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Coupons.com is making a big change to the way it regulates and authenticates the coupons you print. And it could have a major impact on how you print coupons – and how many you print, too.

A year after introducing the new “PrintID” mobile phone number-based print system, Coupons.com now plans to phase out its legacy “Coupon Printer” application. The switchover will occur “over the course of the coming months”.

“This means that eventually all users who want to print coupons will use our new print functionality, which does not require special software,” the printable coupon provider announced Tuesday. “We are making this change so that our coupons are more accessible for everyone.”

But more accessible coupons for everyone else, could mean fewer for you – and even fewer for internet “coupon fairies”, who print and sell coupons by the dozens, hundreds or thousands.

For nearly a decade, in order to print coupons from Coupons.com, you had to download the Coupon Printer. The application was designed to keep track of which, and how many, coupons you printed. But the software isn’t compatible with most mobile devices. So PrintID was developed, allowing you to bypass the need for a download by providing your mobile phone number and entering a texted verification code.

Since then, you’ve still had the option to print via the old-school method. But not for much longer.

“The way people use the internet and access coupons is evolving,” a spokesperson for Coupons.com owner Quotient Technology told Coupons in the News. “Fewer people are using print software, and at some point it just makes sense to phase it out.”

If you’ve already used the PrintID system, you’ve seen how it makes it much easier to print from a mobile device – no more sitting at your desktop computer or turning on the laptop in order to get your coupon fix. But you’ve likely noticed that if you provide the same phone number when trying to print from a different device, you get the “print limit reached” notification.

That’s because it’s all about the phone number with PrintID. That means Coupons.com is now officially upending its long-standing system that allows you two unique coupon prints per unique IP address. Now you’ll be allowed two unique prints per mobile phone number, regardless of what device(s) you use to print.

If you have more mobile phones in your household than computers, then you may come out ahead if you commandeer your family’s phones in order to print coupons. But if you only have access to one mobile phone, no matter how many computers or other internet-connected devices you have, you’ll now get only one set of coupons.

That’s kind of the way it used to be, back in the day, when you might have had a single desktop computer. If you were lucky, you might have had a laptop available as well, for an extra couple of coupon prints. Over time, though, it was not unusual for determined couponers to fire up every internet-connected device in the household, to routinely get a dozen or more unique coupon prints – many more than Coupons.com or coupon-issuing manufacturers ever intended.

In the meantime, it’s not unusual for “coupon fairies” to routinely get even more.

For much of this year, Coupons.com and other printable coupon providers have been battling so-called “coupon fairies”, who have discovered loopholes, hacks and workarounds to bypass coupon print limits. This has allowed them to obtain an unlimited supply of printable coupons, which they then sell online. Coupons.com has been tweaking its software continually, to help close the loopholes and thwart the workarounds, and it even sued a printable coupon seller last month.

But Quotient contends that stopping the coupon fairies was not its primary motivation in switching to the exclusive use of PrintID. PrintID was developed long before coupon fairies exploded onto the scene earlier this year. That said, if shutting down the Coupon Printer software happens to also help shut down the fairies, then perhaps that’s all for the better.

It’s been easy, relatively speaking, for the “fairies” to come up with ways to automatically generate an unlimited number of unique IP addresses, to trick websites like Coupons.com into thinking a single computer is actually thousands of individual computers. But it’s not nearly as easy to trick Coupons.com into accepting multiple mobile phone numbers in order to print using PrintID. PrintID requires a real, working, “valid mobile number from any U.S.-based wireless provider”, Coupons.com advises. The fairies may be able to generate thousands of “burner” phone numbers, but those won’t work with PrintID. “Google Voice or any virtual mobile number will not work with our PrintID technology,” Coupons.com warns. Neither will “prepackaged prepaid mobile phones from non-major wireless providers,” government-issued prepaid phones, or landlines.

Which raises the question – what if one of those phones is the only kind of phone that you have? “Regarding those without cell phones, we will have an authentication system in place that doesn’t require receiving a text,” the Quotient spokesperson said, without providing further details.

So if you’re worried that you might not be able to print coupons at all anymore, you can breathe easier. If you’ve grown accustomed to getting a whole lot of extra coupon prints from all of your different devices, get ready for a change. And if you’re a coupon fairy – now might be a good time to start looking for a new line of work.

Image source: Quotient

18 Comments

  1. Pingback: Heads up on upcoming coupon printing changes UPDATED 11/18/16 - Mashup Mom

  2. So…where is his information regarding how to bypass the phone verification? I contacted coupons.com asking, and they never replied. They DID, however, send me an e-mail asking me to take a survey evaluating my customer service experience. (Since they never replied, it was not very good.)

  3. Thanks to this new “system”, I can’t print any coupons. On my budget, I can’t afford one of the wireless carriers they “accept”. And their site won’t take my prepaid phone number.

    If I had the money to pay for a verizon, at&t contract – I wouldn’t need my coupons.

    NOW the only way I can even get printable coupons is if I buy from those shady IP fairies. So they are creating a demand for the exact market they are trying to eliminate.

    Foolish. SMH. I’m so irritated.

    • I started getting a screen encouraging me to register for the new system (“only takes two minutes!”) but it allowed me to bypass it and use the old method. But I suspect that option will be short-lived.

    • I have verizon and I can’t get a damn CODE!!!

  4. Can I share your post on my website?

  5. This is very disappointing news. I wonder how much their income will drop as a result of less coupons being printed? Time to sell their stock (which I’ve already lost a bunch on).

  6. The greedy sellers will find a way around the new rules. The only people who will suffer is the honest little guy who just prints her limit and never buys or sells IP’s.

  7. Not sure how allowing a phone number to be verified only once and allowing only 2 prints total per phone number would cut down on Instagram “coupon fairies”.

    From my understanding, those “coupon fairies” can still verify their phone number and save coupons to PDF’s on the single verified computer that they are still allowed to print from. One computer (even verified) is all they would need anyway, so how exactly does this help cut down on internet printable “coupon faeries” that do that sort of thing?

  8. Your us of the phrase “coupon fairy” is incorrect, I believe it was the name used by an Instagram user. In the community a coupon fairy is someone who leaves extra coupons on the store shelves for others to use not a term for someone who prints multiple coupons.

    • That was indeed the original meaning of the term. But the coupon printers/sellers have taken to calling themselves “coupon fairies” or “IP fairies,” appropriating the name for something entirely different.

    • Be careful of IPs that are left on shelves. Those could be photocopied coupons. When I see those, I rip them up.

      • They could be but it’s much more likely they’re just someone being nice leaving an extra coupon they’re not going to use and you’ve ruined their random act of kindness.

        I can see doing that if you see multiples with the same identifier but unless that is the case, you have no business destroying them.

      • If I have a coupon that is expiring before I can use it, I always leave it on the shelf for someone else.

  9. Pingback: Heads up on upcoming coupon printing changes - Mashup Mom

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