Is It Wrong To Use Coupons?

Yesterday I received a $10 off (purchases over $50) coupon from a local hardware store. I promptly went over and bought $50 worth of things I would have bought today, saving myself $10.

But on the way out it occurred to me that I just contributed to the recession. 10% reduced revenue will hurt their bottom line. Lower the stock price, and might ultimately lead to layoffs.

I’m a monster! I just caused some poor stock boy to lose his job, his livelihood, maybe even his home!.

I didn’t need to save that $10, by rights I should have offered to tip the cashier $10 extra to help her pay rent.

So is it wrong to use coupons? Should we instead encourage shoppers to tip local employees?

Reduced aggregate revenue does not follow from the behavior of one customer. Your opportune use of the coupon to offset the purchase price of items you would have bought anyway is more than compensated for by the coupon campaign’s ability to attract new customers who might otherwise not have bothered to shop at that store. Even allowing for a connection between coupon use and reduced revenue, there remains the issue that stock price depends on a great many other metrics that the business and the shareholders use to gauge performance, some of which might be positively affected by a coupon campaign.

There are legitimate reasons one might want to abolish coupons, but stockmarket performance and layoffs hardly constitute an airtight argument for abandoning the practice.

No you didn’t. :slight_smile:

As for the use of coupons, can I assume that you used the $5 you saved to go buy something else–or if you haven’t yet, you will? That is, you’re not planning on setting that $5 on fire, are you? If you buy something else, then you’ve not only kept the stockboy in a job, you’ve also kept the McDonald’s counterperson or whoever in a job through your additional purchase.

No, it is not wrong to use coupons. If they want to offer to sell you their products at a discount - even at a loss - that is their prerogative.

It’s also unlikely that the coupon offer hurts their bottom line. If they didn’t believe the coupon offer would increase their sales enough to counteract the loss, they wouldn’t do it.

The flip side of this argument is that you should pay more than the asking price. And then the noble capitalist will use that money to raise wages and hire more workers. Rather than spending it on blow to snort off a teenage hooker’s ass.

Right, which is why I think we should be tipping cashiers directly, preventing the evil capitalist from hording all that cash.

Who’s with me?

But teenage hookers and coke dealers need to make a living too! You monster!

Well, technically coke is important from countries that treat their employees and environment irresponsibly. So there should be tariffs on it. At the very least we should be buying American grown/made products.

Meth it is then!

That’s possible, but I think this speaks to a larger problem.
How Bad For The Environment Can Throwing Away One Plastic Bottle Be?’ 30 Million People Wonder

Just because they offer $10 off doesn’t mean I should accept. As we saw in the 2008 credit crisis, the people in charge were only after short term gains and the expense of the low level employees and long term sustainability. For all we know, this promotion could be a way to inflate sales for this month knowing it will eat into sales for next month, because next month I’ll wait for another coupon further hurting their bottom line.

Shouldn’t we all take responsibility and forgo our own self interests for the betterment of society? This short term spike in sales might earn some exec a huge bonus as he’s on his way out. A month later the store will be close, assets sold off, and workers out on the street.

All because I’m not willing to chip in an extra $10 once in a while. And it seems no one else is willing to over pay so that local workers can have a job.

And even though I’ve got this extra $10 to spend, I’m going to keep looking for another discount. I’m not going to McDonalds until I have a 2 for 1 coupon so that $10 becomes $20.

Coupons do a lot of good, overall. In an ideal world, a store would charge different rates to every customer, depending on how much that customer can afford. If Bill Gates is working on a hobby DIY project and needs a box of nails, it wouldn’t hurt him at all to spend $1000 on it, but for the shantytown worker who needs to repair his shack, $1 might be too much to pay. But of course, the store can’t tell who’s who, and the pricing scheme would end up horribly complicated even if they could. But stores still try to do this as much as possible, and coupons are one way to do it: It’s not worth Bill Gates’ time to look through the coupon section of the newspaper, so he just pays sticker price, but someone for whom money is tight will spend the time to look through the coupons and pay the lower price. The fact that you did find it worthwhile to see what coupons you had, and set it aside for the trip to the hardware store, rather than just tossing it with the rest of the junk mail, is evidence (not proof, but evidence) that you are in fact needy enough to deserve the discount.

