Coupon, Deals, Sale and Discount – Good or Bad for your Finance

Who likes to get a call on a Sunday, but it was from a friend, with a news that entire clan was waiting for. Finally somebody liked him…. I mean his marriage got fixed. And as usual it was my turn now to help him in arrangements. And since I know only one kind of work i.e. shopping so I took up the responsibility of shopping with him. (just joking, he had no other choice) And as a loyal net-Indian I thought to try through internet. Also I was receiving a lot of mails from few merchandised portals offering inaugural discount voucher, birthday coupon, mother’s day offers, deal of the week, deals from Caribbean, midnight sale and other similar stuff. After going through a few big sites, my first question to myself was: how can you call it a SALE, if you have discount or offer running for 365 days a year? Nearly all shopping sites opened with a sale banner.

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Sale or Sell

Now these words like coupon, deals, sale and discount have a high significant impact when we are going to buy anything online. And events like marriage or festival or household requirement of stuffs like a birthday gift, grocery items, electronics, watches, books, magazines and an endless list of items force us to get something in price effective way. Then there are few who only buy when there is a SALE tag and discount. Many wait by adding there favorite merchandise in shopping carts and moment the mail or sms hits a discount coupon the cart goes empty and waiting time starts as merchandise goes on the way or en route to the customer.

ReadBudgeting – your first step of Financial Success

So words like coupons, online sale and deals have become an important part of our life as online shopping trend is on rise. Then why not we go deep into it and have a better understanding of it. In practical a coupon is a discount code which can be exchanged or availed for a financial discount at the time of purchasing a product. These coupons are issued by the manufacturers or retailer to be used by retail stores as a part of sales promotion. For the better approach these are issued widely by mails, through newspapers & magazines, by websites, via phone through sms, shopping malls and directly from the retailers. Basic idea is to enable retailers to offer a lower price only to those consumers who otherwise go elsewhere.

In present days these coupons/deals are the easiest and smartest way to step up your ways to big saving. It makes you a frugal buyer. (really?) What if you get an extra 1 kg sugar with your grocery purchase? Or Rs 200 discount on your next saving of Rs 2000? So if you use these promotions in a tactical manner you might go home with bag of savings every time you visit the store. Few years ago these coupons were available only through print media only through distribution of flyers or by post. Remember the Reader’s Digest exclusive offers during our childhood? But today we just need to go online and find printable and redeemable coupons. Apart from the dedicated websites, even banks have started sending these coupons to their customer. (check stationary that arrives with credit card statement) Generally this is done under tie up with a retailer. In my view looking at the economic downturn there is no harm in becoming frugal but we don’t have to go crazy with this. As we know that coupons have a very interesting way of popping on the internet, we have few dedicated couponing sites and many blogs (like snapdeal, ebay, junglee or groupon). These sites update users on what is the latest on web coupons offers.

So, coupons are good, but do they have a negative side? Yes they do have negative implications and depends on how they are used. And the basic question is do coupons really save money?

Do Coupons really save money for us?

There are no freebies in economics. A vendor giving you a discount in an open market is either playing cost card, i.e. he is able to make/arrange the good or service in low cost and hence the benefit is passed on to the consumer or the vendor is escalating the price and then attaching a discount to give an impression that product or service has gone cheap. The best to find out is to check price at different places.

Always cross check the price at two or more portals or at physical market. If you observe that the price has major variation at two places the discount/sale/coupon is bogus. The portals save lot on cost as they have limited expenses. Generally goods are couriered at the expense of the buyer hence the margin is wide. So it really depends on the seller to pass on the discount. So if through a coupon or discount you are getting something lower than market cost, saving you valuable time and driving, it makes a good point to buy online.

Just a few checks before you plunge into this discount world:

1)      Resist temptation to buy what you don’t need and you have not planned.

The vendor moment you place your first order would try to glue you on his portal by sending you catalog, updates, redeemable points and gift vouchers for your next purchase. These discount vouchers have limited expiry date. Let them expire and do not fall into trap if you do not need a new thing. These will continue forever and you will get enough opportunities.

2)      Discounts/coupons make us do want we don’t want.

You want to buy a Videocon AC but coupon will make you buy from Haier. You want to celebrate birthday at home, but coupons will make you venture a new restaurant. A discipline in expenses is required while dealing in such situations.

3)      Coupons and discount also lead us to bulk buying.

Buy 3 get 5 offers will make your wardrobe suffer with stock as you end up buying 5 shirts when you wanted one. Than just select five you will rush and will include which you liked less or change in fashion and then chances are that you will not wear them in future. So avoid over stocking.

