Official Grocery Coupon FAQ

Archived From: Grocery & Drugstore
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This will be the home of our new Grocery Coupon FAQ. Feel free to post comments, questions, or additions within the thread and it will be updated.

For newbies with additional questions, see If you're a complete beginner, start here. . . . by MyTwoSense.

Coupon No-No's


There has been discussion of the meaning of the codes printed on coupons. A coupon has printed text that describes the agreement between the consumer, the store, and the manufacturer. This text is what creates the agreement; the bar-coded information is a method to expeditiously handle the coupon entry into the store's payment system. The information revealed in the code MAY allow the code to be accepted by the store for a product other than that stated on the coupon, BUT if it does not fall within the stated text of the coupon, the use would be determined to be fraudulent [i.e. illegal]. Decoding is also known as coupon misredemption. Coupon misredemption takes place when a coupon is used other than in connection with the purchase of the product as stated in the PRINTED text. Decoding of coupons is a deliberate misuse and abuse of what the manufacturer intended. With that in mind - any messages that we are made aware of as having the fraudulent intent of misredemption of coupons (as defined by use not within the stated text on the coupon) will be locked and or deleted from the system.

Scanned coupons and coupon image files [i.e. PDF]:

Scanned coupons and saved coupon image files [i.e. PDF] skirt around the manufacturers’ intended limitations on the number of copies that can be legally printed by each consumer. Links determined by the moderator to contain such a coupon or saved coupon image file, or to a coupon or coupon image file that was found to have been possibly modified, will be deleted. Only links that go directly to the manufacturer’s website or known third party distributors such as Coolsavings or are acceptable. Messages that request or offer copies of scanned coupons or non-legit coupon image files will also be deleted.

Since scans of UPC's, receipts, etc are also commonly used fraudulently, please do not offer or ask for them. Thanks!

* Thank you for your understanding - we appreciate your participation in the FatWallet Community - we just need to make sure we are the best Community on the web - and opening our users up to fraudulent activity is not in our collective best interest. For more information regarding coupon fraud, please check out The Coupon Information Corporation's website.

TIPS ON SEARCHING(Literally stolen from SUCKISSTAPLES by honeybee829)

The FW search function offers more help if you just type the first few LETTERS of the word you want to search...for example, if you want to look for a thread on "coupon clipping services", dont type that whole thing into the search box. Type "clip", so it will pick up threads with clippers, clipping, clips, etc. in the title. You are much more likely to find the thread you want.

If you are looking for a thread on soda prices, try pop, cola, soda, etc. The search function is only as smart as the person using it.

There is a separate search page which lets you perform more detailed searches. you can search active and old threads, threads started by a particular user, etc. I frequently use this function when I remember that a specific member posted some good info but I cant find the thread...

4. TRY SEARCHING THE NET BEFORE POSTING A QUESTION. Doing a Google search will often yield an answer quicker and more accurately than posting a topic on FW and waiting for a reply...often times, when someone posts a question, someone else just googles it and posts the results. Save yourself and others the wasted time and try Google FIRST.

5. READ THE FAQ TOPICS IN THIS FORUM. Many prior threads have been categorized into FAQ threads. Please read through them.

Following the simple tips in the Guide to Posting will help ensure that your post contains the information needed for others to best help you.

Please post offers in the following manner:

If they are Printable offers, please use the word "Printable" in the thread title:
i.e.: Printable Form - Receive FREE movie ticket w/ purchase of specially marked Glad products (exp. 6/30/04)... or: Printable coupon Maybelline save $2 on Color Delights Eye Shadow

If they are refund offers that are not on the internet, please use the source [blinkie, newspaper, or tearpad, etc] in the thread title:
ie: KC Masterpiece Marinade MIR $3.00 off Chicken or Beef (expires 06/30/04) tear pad offer... or Coupons in CosmoGirl May Issue or JANE makeup

If there is No Form Needed, please write that in the thread title, i.e.: TMF Crest Toothpaste No Form needed expires 12/02/03

