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Coupon misuse and malredemption has always been a big issue in the marketing industry. Over the years, insurers and industry bodies such as the IPM, have pressured and worked with retailers at great length to try and mitigate fraud and malredemption as much as possible.

One measure introduced was the preregistration of coupons on to a retailer’s Epos system. However, my personal experience this week now makes me wonder the strength of its merit.

I was in a supermarket and witnessed a man attempting to use a money off coupon from a newspaper. It was based on a minimum spend but was clearly marked that it excluded alcohol counting towards this expenditure. The man had a selected a number of items but unfortunately for him, these weren’t enough and the wine and whiskey in his trolley were needed to achieve the minimum spend threshold.

When the shop assistant attempted to scan the coupon, the till flagged up the presence of the alcohol and duly notified her the minimum spend had not been met. The man though, was unwilling to let it go and so the shop assistant repeated the process several times to no avail, even eventually calling for a supervisor.

This was during a busy period on a Saturday lunch time and whilst this all unfolded, there was a rather large queue building of disgruntled customers, myself and my wife included. To add further intensity to the atmosphere, there was a young child in the queue crying, clearly just as frustrated as everyone else at the lack of movement and lengthy wait!

Despite the till rejecting the coupon (and no doubt influenced by the pressure of this disgruntled queue), the shop staff attempted to override it. Eventually the supervisor managed to overcome the till’s objections and processed the transaction, coupon and all!

As the coupon in question was likely insured, this raised a number of questions for me.

Firstly, the consumer either didn’t read the T’s and C’s and so attempted to use the coupon without really knowing its intended use. Or he did read them and didn’t care, attempting to see if he could ‘get away’ with it. Neither is a great scenario for an insurer.

Secondly, despite probably knowing the T’s and C’s themselves and the till actually attempting to enforce them, the shop staff took the coupon anyway. In fact going to some effort to do so!

As a promotional risk carrier ourselves, we are largely in the hands of the retailers to take the coupons correctly. We would therefore have no knowledge of an occurrence such as I witnessed and so it left me wondering; how often does this happen and how many coupons are used in the manner in which they are intended?

It certainly appears that despite how far things have come in recent years with coupon security, there may well be more work to do! Customer service cannot dictate how and when coupons are accepted and make it acceptable to permit malredemption. Perhaps then, this is the next hurdle for our industry to overcome?!