To clip or not to clip: Some are souring on coupons

March 29, 2013 at 11:25 AM ET

For some shoppers, the coupon craze appears to have given way to coupon complaints.

A Life Inc. post this week about the sharp decline in coupon use got hundreds of readers talking about why they’ve grown disillusioned with the good, old-fashioned coupon. Coupon redemptions fell about 14.3 percent in 2012 compared to the previous year, according to industry consulting firm Inmar.

It’s clear that many people are still drawn to coupons: About 42 percent of the nearly 29,000 readers who took our survey said they use coupons often.

“On top of only buying things on sale and in store promotions, I save 30% or more. I LOVE coupons,” one reader wrote.

But many readers complained they are using coupons less because the discounts just aren’t as useful.

One common gripe: Coupons seem to be offering a lower discount but they often require the user to buy several containers of same item. For many, that’s a deal breaker.

“I've been using coupons for 35 years. Lately I have used almost zero. Mainly because I am required to buy 3, or 5, or more of an item,” one reader wrote.

Others complained that coupons have become too restrictive with their expiration dates, making them hard to use. And many readers said they can get better deals by shopping around or choosing in-store brands.

“I wanted to rejoin the coupon cutting crowd and have. But very rarely do I use them. When I compare the store brand to the popular name brand I have a coupon for it STILL does not make economical sense to buy the name brand. And I do NOT want three boxes of cereal,” another reader wrote.

Another common gripe: There aren’t enough coupons for fresh and healthy food items.

“I used to use them, when they covered more items. Now they primarily offer discounts on processed food and name brands I don't buy,” one reader wrote.

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