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Pilgrims coupon

UPDATE: Based on new information from Inmar that was not provided prior to publication, this article has been updated to clarify that the direct link to the coupon in question was not initially distributed by Hopster or Pilgrim’s.

At one time or another, you’ve probably received what’s known as a “customer service”, “thank you” or “apology coupon” from a company hoping to right a wrong, or just express its gratitude, with a high-value or free-item coupon. Typically you’ll get this in the mail, printed on heavy card stock, with a hologram or other security features. But sometimes, it might come in the form of a printed coupon, similar to the type you might print at home. A really high-value printable coupon. A coupon unlike anything else you’re likely to find online.

And that’s when the problems can start.

Just ask the Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation, the producer of fresh and frozen chicken products served in restaurants and sold in stores. A recent Pilgrim’s printed coupon mailed to select customers offered $10 off any Pilgrim’s, Country Pride or County Post product. Then it went viral, counterfeiters got a hold of it, and scores of people got a whole lot of free chicken, with cash back to boot, before Pilgrim’s scrambled to pull the plug.

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“COUNTERFEIT COUPON WARNING,” reads a notice issued by the Coupon Information Corporation on Tuesday, followed by pictures of three printable Pilgrim’s coupons branded “Counterfeit”. “Pilgrim’s is not currently offering any $4.50 or $10.00 coupons online.”

Now, many who got a hold of the coupon are wondering whether they’ve cheated Pilgrim’s – or whether Pilgrim’s cheated them.

The genesis of the $4.50 coupon is unclear. But at one time, there was indeed an honest-to-goodness $10 Pilgrim’s coupon available. “It was located at an unpublished URL that was intended for internal business use only and not for consumer access,” said Brian Wiegand, Senior Vice President at Inmar, the owner of Hopster. “It was instead intended for exclusive use by a small group of specific consumers. These consumers received this offer in the form of a physical coupon via U.S. mail.” The coupon “was never intended to be emailed or available for Print at Home, or otherwise distributed online to any consumer by Pilgrim’s Pride or Hopster,” Wiegand said.

But even an “unpublished” URL isn’t invisible. Someone discovered the Hopster URL on which the coupon was hosted, and sent the link to a friend. And that friend sent it to a friend, who sent it to a friend – who sent it to the entire internet. And before anyone knew it, shoppers were getting loads of Pilgrim’s products for free. And for shoppers at places like Walmart, who bought Pilgrim’s products that sold for less than half the value of the coupon, they got their chicken for free, and plenty of overage, too.

“Someone exploited an unpublished URL and then illegally distributed the coupon,” Inmar said in its initial statement to Coupons in the News, confirming that the coupon was indeed legitimate, if unauthorized – at first.

So Pilgrim’s did what most companies do when faced with an out-of-control, high-value coupon. It branded all of them counterfeit, and announced that retailers should not accept any of them.

“The current confusion in the marketplace is the direct result of certain individuals who knowingly and unlawfully exploited an unpublished URL and distributed it widely on the internet,” Wiegand said. “Hopster and Pilgrim’s Pride immediately notified the industry to prohibit unauthorized redemption of this coupon.”

Don’t go looking for the $10 coupon now, because the original link is long gone. “The URL in question has been removed and the coupon has been invalidated in our system,” Inmar said. That alone should have solved the problem. And it might have – had it not been for the actual counterfeits.

Not content with just two prints of the $10 coupon, counterfeiters began creating copies and selling them online. Some even went so far as to alter the “Authentication PIN Numbers” imprinted on the coupons, to make them look unique and legitimate. Lists began circulating on social media, of “known counterfeit” PINs and “known legitimate” ones, along with photos of long receipts showing multiple $10 coupons used on $4.98 products, as well as freezers full of chicken (“72 bags and counting!” one photo was captioned).

Adding to the confusion, the coupons pictured on the CIC notice that were branded as “counterfeit” contained PINs that showed up as being legitimate, at least until Hopster disabled its online coupon verification system late Wednesday and replaced it with a notice stating that “ALL Pilgrim’s Pride coupons recently distributed online are invalid and not authorized for use.”

Wiegand said security measures are being implemented to prevent such unauthorized access in the future. “We are also working with the appropriate authorities and conducting forensic analysis to identify the individuals responsible for the criminal acts,” he added.

A Pilgrim’s spokesman declined to offer a comment. But now that the word is out, and retailers across the country have been warned not to accept the coupons anymore, the party’s over – to Pilgrim’s relief, to the counterfeiters’ dismay, and to the frustration of those who received a link to the Pilgrim’s coupon, not knowing that they were never intended to have it. “Other people who have legit coupons they printed themselves cannot use them now, because other people made copies,” one commenter wrote in an online coupon forum. “So unfortunately for honest people, the ones who wanted to make a quick buck ruined it for you.”

