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Does the fine print on some recent coupons have you scratching your head? A couple of manufacturers now say they’re working to clear up some particularly confusing coupon language.

Back in August, couponers noticed some odd wording on Post product coupons (Read: “Fine Print Confounds Couponers”). The coupons read, “Only 4 like items may be purchased in same transaction.” At first glace, the wording seemed similar to other manufacturers coupons that limit the number of “like coupons” that can be used in a transaction. But “like items”? Following the coupon’s terms to the letter, would mean you could only buy four of a particular product at once. While it’s understandable that a manufacturer might want to limit the number of coupons you use, it would be unusual for them to want to limit how many of their products you can buy.

Post Foods has been studying the issue ever since it was brought to their attention (while continuing to issue coupons with the same confusing wording). And a spokesperson finally issued a verdict this week to Coupons in the News:

“We have used this language for some time and have had very few questions/concerns from consumers. As we try to keep pace with coupon abusers, we continually adjust our language, however it is not our intention to confuse consumers, especially our loyal fans. Understanding that there is confusion we will be revising the text in the near future on our coupons to make it clearer for consumers.”

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The spokesperson also clarified that the intent of the wording was to limit the number of like coupons used in a transaction, so look for wording to that effect on Post coupons in the future.

Meanwhile, a recent printable coupon for “$1 off any one Tyson Any’tizers Snacks” that was available on Coupon Network contained the fine print “Limit one coupon per purchase on product(s) shown only.” Again, at first glance, it seemed to be fairly standard coupon fine-print wording. But it raised the age-old controversy over whether coupon users and cashiers are supposed to follow the wording on a coupon, or the picture on the coupon. This particular coupon showed a large bag of “Honey Barbeque Boneless Wyngz”. Strictly speaking, since the coupon said it was valid only on the “product(s) shown”, the coupon could be used only on this variety, and only on the larger bagged product and not the smaller boxed ones. It validated the methods of some strict cashiers who will (usually wrongly) refuse a coupon because the item purchased “is not what’s shown on the coupon”, even though the coupon wording says it’s a match.

A Tyson spokesperson has also now responded to Coupons in the News:

“I will raise this concern with the appropriate marketing teams for consideration on future printings to see how we might clarify our intent. We certainly do not wish to make things difficult for our consumers at check-out.”

The wording seems not to have reappeared on a Tyson coupon since; the one that’s currently available on Coupon Network is for “$1.10 off any 1 bag of Tyson Any’tizers Snacks” (emphasis added). It may have been Tyson’s intent to limit the original coupon to the larger bagged products, instead of the smaller boxes, by picturing a bag and saying the coupon could only be used on the “product(s) shown”. Now, by spelling it out prominently on the coupon, rather than burying it in confusing fine print, that intent is much clearer.

Two more victories over confusing coupon language. So keep reading that fine print – and keep asking questions if you’re baffled by what you see.

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