Couponing is a terrific way to save money for most of us frugal shoppers. Maybe you love to watch those TV shows featuring couponing to the extreme. There are some things you should know about couponing correctly (and politely) as well as staying within the law. Here are 7 couponing DON’TS:
1. Decoding coupons. Decoding is using an app or other site to ‘decode’ the barcode on the coupon itself. This allows you to see what the store scans. Some shoppers try to purchase items other than those the coupon was intended for. This practice defrauds the store and they lose the coupon money. Decoding is also illegal, so don’t be tempted to try it.
2. Copying coupons. The majority of coupons are valid only if original, not copied. Coupon copying is illegal and against the law. Sometimes you can print coupons online twice, but no other copies are allowed. It is not worth the chance of fraud jus to save a little bit.
3. Buying items that you don’t need. Getting things free is great, but don’t buy things you won’t use. You don’t want items expiring and ending up just disposing of them. This is really wasteful. It is ok to get these products even if you can’t use them as long as you can give them away to charity, family or friends.
4. Clearing shelves. If you have a lot of coupons, look into preorders or rain checks from your store. It is not polite to clear all the shelves, and many larger stores will order these items for you so it won’t impact your fellow couponers.
5. Clearing Shelf Coupons. Occasionally you find a great coupon on a tear pad near the shelf. Go ahead and take a few for yourself, but don’t take them all. Share with other shoppers, please.
6. Selling coupons. Selling coupons is in a legal gray area, but it is better to be safe and just don’t do it.
7. Selling excess product. It is good to stockpile paper goods and some food, but keep it reasonable. Manufacturers give coupons for the benefit of individual customers, not to have you start a buying and selling business. Reselling is usually considered a violation of the coupon, and may even be against local health and safety codes.
Using coupons is a great tool to save money and can even be fun. Just use your head and be polite. We don’t want to give couponing a bad rap. Be courteous to other frugal shoppers and make sure to adhere to the law. Everybody wins!