4)      Check the fine prints of the coupon and the merchandise.

Merchandise can be cheap if it is near its expiry date or there is change in model or trend. A restaurant coupon may have an offer on week days only or only on snacks and drinks will be on card rate. These terms condition are part of fine print and do care to read and benefit from them.

5)      Look for quality vendors or merchandise.

The online place is filled with cheap goods with no warranties and full of hazards. These goods can be harmful to health and society. Hence do not be lured to collect shiny plastics, fake antiques, toys made by harmful material, health equipment with no approvals and similar things. Coupons will make you do “let’s try once”. But be rational.

Read – Identifying if you are a shopaholic and 11 ways to curtail impulse spending

Online is a new trend in shopping and is really gripping. So you have to be equally ready to face and counter the tactics of sales. And no doubt by being extra cautious you will benefit from this trend also. Do share your thoughts and experience on this subject – I know you are much more experienced than me in this case. 🙂

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{ 17 comments… add one }
  • ANIL KUMAR KAPILA May 16, 2013, 7:05 AM

    My online shopping is limited to only books. I prefer to buy my clothes from stores where I can try them and get the alterations done if needed.

    • Hemant Beniwal May 16, 2013, 8:58 AM

      Hi Anil,
      Let me share 2 instances:
      First, I was looking for one book – on flipkart it was around 1400 & on bookadda 1000.
      Second, I checked sports shoes in our nearest mall – same shoes were available at 40% discount on some online store.
      So we can’t completely ignore benefits of online buying but my point was – is it making people impulsive buyer??

  • Viswa May 16, 2013, 1:49 PM

    I truly agree to the blog of Hemant, that Online shopping is making people to buy more than what they actually want.

    Even though malls / e-commerce companies provides Sale/Discount Coupons. The main thing you can look at these offers will be mostly on the Clothes/Footwear etc only. Unless the producer gives any discounts they won’t be giving any discounts or offers in the items that are regularly bought by us.

    Many people does go to malls/supermarkets to buy items and end up coming back home with huge bags of unplanned items.

    But, the answer is in our hands, as you said we need to checkout two to three shops / supermarkets / internet shopping sites before deciding about buying.

    Do Not Just decide to Buy because of the Offer ! It makes holes in your pocket and your monthly budget too.

  • Jithin May 16, 2013, 2:29 PM

    Well said Hemant. When a sale banner pops in front of a shop, from the very next moment it will be filled with customers. There would be hardly any room to breathe and finally we end up emptying our pockets. This is a trend going on for years and we are easily lured into it.

  • Nagarajan Santhan May 16, 2013, 2:36 PM

    Hi Hemant

    Very simple term ‘There is no free lunch’ 🙂

    Discounts / Coupons / Value added Points – all this exposed without any profit ?

    Definitely there is some profit. But the point is here, they will do this kind of business with some margin and the discounts adjusted with some other areas in terms of rate cutting / maximize sales.

    I used to compare and buy product where I get cheaper with quality. But, I am very strict what I need.

    For my case, I used to recharge my mobile (prepaid) through online only (freerecharge.in), normally they will give some discount coupons (Rs. 50, Rs. 100, Rs. 200 for Pizza, Movie, etc) if you ready to pay Rs. 10/Rs.20 extra with your recharge amount.

    I never used this kind of discount coupons. My need is to recharge my mobile only. If I want to go Pizza (normally not), i will look better deal in google.

    Thanks
    Nagarajan Santhan

  • K.Balaji May 16, 2013, 4:52 PM

    THANKS FOR THOUGHT PROVOKING INFORMATION.

  • Prabhas May 16, 2013, 6:17 PM

    If you go around online hunting for deals/discounts, many times we fail to notice that the discounted prices as advertised, are actually the present prices of those items. The online sites, in order to generate some excitement among mindless shoppers, strike out the price at which that item was available 6 months back or at launch, and show the difference as a heavy discount!!
    Very few sites offer genuine discounts on their displayed items, so due diligence on the shopper’s part is imperative, to avoid getting ripped off by such misleading discount claims.

  • Yogesh Agarwal May 16, 2013, 6:59 PM

    Dear Hemant,
    Thanks for your well written articles on various financial topics.
    I too am generally an e-commerce fan and really got some good deals on mobiles and tablets from Indiatimes , homeshop 18 and a couple of other good sites. But you have to be really very strict whether you are buying the product you really need or whether you are buying the thing just becoz of the offer. Also one should try to avoid any run of the mill site. I got a very bad experience from a site called TIMtara. it used to flood my mail box with some great offers but they just didnt deliver the product till two months and then i had to take the help of their payment gateway company CC Avenue to compel them to give me refund of my amount.

