This is a friendly reminder: Always read the fine print.
Even a killer coupon may not be worth your time once you know what you can — and, more importantly, can’t — actually buy with it.
We saw this with a pre-Black Friday Kmart coupon — it offered $10 off a $20 purchase, even on sale-priced merchandise.
Great deal, right?
Sure. Unless you wanted to buy Levis, Two Hearts Maternity, Scrubology, Sears Fan Shop, Insane Deals, Shaw rug gallery, recliners… or pretty much anything at Kmart.
Every coupon includes exclusions.
Most retailers are smart enough to exclude discounts on gift cards. Prescriptions, tobacco and alcohol also are common exclusions.
But the items excluded from this coupon span 401 words, plus a link to additional terms.
The chunk of text is actually longer than this blog post, crammed with tiny font into the space of a coupon.
We Just Have a Few Questions, Kmart
Why specifically exclude “2.5 oz mini jar candles?”
Neither humidifiers nor dehumidifiers, you monsters?
What is “non-merchandise,” and why would I want to use a coupon on that?
And finally, what is so important about “Nicki Minaj or Adam Levine merchandise” for it to be mentioned twice in an already too-long list of exclusions?
See the full text of the coupon’s “details” below.
The Worst Coupon We’ve Ever Seen
“Purchase requirement is before taxes and after discounts. Not valid on Nicki Minaj or Adam Levine merchandise; BOGO; gift cards; non-merchandise; concessions; federal or state regulated items; alcohol; tobacco; fuel; items behind the pharmacy counter; prescriptions; prior purchases; clearance items; partial-paid special order items; Lands End merchandise; Scrubology; at Sears HomeTown, Outlet, Appliance Showroom, Hardware and Parts & Repair stores; or during Family & Friends or Member events. Redeemable at kmart.com, sears.com and shopyourway.com. Limit one coupon per member. Valid on regular and sale priced merchandise. Not valid on Levis, Two Hearts Maternity, Scrubology, Sears Fan Shop, Insane Deals, Shaw rug gallery, recliners, Colormate 2.5 oz mini jar candles, generators, Weber, Mattresses, Jenn-Air, Dacor, appliance and floorcare accessories, appliance closeouts, humidifiers, dehumidifiers, water heaters, water softeners, air conditioners, air cleaners, fans, everyday great price items, propane tanks, automotive, video game hardware, Bose, Onkyo, prepaid calling cards, iTunes, computers, tablets, eReaders, Canon DSLR, Sony camcorders, Sony DSLR and lenses, Nikon DSLR and lenses, Samsung, Sharp and Sony UPP merchandise, Panasonic VT series TVs, installed Home Improvements, Home Services, PartsDirect, catalog orders, Gift Cards, money orders, wire transfers, protection agreements, Sears licensed business, Nicki Minaj and Adam Levine merchandise, BOGO, non-merchandise, concessions, federal or state regulated items, alcohol, tobacco, fuel, items behind the pharmacy counter, prescriptions, prior purchases, clearance, partial-paid special order items, and Lands End merchandise. Additional Sears online exclusions: Custom, family, and Moissanite jewelry, items powered by ShoeBuy, compact refrigerators, range hoods, compactors, Fisher & Paykel, fragrances and Hot Buys, Additional Kmart online exclusions: gaming hardware, computers, laptops, snow throwers, clearance, Hot Buys, Fruit of the Loom and Hanes. Void if copied, transferred or obtained via unapproved means and where prohibited. Any other use constitutes fraud. Cash value 1/20. On return, coupon savings may be deducted from refund. Online code limited to one-time use only and applies to merchandise marked sold by Sears or sold by Kmart. Sears Holdings reserves the right to terminate or modify this offer at any time for failure to comply with its terms and/or due to any operational malfunction of the software, hardware or equipment required to process this offer. Use of this coupon constitutes your acceptance of the Shop Your Way terms and conditions, available at http://www.shopyourway.com/terms. Not valid at Sears Home Town, Outlet, Appliance Showroom, Hardware and Parts & Repair stores; or during Family & Friends or Member events.”
Your Turn: Have you ever seen an impossible-to-use coupon? Share it with us in the comments!
Dana Sitar (@danasitar) is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She’s written for Huffington Post, Entrepreneur.com, Writer’s Digest and more.