Coupon's New Rules: Coupon Information Corporation Issues Guidelines

When times are tough, people get creative with how to save a dollar or two. Looking for sales and using coupons are strategies that almost everyone uses to some extent when buying groceries (we especially love the little pop-up instant coupon machines at the supermarket).

Some people, however, take couponing to extreme measures, as seen in TLC's Extreme Couponing, where people buy about a thousand dollars worth of Fruity Pebbles for fifty cents.

That raises a lot of questions, like who needs to rent storage space to stock your supply of pork and beans and when did couponing become a verb?  It may confuse us, but it really pisses off the CIC. 

The Coupon Information Corporation, or CIC, is a "not-for-profit association of consumer product manufacturers dedicated to fighting coupon misredemption and fraud", and they don't like the television show or the practice of extreme couponing. Which makes sense, considering they're on the side of manufacturers.

To make sure us regular people play nice, the CIC has issued a list of Considerate Couponing guidelines. Here are the highlights:

The Basics

Store Acceptance
While most stores will gladly accept your coupons, they are under no legal obligation to do so. The CIC suggests you read the fine print on coupons and know each store's coupon policy.

Expiration Dates
Don't try to use expired coupons (that includes cutting or tearing off the expiration date).


Overage occurs when the value of a coupon exceeds the retail price for the pertinent product at the store where you're shopping. I other words, don't expect to actually get money back from a coupon.

Strictly Prohibited

Do not photocopy coupons. This is counterfeiting and is a criminal offense.

Coupon Decoding

Each coupon is a contract and should be used only for the item described in writing on the coupon itself. Using a coupon for any product other than the one intended is a type of fraud similar to shoplifting.

Buying coupons
When a person buys coupons, they may be inadvertently purchasing stolen property or counterfeit coupons. Even if there is not a direct criminal penalty involved, both coupon buyers and sellers open the door to potential litigation when they buy or sell coupons because they are in violation of the "nontransferability" clause printed on all coupons distributed within the United States. The transfer makes a coupon void.

Stealing newspapers

This is theft, whether it is for personal use, resale, to supply an organized criminal enterprise, or any other reason, and can result in felony charges.

Reselling Stockpiles

Coupons are intended to give individual consumers a good deal, not provide a method for people to set up unauthorized grocery stores or flea markets in their garages, basements or backyards.


Dumpster Diving
If the dumpster is on private land, the "diver" can be arrested for trespassing. If the materials retrieved from the dumpster are meant for recycling, the "diver" can be arrested for theft. Dumpsters are not generally designed with "divers" in mind, and persons can fall in, get trapped, or suffer personal injuries if they venture into these containers.


Please be polite to your cashier and to other store employees.


Coupons are intended to provide a large number of consumers with a discount. They are not intended to provide a few individuals with the opportunity to strip the shelves of more product than they will ever reasonably need. Buy what you need for your personal use, including enough for future use, but please leave product for other shoppers to buy.

Coupons in the store
Please do not take every on-pack, peelie, blinky, or tear pad coupon you find. Just take what is appropriate for your personal needs and leave the rest for other shoppers.

Multiple transactions
From time to time, some people may want to divide their purchases into multiple transactions. However, buying a massive amount of product in one shopping trip, and then breaking up the "sale" into multiple transactions to use extra coupons or obtain extra discounts is simply bending the rules and is inappropriate.


Please be organized. Don't keep the cashier or other customers waiting too long as you sort through your stack of coupons.

KEEP NEW TIMES BROWARD-PALM BEACH FREE... Since we started New Times Broward-Palm Beach, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of South Florida, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Laine Doss is the food and spirits editor for Miami New Times, covering the restaurant and bar scene in South Florida. She has been featured on Cooking Channel’s Eat Street and Food Network’s Great Food Truck Race. Doss won an Alternative Weekly award for her feature on what it’s like to wait tables. In a previous life, she appeared off-Broadway and shook many a cocktail as a bartender at venues in South Florida and New York City. When she’s not writing, you can find Doss running some marathon then celebrating at the nearest watering hole.
Contact: Laine Doss