Saturday, April 23, 2011
A Savvy Tip: Buying Coupons Online Is Illegal!
It seems like this month I've been blogging about ethical couponing non-stop! Why is that? Well, with the upsurge in shoppers watching the new Extreme Couponing series on television there has been an equally appalling upsurge in the promotion of unethical coupon practices. Lately I feel like I'm fighting to keep couponing as I know it alive by trying to debunk these erroneous tactics. With every passing episode I wonder what the impact of these fraudulent savings tactics will have on me, my family and all of you, my friends? I believe whole heartedly that there WILL be changes to the way we coupon coming down the line very soon and they won't be good!
It's frustrating to see couponers and people preying on couponers trying to make a buck off unethical coupon practices so I've decided to speak out against these dishonest savings methods. It's not my intent to stand up on a soap box and preach to anyone, I just want to make the truth available for those deal seekers who want to save well, but save right! And, hopefully all of you can spread the truth to all the newbie couponers and all the oldie, but goodie, couponers as well.
In one of my recent ethical coupon practice posts I was asked about whether buying coupons online was legal. My response was an emphatic no, (as I have believed from early on in my couponing experience), but I also promised to research my position further and share the findings with all of you. I promptly emailed News America (a.k.a. Smart Source) for their stance on the purchase of coupons from coupon clipping services and this was their response:
“The stand of News America Marketing is that coupon clipping services are illegal.”
"For more information on this, I suggest you reach out to the CIC (Coupon Information Corporation)."
So I went to the CIC and found this statement:
"You can protect yourself from fraud by:
Never paying money for coupons. This includes buying coupons from companies/individual who “sell the service of clipping coupons” instead of the coupons themselves. (Think about it, you really ARE BUYING the coupons, yet the business will insist you’re not. Does that make any sense? Does it inspire your trust? Do you really want to provide them with your financial information?)"
And as for these coupon clipping companies who claim they are not really selling coupons, but rather you are paying for their time to cut them out, I would ask, "Why does it take more time, and thus cost more money, to cut out higher value coupons?" Do the higher valued coupons require specially made scissors or is there some other costly equipment to maintain to justify their higher price? Umm... no! Of course they're selling coupons!
And to go one step further I went to the FTC and found this:
"There’s only one legitimate way to use a coupon: Cut it out of the newspaper or other source and use it toward the purchase of the designated product. A coupon is meant to be used only by the consumer who buys the product for which the coupon is printed. Selling or transferring coupons to a third party violates most manufacturers’ coupon redemption policies—and usually voids the coupon."
There's no getting around this one! It is considered illegal to sell coupons online so why would you buy them and support unethical people trying to make money off unsuspecting shoppers? If you know someone who buys coupons online or anyone who promotes the use of coupon clipping services feel free to direct them to the CIC or the coupon inserts companies for that matter. My guess is that many of them had no idea it was illegal!
On a side note: Why aren't these sites being prosecuted? I have heard of several prosecutions in the past, but am still looking into this and will let you know what I find out!