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Coupon Etiquette - How to Be a Good Couponer (ALL)

Catherine McDiarmid-Watt | Monday, August 01, 2011 | 3 comments
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Coupon Etiquette - How to Be a Good CouponerI thought we could do a post on coupon etiquette - what's fair, what's polite, what makes a good couponer, etc - we all have our pet peeves about who others act when using coupons.

Here are my tips:
♦ Don't use a coupon for a product or size the coupon is not intended for. It is called coupon fraud and the store may not be reimbursed.
♦ If the internet coupons says only 2 prints allowed - don't find a way to get 100 copies.
♦ Don't photo-copy the coupon - the sales clerk can tell.
♦ Limit the number of coupons you take from tear-pads or coupon dispensers - other would like that coupon too.
♦ Don't take all the coupon booklets, leave some for the others that come behind you.
♦ Don't clear shelves. If you want more than a few of an item, go to several different stores. Others would like that great bargain too!
♦ If you plan a really big coupon shopping trip, try to shop in off-peak hours, when the lines are short and customer and cashiers are less frazzled.
♦ If you have coupons that will soon expire and/or you will never use, leave them on the store shelves for others to use.
♦ Did you know it is illegal to get stuff free at the grocery store and then sell it at flea markets or garage sales? Let your conscious be your guide.
♦ Read your local store's coupon policy and carry it with you when you coupon shop.
♦ It is illegal to sell or buy coupons. It says so right on most coupons.
♦ Don't steal the inserts out of other people's newspaper. If you ask nicely they might give them to you.
♦ Have your coupons ready at the checkout - don't start looking for them after the cashier rings up your total.
♦ Don't create fake coupons - it is just the same as making counterfeit money. You could get arrested if caught.
♦ If you have a lot of items and coupons, allow shoppers with only a few items to go ahead of you in line. They will appreciate it!
♦ Don't cut your coupons in line. Be organized and ready.
♦ If you come in behind a shelf clearer -- ask for a rain check and mention that your coupon expiry date. Some stores will still let you use your coupons when the stock comes in.

I also asked our Facebook readers to share their coupon etiquette tips:

Connie posted: If you find coupons on the shelf DON'T take them all.

Brandy posted: I think that when the cashier is wrong about the policy you should find a way to tell them without coming across cocky, but in a nice way, and possible even offer them a copy of the policy to keep at their register.

Jennifer posted: Not clearing a shelf just because you can! This to me is most polite, fair thing to do for all of us trying to save.

Robyn posted: if another customer stops you to as questions about coupons, take a minute and answer them....I have also given coupons (that I know I didn't need) to other customers....it's soo much fun to see their reaction when you just hand them a coupon

Kristi posted: ‎#1 rule when your coupon is getting scrutinized is to remain calm, no matter how rude the cashier might come off. Because the manager is going to have to come over there eventually, and is more likely to push the coupon through when the situation is *pleasant*

Jenn posted: If I have a bunch of coupons (especially at Walmart when I make them price match) I warn the people behind me and I warn the cashier of the price matching.

Deidre posted: I often leave coupons that I decide I won't use right on top of the item it's for. If I happen to see someone nearby WITH that item, I will offer them the coupon.

Hope posted: Don't try to pull "fast ones" with your coupons. If you know it's expired or not a valid coupon. Don't use it. The stores lose money because they can not redeem them. In short, it's stealing. This will cause more stores to tighten up on coupon policies.

Laurie posted: Leave the peelies on the products if you are not buying them! And don't clear the coupon booklets or tearpads, please!

Heidi posted: I like to warn people behind me in line because I usually have WIC and food stamps and coupons and it usually creates a longer checkout. If I come across a coupon I know a friend needs I always clip and send them their way... I know I appreciate it when it's done for me so I enjoy returning the favor!

Jessica posted: Pretty much what everybody else said- DON'T clear shelves, don't steal peelies if you're not buying that product right then, don't use expired coupons or coupons for different product that the coupon says. DO ask if there is more stock or if the store can order in stock/give you a Rain Check if you want to buy more than a couple of something, do check your coupon expiration dates and read the coupons very carefully, do be organized when you get to the cashier, do be nice to the cashier no matter the attitude they give you (on that last one, be nice to the cashier but do report them or file a complaint if you feel that they're behavior is above-and-beyond attitudey). Basically, follow the golden rule

Jessica posted: Oh, and don't feed into negativity. I have actually had a few people give me nasty looks or even mutter under their breath. Don't react to it except to smile nicely

Teresa posted: I give so many [coupons] away, especially when I find out I can't use a coupon for what I wanted to buy.

Did we miss any tips? Share your best tips, rules and experiences!

- This was posted by Catherine on August 1, 2011 -

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About Catherine: I have been writing frugal tips since 1982, when I was a young divorced mom of two - for my baby product company, Born to Love. I am now mom to three sons, who are all grown up - and re-married to a wonderful man. We have rescued two little dogs, Denny and Dexter - and Bella, the cat.

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  1. Leigh says:

    I don't sell the things I get for free, but I know people who do. I'd never heard it was illegal. Where can I read more about that? Thanks!

  2. It says on most coupons that the products are not to be purchased for resale.

  3. shoan says:

    to go along with a post earlier about reporting an employee if they are extremly rude also give praise for an employee that has really went out of their way to help you this happen to me just yesterday wasn't using coupons or anything just needed some help finding somthing for a project i was working on one store i went to i won't meantion names here but they just said it is over there i was like yea that would be great if my eyes were good enough to see what i needed. I leave go 2 doors down asked an employee there about it he says sure come on we will find it as he sees me having trouble with my eyes looking at the item he without causing any embarrasment says let me see if i can find what ya need here let me see that then he gets what i need and i am out in record time and told his mgr how good he was about helping me

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