Saturday, June 4, 2011

Best Coupon Practices - CIC Release

The CIC (Coupon Information Corporation) is a not-for-profit association of consumer product manufacturers dedicated to fighting coupon misredemption and fraud.  They have just released a voluntary best coupon practice policy for all retailers with whom they work. 

Suggested Voluntary Best Practices:
Retailer Coupon Acceptance Policy

As a customer friendly retailer, we encourage the use of coupons by our guests in our retail stores, in accordance with the following guidelines.


  1. All valid coupons should be presented to the cashier at the time of checkout.
  2. We accept only coupons that scan accurately at the register.
  3. We do not accept expired coupons.
  4. Coupons cannot be exchanged for cash or gift cards.
  5. We do not accept coupons for items not carried in our stores.
  6. The number of manufacturer coupons may not exceed the number of items in the transaction.
  7. The total value of the coupons may not exceed the value of the transaction.
  8. Use of 40 or more coupons per transaction, a transaction involving more than $100 in coupons, or coupons totaling more than 20% of the gross sales price will require approval by a Manager.
  9. Any applicable sales tax must be paid by the consumer.
  10. We reserve the right to reject any coupon or to limit the number of coupons being used in a transaction.


We check for the CIC Hologram when a free product coupon with no separate purchase requirements is presented (i.e., Buy One, Get One Free coupons generally don’t feature the CIC Hologram).


We will accept a manufacturer coupon for an item that is on sale.


  1. BOGO coupons cannot be “chained” (i.e., two BOGO coupons cannot be used to on two items to get both for free). Unless stated otherwise on the coupon, the use of one BOGO coupon requires that two of the valid items are presented at checkout; one item will be charged to the consumer and the second item will be discounted by its full retail price.
  2. In a BOGO transaction, a second cents-off coupon cannot be counted towards the purchase price of the first (buy one) product.


  1. We accept valid Internet/Print-at-Home coupons. Note: There are currently no valid Internet Print-at- Home coupons that provide a 100% discount or free product.
  2. Internet Print-at-Home coupons feature unique serial numbers (often referred to as Pin Numbers) printed on them and follow an industry-standard format. Coupons printed on home or office equipment without these features will NOT be accepted.
  3. We do not accept Internet Print-at-Home coupons valued in excess of 75% of the sale price of the product.


  1. We will reject coupons if they appear to be copied, distorted, blurry, or altered.
  2. We monitor the CIC web site for announcements of new counterfeit coupons.
  3. We will work with law enforcement authorities to prosecute individuals using counterfeit coupons.


If a consumer returns a product purchased with a coupon, the value of the coupon will be retained by store so the funds can be refunded to the manufacturer. The coupon will not be returned to the consumer. The cash refund to the consumer will be the consumer’s out-of-pocket cost, taking the coupon into account.


I have always supported the BOGO coupon policy and have no problem with it as I think it is the proper way to use BOGO coupons.  However, there are two points that I don't fully understand:

#1. We do not accept Internet Print-at-Home coupons valued in excess of 75% of the sale price of the product.  I have never heard this before in my life.  If a newspaper mfr. cpn can make a product free then why can't a printable coupon make a product free?

#2. The total value of the coupons may not exceed the value of the transaction.  I take this to mean no overage.  While I am more than happy to simply get a product for free, it has always been my understanding that the retailers will always get the full face value of the coupon back regardless of the purchase price.  Therefore I would imagine that the overage should be due a customer. 

I plan on contacting the CIC for a response to these two points and I'll let you know what I hear back.  What are your thoughts about these new policies? 

Of course these are voluntary practices so whether you choose to support them or not is up to you at this point.  In saying that, I believe many retailers will also move to support these policies as well.


  1. Sounds self explanatory to me! :)

  2. I agree with you on both points and look forward to their clarification of these policies.

  3. Sounds accurate but would also like some clarification on the last two comments and look forward to there response. I have run into this and don't actually feel its right because in my mind the store that didn't honor the full coupon is still getting the full price back, just doesn't make sense to me........but still loving me some free product 8)

  4. "We accept only coupons that scan accurately at the register."

    I run into coupons all the time that don't scan properly. Like coupons on trial sized items (with not exclusion printed on the coupon).

  5. Most of this info doesn't seem unreasonable. I'm interested to find out what they reply in answer to your question about overage.

    Also, like Susan said, I have occasionally had coupons, both from the newspaper and online, that don't scan at the register even though I've purchased the correct item.

  6. Thanks for keeping us up to date with coupon policy. I am another who has has problems with the scan of a coupon but the cashier has never rejected my coupon just put the numbers in the register by hand.


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