I just want to vent my frustration. Several chain drugstores often put the words ‘Coupon in Most Sunday Papers’ in their weekly ads. Our city has several hundred thousand people, yet many of these coupons are never in our Sunday paper with tons of other coupons. One drugstore usually has a store coupon available, but it is not as good as the manufacturer’s coupon. A popular makeup brand that I like also does not seem to make their coupons available online to print out. I feel cheated that I can’t get these coupons and have to pay more because of where I live! I also resent the advertisers that say ‘Coupons in Most Sunday Papers’ because they are lying.”
To understand why this happens, it’s important to understand that the coupon inserts in each city, region and even in each newspaper in the same market area can be different. Advertisers can pick and choose exactly where they’d like to run coupons for their product.
Unfortunately, we don’t always receive every coupon we’d like. I subscribe to two different newspapers in my area, and nearly every week, the coupons in each papers’ inserts are different. Both papers are available in the same area, in the same city – but the coupons aren’t the same at all.
I often hear from couponers that this practice “isn’t fair”, however, coupons are a privilege, not a right. Brands and retailers do not have to offer the same discounts to every area and often, they don’t.
Manufacturers have other reasons to restrict coupons to specific areas. I’m aware of several brands that have pulled their coupons from the inserts in different parts of the country in an effort to combat coupon theft and resale.
Meanwhile, the weekly advertisements used by the major drugstores are typically the same nationwide with minimal, if any, variations. Before those ads are printed, the brands featured within have shared information about upcoming coupon campaigns with these retailers. This makes it easy for these stores to note that there may be a coupon available the same week that a product is on sale – the “Coupons in Most Sunday Papers” call-out that we often see.
The key, of course, is the word most. Most papers around the country likely do contain the coupons in question – most, but not all. It’s never fun to learn that you didn’t receive a coupon that a good portion of the rest of the country did. When this happens, though, there are a few alternatives to check out.
Check the store’s website or app for possible coupons. I often find that the store has a corresponding electronic coupon, even if the value is different than the one that ran in the paper. A lower-value coupon is better than no coupon at all.
Check the brand’s website and popular coupon websites for potential printable coupons. Many brands offer printable coupons, and if you don’t find a coupon on the brand’s own site, you may find one on sites like Coupons.com, SmartSource.com or RedPlum.com.
Check coupon apps such as Checkout 51, Ibotta and SavingStar to see if there are cash-back offers for the products you’re interested in buying.
If you’ve racked up loyalty cash or rewards at the drugstore, consider using these to purchase your item, too. Several large pharmacy chains offer cash back for future purchases in the forms of paper coupons or points. These promotions typically have expiration dates, and it would be better to use it on your sale item of choice, even without another coupon, than to let it expire without using it.
If you’re stuck in a no-coupon zone for a particular promotion, you’re not alone. I love getting discounts on the things I buy frequently, but I also understand that when I don’t, it’s just part of the “game” of couponing. We win some and we lose some. Remember, brands do not have to offer coupons at all. I continue to be happy that so many of them do.
Jill Cataldo, a coupon workshop instructor, writer and mother of three, never passes up a good deal.