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Be careful if you’re planning to buy BIC razors with the coupons in this past Sunday’s SmartSource coupon insert. Because, by the look of it, the ones pictured above expired months ago.

In what appears to be a regional goof, since some editions of the insert were actually printed correctly, many shoppers opened their most recent SmartSource to find that the BIC razor coupons in the May 1st edition had already expired back on January 22nd. So hop into your time machine if you want to take advantage of these offers!

It turns out the expiration dates are a misprint, as the two coupons are duplicates of the offers in the January 9th SmartSource that did indeed expire on January 22nd. The bar codes are new and are coded correctly, so the coupons will scan and are actually valid until May 15th.

But try explaining that to a cashier who gives you the side-eye for trying to use four-month-old coupons, refuses to scan them and hands them back to you.

BIC has not responded to multiple requests for comment about the mix-up, what advice it offers to shoppers who’d like to use them, and whether it has informed retailers that the coupons should be accepted. (Update: While BIC company spokespersons still have not responded to inquiries, a customer service representative apologized and acknowledged that “there was an error in the expiration date on this coupon. This coupon is valid until 5/15/22 and will scan correctly at the register. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.”) BIC’s official coupon redemption policy states that “coupons must be redeemed by the consumer on or before their expiration dates,” but it doesn’t specify whether that applies to the printed expiration date or the date encoded in the bar code, when the two conflict. Similarly, many retailers’ coupon policies, like Walmart’s, state that they will accept coupons “that scan at our register and are not expired,” but Walmart says nothing about a coupon that scans at their register and is also expired.

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A printing error like this that gets sent to millions of households is rare, but not unprecedented. Longtime couponers are already reminiscing about a Revlon coupon in a SmartSource insert nearly a decade ago, that expired the day it was issued. “Dear Revlon Fans,” the company informed confused shoppers back in July 2012. “The expiration date on the Revlon Beauty Tools $1 Off coupon that ran in yesterday’s paper was incorrect. The coupon is actually valid through August 31, 2012. We apologize for the error.”

“So what happens if the stores won’t accept them?” one shopper wrote on Revlon’s Facebook page. “You do know that doesn’t mean anything to the stores who will refuse them because they are expired – right?” another asked. Revlon didn’t respond. “Total fail on this one, Revlon,” one commenter concluded.

A few years later, a coupon from the incontinence care brand TENA had the opposite problem – the printed expiration date on their coupon was correct, but they inadvertently reused an old bar code from a previous offer. So the coupon looked legit, but was rejected as expired when scanned.

In that case, TENA manufacturer SCA owned up to the error immediately. “We apologize for any inconvenience this misprint may have caused our valued TENA shoppers and retailer partners,” a company spokesperson told Coupons in the News at the time. “If rejected at the register or customer service desk, we encourage (consumers) to give us a call” for a replacement coupon.

A different but equally perplexing misprint occurred a couple of years ago, when a pair of Campbell’s coupons had valid expiration dates but no redemption information. Without those details, retailers had no instructions on how to submit the coupons for reimbursement, which is why most coupon policies state that such coupons will be rejected outright. A Campbell’s spokesman told Coupons in the News that it planned to “issue an industry notification ensuring that all retailers are updated on how to handle the coupons and, therefore, limiting the likelihood that consumers will face challenges at the register.”

Mistakes happen, as even the people who print your coupons are human, after all. How those mistakes are addressed, however, can tell you a lot about the company. SCA and Campbell’s tried to make it right, Revlon shrugged and said, “Oops, sorry, our bad,” and BIC is so far staying silent and just letting consumers and cashiers figure it out.

So if you’d like to “Save up to $5 on the #1 disposable razor brand,” as BIC’s offer invites you to do, you’ll have to try it at your own risk. At least in a couple of weeks these coupons really will be expired. And then one can hope BIC will take a closer look before sending their next coupon offers to the printer. Otherwise, you’ll either have to pay full price – or maybe give the #2 disposable razor brand a try.

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