  3. Use in-store coupons appropriately. I encourage considerate couponing when it comes to the use of “peelie” coupons (found on products), tearpad coupons, and other coupons found in-store. Please be thoughtful and considerate to the couponing community.
  4. No questionable pdf and other Internet coupons. Before posting a coupon that I’ve found out and about, I will do my utmost to make sure it’s legitimate.  Sometimes I may be personally emailed a coupon that I find valuable to share.  In that instance, I will explain to you how I received that coupon and NOT post the actual coupon that was intended for my use and mine only.
  5. No obnoxious couponing tactics.  While this is subjective, I think we can all agree asking a cashier to do 30 transactions back-to-back for you is obnoxious.  I think we can also agree buying all 50 of a store’s brand X shampoo is obnoxious (because now no one else can do the deal).  I’m all for stockpiling, but there are polite ways to go about doing it (such as contacting the store ahead of time to see if they can order extra stock).  Be considerate of others.
  6. E-coupons and paper coupons cannot be stacked. You will not find deals here that that require both the use of an ecoupon and paper coupon for the same item in the same transaction. The only exception would be if one is a store coupon and the other is a manufacturer coupon (e.g, a store e-coupon stacked with a manufacturer’s coupon clipped from a Sunday insert).
  7. You cannot buy or sell coupons. I am literally baffled by how many people think this is OK. It’s not. According to the CIC, there is no legitimate way to buy or sell coupons – whether through a clipping site or eBay. The “I’m just charging for my time” argument doesn’t hold water. Additionally, the CIC in conjunction with the major coupon manufacturers are looking to put an end to selling coupons by 2011. Coupon clipping service owners and eBay sellers beware! You may soon get a nice email if you haven’t ready and/or slapped with sizeable fines. I occasionally get emails asking me to plug someone’s clipping service. Now you know why I refuse to do that.
  8. Anti-extreme couponing stance. This blog is in no way affiliated with TLC’s Extreme Couponing nor do I endorse or condone the behaviors depicted on that show. I have been invited by TLC to participate on Extreme Couponing as well as promote it, and both “opportunities” I flatly turned down. If you are looking for a blog that will show you how to obtain tons of free coupons or skirt store policies, this is not your blog. Please refer to Coupon Information Corporation’s statement regarding this show for more of my own feelings.

Finally, this is a personal choice and has nothing to do with couponing per se, but I’ve decided to not post or share Walmart deals here at The Coupon Project. If you are curious for more of my reasons for that, you may email me privately at angela @ thecouponproject dot com.

There are many gray areas when it comes to couponing, and I want you to know – I will not judge you if you do not agree 100% with my conservative approach. I encourage and invite open discussion (and yes, even debate!) about these topics on my blog. All I ask is that comments left are respectful and avoid personal attacks.

Please note that my goal is to make sure the majority of my deals can be performed by the majority of my readers. I also feel a sense of obligation as a blogger to you – whenever you mention my site to a fellow customer or cashier – I want it to be a positive experience and not the opposite. I want couponing to be enjoyable and fun for you!

If you aware of coupon fraud that’s taking place, please check out Coupon Information Corporation for what you can do.

For more on topics like these that I’ve written about, see my Ethics & Fraud category. If you have a question about coupon ethics or fraud, please contact me.