Why Online Coupons Sometimes Don’t Work

[ 0 ] September 27, 2010 |

First of all, I want to make it clear that I’ll be discussing why online coupons/promo codes don’t work sometimes. I’m not addressing why the grocery coupons you print off aren’t accepted at some stores, but here are some helpful articles about that:

It’s unarguably a pain in the butt to spend time researching discounts that don’t end up working. You paste the code in the promo box and hit submit, only to get that pesky error message, “Coupon code is invalid.”

But why don’t online coupons work sometimes? Here are a few reasons:

1. The Coupon Is Expired

Most of the time, the invalid offer is old. Often merchants create coupons for very short periods – sometimes for a week, weekend, day or even for just a few hours. By the time these coupons are posted in forums and shared, they don’t work. Keep an eye out for “valid until” dates and be mindful that any coupon listed on a forum runs the risk of being expired.

2. You Don’t Meet the Requirements

Some offers have pretty specific requirements, like a minimum purchase order (before tax) or country restrictions. It’s annoying, but do read the fine print of an online coupon to make sure you meet all conditions.

3. The Coupon Was Stolen

Many merchants reward loyal customers or those who’ve signed up to their email newsletter/catalog with special coupon codes for incredible discounts – sometimes up to 50% off or more. These coupons are only meant for a small group and not meant to be shared. Doing so means the merchant can end up losing out on a lot of revenue. When coupons are stolen or misused, it usually doesn’t take long for the merchant to make the promo code invalid.

Some merchants are getting around this problem by making their coupons good for one-time use only. Once you redeem your discount, you can’t use it again.

The biggest occurrence of stolen coupons is on coupon forums, where users post the promo codes they receive in emails, catalogs and on Facebook. Most people don’t read the fine print or realize the offer is one-time use, so the coupons they post are useless to everyone else.

4. People Confuse Online Coupons with Printable Coupons

When you search for online coupons, the majority of the time, you get coupons for online purchase only. If you’re actually looking online for coupons to print, do a search for “printable coupons,” not “online coupons.” Feel free to get specific, typing in things like “printable grocery coupons,” “coupons to print at home” or “printable Gap coupon.”

While some merchants do offer the occasional discount that can be used both online (with a promo code) and printed off and brought in-store, you’re usually better off making the distinction early in your search.

So how do you get around these issues?

Here are a few tips for finding online coupons that work:

  • Use coupon sites that offer merchant-approved coupons instead of sites that allow users to submit coupons.
  • Look for mentions of the coupon being recently “tested,” “approved” or “working.”
  • Sign up for the email newsletters of your favorite stores so you get the promo codes direct from the retailer.
  • Read the fine print (there usually isn’t much) so you don’t miss any restrictions, expiration dates and usage instructions.

Do you have a question about using online coupons? Drop us a comment, and we’ll find you an answer. :)

Category: shopping tips

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