Welcome to QSeer!
QSeer Coupon Reader is the app that scans and interprets manufacturer coupon barcodes.
Confused by the new barcodes on manufacturer coupons? Want to understand what a coupon really says? Simply use your iPhone’s or iPad’s camera function to scan a coupon’s barcode. QSeer reads the barcode and displays the coupon terms in plain English.
QSeer is available for iPhone and iPad. Coming soon for Android.
With QSeer you can:
- Learn if your coupon will double
- See what purchases are really required
- Find out if your coupon is tracking you
- Identify coupon errors and omissions
- Avoid issues at checkout
- …and much more!
How It Works:
What are the bar codes on coupons?
There are two kinds of bar codes on most manufacturers’ coupons.
The “old style”, or the UPC-A code, has one set of bars and a 12 to 14 digit number below the bars. It looks like the UPC code that you see on most products in your stores.
The “new style”, called the GS1 DataBar or simply databar, has two sets of numbers above what are usually two groups of bars. QSeer is only able to read the GS1 DataBar.
What do the bar codes do?
Bar codes permit a retailer’s cash registers to “read” the coupon and automatically deduct the proper value from your bill. Then the bar codes enable retailers and manufacturers to settle up more efficiently. Bar codes are simply another language, one that machines can easily read.
What information is contained in the bar codes?
The old style codes contained a unique number for each manufacturer, a product family code corresponding to the listed product, and a two-digit code indicating the number of items to purchase and the coupon value.
The new databar contains all of that information plus more. It has the capability of including a unique tracking number. There are also optional fields for multiple manufacturers, coupon start date, coupon expiry date, doubling, and more.
Why does the QSeer display show something that is different than what is printed on the coupon?
The difference between what is written on the coupon and what is encoded in the databar is what makes QSeer so useful!
Sometimes manufacturers make mistakes with the databar, and so the words that are written on the coupon are not the same as what is encoded on the databar. Manufacturers also believe that you can’t see what is encoded on the databar, and so they aren’t worried about using codes that will give you savings off any item in the store or give you a free item with no additional purchase. Manufacturers believe that you will only be able to follow what is written on the coupon, but now that you have QSeer, you can understand all the terms hidden in the databar.
I’ve always heard that it’s the written portion of the coupon that really matters. Is that wrong?
Like so many things in this high tech world, coupons have changed dramatically. The introduction of the databar allowed manufacturers to insert terms in the barcodes that are not written on the coupon. The entire system is designed so that only the barcodes matter.
In the QSeer display, why does the product family sometimes just display a number rather than a written description?
QSeer has over 4,000 family codes in its database, but manufacturers are constantly adding new products and defining new family codes. If the product family code is not in the database, QSeer will simply display the number. The product family codes table will be updated frequently, so if you find a coupon with a family code that is not in the database, please send a picture of the coupon to firstname.lastname@example.org, and the family code will be included in the next QSeer update.
In the QSeer display, why do some manufacturer names have numbers next to them?
The grocery store computers try to match the manufacturer code and the product family code with the items you have purchased to determine whether to accept your coupon. If both the manufacturer and product family codes match the product you are purchasing, then the store’s computer will accept the coupon. In many cases, that means that even if you buy a different size or flavor than what is pictured on the coupon, your coupon will still scan.
Some manufacturers have so many products that they have multiple manufacturer numbers. In those cases, we have listed the specific manufacturer code to help you with matching your coupons to the items you would like to purchase.
Why does the QSeer display say “No Expiration Date” but an expiration date is printed on the coupon?
Even though the manufacturer wrote an expiration date on the coupon, they did not encode an expiration date into the databar. Manufacturers give stores a few months from when the coupon expires to when the retailer must submit the coupon for reimbursement, so the retailer is not harmed if you redeem a coupon a few days past the expiration date.
Some cashiers may check the expiration date that is written on your coupon. When the typed words conflict with the bar codes, confusion may result. It is still best policy to follow the expiration date described in English on the coupon.
