Coupons

Readers have been sharing their thoughts on what they’re seeing in the coupon space lately. Whether they feel coupons have too much text or not enough, they’re making their thoughts known. Can you relate?

Dear Jill: I am writing to complain about the amount of text on coupons. Some of them have so much they are wordy to the point of being ridiculous. My newspaper had a coupon for shampoo that read “[Brand] products including [Variety] and [Variety]. Excludes [Variety], [Variety], [Variety], [Variety], and [Variety].”

I wish these companies would just make their coupons valid on whatever products are made for a certain brand. It is difficult, especially if your eyesight is not the best, to look at this long list of different shampoos and try to discern exactly which ones the coupon is good for, especially when the exclusions outnumber the correct products. — Marjorie C.

Dear Jill: A few weeks ago, another reader wrote about frustration with coupons that do not have enough detail in the fine print. I realize some coupons have too much fine print as it is, but lately, I also have seen some with not enough information at all.

For example, my newspaper inserts had a coupon for $1 off a certain brand of ketchup. The coupon simply said “$1 off” and showed the different varieties. When I went to buy the ketchup, though, the coupon did not scan. The cashier said she had seen this one before, and you actually had to buy five bottles of ketchup to get $1 off.

I hope these “How many do I really need to buy?” mystery offers do not become a trend. — Ron M.

Dear Jill: I have a complaint about coupons that say “Buy One Get One Free,” but when you read the fine print, you actually learn the item you get free is not the same item. Recently, I have seen coupons for sanitizing spray, but if you buy that, the item you get free is not a second sanitizer but a bathroom cleaner. Or, I also have seen a BOGO coupon for moisturizer, but the item you get free is actually a face cleanser and not a second moisturizer.

I suppose companies can make whatever offers they want, but I really am not a fan of these kinds of offers at all. At first glance, you think you can just grab two of the same item, but if you do that, you’ll be paying for both, as the coupon won’t work on them. — Iona K.

You’re correct brands are free to create any offers they think will appeal to shoppers. Offers such as the ones you’re describing often are designed to help expose shoppers to new or different products they weren’t previously purchasing for their households in the hope if the shopper likes them, he or she will continue to buy them.

Dear Jill: What influence can you wield to tell these brands they need to make the expiration dates larger on their coupons? It seems to me they use all sorts of tricks to obscure the date or make it as difficult as possible to read them. Many times while the coupon’s own text is black ink on white paper, they reverse it for the date so the date is in thin white text inside a black box.

Often, the words “Save $1” are four to five times larger than the date. All I am asking is for the expiration date to be larger. I have seen some brands put the expiration date in black text inside a yellow box on their coupons. These brands earn my patronage because their coupons are easier to read and use. — Alice D.

For what it’s worth, I lack the kind of influence that would influence dozens of different manufacturers to embrace one single standard for paper coupon offers, but many in the industry do read my column each week. Here’s hoping your words reach from your keyboards to their marketing departments.

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, jillcataldo.com. Email your own couponing victories and questions to jill@ctwfeatures.com.