Ann Haney: Understanding the fine print

Have you noticed all the changes appearing in the fine print on coupons? Chances are you have seen a lot more wording on the bottom of your coupons as well as in-store restrictions regarding the amount of items allowed per customer.
Mar 10, 2014
Ann Haney

Have you noticed all the changes appearing in the fine print on coupons? Chances are you have seen a lot more wording on the bottom of your coupons as well as in-store restrictions regarding the amount of items allowed per customer. 

Have you ever asked yourself this question, “If the manufacturer puts the coupon out there, why do they care how many of the item you purchase?” In this column I am going to clarify why they, in fact, do care, and how this affects you with the changes in the fine print.

First of all, we need to understand that manufacturers and retailers are in business to make money not develop a home business for the consumer. Their goal is not for people to make money off their stockpile, nor to reach only the extreme couponers with their products.  

Manufacturers set in place, with advice from their marketing analyst, a marketing budget which allow them to promote their product at a balanced pace. In other words, they know there is a projected amount of coupons redeemed in regards to the coupons they put in circulation. They do not expect the payout to exceed a certain percentage. This percentage is usually below 6 percent. In 2010 this percentage was about 3 percent. Something else we need to remember is manufacturers want to develop a pattern of demand on their product based upon a large group of people and not on a limited group. 

The limited group we are talking about here is the “Extreme Couponer.” This group will monopolize the supply and give the manufacturer an unrealistic report of their product demand. 

Let’s take a look at some of the wording we are seeing on coupons:

• “No cash back if coupon exceeds retail value.” At some stores they will allow you to still use the coupon, although the item will not receive an overage, it will be free. At others they will not take the coupon if the value of it exceeds the item.

• “Good only on product indicated.” This will generally refer to the exact item pictured unless the wording states any variety.

• “Not to be used in conjunction with another promotional offer or coupon.” In simple terms—no stacking with a store coupon. This can also mean not to be used in conjunction with another promotion by the manufacturer like a mail-in rebate or even a store promotion if the store decides this to be the case.

• “One coupon per person per package of product indicated.” This means the customer will be entitled to use only one of this type coupon for the product indicate. Multiple coupons would not be allowed.

• “No more than two coupons for same product in same transaction.” Here we can see the manufacturer limiting us to two of the same type coupons for the same product. Depending on the store policy, this coupon would allow you to use two more in a separate transaction.

• “Void if purchased, traded or sold.” Most don’t like this fine print, however it does appear on most coupons. Coupons are not to be bought, sold, or traded. Why? Remember above, this often causes the manufacturers marketing budget to be exceeded. Now I would like to mention here these guidelines may seem quite restrictive and even opposite to the couponing patterns we have followed in the past. But, we must remember the manufacturer makes the rules and if we are going to benefit as well, we must follow them.

• “Limit one deal per coupon per customer.” Pretty straight forward here—You will only be allowed to use one of these coupons to receive the discount.

• “Limit one coupon per customer for this offer.” Like above, this will limit the customer to only one coupon for this product.

Last year the Coupon Information Corp. began sending letters to eBay sellers request the stop of selling coupons. Many did cooperate with this and cease selling coupons. According to the CIC, eBay, as well as organizations that offer clipping services, breeches the coupon terminology stating, “Void if sold or purchased.” As I stated above, this may be a pattern of use we have not given much thought to and have even fallen victim ourselves, however it is important as we began to understand what the manufacturer and retailer expect of us to abide by their regulations. 

Shortly after the “Extreme Couponing” show hit the air many manufacturers began applying wording to their coupons and placing limits on the couponer. This needs to be a wake-up call to the couponer. The manufacturer will adjust the guidelines if the coupons are being misused. As a matter of fact one retailer was denied a large – in the tens of thousands of dollars – reimbursement by the manufacturer due to what the manufacturer believed to be an excessive use of coupons by the consumer. 

Manufacturers are looking into a reasonable amount of coupons to be used for like items when it comes to building a stockpile. Remember they want us to use their products consistently, so we need to only buy what we will use in the six-to-eight week cycle not what will last us a year. Do all of these changes mean we will not be able to stockpile or save drastically enough to lower our household expenditures? Well, I guess this depends on us. If we start using coupons wisely and teach others to do so as well, we can expect manufacturers to continue offering great discounts. 

If we don’t we can expect to see changes affecting us all in major way. The saying is true, “One bad apple can ruin a bushel.” The CIC will be holding their annual conference in the early spring.  Let’s all commit today to deal wisely and show the CIC we desire to abide by their regulations. 

After all, what if it was our business, wouldn’t we expect the same?

“Therefore keep the words of this Covenant and do them, that you may deal wisely and prosper in all you do,” Deuteronomy 29:9.

Ann Haney is home-school mother of 18-plus years to six children (four entrepreneurs), CEO of Aaron Publishing, founder of Ann Haney Ministries and Living In Abundance, nationwide motivational speaker, coupon specialist, empowerment coach and best-selling author of 18 published products, including her books, “Exploding Into Successful Entrepreneurship” and “Single Steps In A Married World.” Contact Ann at to schedule a speaking engagement, individual coaching or view her website for more information at


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