Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

April 21, 2013

The ‘shrinking bug’ and counterfeit coupons

Melinda Hester
The Independent

ASHLAND — Who are the couponers? You might think most have low incomes. The truth is, most make $50,000 to $100,000 or more. College graduates are more likely to coupon than high school graduates.

Using coupons makes us feel better about our purchases and the fact we have saved money. It allows us to try new products at low prices, stretching our resources.

When you enter the couponing world, you will learn a whole new language — words such as BOGO, freebies, stacking and OOP (that’s out of pocket; Sabra taught me that one). We use these terms without even thinking about them.

The ‘shrinking bug’

It’s hard to find items in stores that have not been hit by the “shrinking bug.” Everything is smaller, holds less or the packaging gives the illusion of getting more product than you actually end up with.

Those handles on the side of bottles are great for gripping, but they also give you about 2 fewer ounces of product. Turn the jar upside down, and you will probably see the bottom has been scooped out, also removing about 2 more ounces of product.

The inside of detergent bottles is designed to hold half as much. If you could safely cut one down the middle, you would see a little product and a lot of plastic space saver inside.

CVS coupons

Who does CVS decide to give coupons to? The more you shop at CVS, the fewer coupon offers you receive. You would think CVS would reward loyal shoppers, but they want to attract new shoppers.

CVS cards may be lucky, or unlucky. Some people receive random dollars in ExtraBucks or great coupons in the mail. According to CVS, coupons are based on shopping habits and frequency of visits.

Counterfeit coupons

Why do stores sometimes question your coupons? Counterfeit coupons are a real problem. Coupons are counted as money and used as money. Stores are paid a fee for handling them. Stores are especially reluctant to take printed-off coupons or coupons that appear to have been photocopied. If you photocopy a coupon, it is a criminal offense called counterfeiting.

If you sell coupons on eBay, you open yourself up to criminal penalties. You are not allowed to sell coupons. Sellers on eBay get around this by charging only a fee to ship them to you. The fee is overly high, so they make money from the shipping fee.

One girl in my class bought coupons from eBay and they wouldn’t scan. After complaining to eBay, it was looked into. The seller worked in a grocery store and the coupons had been scanned in her register. She then would take them and sell them on eBay. This was taking thousands from the store in coupon values and handling fees. She was charged with theft and fraud.

Check dollar stores for cosmetics

When a manufacturer decides to change the color scheme of makeup or the logo or appearance, first it goes on sale and then to the dollar stores. Use a coupon, and you can usually get it for free.

Shop clearance sales and outlets on the Internet. My favorite ring came from a HomeShoppers clearance sale. I love shopping Coldwater Creek Outlet. Beware of shipping fees. They can cause a good deal to go bad.

Amazon Prime offers free shipping in two days.

Where to find the best coupons

I recommend visiting CouponNetwork.com. Click on the Video Rewards icon to watch a short video and boost the value of some coupons. You can print manufacturers’ coupons. Collect YourBucks vouchers to spend like cash in the future.

Juniper Research predicts 10 billion coupons will be redeemed this year. That is a 50 percent increase over last year. Many of these will be from mobile apps.

Amazon sells everything and now has coupons! Go to Amazon.com for coupons to clip savings.

Coupons.com provides members with high-value coupons, from groceries to restaurants to entertainment. The program is $3 a month or $30 a year, but it will save you much more than that.


Through the new Offers program, you can click “like” on a retailer’s icon. Deals and coupons will pop up. I have “liked’’ many pages recently to get the coupons. From All Detergent to Science Diet Catfood, everything is on there.