Is this honest? Or is it retail fraud?

Somebody I know is getting grocery coupons from a friend. Good coupons for free items. From what I understand, they are bought and sold online.

I know for a fact that the coupons are frauds because I work in the grocery business and my company no longer takes them. That and the fact that they are obviously scanned computer copies, poorly done I may add. However, there are still chains in the area that take them, knowing they’re not any good.

So, is this retail fraud or not? I want to say it isn’t, because the stores take them knowingly but their basically counterfeit coupons. What do you think?

Seems to me, if the coupons are redeemable, or accepted as cash money, no…If they are not, why are you taking them? IMHO…

A lot of groceries in our area are posting notices that they’re not taking certain types of internet or printed-from-computer coupons because of fraud.

I say it’s not honest, and it’s fraud.

Besides, you shouldn’t be having to PAY for coupons. That’s a red flag right there (IMNSHO.)

A lot of groceries in our area are posting notices that they’re not taking certain types of internet or printed-from-computer coupons because of fraud.

I say it’s not honest, and it’s fraud.

Besides, you shouldn’t be having to PAY for coupons. That’s a red flag right there (IMNSHO.)

There are two things going on. Trading in valid coupons, even printed off the Internet, is pretty much okay. Some companies don’t like it for some strange reasons. These coupons are accepted by the manufacturers from the stores. The store doesn’t lose money.

Then there are people faking coupons. The manufacturers don’t accept them from the stores. The stores lose money. Not good.

It is strangely very odd, given bar codes, POS systems, etc., to tell them apart so some stores no longer accept Internet coupons. But there will probably be a fix.

Counterfeit coupons (i.e., scanned and reproduced on an inkjet printer) seem dubious to me. How about a scanned and printed $5 bill?

“So, is this retail fraud or not? I want to say it isn’t, because the stores take them knowingly but their basically counterfeit coupons. What do you think?”

I think the clerks take them because its not worth their time to do something to the customer about a 50 cent fake coupon.

You can’t draw a direct comparison between a coupon and a $5 bill. Generally manufacturers who distribute coupons want to put them into as many hands as possible to get people to try their product. Many of them make these available on the internet so they can be distributed widely, and that involves (usually) printing them from a web site to an ink-jet printer.

Where the problem is arising, as indicated in earlier posts, is that some people are using their computer graphics programs to design and print their own coupons for products they want, which are not authorized by the manufacturer. Since store clerks cannot readily distinguish between “real” and “fake” internet coupons, some stores have stopped accepting them altogether.

The other issue is that stores give out “good” coupons to specific groups they are targetting, and get annoyed that the Internet lets those groups share them with the world-at-large.

As an extreme example, if you complain about a product, you will usually get extremely good coupons as a response, $2 off no minimum and such. For obvious reasons, they don’t want anyone else to make a copy of that, even though it is a legitimate coupon.

In theory, yes. But you know how it goes. Somebody buys a bunch of stuff, then at the end, hands the cashier a busload of coupons. If there are other customers in line, the cashier will often no check to see if the customer has actually puchased those items for which he/she has presnted a coupon.

Up here no store manually checks to see if you bought what’s on the coupon. Everything is scanned. If you bought the item, and then the coupon is scanned, you get the discount. If the coupon shows the item wasn’t bought, then no discount.

When I worked in a grocery store as a cashier, we had a manager who, if a customer complained about a coupon, would order the cashier to accept the coupon whether the customer had bought the product or not.

I’m still wondering if he cost the store money–if we had recorded 5000 sales of Brand X, and redeemed 1000 coupons, would it matter to the manufacturers whether the coupon-redeemers were also purchasers of Brand X? Or would they have required a match…fearing that a sneaky manager could redeem the 1000 coupons to get an illicit refund from Brand X Industries?

The only thing that the POS system sees is the barcode, so as long as the fake coupon has a legitimate barcode, the system will accept it.

Not all POS systems support this. Even where the POS system does support it, some retailers switch the function off because they don’t like to piss off customers by telling them that their coupon is no good as they haven’t bought the item. As long as the store sells the items, they will get paid for the coupon by the manufacturer anyway, plus a handling fee of typically 8 cents.

Also note that there is no way that the POS can monitor some of the offers you see on coupons. You see coupons for offers like “$1 off two regular size or one large detergent”. The POS cannot police that as there is no way to encode that offer within the barcode. In reality, the offer would probably give you $1 off just one regular size, and the manufacturer just hopes that you will buy two.

Coupons have two barcodes on them. On the left is a 12 digit UPC barcode. This is the only piece used by any POS system that I have come across. The amount of validation is limited, for example it cannot validate expiration dates. On the right is a barcode with a variety of permissible lengths. This can be used to link the coupon to a definition of the offer that can be considerably more powerful and have a lot greater validation checking. However, I know of no system that uses this.

(bolding mine)

Huh? You mean, some people will go into stores and demand a discount for items they did not purchase? And then get angry with the management if they’re refused said discount?

Cursed redundant coding.

Yes, sometimes. Usually the customer has bought one variety of product when the coupon is only for a different variety. Or often they’ll hand a coupon to the cashier for Brand X of toilet paper when they actually picked up Brand Y and didn’t notice the difference. And then make a fuss and demand that you take the coupon anyway, on the assumption that if enough fuss is made, you’ll do what they ask.

Hm. I was lead to believe that discounts are offered as an incentive to puchase a particular item, and that the whole basic premise of the discount is negated if the discount given by one manufacturer is given for the purchase of another manufacturer’s product. I think my solution would be to explain that the manufacturer offers a discount on Extra Super Cheezy Doodles as an incentive for you to try them rather than the Super Duper Cheezy Doodles you are accustomed to purchasing, and that the incentive does not extend to you picking out whatever the hell random product you want to pretend the damn cupon says, and then have a bag-boy trot over to the toilet paper aisle and grab a package of Brand X for the customer, if they want the discount more than they want Brand Y. Or the Extra Super Cheezy Doodles. Or whatever.
Who are these people? I sometimes think I was raised in a whole other world when it comes to manners. :frowning:

These are the type of coupons in question. Mostly for free stuff. One of them in question is actually good for any Banquet purchase. Anything from a pot pie to a family size box of fried chicken. No price limit.

Another thing is that our stores will still take internet coupons. You can tell the legit ones because they have a web addy on them. The fakes don’t, they’re copies of the coupons that SmackFu is talking about. We have a list of most of the known fake coupons circulating around the net. The most popular one seems to be the free 12 packs of Pepsi. I bet Pepsi is just loving that.:rolleyes:

And yes, people will actually try to use a coupon for a product that they didn’t buy, or they try to purchase only one when the coupon specifically states that a multiple purchase is required.