Note, too, that companies often look at how many coupons got turned in when evaluating just how effective a given newspaper ad was.

If a company is dumb enough to have a business model where coupons of all things can make or break them then you should ruthlessly exploit this and burn them to the ground, thus taking an inefficient actor out of the marketplace.

But you might not have bought them today, or tomorrow, or at that particular store. That store didn’t lose $10, they gained $40 that they might not have earned without the coupon. I’m pretty sure they have a sufficient profit margin to be able to earn $40 more than they planned otherwise.

How can you be so cold? People will lose their jobs! Why should the cashier suffer because the guy in marketing is a tool? Like I said earlier, this might be a scheme by the top execs to create short term gains, pump the stock, then parachute to safety with their $5million bonuses. I can guarantee you the cashier won’t get a $5million bonus when the store closes. She’ll be out on the street starving to death. All because of me.

You’re right in more ways than you realize. I might not have bought that stuff at all. I guess you could say the store is lucky I even spent the $40. But that doesn’t remove the guilt of having refused to pay the extra $10. And none of that goes to the minimum wage cashier, it’s all profits in the hands of rich people hiding their taxes in foreign countries.

How are we supposed to emerge from the worst recession since the 1930s if we aren’t willing to over spend on daily basics? The cashier at the hardware store, along with the stock boy, and all the other wage-slaves need our cash. Is it so hard to chip in a few extra dollars on every purchase?

In the immortal words of Cletus:

“Shoulda but didn’t so hand them over.”

So, if you feel so guilty, why did you use the coupon? Why not just throw it away and buy retail?

I work in retail (albeit small-business), so I thought I’d chip in my $.02 on the matter of discounts.

As it stands now, especially WRT non-essential consumer goods (the type which I try to sell each day), people who used to be frequent customers in the past are buying much less often or, in the case of some goods, perhaps not at all. It’s not so much that everyone has less money now than they did in the past, but people are definitely being more cautious with their money as there seems to be an overriding sense of “I’d better not buy this thing I don’t really need now in case something does happen later and I need this money for something more important.” If people in the retail sector are being laid off or having their hours cut, it’s not because of coupons, it’s because retail traffic overall is considerably slower than it has been in the past. I know that a lot of the stores in the vicinity of mine are having to cut hours for their front-of-house staff due to poor traffic - people aren’t even browsing as much as they used to.

To that end I think that many retailers are trying to ease their customer bases back into the habit of actually going out and spending their money. Sales and various other promotions are a good way to do this - the stores may not get the profit margins that they want, but at least from my store’s perspective we want to know that people are at least willing to still support us and that there is some actual commerce happening.

With larger retailers you also have some additional dynamics at play. I’d say the key one with the big guys is probably brand loyalty - if I managed Lowe’s Hardware, for example, I might want to run some promotion like a sale or a coupon-matching special to get warm bodies out of Home Depot and into my stores. Who knows, people who come for the one sale we had might end up liking our service and selection more, and decide to become regular shoppers. That helps us in the long run even if our short-term profits are a little less.

Because I realized I’m just one guy, with $10. This problem is bigger than you and me, it’s bigger than all of us. Some how we all have to be willing to over pay on a daily basis, you know, like a self imposed tariff or tax increase. But this is better, we’d be cutting out the evil rich people and the corrupt government. Giving the cash right to the people that need it.

What could possibly go wrong?

What could go wrong?

If everyone started tipping their stockboys and cashiers, as you apparently want, then most likely the big bosses would catch on and decrease their wages. Think about it: why aren’t most waiters fabulously wealthy when they rake in such great tips? Because the restaurant owners pay them peanuts via salary because the waiters are assumed to pull in a lot of money with tips. This puts the waiters’ financial situation more at the mercy of the customers, which is a bad spot to be in when fewer and fewer people go out to eat.