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Manufacturer’s Coupons Now Excluding Clearance?

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[h2s_box]Check out this email I received from reader, Nancy –

On the Neutrogena product for $2/1 Neutrogena, it states “Not good on travel/trial sizes,” which is now the norm. However, it also states “Not good on clearance items.” Talk about a real shocker! I think we’re going to be seeing that wording now in addition to all the other changes and that’s definitely not a good change. Next it’ll be “not good on sale items – only regularly priced.”  That’s a very scary thought. Just wanted to point that out.[/h2s_box]

What are your thoughts on select manufacturer’s coupons now starting to have exclusions on clearance? Please share in the comments.

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Comments 124

  1. dais

    keep your coupon, I will buy something else……

    • Lisa


  2. MommySpendsLess

    It’s a bummer but corporations don’t owe us coupons, it’s not their job to keep people out of debt or help us make ends meet. Coupons are a marketing tool to help manufacturers reach new customers. Sales are a way for stores to get more customers inside who will hopefully buy regular priced items in addition to the loss leaders. A lot of times, items are on clearance because they’re being phased out – the manufacturer is replacing the product, has changed the packaging or added a feature. It makes sense that manufacturers don’t want to encourage customers to buy clearance items…they want the coupon to make you try their latest and greatest product, fall in love with it and buy it again and again. That’s why we usually see high value coupons on the newest products. It doesn’t help their bottom line if you fall in love with an item that they’re about to discontinue. Stores and manufacturers (and their brands) exist to make money, period – couponers (and I’m speaking as someone who has been a couponer/deal seeker for 6+ years) aren’t their most profitable customers so their goal isn’t necessarily to please us. Think of it like fishing and sales and coupons are the bait…we’re the clever fish who steal the bait without getting hooked.

    • Amie

      To be honest you are right. But given the coupon show, I’m pretty sure most consumers who read that, will come to the conclusion on their own to just not bother. Most people who use coupons now a days ARE looking for the best deal, so the coupons don’t get used on either product which means they really aren’t reaching anyone.

      • Erin

        I’m sure there are many casual couponers left in the world. My mother was her whole life, as was I when I worked full time. I clipped and used coupons on items I used regularly only. Wasn’t looking for free–just a discount on items I used.

    • Deb

      I have been what one would refer to as a frugal shopper for more than 25 years. I have seen all kinds of changes to the world of couponing and rebating, but I have always found a way to get what I needed at the price I was willing to pay. In the 1980’s and 1990’s it was rebates. Originally there was no limit to the number of rebates per household, so you could submit as many as you had proof of purchase to send, cash register receipts were not required. There were rebate forms in stacks at the front of every grocery store for just about any product. At the time there were “extreme rebaters” and there were people who literally made thousands of dollars a year submitting rebates for products they did not purchase. With the lack of bar codes, there were no checks and balances on coupons at checkout lanes. Coupon fraud was even easier then and there were people who took advantage of the system.

      “Back in the Day”, manufacturers handed out free product coupons like candy at Halloween for bread, milk, cereal and fruit as part of mail in rebates for loyally purchasing their products. Then came copy machines, scanners and colored printers! Coupons and rebate fraud went through the roof. Now a coupon for a free product is not accepted by many of my local grocery stores.

      More recently we have seen the changes in bar codes on coupons to prevent barcode decoding. Changes in store policies to prevent people from wiping out inventories and using $100 in coupons at superstores and turn around and returning all of the products to make a profit.

      Yes the changes in coupons and policies will change the way we shop again! I believe in the coming years you will see more digital coupons and reward/loyalty cards. Manufacturers will still have promotions to get people to buy their products and stores will still have promotions to get you into their stores. True frugal shoppers will survive the changes and continue to find ways to keep saving at the checkout lane. :o)

      • Ashley57

        Love your post Deb. There is always a way to save for those who look.

      • Sara

        When I was younger I remember my grandpa doing the rebates all the time. He used to submit 5 for his address using apartment numbers that didn’t exist. I literally just realized after reading your post how crappy that was. I never gave it a thought as an adult that was fraud.

      • Mel

        Love this post! Thanks!

      • virginia

        so true!

