Ordinarily, when you get a coupon printed from somewhere on the Internet, it has a unique code that allows the store to know whether or not that particular coupon code has been used. This actually happened to me a few days ago. I have a Best Buy reward zone card. I racked up enough points to get a $5 off coupon, excitedly I printed it off and used it to buy the new Neko Case CD (CD only cost me $5 after that). A week or two later, I received a $5 off coupon in the mail from Best Buy.
I did not think this coupon was related to the one I had printed off, but as it turned out, it was. I could not use it. I’m sure that if I fought it, they would have permitted me to use it, but, somehow I knew they were right, and was saddened that I had to pay full price (well, it wasn’t a total loss, the next store I found that item in wanted $30 for it, while there, without any coupons, I paid only $10).
Anyway, this article from Wired.com is about a guy who published ways to bypass coupons obtained from Coupons Inc. to make as many legit copies of a coupon as you want, as each time the software is used, it makes a new, legit, coupon code.
“Coupons sued Stottlemire in 2007 after he posted the code on his personal website, along with instructions showing shoppers how to circumvent copy protection on downloadable, printable coupons from Colgate, General Foods and others, for everything from cereal to soap.”
According to the judge for the case, nobody won the trial.
One thing I do know, is Coupon, Inc is going to alter their coupon giving programs so this does not happen again.