Coupon Decoding by: FrooGAL Heather!

Decoding Coupons…Right or Wrong?

When I first learned how to use coupons, I was ecstatic!  I’d finally found a way to get the things my family enjoys without breaking the bank.  Unfortunately, I learned some unethical practices and used them.  I mean, wasn’t the point of coupons to get a deal and save a buck at all costs???  Well…part of that is true. 

The main reason I started couponing was to save money.  Plain and simple.  With a family of 6 (and 6 dogs), it pays to be frugal.  What I have found is that my desire to save money turned itself into a desire to be a good steward of the money that God has so graciously given me.  Now, while I want to provide and score big deals, I cannot do it ‘at all cost’.

The trick I learned and used often is called, ‘Decoding’.  I have seen Blogs and other coupon sites teach how to do this.  Seeing it on some pretty well known sites, I didn’t really put much thought into whether or not it was wrong.  But, since I am trying so hard to please God in ALL things I do, it just didn’t ‘feel’ right.  Not only that, I don’t think God is pleased in trying to hack the system.

I feel as if we all have levels of morality and we have to decide within ourselves if this is the right thing to do.  I feel as if there are plenty of deals to be had by using the coupons for their intended purpose.

What is Coupon Decoding?

Basically, it is analyzing the bar code on a coupon to see if it will work on different items within the product family of said coupon (preferably less expensive).

I will not go into details here about how this is done as we, at FrooGALity, are not going to be responsible for teaching any unethical practices.  Let’s just say that there is a “glitch” in the bar code that allows the use of a coupon on an item other than what is described on the coupon.  And, this is wrong. 

Why is it wrong if it works?

Bar codes were placed on coupons as a more efficient way to use coupons.  Way back when, cashiers had to manually redeem all coupons by hand, this took quite some time (even for a small amount).  But once scanning technology came into the picture, everything was more seamless and quicker.  Basically, bar coding is merely a way to speed up the coupon processing.

The text of the coupon IS the offer. Taking advantage of a glitch in the bar code to get around the text of the coupon is fraud.  It’s not fraud on the level of AIG, but it is still fraud nonetheless.

If you have a coupon for $1.00 off of “Product X” for 100 ounces and you use your coupon for “Product Y” for 50 ounces, you are committing coupon fraud.

Moreover, if you have a coupon for $1.00 off of “Product X” for 100 ounces and use the coupon for the same product but a smaller size, say 50 ounces, you are still committing coupon fraud.

Basically, your coupons are to be used for the product and size listed on your coupon and nothing else.  Anything else is wrong.  Period.

It comes down to what you are comfortable with.  Only YOU can decide your honesty level.  If you are comfortable in scamming the system, then by all means, we can’t stop you.  But, for those of us who are actively trying to save our money for our families, this WILL mess things up for us. 

Companies give us a great gift by allowing us to use coupons on their items and shows like Extreme Couponing have probably hurt us more than helped us.  Most everyone I know is now couponing, and that’s great.  But, more often than not, they’re using wrong tactics to get savings.  This WILL change coupon policies and will cause bigger companies to cut down on the coupons they put out.

With all that said, there are many gray areas in couponing and many of us don’t see things in black and white in the same areas.  I think that we need to follow our conscience because we are the only one that is accountable to God for our choices.

Happy Couponing from the FrooGALS!

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