Important Info for Anyone Using Color or Black and White Printable Coupons

It was one of those “good” couponing days where I bought $48 worth of groceries but paid $14 out-of-pocket. This was made possible by a bunch of printable coupons — some were printed by accident in color, others in black and white. I took the opportunity to ask our local ShopRite manager, Bill, what he thinks about those controversial black and white printouts. Here’s our interaction, and you’ll see that I’m just a bit cranky about how our 30-second conversation went, even though I do understand where he’s coming from…:

Controversial printable coupons for cereal and Chex Mix gave me the opportunity to purchase all this for $14.

Me: “Bill, I have a question for you from our blog and Facebook readers.”

Bill: “That dreaded blog!”

Me: “Whaaaaaat?! We love ShopRite!! I write about you guys all the time, I’m always telling everyone about great sales you have!”

(I was waiting for a “thanks,” but after a slight pause and silence, I just went right into my question….)

Me: If you see a black and white printed coupon….(before I could finish….)….

Bill: You see, I hate those things. They could be counterfeit, but it’s hard to tell.

Me: We print out in black and white because it saves us money, but do you prefer us to printout color coupons? But anyone can copy color coupons, too.”

Bill: I like color coupons better, but you’re right, anyone can copy anything….

(I heard him grumbling….and then he was called to a register–perhaps to look at a possible counterfeit coupon…)

So, what’s the upshot of all this? Obviously grocery store managers hate printed coupons (they probably hate all coupons and if they say they don’t hate coupons, they are probably telling a big white lie). But, printables are here to stay until digital coupons completely take over.

To make you feel more confident about using printables, keep reading. For more on fraudulent coupon practices, please read this great post from and also, read this post if you are wrongfully accused of fake coupons. Here’s an excerpt from the above post:

Unique numbers: Coupons printed from, and will have individual barcode numbers in the upper right hand corner that are unique to one coupon and link to your computer (and thus its location and users). The majority of printable coupons have a print limit of 1 or 2 prints per computer.

If your checker accuses you of photocopying, the easiest solution is to point out the individual barcode numbers. If you find a particular store consistently has a problem with your coupons, don’t clip your coupons until you’re at checkout. This way the cashier can look at the URL source and the date and time stamp. This should help to prove your coupons are valid and not photocopied.–

Here’s important information in an excerpt straight from, the creators of’s printable coupons, and you can find more info here:

Each Coupon is Unique

Each printed coupon carries a unique ID that is encrypted in a 2-D PDF417 barcode, enabling each coupon to be traced from print to redemption. All Incorporated coupons can be authenticated using this unique code. This unique ID also can be used to detect counterfeit or altered coupons. –

Hope that’s helpful, but I have so check on the coupons I print out from individual manufacturers’ sites because I am unsure if they have that unique barcode info mentioned above. I will probably print the above out and show it to a store associate if it ever comes down to being accused of having a fake printout. Now, I’m also wondering….do store managers even know about this barcode safety net?

Let us know if you have ever been accused of having a fake coupon and what you did about it.

~Marilyn, TFF


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