So the next time you have a question, comment or concern for Pilgrim’s, don’t get your hopes up for a “thank you” coupon – particularly not a printable one. After all the free chicken Pilgrim’s has given away recently, it may be a while before the company is feeling thankful toward couponers again.

30 Comments

  1. Captain Obvious says:

    The coupon offer that relied on Hopster’s exclusive internet printable technology was never intended to be an internet print at home offer.

    Let the logic of that statement waft in through your nostrils, and tell me if it smells good or bad.

  2. I bought 6 of these coupons from an individual on a coupon site. They reimbursed my money after I told them they sold me counterfit coupons and if my money wasnt returned I would go to the cops about it. This is crazy.

  3. When I called hopster the lady on the phone said she did not not if the coupon was valid or not they had to have a meeting to figure it out and I told her I verified it on dash board and it said valid so they did not have a clue she said yes they sent some as out but did not no witch ones was valid …..I said wow

  4. Always seems the articles here are full of inaccuracies, and this time someone of importance noticed too.

    • Captain Obvious says:

      Not sure where this is coming from; CITN’s track record is waayyy more transparent and accurate than any press releases or braggadocio coming out of the big industry coupon players. Get real.

    • Conveniently vague, Michelle. You’re probably a Hopster employee

  5. I would like to address some inaccuracies in the above article. The $10 Pilgrim’s Pride coupon was never intended to be emailed or available for Print at Home, or otherwise distributed online to any consumer by Pilgrim’s Pride or Hopster. It was located at an unpublished URL that was intended for internal business use only and not for consumer access. It was instead intended for exclusive use by a small group of specific consumers. These consumers received this offer in the form of a physical coupon via U.S. mail. The current confusion in the marketplace is the direct result of certain individuals who knowingly and unlawfully exploited an unpublished URL and distributed it widely on the internet. Hopster and Pilgrim’s Pride immediately notified the industry to prohibit unauthorized redemption of this coupon. We are also working with the appropriate authorities and conducting forensic analysis to identify the individuals responsible for the criminal acts. We would also like to note that this unpublished URL was resident on a private Hopster website. Hopster technologies, which Inmar acquired, incorporates digital security standards for all electronically distributed offers (which this offer was not), and they are in the course of being integrated into Inmar’s platforms, which incorporate incremental security protocols to prevent such unauthorized access.

    Brian Wiegand
    – former CEO, Hopster, Inc.
    – SVP, Inmar

    • Thank you for the information, Brian – the article has been updated to incorporate your comments and clarifications.

      In the interest of transparency, I provided Inmar with the entire original scenario as I understood it at the time, for comment/clarification/correction, and no issue was taken at the time to any of the details as I laid them out. So it’s helpful to have those details filled in now – though it would have been preferable if this information was provided prior to publication, in response to my direct questions on the subject.

      You know how to get in touch with me directly, so please feel free to do so if you have any additional information or concerns, now or in the future. I think, I hope, you know I am committed to fairness and accuracy, so don’t feel that your only chance to be heard is in the comments section.

    • Even with that being said hopster stated all coupons were not valid having some people that received the coupon getting surrounded by police at store I don’t think that was rite because hopster no that they had sent some coupons out so that threw some customers under the bus ……just say that the company never new it would get out of hand like this

    • No one was notified immediately because hopster did not no anything because I called 4times so that’s just a copout to take off heat the date people was notified was 27th the coupon had been out almost a week by then try again if your company was wrong say it don’t try to put it all on the people

    • Captain Obvious says:

      If the coupon was never intended to be a print at home offer, why in the world did it rely on Hopster’s printable technology to manifest?

      Why didn’t the client just send out high-value paper coupons ($10 is too sweet a value for PAH anyway – regardless of who redeems it – and Hopster knows this).

      If you build a car, don’t be surprised when it drives away.

      What a dodge. Lame answer from a guy, Wiegand, who should be more respected in the industry.

    • Bernie Sanders says:

      DEAR BRIAN WEIGAND, former CEO, Hopster, Inc. SVP, Inmar:

      Some clarifications please:

      “internal business use only and not for consumer access //// OR //// a small group of specific consumers”

      WHICH ONE IS IT?

      “Hopster sent print at home coupons thru the US MAIL?”

      THEY //// PRINTED //// COUPONS AND MAILED THEM? LET ME REPEAT THAT ONE. THEY PRINTED PRINT AT HOME COUPONS AND MAILED THEM.

      “The current confusion in the marketplace is the direct result of certain individuals who knowingly and unlawfully exploited an unpublished URL”

      OK. WAIT. SO. HOPSTER ALSO SENT THE “UNPUBLISHED” URL THRU THE MAIL? IS IT POSSIBLE THE CURRENT CONFUSION IN THE MARKETPLACE IS……..//// HOPSTER’S FAULT ////

      “Forensic analysis?”

