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Monday, April 18, 2011

Printing multiple online coupons...

I just wanted to briefly talk to you today about a coupon issue that has been discussed recently in the comments on my blog (I have deleted all of the comments about this issue because I thought it best to move any discussion of this topic to THIS post).

I realize that coupon newbies might not be aware of the honor system among couponers, but let me put it to you this way: it's BIG no-no amongst couponers to print more than one coupon from one computer (yes, sometimes a coupon site will actually ALLOW you to print 2 or even 3 copies of a coupon, I know this). But if there is no limit stated on the coupon, it's assumed that you may print one coupon per person/computer. And by all means, it's NEVER OK (read: illegal) to photocopy a coupon.

Just so you're aware, some sites have what is called tracking software, which allows the site to track your IP address if they suspect you have printed an excessive amount of the same coupon.

I think the following summary from HotCouponWorld.com perfectly states the facts about printing multiple coupons:

Printing more than the allotted number of coupons
  • Many companies offer Internet printable coupon for many products. You can find lots of them in the HCW Coupon Database.
  • When you sign up to print these coupons a tracking software program is often downloaded to your computer to enable you to print the coupons.
  • This program has a set limit of how many times you are allowed to print that company’s coupon. Some only let you print once, some let you print 2 or 3 times by clicking the back button or returning to the homepage of the coupons. Very few companies will allow you to print unlimited amounts of their coupons.
  • Some sites do not have a tracking software program that controls the number of prints allowed. Instead it may be stated on the site as “limit 1 per person, household or address, etc. )
  • The tracking software that the companies require you to install on your computer not only allows you to print a certain limit but may also include a tracking bar code where by the coupons can be traced back to you in case of fraudulent misuse of the coupon.
  • Setting your computer or printer to override the coupon tracking software or discussing how to print more than the stated quantity listed on the site is misuse of the generosity of the manufacturer and discussion of such behavior is not allowed at HCW.
  • Scanning, saving coupons to file that are not intended to be saved to file, or copying coupons are against most manufacturers written words on their coupons and once again they could be traced back to you.
  • If you wish to obtain multiples of an Internet printed coupon there are ways to do so. You can trade for them, go to the library, or perhaps computers at work. Ask friends and family to print for you.
Remember! Coupon fraud hurts everyone. The stores may not get reimbursed for illegal use of coupons. The more fraudulent coupon use that goes on, the more restrictions the manufacturers and stores impose on couponers.

Thanks to HotCouponWorld.com for posting these guidelines. I hope this clears up the issue of printing multiple online coupons. Thanks for reading.

25 COMMENTS:

  1. Wow! Really informative (as always). I'm not a much of a couponer myself, but this is great to know!

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  2. So, I printed of 4 copies of a Physicians Formula coupon to give to friends. Should I trash those to be on the safe side? I found the link on a comment list here and it said you can print off more copies, but now I'm not so sure. It was on Hot Coupon World, if that helps.

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  3. Very well-put, G. It's of utmost importance to educate both new and old couponers how to properly use coupons, especially with the questionable use and potential fraud shown on TV features. Thanks so much for posting this!

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  4. AKB: Thank you! I'm so glad I could help.

    Macy: I'm a little confused by your comment. Do you mean that you read on Hot Coupon World that it was ok to print multiple copies of this coupon??

    Lindsay: Thanks so much for that. I too was a coupon newbie at one time, and I didn't know the facts or unwritten laws until much later. So hopefully this can help those who are just starting out! :)

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  5. Macy, do not print off any more PF $5/1 qs! (Unless they released a new q and I haven't heard of it...) Those coupons have been saved by people, and they shouldn't have. You might be okay with using the 4 you have now, but it is not ok to use any more. PF has no idea of knowing who printed the coupons while they were still legal and who printed them off from illegal copies.

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  6. Thanks for the post! I just found out about people misusing a q, which kept me from using it honestly. Sucks that people photocopy IPs! Couponing is a free privilege, not a right.

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  7. Thanks for the help, Linda! And sorry for being so confusing, G. I have a tendency to do that sometimes :/

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  8. If you have multiple computers and people in the household is it okay to print from each computer?

    Also I am confused, you say to print one per person but what if the coupon printers let you print more in the case of "Some only let you print once, some let you print 2 or 3 times by clicking the back button or returning to the homepage of the coupons." - if it generates a new coupon doing that is that okay? If not then why does the program let you print multiple ones without 'glitching' the system or overriding the software?

    I'm just confused why the policy among couponers is one way but the programs are another.

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  9. I find it disconcerting after all the talk of how it is wrong to print multiple copies and how the manufacturers have software to track those who print multiples the last bullet of their summary tells you to go to different computers to get around the software. It just seems to go agains the tone of the rest of the message...

