For the majority of internet shoppers, voucher codes and discount codes are an unknown resource that can save you up to 50% in some cases of you shopping bill, this article aims to enlighten readers on the benefits and things to avoid when using the vast number of voucher, discount and coupon code sites currently running on the major search engines.
The majority of the discount codes available simply give the shopper a discount off the goods purchased when the supplied code is entered at the basket or checkout stage of the transaction. Some codes are supplied to provide a free gift, 3 for 2 offers or sometimes free delivery. Occasionally printable coupons are provided to use in the high street, but the majority of discount codes are for use online only. Do also check that the codes are for multiple use as some released vouchers are for single use only and expire after being redeemed.
When using supplied voucher codes be careful to check the valid from and expiry dates as many codes are for use for a limited period. Most of the more ethical and informative sites state this information for the user before the codes are used. Many voucher sites use a click to reveal functionality on their sites, which is a common and ethical method as long as the expiry dates are clearly stated. Many voucher code sites accept user supplied codes, which can be useful but are prone to failure, either the retailer may have realised that a code, issued for internal use only, has leaked out to the public domain, was issued for a short period and has expired, or the code never existed in the first place. This can be annoying, especially when the shopper gets to the checkout stage of the transaction only to be told that the voucher is expired or unknown, often with these user supplied vouchers no expiry is given or is not known. A good idea is to get used to using only one or two familiar and reliable code sites that state the expiry dates and that only use retailer endorsed voucher codes.
You may also want to register with the discount code site so they can keep you up to date with all the current released codes and offers by email. Most sites also use RSS feeds (Rich Site Summary) to keep their users up to date with the latest entries. You can subscribe to these feeds using readers provided by most of the popular networks like Google, Yahoo, Windows Live, MSN and many more. Each feed consists of a summary list of the latest entries to the site, in this case new released voucher codes and offers. The list headlines come in the form of links, when clicked the link takes you to that particular piece of content on the site, saving you time and effort trawling through pages of content to find what you’re looking for.
Many discount and voucher code sites will offer exclusive codes, which are supplied to them by the retailers they are promoting. These exclusive codes can be valuable, as the discount is often more than that is offered with the generic codes available to all, with long or no expiry dates. Occasionally these exclusive codes may be the only discount the retailer is offering at that time so it’s worthwhile checking them out.
One thing to keep an eye on when using discount voucher codes is the terms and conditions by which Coupons and discount codes they are bound, often the issued codes can’t be used in conjunction with any other available offer, for example, if the items for purchase are currently in a sale or on offer in another way, say 3 for 2 or buy one get one free then it is possible that the discount code can’t be used. Normally the code will be rejected with an explanation if this is the case.
Recently there have been growing concerns surrounding voucher code misuse and poor practice employed even by some of the most well known voucher code sites, which has prompted some swift action by the affiliate governing bodies. At the beginning of October the IAB Affiliate Marketing Council (AMC) announced a set of industry standards to govern the use and distribution of discount voucher codes. Collaborating through the AMC, the networks that are IAB members will have to adhere to the following set of standards from January 1st 2009. Networks signing up to Voucher Code best practice agree that they will jointly enforce the code of conduct by not working with affiliates who do not comply with the following:
- Using ‘Click to Reveal’ when there is no valid or current code present is not permitted of affiliate publishers including using ‘Click to Reveal’ to show any deals/offers/sales instead of vouchers.
- Voucher code affiliate publishers must clearly detail the voucher offer that will be revealed by the click.
- A valid code is defined as a code that has been legitimately issued by a merchant for use online. This code will have an activation date and where necessary a deactivation date.