ppod_citn-728x90
ppod_citn-320x100

Coupons.com zip codes

Notice anything different about Coupons.com? First the website, and now tens of thousands of affiliate sites (including Coupons in the News) that offer Coupons.com printables, no longer feature a box allowing you to enter your zip code – or someone else’s zip code.

Just check out the before-and-after images above (click to enlarge) – as of late yesterday, the top left corner on all Coupons.com affiliate sites, just like on the Coupons.com site itself, no longer invites you to input a zip code for regional offers. That has many wondering whether this is an effort by Coupons.com to zip up zip codes for good.

The ability to pick and choose zip code-specific coupons has long been an open secret among printable coupon fans. The default Coupons.com page features national offers. But after entering a zip code, extra coupons targeted to that specific region may appear. Many printable users and coupon bloggers got so good at it over the years, there are even “favorite” zip codes that often have some of the best regional offers – like 90210, 77477 or 10001.

For years, printable coupon providers have either looked the other way when users changed zip codes in search of coupons, discouraged it but did nothing to prevent it, or expressed no concern about it whatsoever.

But now, on Coupons.com at least, you can no longer travel the country from the comfort of your computer, easily trying out different zips for different coupons. And coupon bloggers may no longer be able to offer direct links to zip code-specific offers – or even know whether coupons that appear for them, will show up for anyone else.

A spokesperson for Coupons.com parent company Quotient Technology said zip code changing was simply no longer needed, or relevant. “We instituted this change because we already had a mechanism in place to localize coupons based on IP addresses,” Tessa Chen told Coupons in the News. “We also just wanted to make sure that (affiliate sites) match our flagship site Coupons.com,” which already eliminated the zip code box some time ago.

This is actually the second time the company has eliminated its zip code box in a site redesign. Back in December 2012, Coupons.com happily informed users that “now there’s no need to enter your zip code on the home page to see available offers in your area. We do it for you.” Then, as now, if you register on the site with your email address and your own zip code, you’ll see the national and regional offers that Coupons.com and its coupon providers want you to see. Technically, if you register, log in and change the zip code in your profile, you can still see other zip codes’ coupons. But that’s a lot more cumbersome, and company officials are indicating that even that workaround might not last for long.

In the absence of any explanation from Coupons.com back in 2012, conventional wisdom was that the company and its advertisers no longer wanted users to access coupons targeted to other regions. Regional coupons are regional for a reason, after all – advertisers or retailers might want to target particular cities or demographics, the same way they do when they offer different coupons in different regions’ Sunday newspaper inserts.

In that sense, some might argue, changing your zip code on a printable coupon site is no different than visiting another city to check out their coupon inserts – there’s nothing unethical about bringing those coupons home to use them. But when you’re asked to enter “your” zip code, and you enter someone else’s, for the sole purpose of seeing what kind of other offers are out there, zip code changing becomes something of a ethical grey area, no matter how widespread the practice.

When Coupons in the News asked RedPlum.com owner Valassis about it back in 2013, a spokesperson said the company would prefer that people not “fish around for coupons using other region’s zip codes… That is not how our advertisers intend them to be used, as there are reasons behind decisions to offer zip code-specific deals. They may be testing a product in a certain area, looking to drive sales in a certain zip code, etc.”

At the same time, however, SmartSource.com owner News America Marketing was entirely unconcerned about zip code changing. “I haven’t heard that this is an issue,” a company spokesman told Coupons in the News. SmartSource would have made a change, if coupon providers had complained and insisted that their regional offers stay regional – but no one did. Today, both SmartSource and RedPlum still offer the ability to change zip codes to whatever you’d like.

When Coupons.com got rid of the zip code box in 2012, it did so on its own website, but never got around to making the change for its affiliate sites, as it has now. And it never publicly explained why it made the change at all. Then a couple of months later, also with no explanation, the zip code box was back. And it’s remained there ever since – until now. Chen would not say whether discouraging people from hunting for coupons in other regions had anything to do with the latest change.

But there are differences between now and then. Back in 2012, coupons weren’t really “personalized”, and there was little need to register on Coupons.com and provide your address at all. Today, as parent company Quotient places more emphasis on digital, personalization and consumer data collection, prompting you to register and automatically displaying geolocated coupons based on your computer’s IP address may be the wave of the future for printable coupons.

It appears that history may not repeat itself then, so don’t get your hopes up for the zip code box to return in short order. All you can do is hope you live in a region that offers some good printables.

6 Comments

  1. To hell with Coupons.com. I always use a VPN for security, and if they won’t let me see my local offers (even the profile change doesn’t work anymore), then I don’t need them.

  2. Pingback: No changing zip codes on Coupons.com – WRAL.com

  3. Pingback: Coupons.com disabling zip code changing | Saving Sensations

  4. It’s neither here nor there for me but I just wished that they had informed their affiliates of this as most coupon bloggers have a nationwide audience. And as Aarn Farmer said, it just encourages the selling of zipcode specific coupons.
    I honestly don’t know what the big deal is as a lot of the zipcode specific coupons are brands that aren’t even available in other areas.

  5. Pingback: Is This the End of Zip Code Specific Printable Coupons? | Grocery Shop For FREE at The Mart!!

  6. So how long until a network of people in different zipcodes selling zipcode specific coupons is up and running?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

Privacy Policy
Disclosure Policy