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Prairie Farms coupon

Coupons for free products are relatively rare. Coupons for milk are even rarer. So a coupon for free milk – why, that’s like finding a golden ticket!

Except when someone takes that golden ticket, and churns out copies on a printing press. Then it’s no longer worth the paper it’s printed on.

And that’s why many who have legitimate coupons for free milk, are finding that they’re suddenly the proud owners of worthless pieces of paper instead.

It all started when the Midwestern dairy company Prairie Farms printed coupons for a free gallon of white milk. But like golden tickets themselves, free milk coupons are not easy to get your hands on. “This coupon was primarily used for consumer relations and not distributed on a mass scale,” Bill Montgomery, the company’s Director of Advertising & Promotion, told Coupons in the News.

Until the internet got a hold of it. Then the coupons started showing up for sale on internet auction sites. Pretty soon, more coupons were in circulation than Prairie Farms had even printed. “PLEASE don’t ask how I get (these coupons),” one seller told potential customers. “Then what would you need me for?!”

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Prairie Farms and the Coupon Information Corporation had a pretty good idea where the sellers were getting their coupons. And it wasn’t from Prairie Farms itself. Instead, they were peddling high-quality forgeries.

So now, Prairie Farms has issued the equivalent of the coupon death penalty – invalidating the coupon offer altogether, even though the (real) coupon doesn’t expire until the end of 2015. “This coupon was withdrawn because redemption had well surpassed the distribution quantity,” Montgomery said. The CIC has issued a notice to retailers, informing them that the coupon is no longer to be accepted.

It’s relatively rare, though not unprecedented, for companies to kill a coupon offer, invalidating the legitimate coupons along with the counterfeits. Purina last did it a couple of months ago, invalidating a coupon for a free bag of Purina Cat Chow, worth up to $15.99. Counterfeiters got a hold of that one, too, selling legitimate-looking fakes online before Purina pulled the plug.

Like Purina, Prairie Farms will let you exchange a legitimate unused coupon for a redesigned replacement, if you mail it to the address listed on the CIC notice. If you have a counterfeit, you’re out of luck. And if you’re one of the sellers trying to unload your supply of fake free milk coupons, lots of luck finding a buyer now.

Free-product coupons are among the most frequently counterfeited. And since companies distribute them sparingly, you’re advised to be suspicious if someone has stacks of them for sale. Even if they’re for something as tempting as free milk.

Yes, milk can be expensive these days. But so is having to defend yourself after you’re caught using a counterfeit coupon, knowingly or not. And if the counterfeiters themselves are ever caught – it’s a good bet that the price of milk will soon become the least of their concerns.

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