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If you got a few newspapers this past weekend and are thinking of using a few of the L’Oreal coupons from the RetailMeNot Everyday inserts, better set aside time to go shopping several times this week. Because L’Oreal has become the latest manufacturer to impose the strictest coupon limit of all –

From now on, if you want to use a particular L’Oreal coupon, you can only use one per day.

The new limit is imprinted on the company’s newest coupons and codified in its official coupon redemption policy, which was updated just last week: “No more than one (1) identical coupon can be used for the same product per household per day.”

That’s right – just one. It’s the culmination of a rapid reduction that saw L’Oreal’s limit go from four to two to one in a matter of months.

L’Oreal, like many manufacturers, began imposing limits of four like coupons several years ago. Procter & Gamble was the first to reduce the limit to two last year, while limiting the use of its print-at-home coupons to just one per household per day.

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Other manufacturers have followed P&G’s lead in going to a like-coupon limit of two. But few have been willing to go to just one.

Several, however, now have.

Henkel, the owner of brands including Dial, Right Guard, Soft Scrub, Persil, Purex and more, went to a like-coupon limit of one late last year, also making the move from four, to two, to one in a short amount of time.

Neither L’Oreal nor Henkel responded to requests for comment about why they made the change. So we can only surmise as to their rationale, based on what P&G said when it reduced its own coupon limits last year:

“The vast majority of consumers only utilize one or two coupons at a time, and so making this the standard practice will allow us to ensure more shoppers can take advantage of our brands and are able to find our products,” P&G spokesperson Victoria Schooler told Coupons in the News at the time.

It’s the typical explanation – limiting the use of coupons will ensure that greedy couponers don’t clear shelves. A limit of four like coupons seemed like a reasonable restriction, enough to allow you to stock up while leaving plenty of products for others. A limit of two seemed to be pushing it, though, while a limit of one is downright draconian. Does buying more than just one product really constitute clearing a shelf?

So the truth is, it’s about more than simply preventing shelf-clearing. It turns out manufacturers just don’t particularly want to help you “stock up”.

It used to be that everyone who subscribed to or bought the Sunday newspaper, got just one. That means they also got just one set of coupon inserts that came inside. Printable coupons, meanwhile, allow you to print two, but that was really meant as a fail-safe in case you had a problem printing on your first try – it wasn’t designed to give you a double discount.

So manufacturers that offered coupons would do so under the assumption that one person would use one coupon to try out one of their products, and maybe become a regular customer down the line.

Extreme couponing upended all of that. First, couponers started buying multiple newspapers and using multiple devices to print extra coupons. Then, online sellers began peddling inserts and clipped coupons – many of them stolen – while printable “fairies” began bypassing coupon print limits to sell unlimited numbers of printable coupons.

And instead of incentivizing a purchase, manufacturers found themselves subsidizing your stockpile.

So the new limits of just one coupon per household per day are likely the manufacturers’ way to force things back to the way they used to be. There will be little incentive, after all, to buy or sell or steal coupons en masse, if you can only use one of them at a time. Who’s going to buy a set of 20 coupons if it means having to go to the store 20 times to use them?

Besides, most digital coupons are one-time use. That makes them unpopular among serious couponers, but most other shoppers seem accepting of that limit. So they might not bat an eye if the same limit is applied to paper coupons.

And, up until recently, coupon limits were relatively unenforceable, unless you got a cashier who really scrutinized the fine print on each and every coupon. So what was really going to stop you from using more than one, two or four of the same coupon, regardless of what the coupon said?

Now, however, retailers can enforce the limits. Many have programmed their point-of-sale systems to recognize and reject coupons that exceed their limits. Meijer recently reduced its like-coupon limit to just two, and programmed its systems accordingly – so no more sneaking extra coupons past inattentive cashiers or through self-checkout. And there’s nothing to stop Meijer or others from eventually lowering their like-coupon limit to just one.

3M was actually the first company to impose an across-the-board one-coupon limit, way back in 2012. That’s when it began using the phrase “You can redeem ONE COUPON PER DAY” on its coupons, which persists to this day. But 3M’s limit was introduced for different reasons – the company was still offering PDF coupons back then, and giving away free Scotch tape, Post-It Notes, Nexcare bandages and other items to couponers who realized they could print and use as many PDF coupons as they wanted. Before imposing the one-coupon limit, 3M naively assumed it could offer a PDF coupon and shoppers would actually use just one.

Now, the notion that shoppers will use a single coupon isn’t such a naive assumption anymore. And if the one-coupon limit catches on with more manufacturers and retailers, then if you want to buy more than one of something – hope you don’t mind paying full price.

6 Comments

  1. Truth hurts says:

    Oh God cuz scanning the coupon is so hard right? How much do you get paid to be a b****? Lmao company doesn’t give a f*** about you.

  2. I have a family of 5. What in the heck is one coupon going to do? Why does it matter how many you use as long as your product is being sold. Now when your product isn’t selling anymore I’m sure you’ll change the coupon limit. Plus the customer will start buying generic brands and the store will lose customers. Just dumb.

  3. Anonymous Cashier says:

    I am cashier at a retail store and I am glad this was put in place. Some lady just the other day tried buying 12 packs of Tide Pods with 12 coupons. Coupon specifically said “limit one per household per day” I gladly pointed that out to her and as usual threw a fit. I’m so sick of you unfair couponers not following rules and trying to cheat your way. Hopefully sooner than later, coupons will be all digital and less paper.

  4. You can stick the one coupon where the sun doesn’t shine. I will just buy another brand!

  5. Peep1000 says:

    This really sucks because I shop for a family of 10…soon to be 11. One can of green beans isn’t going to cut it. With 5 toddlers in the family, one bottle of laundry detergent, dishwasher detergent, and dish soap doesn’t cut it.

    • Qponsuzy says:

      You seriously think his will stop extreme couponers!?. Girl, keep using as many coupons as you want.

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