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Milk app

You almost need an app to help keep track of all the coupon and rebate apps out there these days. But the makers of a new savings app say their creation is nothing short of revolutionary – there’s no need to sort through offers, select anything or scan your receipts. All you do is go shopping, activate the app, and it will search through hundreds, even thousands of available coupons, and apply them automatically, without you having to do a thing.

Genius!

Well, sort of.

The app, called Milk, accomplishes this amazing feat by linking to all of your grocery loyalty program accounts at any of roughly two dozen different stores. Then, when you hit a button on the app, it automatically adds every available digital coupon to every one of your accounts. When you check out, then, whichever coupons on that particular store’s account happen to apply to your purchases, are deducted from your total.

Sounds slightly less genius, when you consider how it actually works. But at least it saves you the trouble of logging in to your individual store accounts and sorting through which coupons you’d like to clip.

Oh, by the way, the app will cost you $9.99. Per year.

So is Milk really genius, then – or kind of pointless? That depends on what kind of couponer you are.

“This app merely loads all of your Safeway Just4U offers to your club card with one tap,” one reviewer and Safeway shopper writes on iTunes. “If this convenience is worth spending $10/year, go for it. Personally, I’ll save the ten bucks and continue using Safeway’s app for free.”

But others are on board with the concept. In a review on the website Lifehacker, editor-in-chief and self-professed non-couponer Whitson Gordon positively gushes about it. “I really can’t stress how cool this app is,” he writes in a review. “It’s a really complicated idea made extremely simple.”

Clipping digital coupons is complicated? “They’re just too much work,” Gordon complains. “Milk is completely automated. Without that automation, I’d never go through the trouble of clipping coupons.”

So, suffice to say, Milk is not for the extreme couponer. It’s not even for the casual couponer, really. If you’re willing to pay for the convenience of couponing without any effort whatsoever, maybe Milk is for you – though it does have some limitations.

It only works with store-hosted digital coupons, not with third-party digital coupon providers like Cellfire. It also can’t literally clip “every” coupon available, since some stores limit how many you can have loaded onto your card at one time. The app merely loads up to the maximum number allowed, with a promise that it will learn your preferences over time to prioritize clipping coupons for things you actually buy. And unless you manually delete coupons you don’t want, your accounts will remain full and unable to accommodate any additional coupons, until the coupons that are already loaded expire.

Also, without knowing what coupons Milk has actually clipped for you, you’re liable to grab whatever items you want, without ever realizing that you could have saved more by buying items for which there were coupons ready and waiting for you to use. Milk does allow you to view and scroll through all of the coupons it loads onto your account. But then that would be a lot of “work”.

And then there’s the small matter that it costs $9.99 a year. The app developers have to make money somehow, after all. While apps like Ibotta and Checkout 51 make money from the manufacturers whose discounts they offer, Milk doesn’t have direct relationships with manufacturers – it merely loads their already-existing coupons onto your loyalty accounts. And since the manufacturers’ coupons aren’t serving their intended purpose of incentivizing you to buy – they’re just surprise discounts that come off after you’ve already grabbed their product, intending to pay full price – the manufacturers are unlikely to want to pay for the privilege of being involved with Milk anyway.

So an app that clips coupons for you sounds like a great idea – to people who don’t use coupons. Some may actually find they save more than the amount they paid up front to download Milk in the first place. But if you’re one who doesn’t find couponing to be “too much work,” you just might find that you can save more by clipping those coupons on your own.

See? You’ve saved yourself ten bucks already.

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