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  10. I am getting so sick of the PF coupon! I saw this beauty blogger use 25 of the same coupon in one transaction, post the link to the coupon that another blogger uploaded, and encouraged her readers to go out and get as many as they would like! She then went back and purchased 22 additional products! Worst of all, when people commented that the cashiers would not take the coupon, they referred to them as "stingy"! As if the cashiers were wrong to take 20 something coupons at a time that obviously look copied! I find it so funny that they do not think that there's anything wrong with printing that many coupons out and continually using them. When I tried to explain that they should limit their quantities and that either the retail store or PF would be adversely affected, she just would not understand! It's such a shame :(.

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  11. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  12. Well goodness now I feel horrible. I'm the one who mentioned the coupon in the other post. I did check for the "One per household" deal and didn't see anything like that on the coupon. So, I'm confused as well. Is it ok or not ok? It does say "one per transaction" but it doesn't mention any other restrictions regarding, one per household or address. I didn't save it to my computer though.

    Also, I'm with Kate regarding the last paragraph there. How is it not the same to ask friends or print from work??? To me that's still going around the "couponer rules" as I'm understanding here (and I could certainly be misunderstanding.) I feel horrible for causing such a stir and I certainly wasn't trying to be dishonest in anyway...just thought it would be a helpful coupon for some of the girls. Nonetheless with all the "couponing" going on its probably not a bad conversation to have!

    *Sorry if this is a double post...it posted 1/2 my comment earlier :-/

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  13. While I think it is completely unnecessary to use 20 of these coupons (greedy much?), I also think that the company should have been a bit more responsible. What did they think would happen?

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  14. @Lisette. I don't think you should feel bad! It was an honest mistake, and it's not like you printed out 30 something of these coupons! You're learning now, and I think that's what counts. I've just started to coupon and have learned that it really can be tricky and ambiguous. There's definitely a learning curve.

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  15. @Jenny - I agree. They released the coupon in PDF form with an expiration date that gave people toooooons of time to use it. They put no indicator on the coupon that it is one per transaction and no identifiers whatsoever on the coupon. I've got a print out of it now from when I got it direct from PF and I'm comparing it to the PDF's I've seen all over and they put no unique identifiers on either of the two $5 off coupons. Bad move on their part.

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  16. I was wondering how they tracked what you print. I had an issue where I tried to print a list of coupons, but my printer screwed everything up and the coupons were unusable. When I tried to reprint, it would not allow me to do so, so I ended up with no coupons at all. I guess there are no allowances for printers fouling up.

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  17. Most corporate websites state you may print two not one. So unless the website states otherwise you can print two (unless the company released it in PDF format which has happened an in those cases the company in question have stated multiple coupons was allowed). I'm a couponer so I'm very familiar with the rules.

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  18. I'd like to address some of the comments on this post, so please take a minute to read this if you're interested in hearing my opinion on this topic, and specifically the PF coupon in question.

    If you had access to the Physicians Formula coupon, you may have noticed that the URL for the PDF was another blogger's website. In other words, the coupon was not hosted on the PF website. This might be because the blogger has a special relationship with PF (i.e. they gave the blogger an exclusive coupon for his/her readers). I do not know, nor am I making any claims to know. My long-standing policy on Nouveau Cheap is to ONLY post about coupons that are hosted on the manufacturer's or retailer's own website, or on coupon sites such as RedPlum.com, Coupons.com, AllYou.com, etc. I hope that clears up any issues you might have regarding this matter.

    As for when it's OK to print 2 or 3 online coupons that are featured on an online coupon website, I cannot give you a solid answer on that. The couponing world can be sort of ambiguous and I have to agree with Money Savings In WA and suggest that you check with the particular website in question and see what THEIR policy is. I understand that some of you are frustrated because we ALL want to play by the rules and do what's right, so I wish that I could definitely tell you "printing 2 is ok" or "printing 3 is ok" but you really need to check with the website that's hosting the coupon.

    Some coupon sites allow you to print two coupons by hitting your back-button, while others will NEVER allow you to print two coupons regardless of hitting the back button. It really varies.

    As for those who were upset about how you can print coupons from different computers and, ultimately receive additional coupons, all I can tell you is this: try to think of how traditional coupons work. Most of us buy one Sunday paper, and get one coupon per product. But some of us have friends who get the Sunday paper, and they may give their coupons to us. So we ultimately might have more than one coupon, even though we didn't PAY for each of those Sunday papers. So if you find a coupon online that you really want, you can print it yourself, and then ask a friend to print it from their computer and now you've got yourself two coupons. This is like asking your neighbor for their Sunday paper.

    The danger is is coupon ABUSE, which is printing dozens, or even hundreds of the same coupon. I think that this is what retailers and manufacturer's are primarily concerned with--not two or three coupons that you had your friends print on their own computers.

