Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Sunday night my internet went down (called the internet company and they said that there was a local outage). We saw the cable trucks go by around 6pm on Monday evening and by 7pm Monday night we were back online. (Yeah!)
Of course the first thing that I did was check my email. Natasha over at Saving A Bundle was super kind to email me about a counterfeit coupon for $2/2 Listerine Antiseptic Mouthwash, Stayfree, Carefree, Zyrtec, Aveeno, Band-Aid Brand Adhesive Bandgages, or Neosporin Products. (Actual coupon can be found HERE; now before you assume that I'm giving out the link to a counterfeit, please keep reading.)
CIC (Coupon Information Corporation) put out a counterfeit notification for the above coupon on April 15th. You can view the actual notice HERE.
At first I was horrified that I had posted a counterfeit coupon on my blog, that I had encouraged others to use it by including it in a Rite Aid Scenario, and that I myself had printed the coupon and USED it at Rite Aid on Sunday! Of course, if it was a counterfeit coupon then I needed to take the items back to Rite Aid and return them, less the coupon amount - and since the items also generated a +UP Reward, less the +UP Reward amount. Rite Aid (or any store) would not get reimbursed for the counterfeit coupons that I had used at their store. That effectively makes anyone using counterfeit coupons a thief (even if you are - or I am - an unknowing thief).
I did some poking around online and found out some interesting things. AND after some more investigating I no longer believe that the coupon I linked to my Rite Aid Scenario is a counterfeit coupon.
Indeed, I have every reason to believe that the coupon was a VALID Bricks coupon (it is now out of prints). First, the link takes you to a bricks/coupons.com web address. For this to be a counterfeit, the counterfeiters would have needed to hack into the bricks/coupons.com server/site. Secondly, the coupon generated a unique code for each coupon that you printed and you were only allowed to print 2 coupons per computer (typical of all Bricks coupons). It should go without saying that this would be tough for counterfeiters to pull off and would not seem to really benefit them in any way. (Hmm? How many computers would they need to get enough coupons to make it worth the effort of creating the counterfeit coupon?) And finally, on March 23, 2011 Albertsons sent out a mass email to their customers advertising their weekly deals. Notice the coupon advertised in their email? I find it extremely unlikely that Albertsons Corporate Headquarters would be sending out a link for a counterfeit coupon to their customers along with their advertisement for their weekly sale items (how about NEVER).
So what did happen? It would seem that someone made copies of one printable coupon and then distributed them (ie. the counterfeit coupons will have exactly the same numbers on them as the one pictured on the CIC announcement). Unfortunately, CIC does not distinguish between counterfeit coupons that someone completely made up (such as any Procter & Gamble printable coupon) and coupons that are originally legitimate that someone decides to copy (the copies being the frauds).
What should you do now? First if you still have your coupon, you can check to see whether or not you have a valid coupon by entering the Veri-Fi code at this website. However, even if you do have a valid coupon you may no longer wish to use it as these coupons will be under scrutiny (and would thus cause you to be under scrutiny) at stores around the nation. So far I have been unable to determine whether or not the manufacturer will be reimbursing for the valid coupons or if all the coupons will now be treated as counterfeits. IF I discover that the coupon will not be reimbursed (I'll let you know) THEN I will be taking my Carefree back to Rite Aid and returning it for the purchase price of the 4 pks minus the coupons minus the +UP Reward (ie. I will just be returning it; I will not be getting any money back at all). If the valid coupons WILL BE reimbursed then I see no reason to return the products. Either way, I will be notifying my store the next time I go in. I want to make sure that they know I would never knowingly use counterfeit coupons. I also want to protect my store in the event that some of the counterfeits did make it into our area. I'd encourage you to do the same - just make sure you point out that there are legitimate seemingly identical coupons out there too. The counterfeit coupons will have a code identical to the code underneath the dot scan barcode in the upper right hand of the coupon - ie. 0109 1045 2271 2801.
And one more thing, all these coupons (legitimate or counterfeit) will beep at the drugstores. These coupon's barcodes begin with a "9" instead of a "5." Most drugstores' registers are not programed to read "9" barcodes; grocery stores registers are programed to read "9" or "5" barcodes. A little while ago there was a Halls tearpad coupon at Rite Aid that began with a "9" barcode. It beeped. Just wanted you to know that just because your coupon beeps, it does NOT mean you have a counterfeit.
Thanks to AFullCup, SlickDeals, CouponingToDisney, SouthernSavers, and Hip2Save.