Confusing coupon fine print conundrum

The fine print on a coupon can be a little confusing. There’s a lot of legalese, and some of the terms may even seem contradictory. Need help understanding the terminology of savings? These readers do.

Dear Jill,
Most of my manufacturer coupons have wording like “Limit one coupon per purchase,” “Not valid with any other coupon” or “Not redeemable with any other coupon” written in the fine print on the bottom.
Does this mean that I can’t stack my manufacturer coupon with my store-specific coupon?
Shandie C.

Manufacturers always limit their coupons to one coupon discount per item purchased — this is what “limit one coupon per purchase” means. You can only use one manufacturer discount per item purchased. This is true even if you have a $1-off-two coupon. That coupon functions as two 50-cent discounts, one for each item.
So, you couldn’t in turn use a 75-cents-off-one coupon on something you already used a $1-off-two coupon. The register will note that a coupon discount already has been attached to the item, and it won’t allow a second coupon to be used.

So, we’ve established that you can’t use two manufacturer coupons, of any kind, on the same item. What about store coupons?

Store coupons function differently than manufacturer coupons. A store coupon actually has much more in common with a sale price than a coupon. When a store coupon is scanned, it actually reduces the sale price of that item in the store — think of it as an exclusive sale that you take part in by using the coupon.

No coupon? No good sale price. And because it is a store promotion, you can stack a manufacturer coupon with it, too. A manufacturer typically does not reimburse a store coupon — the store is offering you a better promotional price on the item for which the coupon is valid.

Because this is the store’s offer, there’s no issue with redeeming a manufacturer coupon in conjunction with a store coupon. Wording such as “Not valid with any other coupon” and “Not redeemable with any other coupon” typically refers to that manufacturer coupon being combined with other manufacturer coupons, which again, are not allowed.

Along the same lines, here’s another question from a reader regarding electronic coupons. Can they be stacked with store or manufacturer coupons?

Dear Jill,
My store has a couple of websites they work with to get e-coupons you can load to your store card. Are these store coupons or manufacturer coupons? Sometimes I get to stack a paper coupon with them but not always.
Gillian N.

E-coupons can be a little confusing because indeed, there are both store e-coupons and manufacturer e-coupons.
If a manufacturer is offering an electronic coupon that you can load to a store loyalty card, you won’t be allowed to stack another manufacturer coupon with it — again, this goes back to only being allowed to use one manufacturer discount per item.

If a manufacturer is reimbursing a store for one manufacturer discount, they don’t want to “double up” and reimburse twice on the same item.

If the e-coupon is a store coupon, you typically can stack a manufacturer coupon with it. Your store’s website may note the difference between the two.

You might also try asking at the store’s service counter if you’d like to clarify what kinds of electronic coupons the store offers.

Smart Living Tip: If you’re a couponer, it pays to know the difference between a purchase and a transaction, as some coupons contain wording restricting usage to “one per purchase” or “one per transaction.” Each item you buy is a purchase.

Each trip through the checkout lane, in which you pay for all of your purchases, is one transaction. This means that you can use one manufacturer coupon discount per item (purchase). If a coupon is limited to “Four like coupons per transaction,” you can only use four of the same, identical coupon per trip through the lane.

Jill Cataldo is a coupon workshop instructor and mother of three.







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