WE SALUTE ... THE FBI
Since at least 1986, the FBI has been tracking down U.S.-based terrorists who fraudulently redeem Sunday newspaper grocery coupons to fund attacks. During the trial of the men who bombed the World Trade Center in 1992, investigators claimed that U.S.-based cells had raised $100 million by processing coupons through stores they owned in New York, New Jersey and Philadelphia. About 340 billion food coupons are distributed each year, and 3.8 billion are redeemed. According to one report, about $500 million worth of those coupons are redeemed fraudulently.
WE SALUTE ... HEYDANEK, WOOLFORD, BAUGH
In a 1979 issue of the Journal of Food Science, Menard Heydanek, Geoffrey Woolford and L.C. Baugh of the Flavor Technology Department of the John Stuart Laboratories at Quaker Oats published a paper entitled "Premiums and Coupons as a Potential Source of Objectionable Flavor in Cereal Products" (we think coupons make everything taste better!). The researchers found that the standard plastic envelopes used to keep the coupons and toys from touching the cereal are adequate protection for a year or more.
WE SALUTE ... RICHARD AND PETER WALKLEY
Richard and Peter, who live in Hemel Hempstead, England, earned about $19,000 last year by taking advantage of discrepancies between posted prices and scanned prices at a chain of British supermarkets. The stores offered any price-mismatched items free; the Walkleys carefully looked at every item in the store and used the guarantee to claim large quantities of grocery store products, including 19 cases of beer. (spotted in News of the Weird)
WE SALUTE ... DAVID PHILLIPS
The Davis, California man was excited to see the promotion by the Healthy Choice prepared food company: mail in 10 proofs of purchase and get 1000 frequent flier miles. Getting 1000 miles for ten $2 dinners wasn't bad, he figured, but getting them for ten 25-cent pudding cups was better. "I quickly realized that for 25 cents I was getting 100 free miles," Phillips said, so he bought $3140 worth of diet pudding cups, earning 1.25 million miles, or about $25,000 worth of flights. As if that wasn't good enough, he also donated the pudding to food banks for a tax deduction. (spotted in This is True. Copyright © 2000 by Randy Cassingham. Posted with permission.)
WE SALUTE ... C.W. POST
In 1895 the cereal maker distributed the first grocery coupon, awarding consumers a penny off his new Grape Nuts product. Today the Promotion Marketing Association says 77 percent of all Americans use coupons, saving more than $3 billion per year on purchases. It says the most dedicated clippers are people who earn between $50,000 and $75,000 per year.
WE SALUTE ... SNICKERS SHOPPERS
"Humans obey when retailers tell us to buy more. Brian Wansink, professor of marketing and director of the Food and Brand Laboratory at the University of Illinois, performed a study with full-price Snickers bars at a convenience store. The researchers put up a sign that said, 'Buy some for the freezer.' They also tried a sign that said 'Buy 18 for the freezer.' Few people actually bought 18 candy bars, but they did buy 1.5 times more than when the sign simply said 'buy some.' Wansink says: 'Even in the face of zero discount, it still ends up influencing people. It's a really powerful effect.' " -- from an article in Kiplinger's Personal Finance, November 2000