I saw this posted online and since I have had similar emails I thought maybe some new couponers (and old ones!) may be wondering the same thing. I made some changes so the writer wouldn’t be identifiable.
I was told that certain coupons that can be interchanged for other products by the same vendor if it has the correct code on it. For example, a coupon for Kraft cheese could be used for Kraft dressing if the coupon code has a certain number sequence or something. She said this is how extreme couponers can have 50 coupons for 50 items of dressing. What code do I look for to know what I can exchange?
Coupons cannot be interchanged. A coupon for Kraft cheese MUST be used on Kraft cheese; using it on Kraft dressing is coupon fraud and illegal.
This practice is considered “decoding” and is not and ethical couponing practice. In fact, it’s illegal. Almost every coupon includes words such as “Any other use constitutes fraud”. Using a coupon that is a discount on Kraft cheese to buy Kraft dressing is dishonest and causes couponers long term problems.
First, Kraft will see that they have 100 coupons for Kraft cheese but only sold 5 of those products (these numbers are obviously hypothetical). So, they will ask the stores for proof that they actually sold the cheese that the coupons are for.
The stores won’t be able to prove that since the coupons were all used on dressing. So Kraft will refuse to reimburse the store for the coupons- causing the store to lose money.
Stores that lose money began to scale back their sales and deep discounts. In addition, they will demand their cashiers scrutinize each and every coupon. Check out will take longer, people will get annoyed and cashiers testy.
We’ve already seen some changes to coupon polices and lowered values of coupons- why make that worse to save an extra 50-cents?
We can save so much money by couponing ethically, we don’t need to cheat the system to save. Secondly, cashiers who don’t know any better can actually be FIRED to fraudulently accepting coupons. Is that really worth 50-cents or a cheaper jar of dressing?
Bottom line: A coupon tells you what the product is valid for. It can only be used on that product.