Sunday, January 9, 2011

Personal Question to the Coupon Information Corporation: Is Coupon Overage Fraud?

Walgreen's has done it again!  I went to the one in my local area which tends to be hit or miss for me regarding coupons.  There's one cashier in particular that says to me outright that she doesn't mind doing multiple transactions for me because more money saved is more money in my pocket and that helps everyone out.  I like her.  A lot.  I wish I knew her schedule.  I'd only shop when she was there.  The head manager is pretty cool too.  Over Christmas time when Wags changed their policy on the Super  Jingle Cash Register Rewards, the manager gave me $5 cash.  Cash, folks!  That can be used A-N-Y-W-H-E-R-E in the United States!  I was impressed!

The majority of the cashiers there are unfortunately like the one I had yesterday.  She gave me a difficult time rolling the register rewards and almost refused to allow me to use the $5 off 2 L'Oreal coupon on 2 discounted L'Oreal lipsticks.  I mean, come on!  This is ridiculous!  She then proceeded to tell me that overage is coupon fraud.  I told her I've researched it over and over.  It's not fraud.  She tried to tell me she was more versed in coupons than I was, so she was going to let it drop because she didn't want to argue.


This prompted me to contact the Coupon Information Corporation.  From their website:

The CIC is a not-for-profit association of consumer product manufacturers dedicated to fighting coupon misredemption and fraud.
The CIC and its members have worked with Federal, State and local Law Enforcement officials on every significant coupon fraud case since CIC began operations in 1986.
As of this time, CIC has not lost a single case.
Woo hoo!  Score!  If anyone can tell me a definitive answer, they can, right?  I contacted them on a Saturday and didn't expect an answer till Monday.  Wow was I mistaken!  I got an answer today (Sunday).

I have a question on whether or not this constitutes coupon fraud. I am an avid couponer and I do not want to commit fraud, and I do not believe I am, but I would like clarification. If a coupon amount is larger than the amount of the product, is it fraudulent use on my part to use that coupon? Is the retailer required to give me the full coupon value? This mostly, but not always, occurs when using a coupon on a clearance item, and sometimes, but not as frequently, on regularly priced or sale items.
For example.
$0.97 Reach Dental Floss
$1.00 Reach Manufactures Coupon
$0.03 profit for the consumer, normally "spent" on other items in the same transaction.

Normally the difference is small such as this one, but I have come across occurrences where it's even a matter of $1 to $2. Some stores are happy to give me the "overage" towards other items since they will be fully reimbursed for the coupon face value. Other stores have adjusted the value of the coupon down and kept the difference of the value of the coupon. Still others adjust the price of the product up so the coupon and the item is evenly priced. Would you please clarify this issue for me?

Thank you,

And their reply:
 Edmund Miller
Sun, Jan 9, 2011 at 9:53 AM
Thank you for your inquiry CoupoNewbie

This is an administrative problem that the industry has yet to resolve. As you noted, some stores provide overage, others do not and there are reasonable arguments for both sides. Regardless, the manufacturers generally do not consider this to be fraudulent in nature. OF course consumers have to abide by the terms and conditions of both the coupon and the stores' policies. Regardless of the position, I have never heard anyone in the industry suggest that type of activity is fraudulent.

Of course, stores have the ultimate authority on whether or not they are going to accept a coupon and how many from each person.
Best Wishes
Well, at least now I know for sure that I won't be committing fraud going to Wal-Mart or Kroger for the overage.  I don't like that Walgreens and Target have decided to pocket what probably ends up being hundreds of thousands of dollars in overage instead of passing it on to the consumer.  I mean, more money available means more items purchased and making their bottom line look better.  I mean, you can have the gross profit of having extra money for no product and extra product on your shelves leading to more items on clearance or getting rid of stuff in a timely manner.  I'd rather have my customers thinking I had fresh product more often than thinking I couldn't move items.

Anyone have any opinions?

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