Normally, I would just let things like this slide and decide that it isn't the hill on which I choose to die (See? Even when I get ranty, I still hate ending sentences with a preposition!). It still isn't a Hill Worth Death...perhaps we'll just go for a Flesh Wound.
Those who use coupons have enough to deal with: bad attitudes from cashiers and other customers behind us due to the extra time coupons require, registers that don't give the rewards that we have legitimately earned, the perception that we are somehow doing something wrong when we walk out of the store with $200 in groceries for $12, etc.
What we don't need is a newspaper columnist giving his stamp of approval to a guy who routinely commits fraud.
Don't get me wrong: I get that this guy's weekly column is largely tongue-in-cheek. He looks for the most outrageous "Cheapster Tips" (like recycling the salt at the bottom of the pretzel bag). He even has some pretty good tips that he gives using an appropriate amount of sarcastic humor (calling a company to request freebies). If you stalk read this site regularly or are my Facebook Friend, you know that I have a great love for 'da Sarcasm.
But this tip was just Seven Kinds of Wrong, no matter how much you wrap it in sarcasm or "we thought the Lehigh Valley couldn't get any cheaper" disclaimers. Don't want to click over to read the tip? Then here's the bottom line: if you have a BOGO fast food coupon, go to the drive-thru at a time when the "spaced-out teenagers" are working, mention your coupon when ordering, order something "special" (like a soda with no ice) to make your order more complicated and then "forget" to give them your coupon so that you can use it another day.
It's "tips" like these that perpetuate the myth that those who use coupons are always trying to scam the system. So thankyouverymuchbiteme Mr. Spencer Soper!
Even the response to the 30 emails/phone calls that they received about this piece wasn't an "Oops! Sorry we told you to commit coupon fraud" (which this is...it's no different than going to a grocery store, using the self-checkout, scanning your coupon and putting a blank piece of paper in the slot).
We found it sneaky, but funny. Our feeling was that a tipster thought he was getting away with something, but the joke was on him since coupons are a form of advertising meant to lure customers. If the same coupon lured him twice instead of once, we figure it helped the business more than hurt it, especially if it encouraged a subsequent visit that otherwise would not have occurred.
Ummm - no.
If I steal a sweater from Ann Taylor using this method, then come back and use the BOGO coupon another day, it doesn't negate the fact that I stole one on a previous trip. Does The Morning Call think that it isn't that big a deal, since we are talking about a $3 burger instead of a $100 sweater?
When the cashier reconciles their register at the end of the night, and the register is showing that they gave out 15 free burgers, but can only match it up with 10 coupons in their drawer, what happens to the cashier? McDonald's may be a big corporation that can afford to lose a few burgers to scammers, but I'm betting the cashier with the "short register" feels differently.
Lastly, from their follow-up article on 10/4/09:
Some readers were concerned that a cashier or the small business owners are harmed by this tip. We called McDonald's, where we used the tip to get a free quarter-pounder without forfeiting a coupon, and asked specifically about this. But the statement we received from the company did not address that question and follow-up calls to pin that down were not returned.
''We want our Lehigh Valley customers to know that they can continue to depend on McDonald's to provide the quality, affordability and convenience they've come to expect through our everyday menu offerings, coupons and promotions,'' Jim Mooney, the company's marketing manager for the Philadelphia region, said in an e-mail. ''Our coupons are intended for one-time use only and should be surrendered at time of purchase.''
What part of ''Our coupons are intended for one-time use only and should be surrendered at time of purchase.'' is unclear?
Bad form Morning Call....bad form!
P.S. Thanks to Steve at Dealing in Daddyhood for emailing me about this
P.P.S if you want to read a newspaper column with GOOD frugal tips, check out Sarah's columns in The Phoenix
P.P.P.S. I seem to be getting ranty more these days...I may want to switch to decaf!
P.P.P.P.S. But what is the point of coffee if it doesn't have caffeine?
P.P.P.P.P.S I think I need to lie down now