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By Jill Cataldo, Coupon Queen, Published January 04 2013

COUPON QUEEN: Are all shoppers entitled to the same coupons?

Recently, we heard from readers who feel it’s unfair that manufacturers and retailers use electronic coupons. They argue that consumers without computers or smartphones are unfairly excluded from these discounts. This week, readers continue to weigh in on so-called coupon entitlement.

Q: I just found out that different newspapers distribute different coupons. Perhaps this is old news to most couponers, but I am trying to figure it all out. I live in Texas, and my sister lives near Los Angeles. The coupons she gets in California often are different from mine – completely different products and values. Why? This doesn’t seem fair at all. I should have a right to the same coupons. How can I get my Texas paper to carry the same coupons she gets in California?

– Scott G.

A: You’re absolutely right. Different newspapers do receive and distribute different coupons. That’s because marketers push different products, discounts and promotions to different areas, sometimes in the same metropolitan area. I remember once getting a coupon for dishwasher detergent worth $1 less than the one my aunt received, and she lives just a few miles from me. Marketers can specify that certain delivery areas, cities, regions or states should receive a particular coupon campaign and can exclude other markets from the same coupon. Coupons are a privilege, not a right. We don’t have a right to the same coupons shoppers in another area receive, attractive as the values might be.

Q: Congratulations for an excellent response to the e-coupon “conspiracy” letters submitted by some of your readers. Unfortunately, the entitlement mentality is a disease among those who receive everything for nothing and think manufacturers are awash in profits and therefore owe them freebies. Manufacturers are not government agencies. Thank you for your explanation of why they offer coupons. I am a retired manufacturer’s representative. Believe me, profit margins for manufacturers in the food industry are extremely narrow. Couponing is a means of delivering discounts directly to consumers, so that the savings are not absorbed into retail profits. For any reader to even suggest that there is a conspiracy to somehow ignore certain populations is ridiculous, not to mention malicious. Thank you for your clear insight into this issue, Jill, and for not yielding to the absurd. – Penny K.

A: You’re welcome. Believe me, I enjoy using coupons immensely, and I appreciate the continued savings they offer. But I never take them for granted, either. I understand that companies are free to offer or discontinue promotions at any time. Any attentive coupon shopper can likely rattle off the brands that offer coupons in the newspaper nearly every week and also name the brands and products that offer coupons less frequently. I’ll close with a note from a reader who understands this issue well.

Q: You make a good point that a manufacturer’s main goal in offering coupons is not to save shoppers money but to sell products, gain market share, introduce new brands, etc. That’s a good reminder. It’s not a store’s goal to give-give-give, either. But stores obviously have more at stake on the local level – consumer loyalty – and the few stores I regularly shop do a good job of balancing interests, in my opinion.

My goal has always been one thing: never pay retail. A secondary goal is to save 50 percent or close to it on a regular basis. This morning I spent $45.81 at Publix and saved $47.36, and spent $12.64 at Walgreens and saved $10.51. I consider couponing a hobby, a part-time job and a way to be charitable. I can afford to donate food and drugstore purchases on stuff I can get for next to nothing. So I save money, buy quality items, try new things, do good and have the satisfaction of knowing I’ve gotten great deals, all on the up-and-up. It’s worth it. – Shelli B.


Jill Cataldo, a coupon workshop instructor, writer and mother of three, never passes up a good deal. Learn more about Super-Couponing at her website, www.jillcataldo.com. Email your own couponing victories and questions to jill@ctwfeatures.com.