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How do you deal with customers who are deliberately abusing coupons?

We have a pretty lenient coupon policy in my opinion - the reason we offer them is to get customers in the door and try our food for the first time. However, there are always those customers that will try to stretch the discount, use the coupon more than once, and complain in front of other customers if they don't get their way. How do I handle this (nicely) while still providing excellent customer service?

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Do you provide your coupons digitally or in print form? If digitally, look into a diminishing coupon. In a prior role, we had abuse of printed coupons, too. We cut back substantially on printed coupons and shifted many of them onto a digital platform.

Since our coupons were sent via email, and our email provider offered diminishing coupons, it limited abuse. The customer could still open and review the contents of the email, but after 3 opens (our set number), the coupon was digitally replaced with a different image. And, it limits the number of times the coupon would print, too.

There are still some who got around the system, but it did cut it back substantially. And I agree with Bernadette. No one likes to be the bad guy, but sometimes it's necessary in order to provide great customer service for all customers.

Good luck!


Rema keep one thing in mind...customers also want to do business with credible and honorable companies - therefore you may be surprised that your customers would rather observe or see you NOT accept the abuse from a customer, more so that they will be turned off by you.
You will always have abusive customers if you allow abusive customers. You have to decide what your policies are and stick to them - regardless if you can lose customers. The loss of profit, loyalty and brand will kill your business.
Excellent customer service is not allowing abuse. Excellent customer service is keeping to the values of the business...your real customers will be grateful for that.

Who are the "Real Customers?". Probably not someone closely assosciated with the business, like the Aunt of a friend of an employee...
What makes one think that others are fake?
Have we done a behavioural study, that Customers who abuse less make larger purchases over 5 years?
I would like to nip the abuse in its bud. Whatever the business does in an abusive stance will be deemed avbuse of power, for it has security at its disposal....

Coupons give an Idea of Magin... that is why people negotiate on old stock... You cant outsmart everybody at business.. You can play monopoly...
These were just my ideas.....
Would love to hear yours.... what is abusive... and why good customers hate complaining..
Retail chains are not trolleys... Nor are the customers bargaining over employee's wages..

Subhrodip - I don't ever want to even consider working with someone, taking someone's money, if the word abuse is anywhere near them.


I think you need to revisit your coupon policy. The purpose of a coupon is to get people to buy today - whatever that day is. Putting conditions on coupons will only make people want to game them more or piss them off. Let them use the coupon. As long as they surrender it and come back with a new one tomorrow it's working.

If this is detrimental to your business then you've made the coupons too big or you've got to reevaluate what your actual margins are. Coupons shouldn't break you.

We give a standing 10% off to all military and education institutions regardless of the size or frequency of their purchase. "Abuse" it all you want. I'm thrilled if you do.


This is what is called "conflict of interests . I mean ,what you want of your coupons is "bring more customers a" what customer wants is a goo deal on products (less price) and this conflict is always there and should be considered in any marketing policy so it's obvious either you change the policy if it's not a good one for your business or you stick to it and take the "strange customers" as part of the risk.
Best Wishes


Simply they are "price" in the 9 P's or "discount" shoppers and you may not be able to keep them. It depends on their inconvenience of going somewhere else and if the new better thing offers coupons to. It's really not always about price. Provide better service. Added value. Longer hours. Try to make it difficult for them to go to a competitor.

Look through the Nine P's of Marketing to generate customer saving techniques. Find them free at http://www.londremarketing.com/documents/LondreMarketingConsulting-NinePs.pdf

Really it's not always about "Price." It cheaper to go to Costco but you "pay" for waiting in lines. You pay more for convenience of the local mom and pop.

All the best. Here to help.

Anonymous User

Keep your calm, always smile, stick to the rules, never raise your voice and be ever so patient.

There are other ways than coupons to get customers in so if you are in a position to influence the marketing strategy you might want to try and find other creative solutions to attract customers. Perhaps some form of gamification?


Consider changing how you distribute your coupons. Your coupons arent' getting into the hands of the right people. You describe the type of person you want to target, but have the wrong people using them. Also, make sure coupons aren't big enough for them to hurt your bottom line significantly. Have enough margin to not have to worry that the coupons will hurt you. Above all, customer happiness is the most important and if they feel they get away with a great deal they are more likely going to tell all their friends. Don't worry too much over a few dollars here or there. As long as the total sum makes you better off.


Apologize and inform the customer that the computer (register) will not accept expired coupons or coupons used more than once. Other customers usually support this as they just want to pay and leave.


Hi Rema.,
Make sure you are specific on your coupon offer. This ensures that customers cannot "stretch the discount or use the coupon more than once. Take the coupon upon submitting so they do not take it with them after using.
Good Luck!


Coupons should only be offered to real customers...not anyone that visits you because of the coupon. Use this to determine who really matters to your business and don't bother with those that don't.

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