Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Ethics of Thriftiness

I *LOVE* to get a good deal! But, aren't there times when we really should draw the line? Here's an example of what happened to me recently...

I received a coupon in a flyer which came in the mail advertising a new party store. The coupon was for $5 off. There was no minimum purchase mentioned and no exclusions mentioned except that it could not be used on helium balloons. The coupon also mentions that only one can be used per month per household. Ok, so I finally get there and I check with the cashier to make sure I have correctly understood the coupon. There is no minimum purchase and the only exclusion is the balloons. Great!

I was looking for a few small items that I could stash away for future birthday parties and specifically for Emily's second birthday this fall. She will be 2 on the the 2nd, so it will be her "golden birthday" and I want to do all yellow/gold theme things to play off of the golden theme. I found some cute gold crowns, yellow leis, and a gold star that I could use on the front door.

While I am in the store, their phone rings and the cashier speaks with someone she obviously knows (I am the only customer in the store). She explains to this caller that there is a group of ladies who have accumulated a stack of these coupons and have each been assigned a certain part of a party to provide for. So, one comes in and buys plates, one cups, one streamers, etc... She mentions that none of them spend over $1.27 out of their own pocket. Then she explains that they have completed their shopping for the birthday party and are now working on a wedding together. And, that this is adding up to a significant amount of money out of the store's pocket.

Doesn't this seem to break the ethics of getting a good deal? Yes, maybe the party store has learned their lesson and will mention a minimum purchase in the future ~ but really, when it is so obvious that the cashier remembers these repeat customers and knows what kind of events they are planning, isn't that a little much?

What are your thoughts on the ethics of getting a good deal?


Tammy said...

I'm all for a great bargain! Yes, the store is out the money, but in the future, they will probably list a minimum purchase necessary. I can't see a problem with planning a party and getting things for it this way. They maybe shouldn't be so vocal about it though. LOL

JCPenney sends out $10 coupons to their card holders periodically throughout the year. The minimum purchase is $10. They place so many restrictions on what you can use the coupon on, that it is hard to do, but I usually spend the coupon, and walk out of the store without paying anyting, or only having paid a few dollars. In fact, I'm wearing a sweater today that I bought for $4, and it's a $28+ retail sweater.

I do see your point. Would I plan a party that way? Um, no. Is the store losing much money? Probably not that much. The coupon draws people into the store, and many people probably use it on larger purchases. Also, it makes people aware of the store, and they are more apt to go back.

PS~I've been enjoying your blog. =)

Joy @ SAH Missionary said...

I don't know, I think those ladies have crossed the line. We all know what is meant by the coupons...to use for one person, to get a little free stuff. But, when you start blurring that line just a little, it, more than anything says to me those ladies don't have a lot of class. Can they do it? Sure, there's nothing in the rules to say they can't. Should they do it? No, I don't think so. If too many of us do that for too long (ie take advantage of good deals or promos), then stores will have to stop offering them. Then everyone loses.
Just my opinion!
Have a great day!!

Mary Ann said...

I do think its awfully tacky for these ladies to let the store clerk know what they are doing and to be that obvious about it. Not that we should be dishonest and sneaky, but still...:-) Like Tammy, if there is no minimum purchase, then it's ok to get the $5 off and only pay a few dollars. It is dishonest, however, to accumulate the coupons and the same person use more than one in the same month, if the coupon says that only one coupon can be used per household per month. Since stores don't usually have a way of tracking that, it is up to individual consciences.

Anonymous said...

Hello, I've been reading your blog, but this is my first comment =)
I, too, think the way these ladies have used the coupon is breaking a moral, albeit unspoken, rule. They have not broken any specific written rule, and perhaps they feel they are simply taking advantage of a great deal. However, they are taking advantage of the generosity of the store, and they are pushing the line a great deal. Like another reader said, the store may not be able to offer such generous coupons in the future, because some women have found a way to turn a good thing into a negative thing.

Monica Wilkinson said...

Thanks for all your comments! I agree that the store has probably learned their lesson and won't have a promo like this again with so few restrictions...and I'm sad it has come to that!