In the wake of Target’s retraction of accepting its now famous “Toy coupon”, news about coupon fraud and coupon counterfeiting are starting to sprout all over the media. This news report by Good Morning America has been making the rounds. Coupon fraud involves using the coupon on a product other than the one stated on the coupon, a size or for a different quantity than what the coupon specifies. In more sophisticated levels coupon fraud involves modifying a coupon by removing or altering expiration dates or bar codes.
I personally think that both companies and coupon users are responsible for preventing and combating coupon fraud. There are many ways a company can implement controls over the way they distribute their own coupons. Technology is on their side. With Bricks there is no need for companies to issue coupons in pdf form (the most fraud prone form of issuing coupons by the way). Even with insert coupons, companies are moving towards more advanced ways of coding their coupons in order to prevent misuse.
At the user level, I think sometimes the emphasis on getting a good deal, the money maker item, some times causes people to ignore the ethics involved in using coupons. Particularly in the current state of the economy, increasingly people want to save a buck, but at what expense? I read on the forums and on other blogs people complaining about poor customer service regarding stores accepting their coupons. It never fails that someone states that “one person is ruining it for everyone else.” The truth is it isn’t one person, it is a lot of them and it could even be yourself.
Next time you think about using a coupon for a product that the coupon is not intended for think about all this people complaining about being chastised for their coupon usage, or even maybe the last time you were looked down for using coupons. If you think that “this one time, it’s not a big deal,” think of the thousands of people that think the same way every day. And don’t be surprised that people are being treated the way they are. It does take one person, it takes each and everyone of us to make sure coupons are used the right way.