      SEEMS LIKE A BUZZWORD TO ME. WHAT WILL BE ANALYZED? THE PAPER VERSION OF THE PRINT AT HOME COUPON THAT HOPSTER MAILED WILLINGLY TO THE “not for consumer access //// OR //// a small group of specific consumers”

      “Trying to identify the individuals responsible for the criminal acts.”

      CRIMINAL ACTS? BRIAN NEEDS TO BRUSH UP ON COUPON LAWS – AND THE LACK THEREOF.

      THIS WAS THE BIGGEST MUMBO JUMBO, SMOKE SCREEN PILE OF CRAP DISHED OUT IN A LONG TIME, AND I’M FOLLOWING DONALD TRUMP #makeamericagreatagain

      • These were printed offers they were mailing out. Was the URL of the coupon printed on the page consumers got? Did they really think nobody would type that in to try to print more?

        • Captain Obvious says:

          It has recently come to Mr. Wiegand’s attention that nefarious coupon enthusiasts will tinker with his technology’s URLs in an attempt to crack the logic and make high-value printable coupons not only look legit, but validate via their dashboard (according to other commenters here).

          Welcome to the Internet, Mr. SVP of Digital. Please do look around and get familiar with it, might just catch on one of these days.

  6. wow!!!! In where I live a girl sold a lot of those coupons

  7. CLUCK CLUCK CLUCK I’m so tired of hearing about this chicken Q. Hopster and Pilgrim’s screwed up they need to deal with it. As for the CIC they are a non-governmental joke that blow a lot of steam out of their backside. If it’s such a big issue Pilgrim’s should recall the q like they did on the Hydroxycut and be done with it. Another glitch will soon be available at a store near you.

    • You are talking about a ten dollar coupon, what about the companies that I have seen get taken for in just one order between 700.00 to thousand dollars and there are groups that are dedicated to catching glitches a company has. There literally sit there all day to screw with a companies program to get it to glitch and to see the boxes and boxes of stuff that come to these people. One person I saw had TWO UPS trucks come to her house because of a glitch a company had. Its rather sickening to see how a person(s) can be so greedy. Your company isnt the only victim.

  8. Regardless of the company saying they won’t honor the coupon….. Hopster should know immediately by serial numbers, which are real coupons.

    That may be a blanket type statement to get the usage to stop, but I wouldn’t necessarily take it that they won’t reimburse the retailer. At least that would be my opinion.

  9. I belong to many Facebook groups and this was being reprinted and sold in epic proportions…to the point my feed has been nothing but chicken posts since last week. The real problem isn’t sending a link it’s mass producing internet printed coupons on selling them. One group has over 29K members selling Q’s all day long and see nothing wrong with it.

  10. Concerned couponer says:

    I used mine at a army base commissary. They scan our ID’s before every transaction and the cashier write their cashier number on them. I used mine in good faith. I had no idea they would do this. Where does that leave me? My commissary will be coming after me because it makes me look like I did coupon fraud when in reality I had no clue. I will be charged with a federal offense. Someone should be held accountable for this… Not me!

    • You had no Intent to fruad them so they can’t come after you, BUT… the military could revoke your commissary privileges. It is a privilege to shop at a military commissary, not a right.

      • Concerned couponer says:

        im worried for the cashier and I certainly don’t want them to take my privileges away. Had I known this would happen I wouldn’t had used them. I learned my lesson. I pray they don’t come to bite me

    • You won’t be held accountable, the company said they were real. It is not your fault… if anything happens it will Wappingers to the ppl who sold the coupons…and I would assume only using after the 27th would be bad since that is when they released the statement and told stores to not accept them.

    • i doubt if the military will come after you, or the cashier. just show them this article and the fact that the entire issue is ridiculous and Hopster’s expert seems to be to blame. print it and give it to the cashier so she can cover her a$$ and also the commissary.

  11. The whole thing doesn’t make a lot of sense. Honestly why would Pilgrim’s Pride issue such a high dollar coupon anyway, when most of their stuff is significantly under $10.

    Maybe Pilgrim’s Pride is naive about printables, but Inmar certainly isn’t, so to put no security controls in place really hurts their credibility.

  12. I’d place the blame on Hopster mainly, and Pilgrim’s Pride secondly. Shame on Hopster for not having a system to provide direct-to-customer coupon links that includes an email address as part of the validation mechanism. The two major “email offer” printable coupon providers can do it. Coupons.com can do it via Bricks links, Revtrax can do it as well.

    And as usual, the “they’re all fraudulent” claim is a ridiculous cop-out.

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