  3. Aurielle N

    I feel that one they realize that most people dont want to spend money on full price beauty items they will remove that caveat. They can keep thier full price stuff

  4. Jennifer

    What difference does it make to the manufacture of the product if we use it on a clearance item? I would think it would make a bigger difference to the stor, but no worries, I can always buy a different product.

  5. animity

    That sucks! I agree with other people, when they realize people won’t buy the full priced stuff they will change their tune.

  6. cantbewrong71

    I think the clearance should be off limits to exclusion here. These corporations do “pay” to have their items placed/displayed in certain ways but once that agreement has been fulfilled and the product is changing in anyway (packaging, size, volume, ingredients, etc) the contract should be negated. At that point, does the store have to be stuck with product and out the money if they can’t offload large amounts of clearance? Does that then lead to stores finding alternate ways to get their money? Be it by reporting damage losses or theft? That, in turn, ends up affecting the consumer.
    I believe that once an item goes on clearance it should be the store that determines whether a coupon can be used or not. If the store wants to place clear signs and program their scanners to not allow the discount, I can’t argue that. I can understand the travel/trial sizes, because they are pretty much samples and most companies can’t afford to give away that much product. Besides, these samples we go to websites to “like” for this coupon or that promotion allows the corporations to data mine and expand their marketing base. But clearance is pretty much the “garage sale” of these stores and shouldn’t be controlled in this manner. At least in my opinion.

  7. bceltic

    All these stricter coupon changes started when all those “extreme coupon” shows started :(. Really ruined it for those of us who were already coupon savvy!

  8. June Gwinn

    This exclusion, in addition to the newer 3 and 4-week expiration dates, leads me to believe the coupons will be phased out completely. Too many hoops to jump through!

  9. Maggi

    I believe this type of redemption qualification (ie; excluding clearance) is the manufacturer’s way of applying pressure on retailers to scrutinize coupons or risk not getting reimbursed. Just like the recent Gas-X coupon for $10 off 3 stipulated will pay full coupon value or retail value whichever is less (or something to that affect). Most cashiers are not going to read that fine print and Gas-X may very well decline payment to those retailers due to non-compliance with redemption policy.

  10. mckinzie

    Target Cartwheel’s now also say “except on clearance” 🙁 Almost bought a purse this week using the 25% Merona handbag cartwheel until I saw that it said that.

    • Jasmine

      Cartwheel has been saying that as long as I’ve been using it (months on end) and almost every time it has still worked on clearance for me. Just yesterday I bought some clearance Converse shoes and the 20% Cartwheel coupon still came off. I’m sure one day they will fix this “glitch” but until then I will keep trying my luck. I’m sure one day it will be ymmv.

    • erin

      It’s always YMMV for me; sometimes it will come off clearance, sometimes it won’t. If I’m buying an item anyway, I give it a try!

    • Dayna

      I have found that it will work on clearance. I added a 20% off Merona shoes coupon and a couple of other ones. I bought a pair of Merona boots at 70% off and my other items and regular price and I noticed that it took it off the clearanced boots as well.

  11. Kayla

    Without a coupon, I tend to buy generic. Unless of course it’s a name brand that I love! I believe I read somewhere that generic products are really name brands sold at a discount to the store that in turn sells it to the consumer at a discount. You just don’t know which name brand it is. So if manufacturers complicate the coupon redemption rules and push us towards generic, isn’t this hurting them since their product is being sold to the store at a cheaper cost? I’m sure it will come back around and hurt the manufacturer’s bottom line somehow, but I’m no expert on the resale process, just my opinion!!

  12. weber1791

    Signs that things in America are changing don’t be surprise if eventually coupons won’t be as good as they just to be. This is bad news as bad as Food stamps can now be used at Starbucks. The government supplemental nutrition program could not be more corrupt (or corporate). Starbucks has now managed to funnel tax dollars right into their stores. It benefits only Starbucks and those who would like you to believe that government can take care of your every need, even your craving for an upscale, overpriced latte. If you are not paying attention then I would like to point out that there is nothing nutritious in a Starbucks. Those little overpriced fruit, cheese, and cracker packs are there to make you feel good, not to provide you nutrition.
    Five minutes ago I began my grand boycott of Starbucks. You should consider doing the same. 🙂

    • kayscarolina

      WOW THAT IS JUST SAD/SICK about buying Starbucks with food stamps. That means that more people will be pissed off and those that truly need the food stamps, will be less likely to get them.

