Friday, November 8, 2013

Coupon Fraud and HOT DEAL glitches and scams...

The first time I heard the term "coupon fraud" I laughed. Seriously? Coupon fraud? This is a REAL problem??? REALLY??

Yep. It is. Because sadly there are far too many lazy, dishonest people out there. Look... I'm ALL for scoring a good deal. A good LEGIT deal. What I have a HUGE problem with is people using coupons and on line discount codes in a fraudulently manner.

In the last two days alone I have seen TWO major "glitches" on store web sites which resulted in a handful of people getting hundreds of dollars in merchandise at up to a 98% discount OR for FREE by using a code of some sort to earn $10 "gift cards" over and over and over. Both retailers, Wal Mart and Macy's, caught the glitch and cancelled most of the orders. This resulted in an outcry from hard core couponers and deal seekers. "It's not fair!!!! They should have honored the orders!!!It wasn't OUR fault."

Reading comments like these sets my teeth on edge. I have no time nor patience for people looking to cheat the system. They are little more than thieves and are beneath me and I'm SURE all of you feel the same way. My feelings on Wal Mart aside (I don't really shop at Macy's), both stores are in the business of making money not losing it, and I think they were well within their rights to cancel the orders. Wal Mart gave everyone who'd had an order cancelled a $10 gift card for their troubles. Hmmm.. lost nothing, GAINED ten bucks... Sounds fair to me. But what do I know??

So take this as a little warning... Be careful.. scams are out there and things that seem just WAY too good to be true probably ARE too good to be true. Yes, you CAN get free stuff in small quantities from places like CVS, Walgreens and Rite Aid using each store's rewards program. You are most likely NOT going to find a $1500 hi-def flat screen TV for $30 with free shipping on It's a scam or a glitch and you're either going to lose money or have your order cancelled. Hope for the latter if you fall victim to this.

Coupon fraud is loosely defined as using a manufacturer's coupon on an item it was not intended to be used on. For example you have a coupon for $3/1 (three dollars off one item) Gillette refillable razor. A few years ago coupon bar codes were less sophisticated and often, as long as the manufacturer of the item was the same as the item on the coupon, the coupon would scan without that dreaded beep. I'm going to use random numbers for demonstration purposes only, these are not the ACTUAL prices. Let's say the Gillette refillable razor costs $9.99 so that using the $3/1 coupon makes it 6.99. BUT the Gillette three pack of disposables is only $3.99 (I have NO IDEA if it is, don't buy disposables) so that using the $3/1 coupon (that is NOT meant for this item) makes it $.99. This is coupon fraud. Plain and simple.

THIS is how a lot of dishonest couponers were/are able to "buy" hoards of stuff for pennies on the dollar. They use coupons meant for a higher priced item on a lower priced item made by the same company. These women (and men) will defend their practice by saying "who does it hurt??" or "these companies can afford it" or "if it (the coupon) doesn't beep it must be ok..." or they justify their CRIMINAL behavior by donating mass quantities of toiletries, canned and dry goods, etc to needy families or the military or a homeless shelter or the like. Nice idea IF YOU'RE GETTING THE DEALS LEGALLY and not, in essence, STEALING these things. If you are doing it fraudulently, then you've just cancelled out all the good you're trying to do, in my ever so humble opinion.

Coupon fraud DOES hurt someone other than the big corporations. When retailers start losing money they start raising prices. So it hurts us, the consumer. It also makes couponing more difficult for those of us who do it honestly. Cashiers are now trained to scrutinize every coupon, bar codes have become more intricate and sophisticated, computer systems are set up to throw back coupons that don't match an item in the order and glitches in the system make it so some coupons that SHOULD go through, don't and then there's MORE scrutiny to deal with. Some retailers have stopped accepting internet printed coupons because people were/are photocopying them over and over (illegally) and still other retailers have stopped accepting coupons at all or have such stringent rules and regulations that checking out is a nightmare. Cashiers can be rude and hostile with couponers because we've gotten a bad reputation from all of fraud going on.

We all want to save as much as we can. Some of us NEED to save as much as we can because we live on a shoestring budget. If we all commit to couponing the RIGHT way we all benefit. Think about it...

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