Alicia’s Coupon Corner |How NOT to Use a Coupon

Since the Extreme Couponing craze began, my inbox has been bombarded with questions on how to redeem coupons.  Sadly, many of them start with “I know you told me not to do this, but my friend said that it works…”

This should be common sense, but here goes nothing:

IF YOU INCORRECTLY USE A COUPON, THE STORE WILL NOT GET REIMBURSED.  Do you know what this is?  STEALING! Plain and simple, no questions asked.  Because the store isn’t getting paid for that item, you might as well just stick it in your purse and walk out the door.  (Which is wrong, too- in case you are still morally and ethically confused.)

What?  How are coupons used incorrectly, you ask?  I’ll be glad to tell you (and remember, coupon fraud is a felony crime punishable by law).

1.  You must buy the product STATED on the coupon and nothing else.  If the manufacturer intended for you to use that toothpaste coupon to purchase diapers, don’t you think they would have said ‘valid on the purchase of toothpaste or diapers’?  If the store didn’t sell you the product, they cannot get reimbursed for your coupon. 

For those of you honest readers that are staring at your screen in disbelief, yes, this happens.  There are sometimes glitches in their computer system that will allow it, or some devious deal seekers prey on naïve cashiers that are a little too over-ride happy.

Common reasoning behind this:

“My best friend does it, and it works for her”

“That’s how they do it on Extreme Couponing”

“I took a class offered by a mom at my  church and this is what they told me to do”

“But it scanned and they took it!”

And for those most deceitful: “That store has overcharged me for years, I’m just recouping my losses.”

2.  You cannot purchase a size that is excluded or not stated on the coupon.  If a coupon says ‘Excluding Travel Sizes’, you CANNOT buy a travel sized item, even if you decide to call it a trial sized item.  If it says you must buy 12 ounces or larger, it has to be 12 ounces or larger.  Not 11, not 11.5, but 12.

Still confused?  Refer to #1.

3. You cannot photocopy coupons.  Photocopying coupons is illegal and PLAINLY stated on each coupon.  And when I say that you can’t photocopy, guess what?  You can’t scan it to your computer and reprint it either.

What if your printer hiccups and only allows you to print one of a or like coupon, when you know the limit is two?  You still cannot photocopy the first one, as each one will print with a unique number that allows tracking of duplicates.

4.  Snipping off the expiration date voids the coupon.  If you’ve got an expired coupon laying around and you really want to use it, ‘accidentally’ snipping off the expiration date won’t get you anywhere.  Even if you fool a cashier, I’m pretty sure the company that issued the coupon knows when they did it and will not reimburse the store for stragglers.  Coupons without a date are deemed VOID.

Now, for those of you who are thinking to yourselves, “I know I coupon correctly, it’s none of my business what everyone else does because it doesn’t affect me in any way.” might want to reevaluate that.  Stores don’t take these losses lightly.  They have to recoup their costs, and they do so by raising prices.  This affects you.  They also have begun to tighten coupon policies to help combat the extremists.  Guess what?  This affects you, too.

Do you have any questions you’d like to see answered in Alicia’s Coupon Corner?  Send an email to


  1. jill says

    Well said! I love to save money, but if it means that I have to “pull one over” on someone, it’s just as bad as me taking it out of the cash drawer. Deception is deception, no matter how small. The folks that do the above mentioned things are going to ruin it for all of us.


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