Thursday, January 08, 2009

The Coupon Racket

I think Michael's has a coupon racket going. Several months ago, I signed up for their e-mail notifications to receive coupons in my e-mail. They started sending me a 20%-off-one-item coupon every two weeks or so. The coupons were generally valid for one week. I'd usually only buy one item and use the coupon every couple weeks and call it good. Kinda nice, actually!

Then the receipt coupons started. When I'd go into the store, I'd get a coupon for 50%-off along with my receipt when I checked out. Those coupons were only good for the week following my purchase. I've also noticed that if I use one of the 50%-off receipt coupons, they give me another one when I leave, but the next one is a step down. A 50%-off coupon yields a 40%-off coupon, and if I use a 20%-off coupon, I'll get a 10%-off coupon.

If I use an e-mail coupon, however, I'll usually get the same or better on a receipt coupon. And the store staggers their coupons: if the e-mail reward is small, the receipt coupons are pretty big. Then you have a better coupon for next time, but you probably won't get an e-mail one the next week.

It's a racket! They're just plying customers with seemingly good rewards. The 50%-off ones are great, especially when buying something that's rarely on sale (OTT-lights for example, which I can't afford even with a coupon), but when they don't work for sale items and half the crap in the store is "on sale," it's not going to do anything.

I've learned to wait on beads: they go on sale at least once per month. The Wilton baking stuff is never on sale, though. I can sometimes get paint or other crafting items on sale, but often the coupon is the best way to save a few cents. A great coupon will be a 50%-off-total-purchase, but most of them are 15-30%-off-one-item. I am learning to ignore those.

Two things I've learned: first, the coupons can be printed more than once. If you have a 50%-off e-mail coupon, you can print it more than once and use copies every day until it expires. The store allows this! Second, just because you have a coupon doesn't mean you have to use it. If you don't need something, don't buy it. The store will get your money, and you'll have crap you don't need. So beware of the coupon racket. Use them wisely to save money.

1 comment:

cm0978 said...

Your last paragraph is just like the bargain bookshelves at Borders: buy one, get one half-price! But what if I can only fine one book I really like, and another book I could sort of read, but do I really want to spend that money on a so-so book?