Spotting a FAKE printable coupon.

Spotting a fake is actually more for the stores than you, but you need to know how to show them the coupons that you have are NOT fakes or copies.

For a while now we have had the luxury of printing off internet coupons in black and white. At this point I think you are really taking a chance that they will not be taken that way. I would not print any in B&W anymore. Especially since if they do not take them you can't really go back and print them again. I know that ink is expensive, but I would much rather get a great deal on something, so I am forking out the extra $$ for color ink cartridges.

Grab one of your printable coupons or go HERE and print a few. Now the biggest and easiest way to it take a look at the top right hand corner. See the expiration date? Behind it should be small yellow dots, this is a security watermark. Also, many coupons have another watermark below that one. If it is a Smart Source printable they do not have the yellow dots but a larger watermark behind the amount you are saving.

Also, when showing cashiers and managers how to know if they are photocopied or a fake I point out that the serial number in the 2-D bar code at the top right are always different. If I had copied these coupons they would all have the same number! But, I usually have 2 of the same coupon because you can print them twice, and I can show them that they are different numbers.

If they really want to above the bar code at the bottom it actually tells the retailer how to go online and authenticate the coupon. It tells them to not accept without the dot-scan barcode below the expiration date.

Here is some great information from their site:

What if a store won't take my coupon?

Please let us know, and we'll send them information to help better inform them about printable coupons. They want you to have a positive experience; they just may not know the facts.

We also encourage you to refer them to the Retailer Resources on this site (the URL is printed on most coupons) and/or contact their corporate headquarters. Sometimes local stores are not aware of their corporate policy to accept printable coupons.

Finally, call their customer service line and let them know you want to use your coupons at their store.

Do's and Don'ts

There are a lot of online coupons out there. You may come across offers that appear to be legitimate coupons, but you aren't sure. Here are some simple guidelines on how to verify and get the most from online coupons.

  • You should never see the actual coupon on your screen, only an offer to print it. Real coupons require special software to print proper barcodes and limit the number of prints of each coupon.
  • Print coupons only from the brand website for the products you are interested in, or well-known savings sites like Coupons.com or major websites that you trust.
  • Avoid coupon-swapping sites and websites that post images of coupons.
  • Never pay for a coupon.
  • Don't buy coupons on auction sites.
  • Don't make or use copies of coupons or printouts of scanned images of coupons.
  • Be suspicious of printable coupons for a free product or one that seems too good to be true. It probably is!

Many retailers are getting fakes and it makes them mad! So they are deciding on their own to not take internet printables. As a consumer, if it is a large chain store each individual store CAN NOT decide to do this for their store only. They have to follow corporate policy. So don't let them make you feel bad or not take your coupon. This is where you have to know your rights. Let me tell you , I am naturally a shy person and this has been hard for me to learn to stand up for myself with a cashier and manager. But I am always nice and polite, but I don't let them make up rules or tell me that I can't use a coupon when I clearly can. I do make darn sure that I have legit coupons though!

Good Luck. It can be frustrating, but the more you know the better off you will be!


Rita T. said...

Good article and sound advice. I have had to haggle with our local Meijer store over coupons before. One time I left feeling like a criminal even though I had used totally legitimate coupons. The cashier spent a ton of time scrutinizing the coupons, questioning them, and calling another girl to look them over before finally accepting them. I know that my face was totally red (out of frustration) by the time I left the store.

If you know that your coupons are legal, don't be afraid to stand up for your rights to use them. If there is doubt that they are, however, best not to take them to the store until you know for certain that they are legal.

Katie said...

Thanks Tiffany! One question...everyonce in a while there is a coupon that is a pdf that I find on good blogs like yours, hip2save, totallytarget, etc...I have always just assumed they were ok, how do we know at that point?

Tiffany said...

I don't print pdf coupons very often, although I just did for the tampon deal at Walgreens this week.
It is important to look at your browser bar and see where the coupon is coming from. If it is from the site directly than most likely it is good. If it is coming from some unknown place than i wouldn't print it. If it is an email from a friend I wouldn't print it.