One thing that annoys me is when I go to sites to print out coupons they always pop-up a little box that asks for my zip code. I usually just click out of them and print whatever they have available.
But it has made me wonder, does one zip code have a higher value coupon for a product than another? I have even tried entering NYC, Boston or Los Angeles zip codes thinking that I might find those "better" coupons. But to no avail.
That's until Tara over at Deal Seeking Mom posed this question to her readers:
How do you feel about zip code couponing? Do you feel that it's just a matter of knowing where to look, like using a coupon-clipping service to get more of your favorite coupons? Or do you feel it's unethical because you're using them in a way that they weren't intended to be used?
Those better coupons DO exist! And only certain zip codes have them, sometimes for limited times.
Now I don't frequent coupon forums often enough to know the details, but I understand that if there is a good coupon to be had in one of the 43,000 zip codes in the US, people will post that zip code to the forums so all are made aware - no matter zip code they are in.
My knee jerk reaction to this was that is was unfair and zip code bias (if such a thing exists) and that if an item is offered throughout the US, then the same coupon should be offered for everyone, throughout the US.
From the comments: "The reason coupons are only available in certain areas is largely because of targeted marketing. The company may notice that sales are lower in the suburbs of Detroit, so they release a coupon to that area only to attempt to increase their sales. Also, some coupons are actually illegal in certain states. For example, in Indiana, we can't use beer or certain dairy coupons, so companies don't release them to us. But, the companies do have reasons that have to do with their business goals." - Beth from Ingoodcents.com
There was a point that was brought up in the comments a few times. If we shop in a different zip code than the one we live in, isn't that affecting marketing as well? Or if we shop in multiple zip code areas, what single zip code would we use?
Ultimately the response to Tara's question was as vast as the reason people use or don't use coupons. And it appears the ethical question is a very subjective one.
For myself, I will continue to exit out of the zip code pop-up screen (most of the time) and print out whatever number I am limited to. Am I missing out on some good deals or the chance to stock up? Probably. But that's ok, it's a decision I can live with.
What decision do you live with when it comes to printing out zip code related coupons?