We’re all familiar with the notion of coupons. Whether they’re bits of paper clipped from the weekend newspaper or codes procured from some website or another, coupons are a significant part of our consumer culture. Everyone recognizes that tiny thrill that comes with paying less.

But when couponing is pushed to its extremes, things can get a bit … strange. Shoppers developing methods to maximize savings, winding up with rooms filled with groceries and other goods, all in pursuit of that thrill.

And some people are willing to go even farther.

“Queenpins,” the new film by writer/director team Aron Gaudet and Gita Pullapilly, draws its inspiration from a real story of coupons run amok, an international scheme that made its masterminds millions of dollars, all from exploiting those seemingly innocuous slips of paper.

It’s a heist story, a caper story, yes – but it’s also a story about the lengths to which we will go in order to feel empowered, to feel as though we have some agency in the direction our lives take. It’s a charming and occasionally goofy story about female friendship wrapped in a pink-collar criminal enterprise, led by a dynamic and talented cast.

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 29 August 2012 15:31

Breaking news

 Heads up couponers! Those with a Dollar Tree nearby will be happy to know that on Sunday, Aug. 26, the retailer will begin to accept manufacturer coupons.

The Chesapeake, Virginia-based discount retailer has more than 4,500 stores in the U.S. it touts more than 300 in Florida alone and it stocks everything from beach toys and holiday decorations to toothbrushes and various food items. While the majority of its merchandise is off-brand, the discounter does sell some name-brand merchandise.

During the currently difficult economy, stores like Dollar Tree have done well by going for the lowest denominator when it comes to enticing shoppers it offers merchandise for $1 or less. And now they've added another weapon to their marketing strategy to attract more customers by accepting coupons. Other competitors such as Dollar General and Family Dollar already accept coupons and although Dollar Tree doesn't say they are competing with them, this is surely an attractive incentive to shop more at the discounter.

Published in The Frugal Edge
Wednesday, 11 April 2012 20:33

C'mon Walmart: Practice what you preach

In October 2011, Walmart announced its price match guarantee where if a customer bought an eligible product there between Nov. 1 and Dec. 25 and found the same product advertised for less at another store, the retailer would give the customer a gift card for the difference. Since then, the company has taken what was originally a competitive Christmas marketing campaign and launched their everyday Ad Match Guarantee that operates under the same guidelines. The only difference is they'll match it right at the register.

The concept sounds rather simple: If you see an item advertised for a cheaper price at a local competitor and you have proof, they'll match it. Yet as simple as it sounds, sometimes the retailer doesn't always practice what it preaches.

The first time I tested their program, I didn't have any problems. They gave me the lower price of the item and accepted all my coupons. In fact, it was great not to have to travel all over town to shop that day and I thought this could be my new shopping strategy. However, I tried to use their ad match guarantee a few weeks later and when I handed the cashier the coupon, she said, 'Sorry, we don't price match and take coupons on that product; it's one or the other.' I explained the success of the prior transaction a few weeks back and she said their policy had changed. She did say she would do it for me this 'one time.' Yet I thought why would I even bother? I can just go to the other store and use my coupon with their sale price.

Published in The Frugal Edge
Thursday, 29 March 2012 12:39

Companies ending distribution of coupons

EDITOR'S NOTE: (This story is from The Maine Edge's annual April Fools Day edition. As such, you can safely assume that most of it - if not all of it - is totally made-up.) 

NEW YORK In a series of announcements that shocked consumers and advocates across the country, major manufacturers said this week that all were ending their distribution of coupons.

The announcements, timed minutes apart that appeared to some as having been well planned, essentially stated the companies felt the time had come to end the longstanding tradition of couponing, Citing both distribution costs and a desire to push up product margins, the consensus in the announcements by Johnson & Johnson, Proctor and Gamble and several others spelled doom for an industry that distributes over 300 million coupons a year, which last year saved consumers $4.6 billion.

And some are crying foul.

'There appears to be collusion among these companies in ending couponing, and I'm not sure if that's legal,' said William Pletnau, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney General's office. 'The fact that these announcements were so close together with no knowledge beforehand, it certainly doesn't pass the smell test for us.'

Published in The Frugal Edge


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