How to Coupon - Part 5
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How to Coupon

How Do Coupons Work?

Posted on Tuesday, April 5th, 2016 at 1:21 pm
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Have you ever wondered why a store is able to give you a discount when you use a coupon? We all love using coupons because they can save us some money. Extreme couponers excel at using coupons in ways that give them the most savings. Have you ever wondered how coupons work? Where do they come from? Who is paying for the discount that the coupon gives to you?

How Do Coupons Work?

Coupons come from companies that are food manufacturers. The company decides when it wants to offer a coupon and how much of a discount that coupon will give a consumer. The company also decides when the coupon’s expiration date will be.

A company that offers a coupon on one of their products gets to choose who to offer that coupon to. They might limit it to only the people who have signed up to get emails from the company. Some coupons are only available to people who live in a certain state (or a particular zip code). Many coupons are offered nationally.

Once all these details have been worked out, the food manufacturer needs to connect with a retailer (like a grocery store). Together, the two work out what could be called an implied contract. The contract is a promise made by the food manufacturer to the retailer.

The food manufacturer promises to reimburse the retailer for the discount that is offered on their coupons – if the retailer sends those used coupons back to the food manufacturer. The postage fee is paid for by the food manufacturer, not the retailer.

This is a key point to understand. A grocery store (or other retailer) loses money when a customer uses a coupon. The retailer is ok with this because they know they can be reimbursed for that loss by the manufacturer that created the coupon.

How does the retailer let the food manufacturer know how many coupons were used in their store? First, the cashier scans the coupon when the customer makes a purchase. Doing so automatically enters the coupon into the store’s computer. The coupon goes into the drawer of the register.

When the cashier’s shift is over, his or her drawer is tallied up to make sure the amount of money and coupons that are in the drawer match what the computer counted. The coupons get sent back to the food manufacturer, and the retailer receives a reimbursement.

The food manufacturer can choose not to reimburse the retailer if the coupon was used after it had expired. They do not reimburse the store for fake coupons. This is why many stores are very picky about what coupons they will accept from customers. The retailer needs to make sure they will be reimbursed for the discount that a coupon gives to a consumer.

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Your Kohl’s Account May Have Been Hacked

Posted on Thursday, March 24th, 2016 at 2:29 pm
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Kohl's LogoHave you noticed something strange happening with your Kohl’s account? Did a large box from Kohl’s, that you did not order, arrive at your door? There is a chance that the reason for this mysterious delivery is because your Kohl’s account has been hacked.

Many of us have had the unfortunate experience of having someone steal our credit card information, and then use it to go on an expensive shopping spree. It can be frustrating to have to call your credit card company, dispute the charge, and wait for things to get resolved.

When a thief steals someone else’s credit card number, they are doing it so they can get free stuff. They use your credit card (instead of their own) in the hopes that they will not get caught. Some of them will get caught, and some will not. Either way, the innocent credit card holder is stuck trying to clean up the mess.

Strangely, the thieves who are hacking Kohl’s accounts are not trying to immediately get free stuff (that is paid for by an unfortunate stranger). Instead, the thief hacks into someone else’s Kohl’s account and uses it to order products from the Kohl’s website with that person’s Kohl’s credit card number. The thief doesn’t keep the products, though. He or she has the products shipped to the home of the person whose Kohl’s account he hacked.

The person doesn’t know that their Kohl’s account has been hacked until after those products arrive at their door. The thieves are selecting big, bulky, items. In some cases, the thief orders things like strollers, car seats and multiple baby cribs that are sent to one address. Or, the thief might order an entire box filled with dozens of men’s shirts.

Why would someone hack a Kohl’s account and then use it to send random bulky items to a stranger? The answer is an unexpected one. The thieves are trying to obtain Kohl’s Cash. The thief is “gaming the system” for their own advantage.

Kohl’s Cash is earned when a person makes a purchase at a Kohl’s store or kiosk, or online, during special events. The amount of money a person spends is what determines the amount of Kohl’s Cash they will get. They have to use it soon, because Kohl’s Cash has an expiration date.