Guide to Terms
Blinkies – instore smartsource coupon dispensed near product, usually from red blinking box
BOGO or B1G1 - Buy one get one free
Catalina - coupon dispensed at register after purchase, usually has a red border
C/O - cents off coupon
Codes - Refunds that require only a UPC# written on a CRT
Coufund - for coupons that need some proof of purchase such as UPC's attached
Cpns- manufacturer's coupons
CRT - Cash register tape
DCRT- Dated cash register tape
DCRTC - Dated cash register tape with the price circled
DND - Do Not Double (the coupon is not supposed to be doubled)
Double coupon- coupon that a grocery store doubles in value
Free Item Coupon - A coupon that allows you to get the product completely free
FSI - Free Standing inserts. These are the actual term to the coupons you get in your Sunday newspaper. Also referred to as SS coupons or insert coupons.
HBA - The health and beauty aid section in the grocery store
HDA - Hot Deal Alert or Home Delivered Ad
HT or HgT- Hang tags for refunds or coupons hanging on a product
HTH - Hope this helps
ISO - In search of
LTD - Limited, as on a refund form it will say you’re limited to a certain number of purchases
MFG - Manufacturer
MFR - Manufacturer
Money + - Premiums that require money in addition to a proof of purchase
NAZ - Name, address, zip code
NB - National Brand
NBQ - National Brand Qualifier
NED - No expiration date
Nfp - refund form found in a newspaper
NT WT - net weight
OAS - a coupon that is good on one purchase, any size
OSI - On a single item
POP - proof of purchase
PP - purchase price
PPHF - Paypal handling fee
Q or Qualifier- The POP required for a refund offer that is physically taken from that package
RAOK - Random act of kindness
SF - Store form
SMP - specially marked packages
SS - Sunday supplement coupons (FSI)
Super doubles – coupons that are doubled $1 + in value (ie, a $1 coupon = $2, etc)
SWEEPS - sweepstakes form
Tear pad - A pad of refund forms found hanging from a store shelf or display
TMF - Try Me Free
Triple coupon – a coupon that a grocery store triples in value
UPC - Universal Product Code
WSL - while supplies last
YMMV - Your Mileage May Vary (Success of offer is variable.)

Expiration Dates -- list from the magazine "Real Simple" and originally posted by FatWallet member Madmurphy.

FoodsNOTE: Check refrigeration requirements for all foods after opening.
soda, regular. Unopened: In cans or glass bottles, 9 months from “best by” date. Opened: Doesn’t spoil, but taste is affected.

diet soda (and soft drinks in plastic bottles). Unopened: 3 months from “best by” date. Opened: Doesn’t spoil, but taste is affect.

coffee, canned ground. Unopened: 2 years. Opened: 1 month refrigerated.

juice, bottled (apple or cranberry). Unopened: 8 months from production date. Opened: 7 to 10 days.

ketchup. Unopened: 1 year. Opened: 4 to 6 months. (After these times, color or flavor may be affected, but the product is still generally safe to consume.)

maple syrup, real or imitation. Unopened or opened: 1 year. soy sauce, bottled. Unopened: 2 years. Opened: 3 months.

peanut butter, processed. Unopened: 2 years. Opened: 6 months; refrigerate after 3 months.

tuna, canned. Unopened: 1 year from purchase date. Opened: 3 to 4 days, not stored in can.

mayonnaise. Unopened: Indefinitely. Opened: 2 to 3 months from “purchased by” date. (After this time, color or flavoring may be affected, but the product is still generally safe to consume.)

salad dressing, bottled. Unopened: 12 months after “best buy” date. Opened: 9 months refrigerated.

olive oil. Unopened/Opened: 2 years from manufacture date. (After this time, color or flavor may be affected, but the product is still generally safe to consume.)

vinegar. Unopened/Opened: 42 months.

nail polish. Unopened/Opened: 1 year from manufacture date.

nail polish remover. Unopened/Opened: Lasts indefinitely.

perfume. Unopened/Opened: 1 to 2 years.

lipstick. Unopened/Opened: 2 years.

mascara. Unopened: 2 years. Opened: 3 to 4 months.

foundation, oil-based. Unopened/Opened: 2 years from date of manufacture.

foundation, water-based. Unopened/Opened: 3 years from date of manufacture.

Cleaning supplies
windex. Unopened/Opened: 2 years.

metal polish. Unopened/Opened: at least 3 years.

wood polish (Pledge). Unopened/Opened: 2 years.

powdered laundry detergent. Unopened: 9 months to a 1 year. Opened: At least 6 months.

liquid laundry detergent. Unopened: 9 months to 1 year. Opened: 6 months.

bleach. Unopened/Opened: 3 to 6 months.

