The best, and perhaps least utilized, source of coupons is from the manufacturer. Manufacturers appreciate feedback from their customers. Whether you love a product or hate it, they want to know. To reward you, or placate you, or even replace the product, they generally offer coupons and these coupons are often much better than you can find anywhere else.
Customer support departments usually stock a range of high value, even free product coupons, with extended expiration dates (six months to one year). Unlike newspaper inserts, which are printed weekly, and in-store coupons, which are printed promotionally, these “in house” coupons are printed once a year or so. They are reserved specifically for customer support staff to provide to customers. If you purchase their products, or would like to, those coupons are there for you.
We have collected a list of manufacturer and brand contacts to help you through the maze of manufacturer websites and contact information. Before you start requesting coupons, though, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
When & How To Request Coupons
There are some general guidelines which are important to be aware of before you begin.
1. First and Foremost: Always remember, the customer support person who receives your email, letter, or phone call, is a real person with a real life. Customer service staff are often low paid, and treated with little regard. They don’t get bonuses for placating customers. They don’t have the power or authority to solve every problem. They do have the power to hang up, lose your email or letter, or put you on a blacklist. You, however, can treat them with respect, kindness, and understanding and maybe reap the rewards.
2. Do not request the manufacturer to send coupons because your local stores will not accept internet printables. While this may be true for you, this is not an issue the manufacturer is responsible for. It is a legal issue stores and internet coupon providers are struggling with. Manufacturers may respond with “once a year” coupon mailings, but generally will cite “fairness rules”, meaning this is a problem for everyone in your area. This also flags your account against future coupons if you have already received any during the year.
3. Do not request the manufacturer to send coupons because you cannot print their coupons through an internet printable provider, such as SmartSource or Boodle. At best, the manufacturer may tell you to contact that site’s technical support. This is a technical issue; the manufacturer will rarely respond with an offer to mail coupons.
4. If you receive a coupon link through a manufacturer’s web site or email and are unable to print it, do contact the manufacturer. A typical customer inquiry in this case may indicate that you would really like to try their product, enjoy their other products, etc., but you were unable to print the coupon. Convey your disappointment, frustration, time spent trying to print. Anything that indicates you have invested time, money, or emotions that they can compensate you for (with coupons). Ask if it is possible to receive the coupon by mail, including your name, address, and mailing address. You can ask if there are other sources for coupons; they may refer you to the newspaper, but they may provide additional coupons by mail.
5. If you want to compliment them for a product, personal stories are generally rewarded. Is the product better than other brands you’ve tried? Did it solve a problem for you, fill some great need, or is just plain outstanding? S.C. Johnson will almost always send a coupon for a free product identical to the one you complimented them on! Do you have a story that the marketing department would like? Make their day, and they just might make yours (with coupons).
6. If you want to complain about a product, think through the problem you are reporting. You cannot have your cake and eat it too – literally! If you are reporting spoilage, contamination, bacteria or something similar, the manufacturer may send packaging and shipping materials to you to return the product to them for testing. Once received, they will issue a refund and test the product. No coupons. No free products. This is a legal and liability issue for them, and is “above the paygrade” of a few coupons. If you say a product made you ill, you may receive requests for doctors information, or even a call from their lawyer. Again, this is nothing personal to you, this is their legal responsibility to determine if your issue is the start of a bigger issue for them, or even a recall.
The same is generally true of breakage; you might need to return the product and receive a refund. This is strictly at the discretion of the company, but think about their legal requirements and your expectations before you contact them for a major problem.
If however you have encountered a more minor problem , the manufacturer will still want to know, and they will generally compensate you for your time and frustration by sending coupons :). Examples: if the sour cream or yogurt container wasn’t full, or the lid wasn’t sealed; if the ice-cream was gooey and melted, or even icy; if the trigger on the trigger spray was difficult to use with your arthritis; let them know. Typically coupons for one or two free (replacement) items will be provided, along with additional coupons to encourage you to continue to use their brands.
If you are reporting a product complaint, make sure you have
- the item UPC
- lot number
- packing info
- date of purchase
- name of store purchased
- price paid.
7. Be reasonable. Think it through. If you contact the manufacturer and inform them that they have the worst products in the world, it won’t make sense that you want coupons for more. If you tell them you would never use another brand, why would they need to provide coupons? If, however, you have been a loyal customer for a previous item or product within the brand, but really dislike or have problems with a different item, that makes sense.
Be careful about recommending new products; your suggestion may be well received or you may be referred to corporate patent lawyers. Why? Competitors phish for information on new products, and some people want to later claim patent rights. If a company asks, feel free to offer, but be sensitive to their legal concerns.
8. Sign up for Future Offers and Newsletters. Most manufacturers maintain not only a website, but newsletters, and sign-up links to receive discounts and special promotions through email or postal mail. If offered the choice, select both. Promotions and coupons provided are generally lower value than those received through a direct contact. However, they also are provided regularly. While you probably will not receive offers for one to three months, as promotions become available, you will receive them.
9. Don’t go back to the well too often. Once you have contacted a manufacturer, there is usually a 30 – 90 day limit before you can request coupons again. This doesn’t hold true for complaints; however, the reasonableness rule applies. he companies do keep track of your information, and you can be “blacklisted” for constant complaints.
How to Contact Manufacturers
Websites are the best source for contacting the company. For large companies with multiple products and promotions, however, finding the correct website can be difficult (see our above list which should help).
If you can't find the contact information on our list, a good starting place is the Sunday inserts. Frequently the website for the particular product or promotion is listed. Often additional offers are available on the websites.
Also, look at the product package. The website or phone number to contact is generally provided.
From the website, use the “contact us” link. Either an email address or a contact form is generally provided. Fill out the required information. Always provide your mailing address, even if it is not requested. They can't send you coupons if they don't know where to send them to!
Be polite, be appropriate, and be clear. Smaller companies often respond to a simple request for coupons. Larger companies often do not: they receive thousands of requests each day, and likely already pay for coupons to be available in your area newspaper or stores. Most companies respond to specific and detailed compliments or complaints, which may or may not include a request for coupons.