The scammers buy expensive bulky items so that the account they hacked into will earn Kohl’s Cash. The size of the items makes it difficult for a person to return them to a Kohl’s store. This gives the thief time to use the Kohl’s Cash on things for themselves.

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Why You Shouldn’t Post Photos of a Coupon Online

Posted on Tuesday, March 22nd, 2016 at 7:00 am
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stackingcouponsIt wasn’t too long ago that Chipotle started having problems that caused customers to become sick. They closed all their stores at the same time, and on the same day, to retrain staff about food safety. Some customers came to the closed stores and were surprised to find them temporarily closed.

In order to make things better for disappointed customers, Chipotle offered a limited time special offer. Chipotle offered a free entree to anyone who sent a text to a specific phone number. Obviously, the customer would have to get the freebie on a day when the store was open.

Those who sent a text to the specific phone number received a text from Chipotle that contained a QR code. It also had a photo of a Chipotle burrito bowl, an expiration date, and the first and last name of the person it was intended for.

Some people were so excited by this special freebie offer that they immediately posted the offer on their social media. They probably wanted to show off to their friends, or to simply express their happiness. Plenty of people are post stuff on social media for those two reasons.

What happened next should come as no surprise. People who did not get the special offer took advantage of the situation by using the QR code that someone else posted online. In short, the people who were supposed to get free food from Chipotle went to the restaurant and learned that their code had already been used. The person who got the special offer had it stolen from them – and nothing can be done about it.

This situation serves as an example of why you should never post a photo of a coupon online – especially if it has a special code on it. Someone else could easily use up that code before you get the opportunity to do so. There are some things you just should not share on social media.

Around the same time that Chipotle was texting out codes for a free entree, another Chipotle coupon appeared online. At first glance, it looked legitimate. The offer said “Repost, tag us, and follow for a free meal for one person, that’s right, FREE”. It said to show the ad to the cashier for “100% free food”.

The ad sounds too good to be true. It turned out to be a fake coupon. People who saw the fake ad shared it on their social media anyway. They ended up looking rather foolish (and they did not get “100% free food”).

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Macy’s Changed its Coupon Policy

Posted on Friday, March 18th, 2016 at 11:16 pm
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Macy'sIt is always a good idea to check over a store’s coupon policy before you go shopping. Coupon policies are always subject to change. In general, stores change their coupon policy in an effort to prevent people from taking advantage of it in ways the store did not anticipate. Macy’s, however, changed its coupon policy in an effort to make things better for customers.

Macy’s will no longer accept coupons for clearance-priced items. At first glance, this does not sound very good for the consumer. People look for the items that are on clearance because they can get them for a lower price than usual. Using a coupon on a clearance item gives the customer an even better deal.

Macy’s is going to continue to accept coupons for it’s regular priced and reduced-price sale items. They are going to more deeply reduce the price of the clearance items. The purpose was to make things simpler for the customer.

It makes it easier for customers to see what price they will pay on a clearance item. There is no more need to “do the math” and figure out the clearance price minus what the coupon subtracts from it.

In addition, Macy’s is going to make it easier for consumers to locate the clearance items. In the past, Macy’s had several clearance racks located all over the store. Customers had to hunt for them, and ran the risk of missing some.

From now on, there will be two locations where customers can consistently find the clearance racks. One will be for men’s apparel, and it will be located in the men’s section. The other will be for women’s apparel, and it will be located in the women’s section. The purpose for this change is to encourage customers to buy the clearance items.

What do these changes mean for consumers? It means that you won’t have to bring coupons to Macy’s anymore (if all you want to do is shop the clearance items). It means that you can get clearance items for less money than you could in the past – no coupon required. It also means you will have an easier time finding the items that are on clearance.

One thing that may have influenced Macy’s to make these changes is social media. It has become very common for frustrated consumers to use their social media accounts to complain about problems they encountered while shopping. Making it easier to find the clearance items, and making those items cost less than before, should result in happy customers.

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Is it Bad to Skip Breakfast?

