Ethical Couponing Questions

There has been a lot of talk around the couponing blogs lately about “ethical couponing”.  I thought I would weigh in on the discussion by posting  about ethical couponing.  I completely agree that one must be completely honest and ethical when couponing.  I don’t take the privilege of using coupons lightly!

Manufacturers and Stores who issue coupons sometimes place restrictions on the coupons they issue.  For example, you may find coupons that say, “One coupon per transaction”, which means you can only use one coupon during that shopping transaction.  Like it or not that is the rule.  Fudging on the rules, ruins couponing for everyone eventually.

Stores often place restrictions on the amount of items you can buy at one time.  For example, the Publix store that I shop at often, has a a restriction that you can only buy 6 items that are on BOGO sales.  They have restrictions to control inventory.

Couponers need to read the rules and be honest in their transactions.  We also need to be kind and friendly to store management and cashiers.  While there are no hard fast set rules in many couponing scenarios, you need to operate ethically and truthfully.

Here are some debates concerning coupon ethics among couponers:

Some couponers think that it is unethical to take more than one blinkie coupon from a blinkie machine.  Some couponers think that it is unethical to use a coupon clipping service.  Some couponers think that it is unethical to print  coupons using more than one computer.  Some couponers think it is unethical to buy large amounts of items using coupons, thereby decreasing the store’s stock.  Their arguement is that we need to be “nice and considerate” of other store shoppers who may want to buy the same products.

If the store places no restrictions on the amount of items you can buy and the manufacturer hasn’t placed any kind of limit restrictions on using the coupons and a couponer walks in and buys 20 boxes of pasta, is she being unethical and inconsiderate?

Some would argue that if there are plenty of pasta boxes on the shelf then it is fine, but if there are only 25 boxes left on the shelf and she buys 20 of them, then she’s selfish, unethical and inconsiderate.

However, I’m of the mindset that just because she buys all but 5 of the boxes of pasta, it isn’t her responsibility to make sure the store shelf stays stocked!  It is the stores responsibility to stock the shelves and anticipate high volume sales on sale items.  Something that they often do very well but sometimes miss on!

Here are some facts:

  • It is the store’s responsibility to keep the shelves stocked, not yours.
  • Many stores already put store limits on the amount of product you can buy, especially on sale items, so if the shelf is empty, it wasn’t one person that cleared the shelf.
  • Buying a lot of food at the store is not unethical.  Have you seen the amount of food the Dugger’s buy!
  • Many times if the store shelves are empty, you can ask the stock person to go in the back and check and see if there is more product back there.  You might just be surprised when he walks out with what you need.
  • If the store shelves are empty, you can ask for a rain check.
  • You can special order products.  If you know you are going to be using 20 coupons on a product that goes on sale next week, you can ask about special ordering a case or two.
  • Don’t whine and complain.  If the store shelves are empty and you do indeed miss the sale, there will be more sales and more deals to come.  You win some, you lose some.  That’s the couponing game!  Sometimes as couponers, we sound like 3 year olds pouting, “she took my stuff!”
  • If you show up on the last day of the sale, you shouldn’t be surprised if some items are already sold out.  The early bird gets the worm!
  • The woman who bought 20 boxes of pasta is not your enemy.  She didn’t buy the 20 boxes to spite you or to make you miss the deal.  Give her a break!  She’s just trying to feed her family!
  • Don’t impose your emotional ethics on others.  If you personally feel convicted that it is unethical to take more than one blinkie coupon, then stick to your convictions.  Another couponer may think that 2 or 4 coupons is ethically o.k.   I think we all should agree that disassembling the blinkie box and ripping the entire roll of coupons out is just plain wrong!

In summery, follow the rules!  There are plenty of legitimate, legal, ethical deals that you can take advantage of in a good way to save money, stock your pantry and feed your family for less

I am sure as different as we all are, many of us will vary on couponing practices and beliefs.  Your thoughts on the subject????


One comment on “Ethical Couponing Questions

  1. I completely agree with you!   We have to feed our families.  If we have 20 coupons and there’s not a limit then we should feel free to use them on the 20 items that those coupons are for.   : )

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