Saturday, May 8, 2010

Coupon Source - Internet Printable Coupons

I love internet coupons!
I rarely shop at the grocery store without at least one internet printable coupon. They are so easy to print and are a sure fire way to cut back on your grocery bill. In my experience, they are much more generous in value than the Sunday coupon insert manufacturer's coupons. The convenience of online printable coupons makes it so easy. Just search for your family’s favorite staples, print, cut, & save!

How do I know if my store will accept an internet printable coupon?
The last thing you want is to be shut down at the register after meticulously planning out your list, clipping and printing all your coupons, & shopping for all the correct sized products. Doesn't this always seem to happen when your child is having a meltdown or you're 15 minutes late to a meeting? Either way, it is frustrating.

The good news is none of our Arizona grocery store chains explicity forbid internet coupons. I use them regularly at Albertson's, Bashas, Fry's, Safeway, Wal-Mart, Target, Walgreens, and CVS. Each store accepts them a little differently, so you need to be aware of thier policies. First, I recommend brushing up on our local grocery stores' coupon policies. These are links for each of these on the right side of my blog. Print these policies out and always carry a copy with you in case you encounter a rogue cashier who wants to make up their own rules.

Where can I find internet printable coupons?
Everywhere! Check the right side of my blog for a list of my favorite printable coupon sites! Remember to always push the back button on your browser and hit refresh so you can print two copies per computer!

What do I do if they won't accept my internet coupon?
If a cashier won't take an internet printable coupon, do not get upset. There is no reason to get upset or snarky with the staff. This will get you nowhere. As always, it helps to be an educated and informed shopper. If you have no luck with the store's staff, call the corporate office for verification.

Have your coupon policy handy so you can pull it out if necessary. Sometimes, if you are able to show them their coupon policy where it states they accept internet coupons, they'll take your coupon.

Ask why it is being denied. If you can find out what the problem is, it will be easier to find a solution.

Here are some possible reasons it could be denied:

"The coupon won't scan."
At Safeway, for example, if an internet coupon won't scan at the register, they are technically not allowed to accept it. I have had instances where I had a perfectly legitimate internet coupon sent via email to me by the manufacturer and when I printed the coupon, it was fuzzy. This happened to me with the Real California Dairy & Michaelangelo's internet printables. I've been denied on both, but it wasn't unexpected because the coupon quality was low. Retailers have to protect themselves against coupon fraud and unfortunately, there are a few bad apples who ruin it for everyone.

"The coupon value is greater than the price of the product."
Sometimes, this isn't an issue because the coupon will scan through with no beeps and you'll get a little overage. The best thing to do is have the cashier adjust the value of the coupon down to the product price. Not all cashiers know how to do this, but it's a simple entry on their register. Theoretically, it makes financial sense for the store to do this. They are technically profiting from the overage the coupon value creates. Target even has this practice outlined in their coupon policy, so it's definitely acceptable to ask the cashier to adjust the value down. Some stores will just flat out deny it, in which case, you can use a different, lower-valued coupon or ask to speak to a manager. I've had instances at Albertson's where one cashier adjusted the value of a 2.00/1 coupon down to 1.13 to match the product price and then 5 minutes later (in a different check-out lane) was told Albertson's doesn't allow it and their registers won't even let them do any adjustments. You'll run into this kind of nonsense if you're a couponer for any length of time. Be educated and stay calm.

"This coupon appears to be fraudulent."
Yep. I've had cashiers tell me this before. It's so irritating when you know you aren't copying coupons off at work by the thousands. As insulting as comments like these are, remember to stay calm.

Here are some suggestions:
1. Black & White
Sometimes cashiers think a coupon is a copy if the coupon is in black and white. If your coupon is a Smart Source IPQ, it states on the front "This coupon may be printed in color or black & white". I love that! Thank you Smart Source!

2. Copied
If you printed your coupon on an ink-jet printer, you can wet your finger and smudge some of the print showing them it is a coupon you actually printed. I have done this on several occasions and usually calms the cashier down. You can also show them the unique pin numbers are not identical if you have more than one of the same coupon (the bar code remains the same, but the pin numbers are different on each valid coupon). One more thing, if you were stupid enough to actually photocopy coupons, a watermark appears in the back which will make it obvious that it is a copied coupon. Tell your cashier all of this.

What if I find a coupon that appears fraudulent?
There are sneaky people out there who are very talented with editing programs on computers and can make fake coupons look completely legit. So, how are you supposed to know?

Here are some guidelines for legitimate coupons:

1. Each coupon should say “Manufacturer Coupon” or "Store Coupon" and show a valid remit address for the manufacturer. This address ensures the coupon can be processed for payment.

2. Each coupon should have a scannable bar code.

3. Each coupon should have an expiration date. Sometimes manufacturers will issue a coupon with no expiration date, which is awesome! It will never have to come out of your coupon stash until you are ready to use it. If this is the case, it will state "No Expiration Date" on the face of the coupon.

4. Consider the source of the coupon. If it is posted on a manufacturer's site or on a coupon site like or, it is a valid coupon. If it was forwarded to you in an email from a friend, I would be highly suspicious. Just a couple of weeks ago, this counterfeit Free Doritos coupon started being emailed around.
I received it from several people and thought is seemed fishy. I checked the CIC - Coupon Information Corporation's website (they track all fraudulent coupons) and sure enough it was listed as a fake coupon. So, if you are ever in doubt, check the CIC website here.

Are you ready to start printing?
When I first started couponing, I was so excited, I printed every internet coupon I could find. :) I was so bright eyed and bushy tailed over the whole couponing thing. Pretty soon, I had stacks and stacks of printable coupons, no printer ink, & (what a shocker) I didn't end up using 95% of those. Don't do this. I recommend printing only the coupons for products you know your family will purchase. If it's a really hot coupon, print it just in case a great sale comes along that you can match it up with. Manufacturers only release a limited number of coupons and those high value coupons go really quickly. So don't wait to print those!

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