This coupon says “buy one get one free” but QSeer says “Free Product Coupon” and that I can buy “0” and get one free. Could that possibly be right?
Yes, it is correct. QSeer just reads and interprets the barcodes that the manufacturers created.
Some coupons are encoded to give you free product without any additional purchase. Even if the printed text on the coupon states buy one get one additional free, the coupon can be encoded for a free item.
This is a situation where the written words may conflict with the bar codes. We cannot predict how your cashier will handle this coupon. However, as long as the GS1 databar is scanned, most store checkout systems will treat it as a free product coupon.
Some store scanners may require the cashier to manually enter the price for the free item. You can speed up checkout by writing the product price on the coupon while you are putting the item in your cart.
The writing on my coupon says that it is for a specific item, but QSeer says “Coupon valid on any product!”. Could that be right?
Yes, some coupons are coded to give you a discount off your purchase of any item in the store! The bar code does not require you to purchase the item described on the coupon. You do not even need to purchase an item from the manufacturer listed on the coupon.
The manufacturer may have used this code because the items on the coupon are in more family codes or manufacturer codes than allowed in the databar. Other times, manufacturers use this code in error or as an easy programming solution.
These coupons should scan regardless of what you purchase. However, some cashiers may attempt to manually match your purchases to your coupons. When the typed words conflict with the bar codes, confusion may result. It is still best policy to purchase the items described in English on the coupon.
Why won’t my coupon scan?
You can usually get your coupon to scan simply by holding your iPhone over the coupon so that the complete databar is in the center of your phone display. If the camera does not immediately read the coupon, try holding the phone at different angles over the databar until the green rectangle zooms in on the databar.
QSeer can only interpret the new databar, which is called the GS1 databar by the manufacturers. QSeer cannot interpret the old UPC-A barcodes that have the numbers along the bottom, so make sure you are scanning the correct barcode. There are a few coupons with barcodes that contain errors such as an improper length or missing information, and so they can’t scan at all. They probably will not scan at the grocery store either.
Make sure there are no folds or rips in the coupon barcode. Barcodes that are very small or very large can also be a challenge, so try holding the camera at different distances. Also, if the coupon is very shiny, your phone may have trouble picking up the image.
If you have a specific coupon that won’t scan, feel free to email an image to email@example.com, and we will do our best to decipher it for you.
Why should I care whether the coupon has tracking codes?
For some people it is a real privacy concern that big companies are building files on individual consumers. By tracking your coupon use, manufacturers can learn some very personal information about you and your family that you might not want to share. For example, they might be able to tell whether you eat a healthy diet, what form of contraceptive you use, and whether you buy Kosher or halal foods. Tracking information is not disclosed on coupons, and you have a right to know if your privacy is being invaded.
Do we have a right to decipher bar codes?
Absolutely, for two important reasons.
Ever noticed all the legal jargon on a coupon? Manufacturers claim that coupons are contracts with you and the retailer. The bar codes regulate how the coupon will be read and processed through the system, making those bar codes a material portion of the coupon contract. You have the right to read and understand every part of every contract that you accept.
The second reason is your right to privacy. Every major manufacturer has added tracking numbers to some of their coupons. These numbers allow manufacturers to view exactly what you are buying and when. They are collecting data about you with these coupons. You have the absolute right to know if a coupon is tracking you, and the only way to tell is to read the bar codes!
Why is it important for me to decipher my coupons?
There are three key reasons. First, you have a right to know if a coupon is tracking you. Some coupons that look just like a coupon from the Sunday paper have unique IDs that can be used to see exactly what products you buy. Second, many coupons contain terms in the bar codes that are not stated in the English portion. If a coupon is really a contract, then you have every right to understand the entire coupon, including bar codes. Third, many coupons contain errors and ambiguity. Since it’s the bar code that retailers and manufacturers use to determine the actual value and terms of a coupon, not the English terms, then deciphering the bar codes can enable you to solve any discrepancies. For the vast majority of people who try to redeem coupons only as they were intended, reading the bar codes is essential!
How do I contact the QSeer development team?
Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.