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Why I really don't like cattle-call Facebook coupons

I got my third email from a reader today that asked why I tend not to post "Go there NOW!" Facebook giveaways, or, as I call them, "cattle-call" coupons. 

TLC's show, Extreme Couponing, did a lot of damage to the frugal community this year.  The show portrays couponers as, well, frankly, freaks.  And we're not.  We're smart, busy people who just want to save a significant portion of our shopping budget by using coupons and offers from stores and manufacturers who want our business.  Times are tough, the economy is still awful, and savings matter.

But couponers also have lives.  We have jobs, families, and interests that take up 98% of our time.  Normal couponers do not spend 14 hours a day clipping coupons and thinking about couponing strategies.  We don't dumpster-dive for coupons (and if you ever find yourself doing this, please see a mental-health specialist).  We don't aim to get 75 boxes of Hamburger Helper, 42 boxes of Cheerios and 375 tubes of Crest for $2.76.  We simply want to spend two or three hours a week figuring out how to save 20-30% on our healthy, normal balanced grocery budget.

But couponers have gotten a bad rep lately.  I see it when I get dirty looks from other shoppers in stores, and when cashiers adopt a defensive, belligerent attitude. I feel it when vendors tighten down their coupon policies.  I realize that some of this attitude comes from a misunderstanding of what couponing and frugality is all about. But I'm not ashamed of my frugal methods of saving money; on the contrary, I'm proud of them.  And I try as best as I can to maintain my dignity in what I do.

So when a national manufacturer announces that they will be giving away 20,000 coupons for a free product on Facebook now, and then I click on the link and I can't even load the page because the manufacturer is completely unprepared for the onslaught of couponers visiting the site and the servers have crashed, I feel sad again for the well-meaning members of the couponing community.  These "cattle-call" coupons are a little, well, demeaning.  I'm not saying that manufacturers owe it to us to have an unlimited supply of free products.  They certainly don't.  But if they can afford to give away tens of thousands of free products, they can afford to bulk up on their technical backend, so that the couponers who respond to their offer aren't sitting there for an hour reloading their page trying to get to the offer, only to discover that they've missed out on the coupon.  It's a little debasing.  Again, we've got busy lives.  I don't need to spend that kind of time and effort for a $1.98 bottle of skin lotion.  Server-diving is just a few virtual hairbreadths away from dumpster-diving.

So, from time to time, I will post these "cattle-call" offers, when I give in to my weakness for a free product, and I want to share the information with you.  But it's your choice on whether you want to expend the effort to get these coupons.  Most of the time, I will try just once, and if the page hangs (or worse, crashes my browser), I'll abandon ship.

Bottom line:  I value my time and self-respect more than I value a good deal.

1 comment:

  1. Jonathan8/01/2011

    What a terrific, articulate post.


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