Last month, I discussed how fake coupons cost everyone. But of course, the problem remains. And it turns out that it's not always the consumer's fault. A couple of weeks ago, a marketing company decided to experiment by posting high-value coupons on Facebook. Not being a Facebook member, I never got around to joining and seeing them for myself, but I read about them multiple times on the various coupon sites that I check regularly.
It didn't take long for forum members to start questioning the validity of the coupons. But initial reports were that the marketing company had confirmed that the coupons were valid. These reports were quickly followed by claims that a hacker had posted invalid coupons. Not surprisingly, that led to conflicting reports that the marketing company was going to honor the valid coupons and reports that the company wasn't going to honor any of the coupons. Eventually, the company announced that it would not honor any of the coupons and that stores should stop accepting them. Naturally, by the time the final announcement was made, many consumers had used the coupons.
An argument could be made that the coupons were so inherently suspicious that consumers should have known better than to use them. But that argument is weakened by the fact that the marketing company initially validated the coupons.
According to this Seattle Times article, the general consensus is that the marketing company should bear the blame - and the financial losses caused by the use of the coupons. The company published coupons that bore no security features, such as print limits.
For the average coupon-user, the whole incident is cause for concern. Coupon forums are ablaze with talk about all printable coupons being rejected, and all coupons being closely scrutinized - new developments since the Facebook coupons came out. Even though I never used one of the Facebook coupons, I have been worried that my printable coupons will be rejected at the stores where I've never had any problems before.
If there is a lesson for the average consumer here, it is to be knowledgable about coupons and be able to recognize when a coupon is suspicious. And hopefully, the independent marketing firm that started all of this has taken enough of a financial hit that no one will do anything this careless again.
What do you think about the Facebook coupons and the subsequent fallout?
Hat tip: IheartCVS.