I don't like them. Do you?
There is something warm, fuzzy, and enjoyable about flipping through pages of a coupon insert. That's where I get most of my coupons. In fact, I get two Sunday papers just to be sure I have at least two of every good coupon I find there. They work great on BOGO offers!
Store flyers and home mailers are almost as much fun. I can do without blinkies and tear pads at the supermarket, but once in a while they come in handy. Catalinas (coupons you get a checkout) are great -- they are at your fingertips, and they are focused on stuff you buy.
But printable coupons from the Internet? Yecch!
What is the difference between Internet printables and every other type of coupon? Control. That's the difference! With inserts, flyers, blinkies, catalinas and the rest, we are in control. With printables, the Internet controls us. From my point of view, it is not worth giving up control for a coupon. Here's what I mean.
Unlike all other coupon sources, Internet printables
- Give you the run-around
- Require personal information
- Deposit cookies on your computer
- Potentially contaminate your computer with malware
- and, oh, yeah, use up ink
Printables give you the run-around - How many times have you looked for a specific coupon on the Internet and not found it? Lots of times. That is because once you do a search on your computer (using Google, for instance), the Internet knows what you are looking for. With that information, the people who program the coupon sites can present options that benefit them, not you. Instead of finding what you are looking for, you find what the sellers are peddling. Sometimes this leads to success. Most of the time, in my experience, it leads to frustration.
They extract your personal information - Most printables web site require you to sign in and give them your e-mail address before you print their coupons. Some require (or otherwise craftily extract) even more information than your e-mail address, such as your zip code, your product preferences, your age, your gender, and similar personal information. Is it worth giving up such information for a coupon? Perhaps for you. Not for me!
The most direct result of entering your e-mail address into a coupon site is spam -- unsolicited e-mail messages. Within a month of printing a few coupons, I had (literally) 100 spam e-mails coming per day! That is over-the-top.
Cookies can contaminate your computer - Cookies are a technical part of the Internet, and the Internet cannot work without them. However, cookies can be used monitor your every move online, and most web sites (couponing sites and other sites) do this. While there is nothing inherently evil about cookies, you should be aware that many coupon sites deposit tracking cookies on your computer. If you print a cat food coupon, for instance, a tracking cookie is quietly written on your computer while printing. The tracking cookie tells the world that you buy cat food. The next time you turn on your computer, a flood of cat food ads may appear. The web sites you visit read your cookies, then post material that correspond to your online activity. In the beginning, only pornography sites used tracking cookies. Now they are everywhere.
Tracking cookies are pretty slick, and they present ads that are tailored to your likes and dislikes, which is not all bad. What's ultimately wrong with tracking cookies is that they are totally silent. Unless you know about tracking cookies, you are being subtly deceived by Internet advertisers. Some anti-virus software (Norton, etc.) watches for tracking cookies and eliminates them.
Downloads have the potential for total computer devastation -- Cookies (explained above) are harmless. They can do no harm to your computer. But Internet Downloads can be laden with viruses and other nasty stuff. Many sites that print coupons require that you download a special program before you print. While I am sure 99 percent of the sites are legitimate, and their downloads will not hurt you, there is a nagging 1 percent uncertainty that chews under my skin.
Ink -- Finally, there is the issue of ink used to print a coupon. Ink is expensive. Some people turn off the color (a feature of some printers) to conserve colored ink. But, any way you cut it, printable coupons reduce your couponing bottom line.