Ethics of Couponing ~ Reselling Stockpiles

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Yesterday I asked the question on my facebook page:

Reselling Stockpiles ~ OK or NOT OK?

Thanks to everyone that replied.  I had a feeling that it would be a 50/50 debate.  This is very hot and heated topic all across the couponing blogosphere.

Over the weekend I came across several posts on Facebook Classifieds pages advertising Garage Sales.  What caught my eye, was the pictures of rows upon rows of household items they were selling.  These items were new, never opened and clearly purchased with coupons to get them for free or close to it.  It wouldn't have bothered me to see a few items, but it did, when I saw 100 bottles of the same shampoo, 100 boxes of Toothpaste, 30 bottles of the same Laundry Soap, 50 sticks of Brut Deodorant, 75 packages of Huggies Baby Wipes, and the list goes on.  It didn't look like a garage sale, it looked like a grocery store in their garage!

Coupons and Coupon use are being abused everyday.  The more it happens, the more likely they will go away.  Please educate yourself, from reliable sources.  There are some things that you might not be aware of that will get you in trouble.

The Coupon Information Center, or CIC, is your reliable source.  The CIC is a not-for-profit association of consumer product manufacturers dedicated to fighting coupon misredemption and fraud.

This isn't me standing on my soapbox and telling you why I THINK reselling stockpiles is wrong.  These are the facts.  It is not my intention to offend anyone that has conducted “Stockpile” sales or to offend anyone that purchased anything from these types of sales.  My passion is couponing.  It's saving money and teaching others to do the same.  Knowledge is Power

Before I talk about the problem of ReSelling Stockpiles, let's dig a little deeper. You see, the problem isn't solely on these people making a profit on these items.  A big problem lies in “how they acquired” these items.  There are 3 concerns that need to be addressed:

1. How these people acquired 100's of the same coupons.  The only legal way to obtain coupons is to buy a Sunday Newspaper where they are contracted to be distributed.  Plain and simple. Even asking your delivery boy or the 7-11 clerk for leftover coupons is going against their vendor agreement that they have with the newspaper and can cause termination.   If these “Extreme Couponers” are selling 100s of the same item, they either bought a 100 newspapers or acquired those coupons in some other way.  The selling/buying of coupons from “Coupon Clipping Services” or even Ebay is wrong and very possibly supporting illegal activity! While it might not be a crime to sell a coupon, illicitly acquiring mass amounts of inserts is. Every coupon states, Void if sold or auctioned.  These so called “Coupon Clipping Services” make the claim that you are not buying the coupons, you are merely buying their time to find and cut out the coupon.  Some of them say you are buying the envelope that they are mailing the coupons in!  Them stating this to you, should be all the proof you need that they KNOW that what they are doing is wrong!  Here's what the CIC has to say about buying coupons:

Buying coupons. When a person buys coupons, they may be inadvertently purchasing stolen property or counterfeit coupons. Even if there is not a direct criminal penalty involved, both coupon buyers and sellers open the door to potential litigation when they buy or sell coupons because they are in violation of the “nontransferability” clause printed on all coupons distributed within the United States. The transfer makes a coupon void. Coupon sellers often include legal disclaimers stating that they are selling their time, a service, or even envelopes that just happen to contain coupons instead of the coupons themselves. Such statements are invalid and do not offer any legal protection. Rather, such statements suggest that the sellers know that their coupon sales are inappropriate and wrong.

2. How these people used their coupons against the terms directly on them.  Many coupons clearly state: Limit 4 Like coupons per household per day; 2 Like Coupons per household per day.  Either these people are shopping everyday or they aren't adhering to the rules.  So what about the stores?  How can they allow this to happen?  I know that Smith's has a policy of “Making it Right for the Customer”.  This is great!  However, it's taken advantage of.  Just because Smith's might not stop you from using your coupons fraudulently doesn't mean that you should!

3.  How these people cleared the shelf for their own gain.  There is nothing more frustrating than finding the shelves empty within the first few hours of the sale.  Well actually, there is.  Finding those items at a garage sale! Here's what the CIC has to say about Shelf Clearing:

Shelf-Clearing. Coupons are intended to provide a large number of consumers with a discount. They are not intended to provide a few individuals with the opportunity to strip the shelves of more product than they will ever reasonably need. The number of stores placing limits on the number of coupons an individual can use in a shopping trip is increasing because of a small number of individuals who will clear a store of all their stock. You shouldn’t try to exceed these limitations.  Please be considerate when shopping at stores that don’t currently have any coupon related limitations. Buy what you need for your personal use, including enough for future use, but please leave product for other shoppers to buy.

 Now, onto the matter of ReSelling Stockpiles.  It's not the crime of the century if you sell a bottle of shampoo, from your personal stash, for $.50 to your sister.  It won't land you in jail like this couple, to sell a package of wipes to your neighbor because she's out and doesn't have time to run to the store.  I agree that your stockpile is yours and that ultimately you can do what ever you want with it.