Posted on Tuesday, March 15th, 2016 at 7:00 am
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Breakfast cereal from StockSnapCouponers know that there are a whole lot of coupons out there for cereal. Each cereal maker has several different brands that it hopes you will buy. The coupons help you to save money on breakfast, which many people believe the most important meal of the day. But, is it really?

Many of us have been taught that skipping breakfast is a bad idea. It has been suggested (in commercials) that eating cereal for breakfast can help keep adults lean.

One thing to keep in mind is that some of the studies that found that eating cereal for breakfast is the best way to stay fit and healthy were sponsored by companies that just so happen to make breakfast cereal. In addition, there are other studies that concluded that skipping breakfast caused people to gain weight. Those studies were also sponsored by companies that make breakfast cereal.

Several years ago, researchers at New York City hospital conducted a study to test the belief that skipping breakfast could make a person gain weight. The study lasted four weeks.

At 8:30 in the morning, one group in the study got oatmeal. Another group got frosted corn flakes. The third group got nothing at all. The only group that lost weight after four weeks was the group that skipped breakfast. In other words, this study found that skipping breakfast did not cause people to gain weight.

It appears that skipping breakfast is not necessarily harmful for healthy adults. It might not be ideal for children to skip breakfast before school. No Kid Hungry notes that children who participated in the School Breakfast Program did better in school than kids who are hungry. Kids who qualify for School Breakfast Programs are frequently offered breakfast cereal.

In short, there isn’t any conclusive, unbiased, scientific data that proves that adults who skip breakfast are going to have severe health consequences as a result of doing so. It is ok to skip breakfast. It is also ok to eat breakfast.

If you are among the adults who prefer to eat breakfast than to get through the morning on coffee along, that’s fine. Take advantage of the many coupons offered for breakfast cereals, find one you like, and save some money on your purchase.

Cereal is one of the quickest and easiest breakfasts to prepare. Coupons make that breakfast less expensive. That being said, it isn’t bad for adults to skip breakfast if they want to.

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Walgreens is Adding Beacons to its Stores

Posted on Thursday, March 10th, 2016 at 6:31 pm
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walgreensToday, the majority of people who shop at “brick and mortar” stores are carrying smartphones. Retailers are aware of this, and that is why so many of them have created apps for their customers to use. Often, those apps offer special deals and coupons. Walgreens is one of the retailers that is taking things a step further by adding beacons to its stores.

Walgreens’ decision to add beacons to its stores might be in response to Rite Aid (who added beacons in January of 2016). These two retailers are not the only ones to add beacons. It appears to be a tread.

What is a beacon? Beacons are small, low-power, Bluetooth devices that can be placed in several locations inside retail stores. The beacons seek out the store’s app on the smartphones of customers who pass by the beacon.

If the beacon finds a smartphone with the store’s app, it will automatically start sending push promotions through the app. Those promotions are may include a coupon or special deal on products that happen to be conveniently located near where the customer is standing. Customers who do not have the store’s app on their smartphones will be ignored by the beacon.

Walgreens has a mobile app that is used by one million customers every day. The app allows customers to manage their medication schedules from their Apple Watches. It enables Balance Rewards members to earn and redeem points using Apple Pay. The app also lets consumers print photos and order prescription refills.

Walgreens wants to leverage the app’s infrastructure to allow for a beacon-based upgrade. The company is not only trying to keep up with competitors like Rite Aid who have already installed beacons, but also is interested in giving Walgreens customers a more user-centric experience.

Those of you who currently have the Walgreens app on your smartphone might receive a push-notification from the Walgreens beacon on your next shopping trip. It may not happen immediately, because it is not clear exactly when Walgreens will add beacons or in how many of their stores.

It appears that this type of direct-to-consumer, personalized, locationally based advertising is the new trend for retailers. The beacons enable stores to target consumers while they are inside the store. The hope is the special coupon or offer will encourage customers to make additional purchases. Customers can opt-in or out of these little ads by putting the store’s app onto their smartphone – or by deleting it.

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Coupons .com Disables Zip Code Changing

Posted on Tuesday, March 8th, 2016 at 12:07 pm
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Coupons.com, as you probably know, is the most popular source of online printable coupoCoupons.com Logons. FreeCoupons.com is one of many coupon blogs that gives savvy shoppers access to Coupons.com coupons. A recent change made by Coupons.com is generating some controversy among couponers.

