This week we're going to hear from Crystal from over at Coupon Beat. Christy and I often get a number of questions in Ask I Heart Publix about coupon clipping services. We answer them as best we can, but to find out more I knew we’d have to go to the source! So a few weeks ago I contacted Crystal to ask if she’d write in for the Reader Spotlight and try to answer some of your questions and make you more familiar with coupon clipping services in general. So without further ado, I’ll let Crystal take the stage!
COUPONS COUPONS COUPONS!!! Everywhere you look, in magazines, newspapers, online websites and many other locations, you can and will see COUPONS! Everybody knows what coupons are, but not everybody knows how or why to use them like we do. Most people wonder why we would spend our valuable time clipping coupons to save a few pennies here and there. They just don’t understand terms like overage and stacking, but if they did, they’d realize the time spent clipping coupons could reduce their grocery bill by as much as 50% or more!
However, even those of us who already know (or are learning) the true value of couponing can sometimes struggle to find the coupons we need to get the best deal. We can of course find online coupons at manufacturer’s websites or bigger sites like Coupons.com, RedPlum, and SmartSource, but the most obvious and well-known source of coupons is of course the Sunday newspaper. Clipping services like mine can also be a great resource for specific coupons – the same ones you’d find in your Sunday newspaper – but with the added convenience of allowing you to select only the coupons you actually need or want!
Since I own and run Coupon Beat, I thought I would try to address some of the questions you might have concerning coupon-clipping services and give a brief explanation of how I run my business.
First and foremost, I do not sell coupons! I know of no reputable coupon clipping service that sells coupons. If you read the fine print on most coupons, it will tell you the actual cash value of the coupon is something close to .00001 cent and some specifically say that you can’t sell them. When you go to www.couponbeat.com and place an order, you are actually paying shipping and handling. In other words, you are paying for my time and expense of clipping and shipping you coupons, but the coupons themselves are free.
Some may wonder why anyone would use a clipping serive when all they have to do is buy a Sunday paper. There are a number of reasons: first, Sunday papers only have one of each coupon, and if you need more than one of any specific coupon, you have to buy more than one newspaper. If you are buying newspapers just to get a handful of coupons, you are limiting if not eliminating your total savings obtained by using the coupons. Typically, I have many of the same coupons available and most people buy multiples of the same coupon. Sometimes, they just want to buy several of a specific item and other times, especially if the coupon is a moneymaking coupon (overage), they buy many to increase their overage. Also, if you only want one or two specific coupons, it often is much cheaper to get them from a clipping service than it would be to actually buy a newspaper.
Once you determine that a clipping service is right for you, you then need to find one you can trust. Unfortunately, there is no 100% guaranteed method to determine who is a reputable dealer and who is not. That being said, here are some precautions that should help you find reputable dealers:
- If you are using bidding sites like Ebay, check the person’s feedback before bidding or purchasing. (I think that feedback is so important that I installed a feedback system on my site, too!)
- If you are thinking about using a clipping service with its own individual site, you can do a little research on the site itself. One way to do this would be to go to Centralops.net , type in the url of the website you are investigating and click “GO.” This site will give you various basic information about that domain – how long it has been around and (usually) contact information for the owner of the site. If the site has been around for a long time, there is a better chance that it’s reputable, but if the service you’re looking at is fairly new, I would recommend caution.
- Once you determine which service to use, start off with one or two small purchases and if possible use an online pay service like PayPal to keep your credit card information more secure. This will let you test out the service and make sure it meets your needs before you make any larger purchases.
As you can see, the bottom line here is: just be careful and use common sense as you explore clipping services, and your experience is likely to be a good one.
Many people often ask where clipping services get their coupons. Personally, I have a supplier who provides me the leftovers from a local newspaper. I pay my supplier to collect, bundle and box the inserts for me each week. (I suspect that this is similar to how most clipping services obtain their coupons, but of course I can’t say for sure.) I can also find whole inserts on online forums and if I’m really in need, I buy complete coupon inserts on Ebay. I know that many readers have also asked how clipping services obtain blinkie and tearpad coupons. Unfortunately, I can’t aswer this question for you, because I don’t offer those types of coupons.
Finally, I want to address the ethics of coupon clipping services. In general coupon-clipping services are 100% ethical. (I say “In general” because I can ONLY vouch for my own site, but I know of other sites that are also very ethical in their business practices.)
As I said before, I DO NOT SELL COUPONS. My coupons are free and I only charge for my time to clip and ship them. Look at this hypothetical scenario. If you are well-off and have an assistant do all of your grocery shopping AND you want her to use coupons, she would have to find the coupons and cut them out for you. You would pay any expenses PLUS she is NOT going to clock out while she gathers and clips them for you. You would be paying her for her time to gather and clip your coupons. The only difference between this scenario and what I do is I also have to charge for shipping costs.
I hope this has answered some of your questions about coupon clipping services. If you have further questions or are in need of my services, please visit my site at Coupon Beat or email me at [email protected]!
DISCLAIMER: This article is based on MY OWN opinions and of course does not reflect how anyone else operates their coupon clipping services or feels about coupon clipping.
Thanks so much for agreeing to be in the spotlight today, Crystal! If you have ever wanted to give a clipping service a try or if you just want to grab a great deal...Crystal is offering my readers a 10% discount when you use the code iheartpublix at checkout!!
I hope you all like this new feature!! In order to keep it going, though, you all are going to have to volunteer to tell us all about something YOU do when you are couponing. Your post can be about almost anything to do with couponing. You can tell us about a particularly good or bad situation you’ve dealt with as a couponer, about how you got into couponing or how couponing has impacted the rest of your life, you can make a list of things every new couponer should know…just about anything, really! If you think it’s interesting and it has to do with couponing, email me [email protected]!