Thursday, January 19, 2012
Coupon Clarity: Did I Just Commit Coupon Fraud?
Earlier this month I posted a deal on getting International Delights Coffee Creamer for 69¢ a pint. Well, everyone who knows me also knows that the only reason I drink Coffee is to warm up my Creamer, I was enthusiastically excited about the prospect of getting it for so cheap. So much so that I didn't realize, until a reader pointed it out to me, that the coupon was specifically for the Quarts...and not the pints.
I was crushed. And embarrassed. Here I am, a 20 year veteran of couponing, guilty of committing in the broadest sense...Coupon Fraud! Not just once mind you, but 14 times!
Some might say, "well, the coupon worked, so how are you committing fraud?"
The answer to that is, though I used the coupon for the correct item, it was for the wrong size, and the coupon did specifically state that it was for a different one. Now, will I go to jail for this? Most likely not. Will the store get reimbursed for them? Most likely, yes. But the truth is, I got lazy, I didn't read the coupons specifications for proper usage and thus used it improperly.
Most stores have systems that catch this and when a coupon with specifics does not match the item purchased, will produce a beep that alerts the cashier to double check the coupon and the item. That did not happen in this case, so all 14 pints that I purchased went through with no dragon beep and neither the cashier or myself caught the mistake, but a sharp eyed reader did! I thank that reader for pointing it out, because my intention had been to stock up on as many pints of creamer as I could and without the note, would have went back for more, completely oblivious to the crime I was committing.
Hot Coupon World has a very extensive list of what constitutes Coupon Fraud. And believe me, it isn't a joke, some of these things can and will land you in Jail! On the consumer front, our friends over at Coupon Wizards recently wrote an excellent article on illegal coupon usage that are currently landing people in the pokey. But, it goes higher up too, Stores themselves have crossed the line and as a particular example, Walgreens is being sued by Caladrin for allegedly committing Coupon Fraud.
The point here (and it is to myself, mostly) that it is important to read the fine print on the coupons and avoid using the coupons in a manner that they are not intended because it is considered Coupon Fraud. Obviously, mistakes do happen from time to time and it isn't anything to lose sleep over, but in the bigger picture, Coupon Fraud is a very serious problem and crime.
Get more Coupon Clarity Here!