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This question came from a reader and I thought I would post it in case any of you are running into this same dilemma.

Thank you so much for all of your help! I’ve been couponing for a few months and have saved hundreds of dollars already! I have shared your site with some girlfriends and I need your advice. One friend loves it, but continuously photo copies coupons. They “go through” so she’s excited about beating the system of “2 limit prints”. I try to tell her that she’s stealing and what she is doing is highly fraudulent. I feel guilty for sharing this information with her. What would you do? I hate to see my local “coupon friendly” stores become suspicious because of what she’s doing and ruin all the good, ethical couponing for the rest of us:) Any advice?

This is a hard situation, and I am sure a lot of us know people who have photocopied coupons.  This is a very common “newbie”  mistake. There are couponers who just don’t realize this is a huge no-no and they do it a few times before someone tells them this is not okay & then they stop.   Then there are couponers who will knowingly break the rules all in the name of a good deal. Having friends who break the coupon rules makes us especially concerned because likely their actions will directly affect us when the store stops accepting printable coupons because of fraud.  Here are a few things you can tell your friend.

1. Each coupon has a unique barcode which is used when the store is getting reimbursed for the coupons. Coupons that are photocopied will scan at the store register, but when it gets scanned at the clearinghouse (the third party that processes the coupons for the store- in order to get reimbursed), the unique code gets entered into the system. Once that unique code gets entered, if the same “unique” barcode gets scanned the store will not get reimbursed from the manufacturer.  This means that they store is eating the cost for your coupon- which means you are stealing from the store.

2. As Krazy Coupon Ladies we know that coupons are our form of payment. We would never consider using fake cash or a photocopied check, then why coupons. It’s the same thing.

3.  If this is happening at a store that you frequent often, consider letting the manager know that you have a concern with other shoppers photocopying coupons.  Give the manager and checker an education on spotting printed coupons.  Show them the unique barcode in the top right corner of the coupon & let them know if that code is the same on two coupons than one of them is a photocopy.  This may seem a little extreme, but if you have tried talking to your friend and she isn’t listening- this may be the only way to prevent the store from stop accepting printable coupons all together.

I find that being lighthearted about the conversation always helps! Just nicely tell her that she is going to ruin couponing at your stores for good if she doesn’t stop. When a coupon that the store won’t get reimbursed for is stealing from the store. Plain and Simple. I am sure once she realizes this, she will stop.

Anyone else have any advice for this situation?
Do you think my advice is too hardcore?