A website called Coupons In The News reported that Coupons.com has removed the box on their website that previously allowed users to enter their zip code. From this point onward, Coupons.com is only going to show you coupons that are available nationally and the ones that are only available in your zip code.

This might not seem like a big deal to people who put their real zip code into the box and browsed the coupons that appeared. They can continue to use Coupons.com as they typically would. Nothing really changes for this group of consumers.

The people who are going to have a problem with this new change are those who have been entering a zip code that was not their own into Coupons.com. The change will also affect people who liked to enter several different zip codes into the box. Why would someone do that? They were doing it to get extra coupons that were not offered to consumers in the zip code that they actually lived in.

When Coupons.com originally allowed people to enter their zip code into the box on their website, the assumption was that people would simply enter the zip code they lived in and browse whatever coupons appeared.

Eventually, some couponers realized that entering different zip codes gave them access to coupons that they would never see if they only used their real zip code. It didn’t take long for people to figure out which zip codes had the best regional offers.

Extreme couponers, and some coupon bloggers, got into the habit of using several different zip codes at Coupons.com. So did people who lived in zip codes that rarely received the special coupons that some of the other zip codes got.

In other words, they were “gaming the system”. They were using Coupons.com in a way that was not intended. The tactic probably wasn’t illegal, but it was dishonest. As a result, Coupons.com has made a change to their website. The box that people used to enter zip codes has been removed. The zip code box has also been removed from affiliate sites that offer access to Coupons.com coupons.

Food manufacturers offer coupons to specific areas for a reason. They might be testing a new product in that area before making the product available nationwide. Or, they might be trying to increase sales in a specific area where sales had fallen off by using a coupon to tempt consumers. None of these plans work if the coupons are being used outside of the intended zip code.

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Rite Aid Will Deploy Proximity Beacons

Posted on Thursday, February 18th, 2016 at 7:00 am
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Android Smart PhoneSomething new is coming to Rite Aid stores that customers may want to be aware of. It’s not a new product or a special sale. Instead, Rite Aid is installing beacons in many of their stores across the nation. How does this affect you, the customer?

What is a beacon?
A beacon is a low-power Bluetooth device that is placed inside a store. The beacons have one purpose – to push out promotions to a customer’s phone. The beacon can sense when a customer is nearby and will automatically start sending push notifications to that person’s smartphone (either iOS or Android).

The beacon can only do this if a customer has the store’s app on their phone. In other words, the easiest way to opt-out of having a store’s beacon send you notifications as you walk down the aisles is to refuse to download the store’s app. Doing so may give you some peace and quiet, but it also will prevent you from being offered special deals.

How many beacons are there?
Rite Aid is planning to deploy beacons in its more than 4,500 stores across the United States. The Rite Aid you shop at could already have a beacon. If not, then you can expect one to be added soon.

Rite Aid is not the only store to use beacons to send promotions to customers, but it will become the chain with the most beacons. Previously, Macy’s deployed a total of 4,000 beacons in their stores.

Why use a beacon?
There are many reasons why a store might think that using a beacon is a good idea. A customer who has the Rite Aid app and who receives a promotion from the beacon might decide to purchase the product that the promotion mentions. This could potentially increase the amount of sales in that store.

In addition, beacons enable a store to track a customer as he or she walks through the store. What did the customer look at? What aisles did he or she browse? Combine that with an app that collects data about what a person typically purchases from that store, and it may be possible to target specific consumers with specialized offers.

Why shouldn’t stores use beacons?
A customer who receives a promotion from a store’s beacon might not be interested in that particular product. Additional push notifications, for other things the customer doesn’t want to purchase, could end up annoying the customer.

That person might turn off their phone or uninstall the app. Some customers might feel uncomfortable with the idea of the store tracking their every move while they shop.

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Mobile is the Future of Couponing

Posted on Tuesday, February 16th, 2016 at 8:19 am
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Mobile is the Future of CouponingThe use of coupons will always be popular. Coupons give people a quick and easy way to save money. Paper coupons are still easy to get a hold of, but aren’t always as convenient as mobile or digital coupons are. Mobile is the future of couponing.

