Public Editor

June 3, 2013

Sunday coupons not available separately

The rise of "extreme couponing" has led to higher demand for coupons. But they aren't freely available.

It's rare that a week goes by without a reader asking if I can help in obtaining the coupon inserts from unsold Sunday newspapers. We've all seen the stories about how judicious use of coupons can save some families unbelievable amounts of money on items from pet food to toiletries. I've even seen some instances where shoppers walked out of a store after getting cash back for their "purchases."

So what about the coupons from Sunday newspapers that remain unsold on Saturday night when the new ones are getting rotated out to the racks? Since those go back to The Star on carriers' trucks, can't couponers have them?

Nope. Publishers enter into agreements with their advertisers that state the coupons are available only with the purchase of a copy of the paper. While you can always buy as many copies as you like, the coupons aren't available separately.

(A bit of inside baseball: Star employees cannot take extra coupon inserts themselves, either.)

So what about the episode of one couponing show that many readers have told me about where a newspaper truck pulled up to a shopper's house with hundreds of extra coupons?

I didn't see the episode and I don't know the specifics, but that sort of thing is expressly forbidden in all standard advertiser contracts. And given the dubious veracity of a lot of "reality" shows, I can easily imagine the whole thing could have been staged.

So the bottom line is that you can buy the Sunday Star at many retailers and boxes all week long. But the coupons are one-set-per-copy only.

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