I recently came across a story about a coupon train. A coupon train happens when a group of people gets together in an effort to share coupons.
The first person (the conductor) cuts all coupons from the paper and takes what they need. They pass the other unwanted coupons to the second person who takes what they need from the coupons and then adds their unwanted coupons to the pack.
Each consecutive person does the same thing, discarding any expired coupons along the way. Coupon trains are usually limited to a group of 10 or so people, and each person pledges to keep the train going. The group may re-start the train with the beginning person, and add or drop members at the end of each train.
This sounds like a really good idea and is very similar to groups that get together in a church basement to trade coupons on a weekly or monthly basis. A coupon train is better in that it allows people to trade coupons across the miles.
I did have one reservation, however when I came across this new coupon-trading movement. I have to wonder if there are legal implications to coupon trains.
To the best of my recollection, there are people who have been prosecuted for selling and trading coupons in the past. Selling coupons is definitely illegal and using the U.S. mail for illegal activities is very prosecutable. People have and continue to find ways around laws that prohibit selling coupons by charging for the service of cutting. Still on the face of every coupon, you can read that sold or trading coupons are invalid.
According to the Federal Trade Commission’s report on “Costly Coupon Scams”:
here’s only one legitimate way to use a coupon: Cut it out of the newspaper or other source and use it toward the purchase of the designated product. A coupon is meant to be used only by the consumer who buys the product for which the coupon is printed. Selling or transferring coupons to a 3rd party violates most manufacturers’ coupon redemption policies — and usually voids the coupon.
Therefore, while riding a coupon train may seem like a perfectly harmless thing to do, I recommend you ride that train with caution.
I have been a certified tightwad since I became pregnant with my first child and decided to find a way to stay home with him. I enjoy sharing my experiences in my journey back to financial health and planning for a future — which will include sending 2 kids to college and early retirement.