Sunday, January 4, 2009

Kohl's Coupon Scam on eBay

The other day, I was shopping for coupons on eBay and ran across a listing for Kohl's Department Store coupons. The listing was for 15 coupons each for $5. I noticed that many sellers do this, offering the coupons in batches of 10-20 at a time. Completed listings show over 3,300 listings for Kohl's $5 coupons.

I bought the coupons for $2.75 thinking they were actual store coupons that were going to be mailed to me. The coupons don't expire until 1/31/09 and 1 coupon can be used for each $5 or more purchase. My daughter's birthday is in January, so I am always looking for after Christmas deals to buy her birthday gifts.

The coupons were send as download links. I received a list of links that took me to a page to print each coupon. Then I began to wonder, how is this seller getting these coupon codes and passing them on?

After asking around, I learned how it works. If you go to this link at Kohl', you can enter your email address and receive a $5 coupon from Kohl's. The coupon is emailed to you within a week. But you can only get one coupon per email address. I took a look at the coupons I received. Each one had a slightly different email address on it, like this:

and so on. So, these sellers are going out on the internet and opening a whole bunch of free email accounts, signing up for the coupon, batching the downloads, and selling them on eBay.

I'm not sure how I feel about this. eBay sellers have found a way to manipulate the system and stockpile these coupons. Coupon sellers do this all the time by purchasing multiple Sunday papers, clipping the coupons, and selling them, so is this the same? I think this technique is more of a scam than a legitimate way to sell coupons.

I can't say that this is a great way to make money. Using the seller in my example, the person had to go open 15 free email accounts, and sign up for a $5 coupon 15 times. That in itself took at least an hour. Her profit after eBay and Paypal fees is probably only $2. I can think of plenty of other things I can do for an hour that makes more than $2. Click here for a list of ideas.

I'm sure this "business model" (and I use that term loosely) is used all the time for other coupons. What do you think? Does this border on fraud, or a legitimate way to earn money on eBay? Please leave a comment below.

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