Most coupon-using shoppers quickly figure out that more coupons equal more savings. I currently subscribe to four copies of our Sunday newspaper so I can maximize my ability to stock up during great sales. I’m not alone — most shoppers know multiple coupon inserts affords them more shopping power. However, I receive a lot of questions about how to get more inserts without buying more papers.
I love your column and appreciate you explaining the art of couponing. I wanted to know if you knew where I can order more of the inserts, in bulk, that come in the Sunday paper.
“Jill, it seems so wasteful to buy multiple newspapers when all I want are the coupons. I see places all over the Internet to buy coupon inserts. To me I am saving trees and paper by not buying extra newspapers.
Indeed, there are sites on the Internet where shoppers can purchase coupon inserts and clipped coupons, but before you decide to spend your money buying coupons online, consider this: The only legitimate way for consumers to purchase coupon inserts is to purchase newspapers. It’s the only legal method of coupon insert distribution.
Think of a coupon as a contract between a brand, a retailer and you. If all three parties agree to abide by the terms of the contract, the brand enjoys increased sales, the retailer is reimbursed for the coupon and you enjoy savings on the item you bought.
It’s understandable that manufacturers would not want coupons distributed outside of the manner for which they’ve approved and paid. While the industry continues to crack down on insert resale, coupon insert sellers continue to pop up online because people are willing to pay for what they’re selling. If everyone simply got their coupons from the newspaper, the insert resellers wouldn’t have much incentive to stay in business, but resellers often sell coupon inserts for a lower price than the newspaper itself.
If you’re considering ordering coupon inserts, ask yourself this: Where does the insert reseller obtain their coupon inserts? Better yet, try asking the seller. Know that none of the coupon insert publishers sell or distribute inserts to third parties — coupon inserts only are distributed to newspapers. Anyone who tells you otherwise is attempting to deceive you. I’ve even seen online sellers offering coupon inserts one to two weeks prior to the date on the insert! Don’t you wonder where and how they’re getting them?
Often, there’s a criminal element at play. Earlier this year, authorities busted a coupon theft and resale ring in South Carolina. The people involved were stealing coupon inserts from a newspaper distribution center to sell, and some of the people arrested in this investigation were charged with receiving stolen goods — the coupons! Are you prepared to face charges of receiving stolen goods if your insert reseller is busted? Your name and address will be part of the sellers’ sale and shipping records. How valid is a claim of “But I didn’t know they were stolen” when it’s common knowledge that the only legitimate, legal way to obtain coupon inserts is to buy a newspaper containing them? Why would you even want to put yourself at that kind of risk?
In last week’s column, readers questioned the ethics of getting a good deal. The ethics of what we do always have been extremely important to me. If you’re buying coupon inserts from someone online, are you also comfortable that your money may be supporting the efforts of a criminal and further encouraging them to continue illicitly getting coupon inserts? Are you comfortable that your actions may cause other people to go without coupons in their local newspapers? If a newspaper runs short of coupon inserts due to theft, the newspaper doesn’t magically receive more to make up for the loss.
The simplest reason not to buy inserts from a reseller is printed right on nearly every manufacturer coupon: “Void if sold.” The contract between the brand, the store and you is void at the moment that coupon is sold against the manufacturer’s wishes.
Jill Cataldo is a coupon workshop instructor, writer and mother of three.