I came across this postcard secret which brings up the subject of ethics when using coupons:

coupon ethics

Is it OK to do things like this? Are there gray areas that you think are OK when using coupons? Is it OK to get away with what you can?

Courtesy of postsecret

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  1. No it’s not ok. Besides it being wrong and deceitful, it ends up hurting us in the end.

    The coupon costs the store, if the coupon is taken and the item wasn’t really bought, that’s money lost! They in turn jack prices up to carry the cost of issues like this and actual shoplifting.

    Which in all actuality, this could be called shoplifting. Your taking something from the store – this being money- that wasn’t yours.

    But that’s just my opinion.

  2. I can’t begin to tell you how wrong I think this is! This person can’t possibly think any retail store is going to be happy to lose money (whether it’s this kind of coupon scam, or ECB free items or rebate items). Somewhere SOMEONE is going to make up the difference — the welfare mom behind you who doesn’t have internet access to print off coupons or read about CVS deals, the grandmother behind her, the single mom behind her — prices will go up and someone is going to pay. The next worse thing to scamming coupons is getting items for free that you won’t use, just to say you got free things. Again — SOMEONE will make up the deficit. These retails stores aren’t going to go out of business or watch their bottom line go down because of coupons and rebates and freebies. Truly it’s a case of stopping and thinking about the consequences of your actions and “the greater good”.

  3. NO it is not ok!! It is wrong…it is stealing! Keep it up and you will force changes and ruin using coupons for the rest of us!! It is the same as slipping that jar of mustard into your purse…..

    Wait, was this a trick question????

  4. It’s morally wrong to try to use coupons for items you did not buy. I do however try to find a cashier that is fast at scanning coupons. It’s horrible when you get a cashier who does not know how to scan them and your whole line is up in arms! It’s not okay to get away with unethical practices or (what you can.) Your cashier will remember you and mark you if you try to be unethical. If you can prove that you are ethical, you build trust and get faster service!
    ~The Bargain Shopper Lady

  5. I just want to add that if I get FREE stuff that I know I won’t use it goes to the food pantry or House of Ruth (women & children that are victims of domestic abuse). This is in response to Joan…

    “The next worse thing to scamming coupons is getting items for free that you won’t use, just to say you got free things. Again — SOMEONE will make up the deficit.”


  6. It’s definitely not okay to do this. It’s stealing, plain and simple because you are taking something that is not yours and you are not entitled to. And, yes, as Mikki said, the store gets this happenning enough and they just raise the prices of items like these to cover the cost of “stolen” coupons.

    As far as free things that I will not use, I am like Ann in that I will often donate items to the food pantry or homeless shelter or to our parish.

  7. Most coupons have barcodes. When the coupons are scanned the register will beep and reject the coupon if the product wasn’t purchased.

    If the cashier is hand punching the amounts than it would be VERY easy to scam the store this way. Maybe some of the cashiers don’t care. Maybe they feel they’re not paid enough and this is a way to get back at the store. THEY don’t own the store.

  8. “Is it ok?”

    I think that’s like asking is it ok to rob a bank, mug a stranger.

    Things like that may help the person doing it … temporarily. But it will hurt them and US in the long run.

    I think it looks like you got your answer to this one.

  9. Of course it is not OK, but it depends on the persons morals. Actually, most up to date stores computers will reject coupons for items you did not purchase. Also, even if you bought the wrong size, it will reject. At least here in NY.
    We send a lot of samples we get to the military and we send expired coupons to bases overseas. They can use them for up to 6 months past expiration. All those hotel size items are good to. Most people wind up with a draw full that do not get used. Military looks for individually packaged items.

    Check it out at:



    (Make sure to send coupons that are no more than 2 months expired.)

  10. PS.

    We try to shop very late at night to avoid the wrath of people in line behind us. Most stores here on SI are opened 24 hours. But like some mentioned, when you get a cashier that does not know what they are doing, forget about it. Most times, we have to wind up going back next day to customer service to get a refund or something straightened out. I could operate cash registers with my eyes closed and hands tied behind my back. Thank G-d the machine tells them how much change to give you back. We usually do self check because you can scan your own coupons and enter in slot and out the door you go……

  11. i have been told that you can code match coupons and save tons of money…i.e. use a $4.00 Proctor & Gamble coupon coded 37000 and use for ANY Proctor & Gamble product coded 37000 getting much of your stuff free or for pennies. Has anyone else heard of this, does it work and is it legitimate?

  12. NO!!!! It is not all right. The store will lose money, which will mean higher prices for everyone. If enough people do things like this, there won’t be as many good sales/coupons made available so we all will pay the price. In my opinion, it’s on the same level as shoplifting.

  13. Actually, my aunt does this and sent an inquiry to Proctor and Gamble asking about the coupons coded 37000 and another code asking if they honor the coupons for other products coded the same other than the products listed. The response from Proctor and Gamble said that they still honor the coupons for any of the items that are coded the same, even if the picture is not on the coupon and if the items isn’t listed on the coupon. Therefore, the stores DO NOT lose any money and it is not wrong to do this. My aunt now takes that printed email everywhere she uses coupons to make sure the store allows her to use the coupons. The stores still get their money from the manufacturer.

  14. I just read the comment written by SS in June 2011. I have also heard of this but I am trying to gather more information on it. Is there any way I can get a copy of that email from Procter & Gamble? I am new to couponing and if I get stopped at the register, I can pull out the letter.

  15. I am not sure how to get the email unless you email Proctor and Gamble customer service yourself and print the response.

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