      There are parts of the country where there are no grocery stores and they had to extend food stamps to a pizza or sub place. Because there literally was no where for people to buy food. That I can understand. Starbucks I can’t.

    • Happymama

      Wow. Thanks for posting this. I’m all for helping those who need food stamps, but govt must put restrictions on things like candy, pop, and Starbucks IMO.

  13. MG

    Neutrogena is an overrated brand with inflated prices. They used to be good and I was a loyal customer. But that wording alone really grinds my gears! I’m not an extreme couponer but I do want to steward my money well. And if coupons and sales and rewards from drugstores/gift cards can do that, well all the better. We need to hurt them where it hurts, their sales figures. Ha!

  14. Kim

    What about stores that has a penny off the product and calls it clearance to get someone to think its a deal Walmart and Walgreen is bad for this.

    • Deb K

      I have noticed this myself. There was a time when clearance was no less than 50% off. Now the store puts the word above the item and it is wiped out in a day. I have seen people who have bought stuff on clearance or close out out sales and it was on sale for less at another store.

    • Dayna

      It annoys me when Walmart does this. I usually use the Red Laser app to scan stuff and see what the price is in order to see how little the item is clearanced.

  15. Dylan

    They Can KEEP their coupon! Johnson & Johnson gives the WORST coupons!
    Limit 1, Don’t Double,Even exclusions on where you can use the coupons! SCREW THEM! I WILL NEVER BUY FROM JOHNSON & JOHNSON AGAIN!

  16. Amy

    Ladies- don’t worry. Neutrogeana is just hurting itself. People will see that they won’t allow clearance items- therefore other companies (competing for your business) WILL NOT exclude clearance in order to draw more customers to THEIR brand. It’s a wrong business move if you ask me but then again who is crazy about Neutrogeana anyway? After this- def not me!

  17. ashley

    I contacted neutrogena this was there LOVELY response Hi Ashley,
    Thank you for reaching out to us! Where indicated, select coupons are not valid on clearance items because they are already significantly discounted. We apologize for any inconvenience and thank you for being a fan of NEUTROGENA®!

    • ashley

      Pretty much NO reasoninganfd very unhappy with there reponse to my politely asked ? Of why they have included not on clearance to the fine print

    • chelmon96

      That is basically what they are saying on facebook. Funny how there has been a call to ask the What the freak on their page but only two people have posted about it.

  18. Judy Theodorakis

    The products in the clearance bins, are there for bad sales. The only way to get a quick sale on these items are to to do drastics reduction in price and let the customers bring in the coupons. These companies would rather have the product brought to the dumpster and destroyed, than let you use your coupons.

  19. Jodi

    This doesn’t make sense, because Neutrogena has already been paid the wholesale price for the item by the store. If the item retails for $10, the store probably paid N* $6.
    If you buy it for $10, N* still only recieved $6. If you use a $2 coupon, N* pays the store the $2. So N* nets $4 on the item.
    If the store clearanced the item to $4, you use the $2 coupon, N* still has the original $6 and sends $2 to the store, N* nets the same $4.
    The store isn’t shorted the $2 coupon, they get the money from N*. The store’s loss is only that they discounted the item below what they paid for it wholesale.
    In other words, the coupon does not effect N* any differently if the coupon is used on a retail price or clearance price. And the coupon does not effect the store, either. The only difference is that the store has chosen to discount its own pricing, therefore has chosen to accept less or no profit, whether or not a coupon is used.

  20. Perlis

    I think that these kind of companies want to earn more money. Already we pay a lot money for the products and thanks for the coupons that we could buy them and pay the real prices of them.

  21. steph

    Companies are changing and including this wording on this coupon doesn’t surprise me at all. They started including wording like excludes trial/travel sizes when they saw people were getting those for free. They started adding limit of 1 or 2 or 4 per transaction. They get specific about what you have to buy like the recent Gillette coupon which stated you needed to buy 3 different items and couldn’t use it just on 3 shaving creams. While I don’t like the changes they are making because it affects anyone who uses a coupon, I still have been able to get things less expensive and have a nice little stash of products that I didn’t pay full price for.