This website has more products listed in a table for easy viewing:

Product expiration date terminology:
These terms all apply to unopened products.

• Best if used by and use-by date: With emphasis on the best qualifier in this term, it means the product should retain maximum freshness, flavor and texture if used by this date. It is not a purchase-by or safety date. Beyond this date, the product begins to deteriorate, although it may still be edible.

• expiration date: If you haven't used the product by this date, toss it out. Other dating terms are used as a basic guideline, but this one means what it says.

• Sell-by or pull-by date: This date is used by manufacturers to tell grocers when to remove their product from the shelves, but there is generally still some leeway for home usage. For example, milk often has a sell-by date, but the milk will usually still be good for at least a week beyond that date if properly refrigerated.

• Guaranteed fresh: This date is often used for perishable baked goods. Beyond this date, freshness is no longer guaranteed although it may still be edible.

• Pack date: This is the date the item was packed, most-used on canned and boxed goods. It is usually in the form of an encrypted code not easy to decipher. It may be coded by month (M), day (D), and year (Y), such as YYMMDD or MMDDYY. Or it may be coded using Julian (JJJ) numbers, where January 1 would be 001 and December 31 would be 365. In even more convoluted coding, letters A through M (omitting the letter I) are often assigned to the months, with A being January and M being December, plus a numeric day, either preceded or followed by the numeric year.

Drug Expiration Dates
From a post by Gransonec:

Here's the text of an article, from the Harvard School of Medicine's Family Health Guide, citing the same study:

Drug expiration Dates — Do They Mean Anything?

With a splitting headache you reach into your medicine cabinet for some aspirin only to find the stamped expiration date on the bottle has passed — two years ago. So, do you take it or don't you? If you decide to take the aspirin will it be a fatal mistake or will you simply continue to suffer from the headache?

This is a dilemma many people face in some way or another. A column published in Pyschopharmacology Today offers some advice.

It turns out that the expiration date on a drug does stand for something, but probably not what you think it does. Since a law was passed in 1979, drug manufacturers are required to stamp an expiration date on their products. This is the date at which the manufacturer can still guarantee the full potency and safety of the drug.

Most of what is known about drug expiration dates comes from a study conducted by the Food and Drug Administration at the request of the military. With a large and expensive stockpile of drugs, the military faced tossing out and replacing its drugs every few years. What they found from the study is 90% of more than 100 drugs, both prescription and over-the-counter, were perfectly good to use even 15 years after the expiration date.

So the expiration date doesn't really indicate a point at which the medication is no longer effective or has become unsafe to use. Medical authorities state expired drugs are safe to take, even those that expired years ago. A rare exception to this may be tetracycline, but the report on this is controversial among researchers. It's true the effectiveness of a drug may decrease over time, but much of the original potency still remains even a decade after the expiration date. Excluding nitroglycerin, insulin, and liquid antibiotics, most medications are as long-lasting as the ones tested by the military. Placing a medication in a cool place, such as a refrigerator, will help a drug remain potent for many years.

Is the expiration date a marketing ploy by drug manufacturers, to keep you restocking your medicine cabinet and their pockets regularly? You can look at it that way. Or you can also look at it this way: The expiration dates are very conservative to ensure you get everything you paid for. And, really, if a drug manufacturer had to do expiration-date testing for longer periods it would slow their ability to bring you new and improved formulations.

The next time you face the drug expiration date dilemma, consider what you've learned here. If the expiration date passed a few years ago and it's important that your drug is absolutely 100% effective, you might want to consider buying a new bottle. And if you have any questions about the safety or effectiveness of any drug, ask your pharmacist. He or she is a great resource when it comes to getting more information about your medication.

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Please add an explanation of ECB as in (free after ecb)


ThursdaysChild said: Please add an explanation of ECB as in (free after ecb)
You beat me to it TC lol.

ECB = (CVS Drug Store Abbreviation for) EXTRA CARE BUCKS


Hmmm . . . now why do I remember this FAQ being in an editable WIKI?


is it true that some states do not allow expirration dates?

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