Is it the buy or the sellers resbonsibility to enforce the validity of coupon codes?

I have in my hand an ad taken from a men’s magazine, containing a coupon code for a steep discount on shirts from on of my favorite on-line clothiers. Now the ad states: “new customer offer” and I am not a new customer. It also says “expires 10/31/07” and today is the 16th of November. However, if I use the code, it still works. Clearly the retailer knows what day it is (or sthey should, anyway), and since I’m using a stored address from a previous order, they know I’m not a new customer. Is it their job to reject a code that they claim should be invalid, or am I honor-bound to follow their stated rules? My gut instinct is that the rules exist to protect them; they don’t HAVE to follow them if they don’t want to, so if they are willing to extend me the offer it is ok for me to accept it.

As to the date, the offer may have been extended. If you wanted to be very conscientious, you could contact customer service and ask them. They may not know the specifics of that offer and just say that if the system accepts it, use it. In that case, feel free.

The new customer qualification is a bit dicier. To be completely honest, you shouldn’t use it. Will you incur some bad karma if you do? Maybe. :slight_smile: You could satisfy that condition by having a friend order for you.


Chicken gave me a bad coupon once. Once.

I’m a coupon junkie. There are standardized codes for coupons. You can download/view what those codes translate to. I am currently having an ethical dilemma regarding coupon usage. Campbell’s Soup is notorious for having the coupons say one thing, but the code scanning as something else. Virtually ALL of their coupons use text that is an impossible code. For instance, Buy 5 Campbell’s Soups, get $1.00 off. There is no such code. If you look at the upc code, you know that it is coded to take $1.00 off TWO. Where is their responsibility for this? If I know it, they must. I guarantee I can go back several years of consistent coupon codes for their soups all coded the same way. However, if I use it as the UPC code states (which is what the machine reads) technically, I am in violation.

Post the UPC code to me or PM it to me and I’ll translate it as best I can. It may be that there isn’t a code for the expiration, or they don’t process that part of the code. (Most stores don’t)

IMHO, if the company issues a coupon, they have an obligation to make it function as stated. If their system takes it, that is their responsibility, since you can’t change their programming or printing. If they are habitual offenders, then my sympathy goes way south.

Auntbeast, how does one go about translating the meanings of the UPC codes on coupons?

I found the information by googling “decoding coupons.” There is a tremendous amount of information out there. I will say that coupon fraud is a big deal. However, that information, like most, can be used for good or bad. In other words, reader beware. I am making sure that I am not giving any “bad” information.

The basic setup of a coupon UPC code is a 12 digit number. I’m using a Colgate $1.00 of Two coupon that expires 10/27/07, the entire upc is 5 35000 51033 9 The first number (5) is just a check digit. The next 8 numbers are the product manufacturers code (35000) this specifies it is Colgate Palmolive, and the actual product it is coded for (510) which specifies toothpaste. The next two numbers are 33. This is the value code for the coupon. According to industry standards, this coupon is coded to take $1.00 off the purchase of two items. The last digit is a 9, which is also a check digit. This coupon is coded correctly.

The thing is, the codes used for coupons is standardized. They can’t make up numbers. Those value codes are 0-99. That is all they get. Nada, no more. If I am a manufacturer and I want to issue a coupon that can be redeemed in every retail store, It MUST follow these guidelines.

Now, using the Campbell’s example above. There is no possible value code for $1.00 off when you buy 5. It can not be done. But the text of their coupons SAY it, but their UPC code absolutely does not. The cashiers scan the UPC and sometimes, might read the text.

Very soon the issue will come up in a court. Here is why. Campbell’s knowingly issues a coupon that can not, by its very nature, do what they say it does. HOWEVER, what the text says is essentially "get $.20 off a single item, which is absolutely possible with the current standardized coupon codes, and yet, they don’t use it. Why not? Well, I don’t know. My sneaky suspicion is that they would rather you buy 5 of their products than just one and hey, what you don’t know won’t hurt you.

If the OP has a store coupon, there is probably NOT a standard UPC code and this sort of info won’t help him. But perhaps knowing ABOUT this kind of information can help him when dealing with the company in question.

There are some companies out there that are quite famous for miscoding coupons. Not just one, but many, and make the same mistakes over and over and over. Now, accidents happen, but seriously, when you see how bad some companies are about this, it gets out of the way of random stupidity or honest mistakes and trucks right on down the road to “man, that ain’t right.”