My roommate dated that guy, the one that was amazing except for an extremely quick temper that matched his lovemaking. After the stormy break-up, we weren’t allowed to speak his name, we could only say “Fuse”.
The word “fuse” has evolved into a measure of time, used this way much more so than as an electrical device or an igniter of explosives. Modern houses don’t even have electrical fuses anymore, making it even more difficult to explain to our kids the line from A Christmas Story, “my old man could change a fuse quicker than a jack-rabbit on a date.” And you probably never before appreciated this double entendre from Ralphie!
Getting back to the guy nicknamed Fuse, did you know that coupons also have fuses? A coupon fuse is the measure of time until the expiration date. A “short fuse” coupon generally has an expiry within the next month, whereas “long fuse” typically means an expiry 3 months or more in the future. Exploding fuses are typically high value coupons that expire within a week of issuance– these are the coupons that can easily break your heart. Fuse is the length of time, expiry is the actual expiration date. Funny how coupons too are much easier to love if they have long fuses!
There’s something else that you need to know about coupon fuses. Manufacturers are making their fuses shorter and shorter. Contributing to this trend is the monthly P&G brandSAVER®, which has now changed from a standard expiry date of the end of the month to 2-weeks for many of their coupons. Since P&G represents more than 20% of all coupons distributed, they have a big impact on all averages. There’s also an indirect effect. P&G is certainly one of the leaders in the coupon category, and especially in the Sunday insert or “FSI” world. Just like in kindergarten recess, manufacturers tend to follow the leader.
Internet-distributed coupons are also a driver toward shorter fuses. The default fuse on an Internet-printed coupon is 30 days. The confusing part of internet coupons is that the expiration date written in English often does not match what is encoded in the DataBar. QSeer users know to scan their coupons to see if they are still valid, but of course, coupon acceptance is always up to the individual store.
So where are coupon fuses headed? I’m pretty comfortable saving that the average coupon fuse is going to level off around the 2 month level, for reasons that we’ll have to explore another time. Couponers need to remember that manufacturers created this game. The manufacturers get to put out whatever coupons that they want to, whatever coupons they believe will help them the most in building brands and earning profits. It’s their ball, and we have to play by their rules or they take their ball home. Unfortunately, we have to learn to live with short fuses.