We are continuing our research into coupon errors using QSeer and the new CHEQR software. Coupon errors continue to be amazingly high, and we are sharing our analysis with you for the July 26th Red Plum.
The final installment of the massive Sunday July 26 coupon drop included two RedPlum inserts containing a combined 83 coupons. Our analysis of these inserts reveals an outrageous 72% error rate! Once again, an error is defined as whenever the information encoded in the coupon barcode (called the “DataBar”) differs from the written coupon terms or there is another reason why the coupon will not scan at checkout.
Although the error rate in these coupons is similar to what we saw in the BrandSaver and SmartSource inserts on that same date, there are some differences in the types of mistakes. This can be expected because each manufacturer is responsible for its own coupon design. The RedPlum inserts were dominated with offers from Nestle, Unilever, and L’Oréal. Of these, Unilever had the most issues, with errors in 23 out of their 27 coupons!
The most common problem with this set of coupons was the inclusion of a hidden start date, which occurred 30 times. The typical result of a hidden start date is that these coupons are coded so that they cannot be redeemed before Sunday, even if your paper comes out on Thursday! We will give Georgia Pacific credit for making their coupons start on Tuesday, July 21. But it is still wrong to hide any terms in the DataBar that are not otherwise disclosed in writing on the coupon.
Another error that harms consumers is that 17 of the DataBars (20%) are simply too small, such that many registers will not be able to read them. This is arguably the worst problem, but it is also the easiest for manufacturers to remedy. All that is necessary is to trim the legalese a little to allow for sufficient barcode space. It is amazing that corporate lawyers are willing to risk making coupons unable to scan just so they can repeat the same liability language, but perhaps they just are not aware of the constraints.
With regard to specific problematic coupons, couponers should be aware that the Cetaphil offers have bars that are likely too tiny to scan at any store. Shoppers should also be aware that the Purina “Buy Friskies Wet Cat Food, Get Pull ‘n Play Pack Free” is a likely checkout problem, due to required cashier intervention as well as some other technical issues.
Once again we thank the new CHEQR software for making it possible to provide such detailed analysis of these inserts! Next up on our agenda is a consolidated report of all recent coupons.