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Consumer Watch: Cash in more coupons

CouponCabin, Troopons join to boost overseas deliveries

Dec. 1, 2011 - 07:03PM   |   Last Updated: Dec. 1, 2011 - 07:03PM  |  
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How to help

Want to donate coupons to others in the military community? Here are the Troopons rules:
• Coupons shouldn’t be more than 90 days past the expiration date so that families have time to use them.
• Only manufacturer coupons for individual products are accepted by military stores. No coupons for other stores such as Walmart or Target, and no coupons printed from the Internet.
• Clip coupons and separate by "expired" and "active," then separate into "food" and "nonfood" categories. Package them in 8- by-8-inch quart-size or similar plastic bags.
• Mail them the cheapest way to CouponCabin.com, Attn: Expired Troopons, P.O. Box 430, Whiting, IN 46394-0430; or to CouponCabin.com, Attn: Active Troopons, P.O. Box 231, Whiting, IN 46394-0231.

More coupons may be heading your way thanks to a joint effort between CouponCabin.com and the Troopons program from SupportOurTrops.org.

The partnership will send more coupons overseas, where commissaries and Army and Air Force Exchange Service stores accept manufacturers' coupons up to six months after expiration.

CouponCabin has taken over administration of the program — sorting, packaging and mailing coupons. The deal will allow Troopons to expand, sending coupons to U.S. bases starting in a few months, said Martin Boire, SupportOur Troops.org chairman.

On average, about $200,000 in coupons are sent to 26 overseas bases each month, Boire said. With the army of coupon hounds behind CouponCabin.com, Boire expects that number to grow to more than $1 million worth of coupons monthly.

The partnership gives coupon donors a central location to help military families, said Jackie Warrick, chief savings officer for CouponCabin.com.

She said she was surprised by a CouponCabin.com survey that showed 91 percent of respondents didn't know they could support military families overseas with expired coupons.

"What I love about this program is that it costs someone almost nothing to participate, but they can put hundreds into the pockets of military families," Boire said.

Coupon donors pay to send their coupons to CouponCabin, which in turn sends the coupons to participating commissaries and exchanges overseas.

Paying twice to send the same coupons is necessary, Boire said.

"We don't want people to send directly to the stores because it's hard to manage and can overwhelm the stores," he said.

Store officials let Troopons know when they have too many coupons or need more of certain kinds. "We don't want to be a nuisance. This helps us fine-tune it," Boire said.

Troopons focuses on the three most popular coupon categories: food, baby stuff and common household supplies.

Many overseas stores have bins near their entrances filled with the bags of coupons. Shoppers take the bags, sort through them, and bring back coupons they don't need.

What if your overseas base doesn't participate? Boire suggests talking to the store manager at the commissary or exchange. If the manager decides the store wants to participate, refer him to http://www.supportourtroops.org/">the SupportOurTroops.org website.

Boire said he gets a lot of response from troops and families overseas who appreciate the savings.

"Even I spend an evening once a month sifting through coupons," one colonel recently wrote.

Digital coupon card update

The rollout of the commissaries' new digital coupon/loyalty card, which was planned for late this year, has been pushed back to early 2012, commissary officials said.

Customers will be able to go online and click on the coupons they'd like to redeem. That loads the coupons onto shoppers' coupon cards. Then they'll swipe the cards at the register.

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