Online coupons catching on in city

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 13, 2007

DEMOPOLIS &045; Dianne Lehning saves between $10 – $15 per week by clipping coupons. She views the savings as a raise she can give herself. For a year, she estimates that the coupon savings add up to approximately $624. For a family of four, those savings could get as high as $1,500.

Lehning and her husband are the only two left in the household, but they still find plenty of bargains through the coupons she prints off.

That’s right. Lehning still clips coupons, but more than that she prints them from online services.

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Lehning said she downloaded a special program to be able to print the coupons. The program is used to prevent fraud from people who might try to duplicate the coupons, she said.

Lehning started using the online coupon service in January. Up until March, she said she had no problem redeeming them with local retailers. Then, one day in March, she ran into problems at Wal-Mart.

Lehning said she sent a letter to store manager Don Whitehead on March 16 asking if the policy had been changed and why. She followed up with an e-mail to the store’s corporate office. Lehning received a reply from the corporate office outlining the requirements for computer-generated coupons.

Whitehead, she said, never responded.

Whitehead declined to comment about the store’s policy of using computer-generated coupons or if the store sees large amounts of fraud that would lead them to change their policy.

Other retailers in town, however, say they allow computer-generated coupons with no problem, though most say that so far they have seen few used.

Lehning has no problem at Food World, which is where she now shops for groceries and other items she can purchase with her online coupons.

Bobbie Goodwin, the manager at Food World, said they have no problem with the computer-generated coupons.

James Reed, a manager at Fred’s, has seen the same thing.

Fred’s &045; like Food World, Wal-Mart and other local retailers &045; use barcodes on the coupons to scan in the discount.

Monica Drake, the manager at Demopolis Marketplace, said she has not seen any computer-generated coupons come through the store but that they would accept them.

Drake said that if a coupon was used and deemed a counterfeit that the manufacturer would send it back to them.