Write your Way to Free Coupons

by Shaunna Privratsky

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Recently, I contacted a large manufacturing company about one of their household products: SHOUT Laundry Stain Remover. In my letter, I told them how much I liked SHOUT and how well it works to keep our clothes stain-free through frequent washings.

Then I mentioned that the price has risen and wondered if they had any suggestions. A week later I got a very pleasant, personal letter from a customer specialist and five free coupons for SHOUT, any size. .

Another way to get free coupons is if you have a complaint. Virtually all merchandise has a toll-free number on it if you have a question, comment or complaint. Some offer a website address.

Last month, I opened a package of breakfast sausage patties expecting six, which is the number stated on the box. Only four plopped into the pan! I promptly called and the lady apologized and took my name, address and the product code from the package. Shortly after, I received three $1 off coupons for any Hormel product. Now that is customer service.

About a year ago, I tried a new product with a money-back guarantee. I had some very good coupons, so I bought it for less than $1. I was very unsatisfied, so I boxed it up and sent it to the address on the back. I was not convinced I would get a reply. Surprisingly, I was sent a check for the full purchase price and a free coupon for any of the company's other products. Since I'd gotten it practically free in the first place, it was extra money in my pocket.

I am not suggesting you write to every company that makes something in your home. However, if there is a product or two that you buy frequently or in large quantities, write a brief note to the company. There is a good chance that you will get free or discount coupons out of it. Go online if there is a website listed and you could discover coupons you can print out to use instantly.

When my children were in diapers, I did this every three to six months. I can't remember how many coupons I actually received, but I do know that I never paid full price for diapers.

Companies love it when you use coupons. It shows demographics like regions where the item is popular, if a new product is "taking off" and how frequently people are re-purchasing the item. Often, they will run a sweepstakes or contest where the coupon is your entry. You just fill in your name and address. One note of caution: if it asks for your website or e-mail, do not give it if it is not required. You will get a slew of spam messages, often from companies other than the one running the contest.

So look around your house at the products you use regularly. Fire off a quick letter or phone the toll-free number. It is like writing your own free coupons.

Updated November 2013

Shaunna Privratsky became an expert in personal finance out of necessity. Between writing, reading and gardening, she is always on the lookout for bargains. Please sign up for the free newsletters at The Discount Diva. You can also visit Shaunna on Google+.

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