I saw this new story out of Texas about a woman arrrested for allegedly stealing coupon inserts from newspapers she hadn’t purchased from a coin operated distribution box. The story may seem ridiculous in the mainstream, but for the honest couponer just trying to save – it’s a big deal.
Newspaper offices are being bombarded with phone calls from consumers asking how they can get their leftover inserts for FREE. Carriers are being asked on a regular basis what they do with their extras. I’m hearing more complaints via e-mail and on the Queen Bee Coupons Facebook page that people are purchasing papers from local stores and finding the inserts are missing.
I was talking to someone at a newspaper company and this is the gist of a real conversation they had with a caller. It’s not verbatim, but you get the idea:
- Caller – Is it possible to get extra coupon inserts that aren’t going to be used?
- Newspaper – No, we aren’t able to give these away. They are destroyed after a certain date if they are not sold in a paper.
- Caller – Well, where are they destroyed?
- Newspaper – We have a process on site of disposing of the unused inserts.
- Caller – Well, where can I find them after they’ve been disposed of?
- Newspaper – Well I’m not really at liberty to tell you that.
- Caller – Is there are a gate or something? I mean what’s stopping me from coming and getting the inserts?
Whoa there, buddy! I mean really – people aren’t getting it. You can’t (or shouldn’t) just get your coupon inserts for FREE. It illegal. And climbing over some fence and into some recycling bin or incinerator is just plain stupid. But that’s not stopping people.
I think a big reason for the spike in coupon theft is people saw episodes of Extreme Couponing where individuals were getting stacks and stacks of inserts for FREE. One lady said she gets leftovers from her carrier (illegal) and another said she gets them from God!? Hmmm, I’m well aware that God is in the business of redemption – but coupon redemption? That takes it a little far.
Maybe some of you have found a nice “connection” who is hooking you up with coupons for FREE. But it puts the paper at risk to be dropped from the coupon insert network. For example, your Cousin Vinny has a hook-up and he’s getting you 50 FREE Smart Source inserts from your local Daily News each week, you might think it’s no big deal – but if Smart Source found out they’d likely stop putting their inserts in the Daily News, because it’s a violation of their contract with the paper.
Let’s think about this:
- Coupons are advertisements. Plain and simple. Companies pay BIG money to put out coupons into newspaper inserts and they are carefully strategized about what areas (and papers) they are distributed through. The goal is also simple – that you open your paper on Sunday morning, see a coupon for SuperDuperSoap product and you think, “hmmm, I’m almost out of soap, I think I’ll clip this coupon and pick some up at the store.” Then you fall madly in love with the SuperDuperSoap and you buy it for the rest of your life, coupon or not.
- Newspapers make their money from advertisements. Plain and simple. Sadly, they aren’t making money from the news end of things. A lot of newspapers are sold specifically for the advertisements and coupons inside (sound familiar?). Without a coupon insert a newspaper loses a lot of it’s value for the average consumer – and especially the couponer.
- Where is this sense of entitlement coming from? Why do people always want something for FREE? Okay, okay, I get wanting to get something for FREE the honest way – like using a $1 coupon on a $1 item and getting it FREE – that’s what we do as couponers. But since when have people had such a sense of entitlement that they think they can steal? That’s basically what these people are doing that are taking the inserts.
What can you do to get your coupons, the HONEST way:
- Before you purchase a newspaper in store, double check to make sure coupons are inside
- If you repeatedly find empty newspapers have a conversation with the store manager. If that doesn’t yield results, consider calling the Circulation Manager for that particular newspaper and express your concerns about the missing inserts.
- Ask your friends, family members or neighbors if you can have their extra inserts. That’s not hurting anyone and it’s being resourceful. Maybe return the favor with a box of FREE Froot Loops.
- Set up a coupon swap group to get together every couple of weeks and share coupons with your friends.
If you subscribe to the paper, the newspaper should guarantee your inserts are inside your paper. If they are missing from your home delivery paper, there are only a coupon reasons why they would be missing – they fell out of the sorter machine at the printer, your carrier made a mistake and left it out (probably inadvertently).
If you find yourself tempted to steal inserts. Stop. You might find yourself saving more (an extra $1?), but you’re losing your integrity – and no FREE shampoo or toilet paper is worth that.
Now let’s discuss. I want to hear your thoughts on this!