    I know that NO ONE here wants to do anything illegal or fraudulent. That's exactly why I wrote this post, so that we could educate EACH OTHER about couponing. I do not claim to know all there is to know about couponing, and I've made mistakes just as many of you have. It's a learning process for ALL of us, and I hope that I've created an environment here where we all feel safe asking questions and getting information from each other.

    The rule of thumb that I like to follow, and I would suggest we ALL follow is this: if a situation feels too good to be true, it usually is. If something just feels wrong, or way too easy, go with your gut and DON'T DO IT. Remember when I posted about all the stuff I got from CVS recently and I only paid around $8 for all of it? Well that took TIME and EFFORT to figure out. I had calculate to the penny exactly how to legitimately use each coupon I had, and I had to pair it with each sale in order to get the cost-savings I got. I always believe that when something comes a bit TOO easily, it's probably not a good way to go.

    If you have any questions, please just let me know. Thanks for reading.

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  19. Thanks for this G! I am really a bit ticked off because a ton of ppl on the Beauty Broadcast FB page are each printing off 10-20 PF coupons and going to use them at CVS where PF is already 40% off. That's so wrong! When I brought it up, people were saying they didn't think it was wrong or hurting anyone...sigh.

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  20. I agree with MoneySavings in WA. Most coupon sites such as coupons.com, smartsource and redplum allow two prints per computer. If you try to print more than two it will say, "Sorry you have already printed the maximum amount allowed for this coupon". If they only wanted you to print ONE coupon then you would get that statement after only printing the one coupon. :-)

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  21. @Angela Van Thanks hun! I was stressing myself over the whole thing at first but I'm fine now. I got some bad news about something later that day that kinda just put it all into perspective. It's just coupons & beauty products & at the end of the day I know I personally was not trying to do anything bad, simply help some fellow beauty lovers.

    I've also checked out the PF FB page & it they seem quite aware of the coupon & have said its fine to use but did not respond to whether or not we should use it multiple times (despite being asked.) So, I'm just gonna do what G said and follow my gut. If it doesn't feel right I won't do it. I'm new to coupononing but not new to life & the difference between right & wrong so I'm not gonna stress myself about it.

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  22. @Lisette For sure! We all love make-up here, and if we see a good opportunity, of course we would want to take it. You definitely shouldn't stress :). And what you said was spot on! PF might not be saying anything explicitly about using the coupon 10+ times, but I think most of us know that taking advantage of them like that isn't right. But for the record, it's really difficult to defend them when they won't come out and ask their consumers not to abuse the coupon like that! Ideally, we should all know, but that just isn't the case. =\ I guess we'll just see how this all plays out later on.

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  23. @Angela yeah, I think that's where "karama" comes into play...you get what you give in this world :o) But yea they should definitely directly respond to the specific question being asked. I went to CVS today & aside from the Happy Booster blush there's really not much I'm interested in. Have you found anything specific you like from them?

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  24. I have to disagree with you here, sorry. There's no stated policy anywhere that says you're limited to printing one copy of a coupon. If that were the case, companies would not allow you to print two or more per IP address. Many companies even encourage you to print to. It's STACKING that isn't allowed. You can't use two coupons on one item, but if you buy two items, use two coupons. That's perfectly legal whether it's makeup products or groceries.

    I feel you're misleading your readers by telling them they're not allowed to print a coupon twice. Sorry, but you're just incorrect about this.

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  25. Lisette: I am SO sorry that this caused you any stress whatsoever. I know you were just trying to do the right thing, and I commend you for actually checking with PF to see their thoughts about this (how frustrating that they didn't address the multiple printings issue, huh?). At the end of the day, you're right, and it's just makeup! I'm very sorry to hear you got some bad news in your personal life, and it makes me feel awful to know that this coupon issue might have added to your stress. Just the very fact that you tried to check with PF directly to see their policy says so much about you and your integrity. Thanks so much for the comments and I hope you have a WONDERFUL weekend, honey. xo

    Angela Van: Couldn't have said it better myself! :D

    themississippimama: I think you may have missed the general point I was trying to make about coupon abuse. I am definitely not the "coupon police" and everyone here is entitled to do what they feel is right if there is no limit stated on a coupon. But when people are printing out dozens, or even hundreds of coupons from a coupon that is being hosted somewhere OTHER than the manufacturer's site (or a known coupon website--read my comment above for more info on that) that's where I think we have to use our judgment. Nowhere in this post did I say, "DON'T PRINT THOSE COUPONS MORE THAN ONCE, PEOPLE" and I would never try to tell anyone to do that. I'm just trying help bring awareness to coupon abuse, which is something that could hurt us all down the line. I hope that clears up any confusion. I never "told them" not to print--I was just restating a general rule of thumb that a lot of couponers try to follow. That's it. Thanks.

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