  22. Marie

    I can see both sides of the issue. But it sucks that couponing is getting harder. It is funny though, that some people are on here complaining about how the government wants us to be dependent on them for everything, but are acting entitled to get a good deal/discount from a company in order to “subsidize” their lifestyle.

  23. Jaime

    I left a comment on the Facebook page as well. As far as the whole issue is concerned, it comes down to voting with our dollars. Neutrogena is one company among a throng of companies that complete for our money. All companies are in the business of making money. I’d say that most of us here if not all are trying our best to stretch our money as far as possible. If coupons continue to become less and less of a worthwhile endeavor – less return for my time invested in pursuing their use – I’ll stop using them. I’ll shop generic or I’ll DIY the stuff – Pinterest is loaded with DIY versions of all the basic necessities. Maybe it’s time to start experimenting now! lol I’m already doing the bulk of my food shopping at Aldi now due to the recent ending of double coupons in our area. It is so frustrating to try and follow all the rules and then have it get harder and harder to get a good deal. My jaw DROPPED at the comment here about those that sell clearance items on Ebay full price to overseas buyers – say WHAT? Unreal. I just want a good deal. Sadly that seems to becoming more and more a thing that is too much to ask… 🙁 Keep posting on Facebook guys!

    • Jodi

      I very rarely use coupons, anymore. I don’t have a family to feed, and most coupons are for absolute junk foods and air fresheners (if Hip2Save stopped listing the junk food and air freshener deals, the coupon postings would drop 80% here). The only deals I look for are for Toms of Maine deals which are about twice per year, and some deals for feminine products.

      I’m tired of getting my shopping list and coupons together and then the store not having the items. Or I end up buying too much stuff that I don’t really need, anyway. And chasing rewards points or cash back coupons that end up expiring is a headache.

      Couponing can be a fun hobby, and I know many people who do this to donate to food banks, or they have a large family……but if you figure the time involved and what you’re actually buying, I think we can do just as well by watching for a sale, only buying what you actually need, and buying GOOD FOOD on sale. And all those air fresheners and scented candles are really bad for you.

      • Jarrod L

        I agree and so many people are abusing the system by buying absurd amounts of stuff they will never truly use or need.

      • cathy

        jodie, i agree that most “food” coupons are for heavily processed items that i occasionally buy. i think you can still save on toms deodorant and toothpaste, but also cleaning supplies, paper towels, tp, school supplies, etc. i do use coupons on frozen produce, fresh produce, yogurt, butter, pasta, rice, flour, sugar and occasionally candy.

  24. Danielle

    Clearance doesn’t really have anything to do with the manufacturer, so I don’t really understand. Either way. Out of the list of things that you can get at the grocery or drug store with a coupon, if there isn’t a deal or coupon available, I’m not spending that money. I’ll go generic or high end. Like body wash. It’s like 6 fricking bucks without a good deal.,I will never spend that kind of money for that type of brand. I would rather go get a deal at bath and body works or body shop and maybe pay a couple bucks more (usually not with the kind of sales and coupons they have sometimes too) than to pay that kind of money for any grocery store brand. It’s all about value for the money. And lack of a deal for me results in straight up store brand, or higher end splurge. Or make it myself.

    But in the end, marketing will prevail. I think all the coupon things that are difficult at the moment will lighten up as the economy improves. My bigger worry is print newspapers becoming less popular!!!

  25. Christine H

    Strange change. Tell me, HOW does a manufacturer even KNOW when an item goes on clearance any way? Clearance is up the the store’s timing. I feel like this…If you’re going to add stipulations like THAT with no reasons WHY, then WHY bother having coupons for your products? I just won’t buy that product anyway…it’s a COUPON for goodness sake. I can see a STORE coupon doing that but not a manufacturer.

    • Potato

      Actually I can’t see a store doing that. They make 8C more with a coupon, and actually sell the product, rather than no one buying it and it getting thrown away.

  26. Michelle

    That is ridicules! The manufacturer sells the items to the store at the same price. The store is the one who loses money on “clearance” items, not the manufacturer.

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