Photocopying Coupons: Is it Right or Wrong?

This is a question I get at about every class I teach these days. Is it OK to make copies of printable coupons? The short answer is NO. Absolutely not. E.V.E.R. (Read the fine print on the coupon. It says “Original copy only. Not to be transferred, sold or reproduced…)

They often come back with “how will they know”? Or “What does it matter?” The answer to that is the long answer… 🙂 The way that they know is not when you use the illegal, photocopied coupon in the store, but when it goes for redemption and is denied.

When those fraudulent coupons are used and the store sends them off to get reimbursed, they go to a clearing house. The first one of a specific ID # to pass thru gets reimbursed, but the remaining 10…20… get denied. If you are the copier, you have essentially stolen that amount of money from that store. Stores that have had issues with this have made their acceptance policies very strict on printable coupons. Some have just simply chosen to not accept them-EVER.

Let me explain a few things about printable coupons for you, as well as the redemption process. When you print off your 2 IP MQ (Internet printable manufacturer coupon) from, let’s say coupons.com and look at them. They both have the same bar code on them. Often times users think that because this # is the same it doesn’t matter if you make copies…. Wrong! It does matter, as each of those coupons also has an ID # on the upper right corner, along with a dot scan black strip, dotty looking thing. (That is the official 🙂 term…) Each printed coupon has its OWN ID #. If you have access to more than 1 computer and you print out your allotted 2 coupons of say, Glade $2 Sense & Spray, from each of your 2 computers you will have 4 IP MQ. BUT, when you look at that ID #, they will all 4 be DIFFERENT. Each one of those will get reimbursed when sent off to the clearinghouse.

One other little tidbit you might want to know is that the tiny printed letters and numbers around the edge of each coupon are the ID info. Use the magnifying glass and check out the info they include. One of the included numbers is the exact IP address to your computer, and they can identify your computer if needed.

Often the next question is: “What do I do now?!!??” If you know that you have done this, you can check your current coupon collection and get rid of any duplicate ID numbered IPs. It is not much you can do about previously used coupons.
When your local stores get to know you and get to know that you are trying to coupon correctly and not cheat their store, couponing will go much smoother and faster. The time it takes to check out speeds up, as they are not scrutinizing every coupon. For this reason, if you are trying to be an ethical couponer I recommend that you choose 1 of a store to shop at and not hop around. I shop at the same CVS, same Walgreens, same Publix 90% of the time. They know me by name and by reputation.

Just a few thoughts for ending this segment: You can print 2 coupons of an item per computer. If you have more than 1 computer available to you, you can print the 2 from each one. (IF you need them.) Following the rules for printable coupons is important so that the current rules do not change and become more and more stiff and coupon unfriendly.
If you have any questions regarding how we use coupons or how we print them, please feel free to ask!