A reader emailed with a question about the legitimacy of a printable coupon:
I found a coupon for Post-It Notes and I’m wondering if you think it’s fraudulent. It’s a PDF, and I think you posted a while back that that’s a sign the coupon isn’t real. Wouldn’t I find out for sure if I went to use it because it wouldn’t scan right at the store?
While they’re the exception rather than the rule, there are a few PDF coupons that are actually legitimate. In this case, I do believe that the link this reader mentioned is valid because it comes straight from the manufacturer’s website. Here’s the link to the coupon:
You can see that it’s a PDF file sourced directly at 3m.com, which is the manufacturer’s own website.
However, since it’s a PDF, it does mean that just about anyone could save the document and distribute it even after the manufacturer has pulled it off of their website. So, I would be very cautious about printing a PDF coupon if it’s no longer available on the manufacturer’s website.
As far as knowing whether or not it’s OK to use it based on whether or not it scans, that’s unfortunately not a good test because coupon barcodes are very easy to create and manipulate.
I’m actually not a fan of PDF coupons at all. At first, it seems great that you can print as many as you want, but what sometimes happen is that the manufacturer decides it’s gotten out of hand and “withdraws” the coupon offer even though it was once legitimate. Then, unknowing consumers try to use the coupon and find out that the manufacturer has notified the store that they won’t reimburse for that coupon anymore and you’ll have a rather embarrassing situation at the register.
There is also a link to it on the coupon database. I don’t know who maintains that and if I can assume any coupons links on there are valid?
The coupon database is maintained by a group of bloggers who are very concerned about coupon ethics. In general, I would assume coupon links on the coupon database on Springs Bargains are valid, but you should always exercise caution. If you do run across a coupon in the database that you suspect might be fraudulent, you can click the “Report” button so that it can be investigated.
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Welcome to Springs Bargains, a service of our real estate business, Circa Real Estate Group! I’m Carrie, and since 2008 I’ve been sharing free and discounted ways to eat, play, and enjoy life in Colorado Springs.