    • SK July 19, 2013, 12:50 PM

      I had a bitter experince with Indiatimes. I paid the money in full and never received the goods. And no one picks up the phone at other end.

  • Manickkam May 17, 2013, 12:03 PM

    Hi Hemant,

    Yes, Coupons and deals may change the decision to buy or not. This is irrespective of whether we buy online or offline. This is just to make some extra savings, if possible. I am sure, not all of them, are using coupons appropriately.

    There are people who impulse buy, based on the decision that they need it, and wouldn’t even check the coupons/other deals. In my opinion, they are the ones who can’t save more. These people spend only if they think its required and don’t care about coupons/deals at all.

    The other set of people, just buy only when there is a discount and won’t even think whether its required or not. These people may create a hole in their packet if they buy things unnecessarily. Think, one person not requiring a smartphone and because he sees a ad saying 15% cashback, he goes and buy a new smartphone from Samsung.

    The last set of people make use of the opportunities. They think when they need the items. Also, they make use of the coupons/deals when it is present.

    Each person can also be part of all the three categories depending on the circumstances.

    I bought a Volini spray just because there was some 50% discount. I didn’t need it by then but thought it would be useful when required and no harm in stocking it up. Otherwise, usually when you are looking to spend more, just check how much in other sites and compare offline before you make your decision.

    For books, I came across this good site thisyathat. com which compares the prices of books and helps in saving.

    Thanks,
    Manickkam.

  • narasimha May 17, 2013, 12:32 PM

    Good Article.
    check stationary that arrives with credit card statement => Then these people only talk about GO GREEN !!!

  • Dr Nitin Agarwal May 17, 2013, 1:00 PM

    @ yogesh..company TIMTARA was a bogus website and its CEO and some more people have been arrested.

    i am an avid buyer from internet, but i look for the things i need only and then compare various sites and prices and buy only from names i trust like ebay, homeshop, indiatimes etc. a couple of times, when i received some faulty products, these companies replaced the things with their own expenses.

    i feel, i cant buy things from net, that need to check for fittings like clothes, shoes etc. but for things like daily consumables, cosmetics brands, baby items etc i prefer to buy online. what i like is that it saves me a lot of time and i can place the order at night also, sitting on the bed and sipping my coffee. and yes, these coupons sometime helps/ sometime not, but do stick to what u need.

  • Ashvin May 17, 2013, 7:01 PM

    Good & helpful article. Agreed for price comparison but also need to be careful when price is less on one portal. I wanted to buy rather want to buy RO water purifier. I was looking for Kent Grand+ model. I checked almost all well known online portals including Kent store too and price was the same for all except on Timtara. They were offering the same model with 35% discount (code T35K). I thought how & why it is so cheap for them to send it to me. For an opinion, I talked to my brother (who is more aware of this online stuffs) and he told me that he had placed order for something on Timtara 3 months back and delivery is yet awaited. Their customer care now stopped talking to him. It’s now almost 5 months and the product is yet awaited. Use online wisely.

  • santosh May 18, 2013, 12:12 AM

    yup!! you are right . we’r getting into the impulse buying and i often did that , but abse i’ll try my best to resist myself :p as u said these coupons regularly keep on offering so why should i buy which i haven’t planned 🙂

  • Dr Nitin Agarwal May 18, 2013, 12:58 PM

    @ashwin…one more person cheated by TIMTARA…one recommendation i have for those buying online…whenever u r buying from a site for the frst time, always prefer to pay on delivery, and not by credit/debitcard or net banking..u may lose ur money, if company fails to deliver…after u get confidence for that site, u can change to credit card facility..

  • Yogesh Agarwal May 18, 2013, 2:06 PM

    You are right Dr. Agarwal. COD option is the best thing to try for new sites. And @Ashwin i got my money refunded by TIMTARA through their payment gateway CC Avenue. Hats off to them. They were highly co-operative right from my first mail to their customer care. My every mail was attended with very strict instructions to TIMTARA people. Once again Hats off to CC Avenue.

  • vraghav May 23, 2013, 7:11 PM

    impulse buying is different and planned buying through hunting online using coupon code discount is different
    and certain things you can buy online certain things you have to buy in shop

    for home needs i bulk buy 3 get 4 offers because we use them every month like washing powder etc
    pleasure items like pizza etc i look for deals and coupon and order
    textile etc we normally shop 2-3 stores and buy..india good quality means people think costly.

    again i earn money to spend..spending 3 hrs on internet to save 100Rs is waste of time

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