Couponing Gets More Complicated with New Fine Print on Coupons

by Beth Montgomery on August 21, 2012 · 4 comments

in Announcements, Tips & Basics

As couponers looking to save money for our families, we already have to memorize complicated store coupon policies that not only vary by grocery store chain, but sometimes from store to store within that chain. We all remember the Kroger Coupon Policy changes and the mass confusion that created not only for couponers, but also for the media attempting to cover and explain the changes.

Then, for those of us who practice ethical couponing, there’s the unwritten rules of couponing that we uphold out of respect for other couponers and the stores and manufacturers who provide us with those savings.

The rules of couponing are changing daily, it’s already become so complicated that new couponers struggle to learn and they can’t help but make mistakes. In fact, many manufacturers don’t even understand coupons¬†and how they work completely, nor do store managers or cashiers. The result embarrassing and frustrating, because couponers are treated like criminals when trying to save money for their family.


(Photo Credit: Rachel, Mashup Mom)

When Rachel at Mashup Mom pointed out the restrictive wording on the newest POM Wonderful coupon and POM Wonderful’s Facebook page blew up, I got out my recent Sunday coupons. Because the fine print on coupons is so standard, I rarely read more than the expiration date, restrictions, and description. This time I looked closer and what I saw shocked me!

Now manufactures have added new fine print that further restricts the use of their coupons and adds a whole new level of complication for couponers and cashiers who will have to read each coupon to make sure it’s being used in compliance.

Standard Fine Print on Coupons

First, let’s look take a quick peek at standard fine print on coupons just to refresh our memories.

One coupon per purchase. Good only on product indicated. Consumer pays any sales tax. Void of sold, exchanged, transferred, or reproduced (including electronic, photographic, digital, or other means in any media.” – Prego

Got it? It’s straight forward and makes complete sense. Plus, it’s possible for couponers and cashiers to easily comply. Thank you Cambell’s Soup Company!

Now, let’s take a look at some of the new fine print on coupons.

New Restrictions in Fine Print on Coupons

“Cannot be used during any in-store promotional offer or discount.” – POM Wonderful

Any in-store promotional offer or discount? That’s a very broad statement. So if Target price cuts POM Wonderful for six weeks, I can’t use this coupon there during that time? What is all the stores in my area are having some type of POM Wonderful promotion? I’m just out of luck?

Limit one coupon per transaction.” – Turkey Hill

So, I can use 10 coupons? I just have to do 10 transactions? I’m sure that won’t frustrate cashiers at all.

No more than one (1) coupon for the same product in the same transaction.” – Minute Rice

This one goes as far as to restrict the use of store coupons! It’s like giving the stores who stock the shelves with your product, plus offer their customers store coupons for extra savings, the finger. What does Minute Rice have against Target coupons or Meijer coupons?

Plus, there’s the whole “one per transaction” restriction again.

Limit one coupon per person. No more than 4 coupons (of any kind) for the same product in the same transaction.” – Johnson & Johnson

What the heck does this mean? This could be interpreted so many different ways, I’m scared to use it! Do they mean we can only use one of this particular coupon per person as in “like” coupon or do they mean a limit of one coupon for this particular product? I hope it’s not per brand. I’d assume they mean “like” coupon, since it goes on to then limit you to 4 coupons of any kind, which would include store coupons.

So, if I bring my three kids with me, that’s four people. If I give them each their own coupon, can we use them all in the same transaction?

“Limit of four (4) like coupons in the same day.” – Reynolds Wrap

This is my favorite! I’d hate to be the person in charge of enforcing this restriction. I’ve heard his job description also includes protecting a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow.

So, do they mean 4 coupons per person or in the world total? Sorry, that’s a stupid question, but unless they’ve installed small cameras on this coupon, how in the world do they plan to make sure I don’t use 4 coupons at Kroger, then another coupon at Meijer?

Why should couponers take this seriously, if you’re just being ridiculous? All parents know that if there’s no consequences or way of knowing about violations, the rules don’t matter.

Seriously?!

I love each and every one of the brands mentioned above and purchase them myself. Plus, coming from the world of Marketing, I understand the bottom line more than anyone and understand that companies can’t offer these promotions if they can’t stay within their budget.

But, seriously?!? There has got to be a better way!

Couponing takes a lot of time and I don’t have a lot of time, so I always keep it simple. I’ll be the first one to admit that I’ll be skipping over the coupons with complicated fine print and moving towards brands that aren’t attempting to give couponers and cashiers a massive migraine when trying to keep it all straight.

It’s like they are begging us to commit coupon fraud.

What’s the best fine print you’ve seen recently? And what are your thoughts on the new restrictions?

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kristy August 22, 2012 at 1:00 PM

Oh, you forgot Post cereal’s new wording on all their coupons: “Only four (4) like items may be purchased in one transaction.”

But they are running a national Catalina offer: Buy 5 boxes in a single transaction, and receive a $4.00 coupon for your next shopping trip.

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2 Beth August 22, 2012 at 2:28 PM

That’s funny. Very contradicting. The way it’s worded makes it seem like even if I use 1 coupon, I can only buy 4. However, “like” items typically means the exact item, so you could buy 4 Post Honey Bunches of Oats and then buy 1 of another type of Post cereal.

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3 Melissa September 6, 2012 at 10:17 PM

Sorry for the late comment – like 3 weeks late, but i was reading thru material on your site and loved this article!
I remember seeing those coupons and their fine print. My daughter and I were clipping coupons together (scissor work for my 5 year old!!) and I saw the Reynold’s coupon, read it out loud and laughed saying “what they got the coupon police now?” – had to spend alot of time telling my 5 year old that there was no such thing as a coupon police, and we’re okay, the police are our friends, etc… geez THANKS REYNOLDS… lol

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4 Beth September 6, 2012 at 11:09 PM

Melissa, glad you enjoyed it. I got a bit sarcastic in it, because it’s getting ridiculous! My 5 year old clips coupons with me too. She actually loves it. In fact, my older daughter was doing a crossword puzzle with her spelling words today and she said, “Mom ____ all the coupons out of the newspaper.” Sadly, my older daughter sat there going, “Used… picked… pulled… these aren’t my spelling words.” and my 5 year old yelled, “Cut! She cut them all!” Then there was a big fight about giving away the answers, LOL.

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