This article is focusing on those that purchase items with the intention to resell.  Let's say that these people really did buy 100 newspapers.  Let's say that they did go to the store everyday and they didn't clear the shelf.  Is it still OK that they resell the items?  A lot of people will justify that it is.  This article is to bring to your attention that purchasing items, with coupons, with the sole purpose of reselling them for a profit IS wrong!  No matter how it's justified.

Let's take a close look at this coupon above.  I chose this coupon because this product was pictured in 3 of the 4 Facebook classified pages.  One of them showing 70+ bottles.  Just a few weeks ago this product was Free at Smith's with a coupon and a catalina. The fine print on this coupons says “Maximum of 2 like coupons allowed in same shopping trip”.  It says that this coupon is for consumers, not businesses.  It also goes on to say “Coupon void if used to purchase products for resale”.  There you have it!  Look at all of your P&G Coupons.  They say “Coupons not authorized if purchasing products for resale”. Coupons are meant for CONSUMERS.  Coupons are meant to save your family money on the items that your family needs and uses.  Coupons are not meant to create a second income (thanks Ariel, very well said!)

Below are reliable, legitimate sources, that back up this topic even further:

Here's what the CIC has to say about ReSelling Stockpiles:

Reselling Stockpiles. Coupons are intended to give individual consumers a good deal, not provide a method for people to set up unauthorized grocery stores or flea markets in their garages, basements or backyards. Such sales usually violate the terms and conditions of the coupons themselves and may be in violation of local health codes. As a consumer, do you really want to buy a product that has been stored in a stranger’s basement for weeks, months or even years?

Here's what it says on the Proctor and Gamble Coupon Redemption Policy, updated March 20, 2014:

2. Coupons are redeemable only by a consumer purchasing the brand, size(s) and quantity(ies) as indicated on the coupon. The face value of the coupon is deducted from the retail selling price. Multiple P&G coupons, including using a paper and digital coupon together, may not be applied against the purchase of the same item. There is a limit of four (4) like coupons per household per day.
13.  […..] P&G may deny reimbursement for coupons that are misredeemed (including, but not limited to, coupons that have been used to purchase products for resale).

Here's what it says on the Unilever Coupon Redemption Policy:

2. Coupons are redeemable only when consumers purchase the product/flavor/ brand/sizes/quantities indicated prior to the expiration date on the face of the coupon and retailers deduct the face value from their retail price. Coupons are not authorized to be used when the consumer is purchasing products for resale. 

No matter how you justify reselling stockpiles, it's wrong.  It goes against the terms set by the manufactures. “The Penalties, criminal or civil, can be severe.”  Coupons are a good thing and we don't want them to go away.  Follow the rules and the limitation set on the coupon.  Coupon ethically.  Instead of selling your stockpiles, teach others how to coupon for themselves.    
I'm going to close by quoting the CIC

Set an example. Most couponers are simply smart shoppers who know a great deal when they see it. Unfortunately, the inappropriate actions of a few extreme couponers inaccurately portray couponers in a bad light. Try to raise the bar by following the rules, and being a courteous shopper.

.What are your thoughts?  We'd like to hear them.

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7 thoughts on “Ethics of Couponing ~ Reselling Stockpiles

  1. Anonymous says:

    What do you think about shopping services, where someone shops and delivers groceries to someone's door? The customer is paying for groceries and paying the delivery person. If the person shopping uses coupons, the customer is benefiting from the savings, not the delivery person. Is this a breach policy?

  2. Anonymous says:

    My mother works in grocery store administration. Her store makes a profit of $0.01 on every $1.00 sold. Extreme couponing could be potentially disastrous to a grocery store's ability to compete with big super centers.

  3. Heather says:

    While it may very well be against coupon manufacturs “policy” it is NOT ILLEGAL so therefore I will keep buying goods from my coupon lady and getting stuff at 1/2 cost of the store thanks though

  4. couponer says:

    buying coupons from coupons clippers is no different then buying the newspaper that contains coupons, you’re still buying the coupons, should people who love to coupon follow the policy? of course, if the your coupon say 4 like in one transaction per day, and the store owner chooses to accept 20 in a day that’s his prerogative, it seems as though the people have a problem with couponers and how they use it as a mean to survive. they aren’t doing anything the small retail stores aren’t doing . you have small retail owner shopping super walmart. dollar general ,family dollar, and other retail stores sale paying a fraction on the price and stocking their shelves raising the price and no one is complaining, are talking about fraud, are worried about the worker jobs. are the shelves being cleared , are how that could land them in jail, give it a rest already, the items are put in the stores to be bought, just because the couponers are getting there first, don’t make it illegal, stop crying, and get in the game once you purchase something it’s your’s to do as you choose , you could sell it, give, it away, throw it away, burn, drown it, take your car car and run over it, what ever. couponersd good job get those sales, we all fall on hard times and have mouths to feed,

  5. Kim says:

    It’s coupon abuse, pure and simple. Things like this are exactly why it’s getting harder for ethical couponers to continue. And exactly why companies aren’t giving them out like they used to. Unfortunately we see our society talking advantage of anything and everything, irregardless of whether it’s ethical or right. If you can get away with it, it’s someone else’s problem. We all end up paying for other’s crimes in the end.

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