Love-hate relationship with coupons
by Jack McNeely
Aug 11, 2013 | 1016 views | 0 0 comments | 47 47 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Jack McNeely
Jack McNeely
Shortly after I arrived at the Daily Mountain Eagle in early 2012, I was asked by local consumers to add more coupon packages to our offerings on Sunday. After a year of haggling with Smart Source coupon distributors, we boast several coupon packs nearly every Sunday.

In addition to the Smart Source and Red Plum coupon packs, most retail stores carry their own coupons frequently. And, as I wrote last year, my wife and I clip coupons just like many other folks who want to stretch their hard-earned money.

Such has been the case since Coca-Cola distributed the very first coupon in the United States in 1887 for a new product trial.

In 2012, coupon users saved $11.20 on average per shopping trip with coupons. Nationwide, redemption cost for coupons was $800 million.

But newspapers have a love-hate relationship with coupons.

We love coupons because they add value to our product. We hate coupons because some folks think it is OK to drop four quarters into our newspaper vending machines and then pull out 10 or more newspapers just for the extra coupon packages.

The industry calls this pilferage. I call it theft. And boy, have the thieves been thick lately!

Our pilferage count has increased dramatically since adding the Smart Source package to our Sunday newspaper in early July. Some newspaper vending machines are $20 to $30 short every time multiple coupon packages are available.

In fact, we eat $400 to $700 per week in pilferage losses just from our house racks in the immediate Jasper market. Unfortunately, that is an industry trend.

But catching folks in the act is like catching a raccoon swiping cat food off your back porch. You have to set a trap.

And that’s exactly what I intend to do. We will begin monitoring those vending machines that have the largest pilferage numbers.

Hopefully, we will catch someone red-handed as they pull a stack of papers from one of our vending machines. And better yet, we may photograph it for publication on the front page.

It is unfortunate that we have to take these measures to protect our business. I would rather everyone have the morals and ethics to pay for each newspaper taken from our vending machines.

Jack McNeely is the publisher of the Daily Mountain Eagle and can be contacted by phone at 205-221-2840 or via email at