There's a secret agenda of coupon codes, and it's not all good for you.
When you get to the check-out stage of an online purchase and see the box waiting there for a coupon code, what do you do? Skip it? Search your email for a discount directly from the retailer? Or scour the web for a code supplied by some friendly virtual neighbor? If you're like most people these days, you're hitting Google and relying on the kindness of strangers to get you free shipping or some percentage off and typing in codes until one works.
For consumers, the wide availability of coupon codes on the web sounds like a no-lose situation, but with success comes problems. Online coupons and codes are now subject to tampering and the whims of the retailers who accept them. Before you start virtually clipping, there are a few things to know.
"Coupon use in the last 12 to 18 months has been explosive," says Bill Bishop of Willard Bishop Consulting. "Some retailers are afraid about security issues and there is plenty of fraud that goes on."