Koupon recently released its most encompassing report to-date. The report is titled “The State of the Coupon Industry”. If you like, you can download and browse through the entire report.

In general, this type of report is intended to give valuable insight to consumers who are new to mobile couponing, as well as for those who are very familiar with how to find and use digital coupons. The report is probably also useful for brands that make coupons for consumers to use. Koupon advises people who are planning their digital couponing efforts to take advantage of the information that is in the report.

Here are some key pieces of information from the report:
* 42% of mobile users have used a mobile coupon

* 39% of customers spend more if they receive a personalized coupon

* 60% of customers would adopt mobile payments if offered coupons

The report also said that mobile coupon usage jumped in 2015. The data showed that the number of consumers in the United States who used a mobile coupon in 2015 grew 18% to 92.6 million people. What kind of mobile coupons did people use the most? According to the report, energy drinks, soda, and juice were the highest redeeming categories for mobile coupons.

Today, you might be getting a lot of paper coupons from the inserts that are placed into your Sunday newspaper. Keep in mind that many newspapers are struggling to survive. In 2014, the Harvard Political Review noted that print readership was declining, newspapers were closing, and journalists were being laid off. These issues continue to happen today.

Mobile coupons may become more reliable, and accessible, than the paper coupons as time goes by. It is much more difficult for thieves to create fraudulent digital coupons than it is to make fake paper ones. Digital coupons allow brands to offer coupons that can only be used by one, specific, individual.

One of the best things about mobile coupons is how they function. All you need is an app on your smartphone, or the ability to open your email on your phone. Most people bring their phones wherever they go. Paper coupons, on the other hand, can easily be forgotten at home.

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5 Quick Tips to Help You Spot a Fake Coupon

Posted on Thursday, February 11th, 2016 at 7:00 am
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Are you sure that amazing coupon is real? Here are some tips to help you spot a fake coupon.How can you tell a fake coupon from a legitimate one? There are several clues that can help you spot a fake coupon. Experienced couponers might already be aware of some of these tips. For them, the trick is to prevent themselves from getting so excited over a coupon that looks too good to be true, and realize that it is actually a fake.

How to Spot a Fake Coupon

1. No Expiration Date
What is the expiration date on that coupon? There should be one.! The only exception to that rule is with coupons that come directly from the manufacturer. Even those have the words “No Expiration Date” on the front of them. Typically, it is not easy to find those kinds of manufacturer coupons. If you found a coupon with no expiration date – it is probably a fake coupon.

2. It Wasn’t Free
Coupons are supposed to be free. They come to you via the inserts in your Sunday newspaper, or through an email from a legitimate brand. You can find a bunch of free coupons on the website of the grocery store that you have a loyalty card with. It doesn’t make sense to spend money in order to obtain coupons.

If you are asked to pay for coupons – say no! It is not legal to sell coupons. There is no consumer protection option for people who buy coupons and end up with ones that are expired or fake.

3. It Looks Photocopied
It is not legal to make additional copies of a coupon. (Doing so is called coupon fraud). Most coupons are printed in two or more colors. If the coupon you found is black and white, that is a sign that it is a fake coupon. There is no good reason to try and use that coupon because the cashier isn’t going to accept it.

4. It Came from Facebook
Ok, that probably sounds a bit cynical. However, there is good reason to avoid the coupons that you find on Facebook. Thieves have started using Facebook to trick honest people into giving the thief their personal information by offering what appears to be a fantastic coupon. It may be safer to just skip the coupons that are on Facebook and stick to more legitimate coupon sources.

5. It Came From a Pop-Up
Have you ever been online, browsing the internet, when a pop-up ad appears? It might cover over part of the website you were looking at, or it could appear after you close your browser. That pop-up might have what looks like a great coupon on it. The pop-up may tell you to click a link in order to get the coupon.

Don’t do it! There is no way to know what that link is connected to. You may think you are about to receive a coupon, but could end up with a nasty computer virus instead.

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