There are still a number of stores out there that refuse to honor Internet coupons (also called online coupons or printable coupons) due to the false impression that all coupons from the Internet are counterfeit. This impression does have its root in truth, but the problem has been largely solved.
In the early 2000s a rash of counterfeit coupons hit the Internet and many stores accepted them without realizing that they were counterfeit. When it became apparent that the coupons were counterfeit, the grocery stores that accepted them had huge losses which they had to absorb. Not wanting that to happen again, many grocery stores decided to not accept Internet coupons at all.
The coupon providers and manufacturers realized that the counterfeit coupons could greatly harm their business, so they worked together to come up with solutions so that grocery stores could verify if a coupon was counterfeit or not. Today, coupons printed from the Internet will have features such as a scannable bar code, an expiration date and the address of the manufacturer. There should also be information on the coupon explaining how it can be verified.
Most grocery stores now accept Internet coupons, but it is likely that you will run across a store manager that refuses them if you are active in couponing. If this is the case with a store near you, here are a couple of steps that you can take to try and change that.
If it is a national chain grocery store, write to the headquarters and ask for a letter that explains the grocery store chain's Internet coupon policy. You can then take this with you to the store if you have any problems. You can also print out this letter from Internet coupon company SmartSource Senior Vice President Henri Lellouche which explains why the Internet coupons are legitimate and a phone number the store manager can call if more verification is needed.
If you have had issues with the cashier accepting Internet coupons in the past, go to the customer service desk and get all of your Internet coupons approved beforehand by the agent or store manager. This should rectify any problems the cashier may have.
Unfortunately, you may have to educate and retrain the store manager that Internet coupons are as acceptable as those found in the Sunday newspapers to reap their rewards.