With the popularity of online coupons on the rise, the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois (BBB) offers advice for identifying deals and avoiding deceptive offers.
Sixty-eight percent of American adults use print coupons according to a survey http://www.experian.com/blogs/marketing-forward/2011/03/31/print-coupon-use-strong-despite-increase-in-digital-coupons/ conducted by Experian Simmons Research. The survey also found that 22 percent of these adults use digital coupons obtained from email or the Internet. "We're all looking for ways to save money; redeeming online coupons is growing in popularity as a result," said Steve J. Bernas, president & CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. "Some coupons, however, are not as great a deal as they may appear and consumers should use caution when clicking on coupons online. It is important for consumers to fully realize what the use of a coupon means."
The BBB offers the following advice on redeeming online coupons:
- Check out who is offering the coupon. Consumers should check to see if the coupon is being offered directly by the store or if it is being offered by a third-party such as a partner or affiliate. If it is via a third-party, they might ask for additional info or require the consumer sign up for services to redeem the coupon. If so, the BBB recommends using extreme caution before sharing any personal information. Check the company out, free of charge, at http://www.bbb.org/
- Be cautious of pop-up offers. The BBB advises coupon clickers to be wary of pop-up ad coupon offers that require you to immediately click to redeem. Clicking on the ad may automatically sign the consumer up for services they were not interested in receiving, causing them to be billed every month.
- Read the fine print. Carefully read the terms and conditions for the use of the coupon. Check for the expiration date, limitations of use and whether it is an online coupon good for only online purchases or if it can also be redeemed at the physical store location.
- Will the coupon be honored? With some stores concerned about fraud related to online coupons, not all businesses are eager to redeem them. The BBB recommends contacting the store where you wish to use the coupon directly to find out whether the coupon is being honored or not.
- Be wary of required phone calls. Be extremely cautious if the coupon requires the consumer call the company to redeem the value of the coupon, and/or has any requirement to give personal information.
- Don't fall for phony coupons via e-mail. Many fake coupons have been making the rounds via e-mail and just because it may come from a friend or family member, don't assume the coupon is legitimate.