Don't Miss This Deal | Other Orlando


  • Don’t Miss This Deal

    Actually, if you read that headline, we are trying to mislead you.

    Deliberately.

    Because that is what might happen if you are looking at using those widely known discounted coupons.

    Or “coupon clipping,” as it sometimes called (of course, in these more technical times, coupons don’t have to be clipped from paper. They are increasingly technological).

    Now be sure here…we are not talking about discounted prices.

    Repeat NOT.

    There are Universal Studios Discount tickets and Disney World Orlando tickets discounted.

    Others, too.

    Discounted tickets can be bargains

    Lots of very reliable and established sites (like ours) offer these and other discounted tickets to many other theme parks.

    They are safe to buy at reasonable prices. And they offer discounts off the regular admission prices (saving money for visitors who often pay at the theme park gates, for example).

    What’s not to like about those discounts?

    Only that there are not more of them.

    What we are referring to here is something else. Discount coupons.

    Often, heavily discounted coupons.

    They are everywhere.

    Particularly at tourist destinations.

    Read: Orlando.

    Ten percent off…20 percent off…pay half price.

    On and on.

    If you are anywhere near a theme park and happen to pick up a brochure or any printed matter, you’ll almost certainly find discount coupons.

    And electronic or digital coupons on your smartphones, for example, are getting even more common than the print ones.

    Coupons found everywhere

    But even as there are predictions of print decline in newspapers and magazines, there’s no shortage here.

    We don’t know for sure. But by now, the electronic types might be even more common than printed ones.

    This gives rise to the downfall of the common phrase “coupon clipper.” It should be viewed as “coupon collector.”

    But we are here to give you the pluses and minuses of coupons.

    For instance, did you know you should never pay for a coupon?

    Also, you would never do this, of course…

    But did you know that materials retrieved from a dumpster that are meant for recycling, you had better keep hands off.

    Don’t even think of taking something there from the top level (even if it is totally clean, with an inviting offer of half off).

    The “diver” can be arrested for theft.

    And if the dumpster is on private land, you can also be arrested for trespassing.

    Dumpsters are not generally designed with “divers” in mind, and persons can fall in, get trapped, or suffer injuries if they venture into these containers.

    That’s why the The Coupon Information Corporation, or

    CIC, warns against even casual taking of coupons there.

    They cite reasons of safety.

    Even coupon supporter groups will give you that piece of advice, among others.

    How this all started

    Remember “Groupon?”

    They made it popular to get two-for-one coupons. They helped call more attention to coupons of all natures.

    Again, let’s make the point that there’s nothing wrong with paying less than regular admission prices. It’s a positive goal.

    But even the strongest advocates of using coupons have warnings.

    “Coupons are a great promotional tool and provide consumers with direct, honest and substantial savings. Over a billion dollars are saved with coupons every year! These savings benefit retailers, manufacturers and an entire industry,” says the CIC or Coupon Information Center.

    Couponing has grown enormously popular in recent years.

    CIC and others attribute it to to the Great Recession.

    That generated more interest in the possibility of saving big money via strategies shown on the TLC program “Extreme Couponing.”

    The couponers featured routinely buy coupons from clipping services, even though the legality of doing so is questionable, and there have been confirmed incidences

    And many people have found discount coupons useful. And valuable. To save money.

    Pros and cons

    But there are pros and cons to them.

    We've all heard the sensational stories about coupon clipping shoppers getting fantastic deals at the store.

    Mom buys a week's worth of groceries for family of five for only $8.37!

    Smart shopper combines coupon offers to get 16 Swanson turkey TV dinners for one cent!

    Etc.

    Do you have any idea how many people use clipped or digital coupons?

    Some surveys say 84 percent. Other surveys say 90.

    Some surveys estimate 93 percent of consumers in the US at one time or another use coupons.

    Yes, whatever it is, it’s a big number.

    But what can go wrong?

    And there’s good advice on how to use them…

    Which we’ll get to…

    For theme parks, current events have prompted more use than ever…though no one can cite statistics that we know of.

    With rising prices of more than $100 a ticket, why not clip a coupon?

    Tickets are expensive for families.

    Rising theme park prices

    The black market also has been fueled by the proliferation of booths selling discounted tickets in almost every major hotel and restaurant, or in front of every T-shirt shop.

    Don’t think that fake coupons are confined to food or clothing stores or restaurants.

    A few years ago, there was an enticing offer on Facebook.

    It looked like it was simply free tickets to Disney.

    Four of them, in fact. Enough for an entire family. Wow.

    But it turned out to be a scam. And experts explained why.

    First, there were misspelled words on the coupon.

    In addition, restaurants mentioned as free in the ads were not anywhere near Disney. They were fake names.

    All would-be buyers had to do was take a good look to see that the tickets were fake.

    But that was small change in dollar amounts.

    And not all fake tickets are that easily identifiable.

    These kind of stories can have very unhappy endings.

    Unhappy endings

    Another recent ticket scam dealt with a “crime family” that involved millions of dollars of tickets.

    A disgruntled employee of that group, a 38-year-old man, informed. He was shot to death.

    His body found in a pool of blood just 15 feet from the bus he drove in his job. His work was shuttling tourists to theme parks.

    He was attempting to help federal officials capture a gang that sold fake discount tickets.

    “A black market for park tickets has grown up in this theme park mecca, with illegal transactions occurring every day in the heart of its tourist district,” said a newspaper story.

    An Orange County Sheriff said the sale of illegal tickets is a multimillion-dollar business.

    Unfortunately, as with anything of real value, coupons are subject to misuse and fraud.

    And talk about extreme couponing…

    Just to give one example:

    Three women in Arizona were arrested recently for selling counterfeit coupons—a lot of counterfeit coupons.

    Police raided three homes in the Phoenix area. They seized $40 million worth of bogus coupons.

    The women were arrested, of course.

    But that arrest brought to an end what police called a life of “opulence.”

    Meaning wealth.

    Living like drug dealers

    Sales were so strong that the women were using the money in the equivalent of drug cartel-type of stuff,” according to the police.

    Not all of these coupon abuses are dime store variety.

    In another story, a 30-year-old Louisiana-based technician for a large college counterfeited thousands of coupons.

    So many, in fact, he became known as “The Golden Lotus.”

    A name given to him because of the packages he sold of coupons for virtually everything imaginable.

    Everything from video games to cigarettes.

    Prices were only about $25. But the discounts were in the hundreds of dollars.

    Fake, of course.

    “We have the best, most consistent, most precise, most scannable, most accepted, most diverse collection of coupons anywhere. They are not on anyone’s ban list. They are not blacklisted anywhere,” reads the seller’s offer.

    There was even an offer for customers to make their own coupons. For a price: $200.

    Coupon ninja

    How-to advice told in detail how to copy coupons to make your own.

    “You can be up and running and making coupons in an hour,”

    The guide guide read:

    “The more you make the faster you get…You are a coupon ninja if you can make one in under two minutes.”

    The man was indicted for bilking millions of dollars from consumers.

    Theme parks are prime examples of coupon usage -- which we always point out is often honest and useful.

    But there are always some glitches in the system.

    And even honestly gotten coupons might not be what you want.

    The owners and operators of Central Florida condo complexes and timeshare projects typically offer sharply discounted -- or even free -- theme park tickets to individuals.

    The catch:

    You must be willing to set aside a few hours or so to tour their developments.

    Hard to say no

    The common complaint here is that some -- no, not all, but some -- make it hard for you to refuse the offer. Incentive after incentive might be mentioned.

    Even if you refuse, you may get follow up appeals to still buy a timeshare.

    Now if you have read about the timeshare market, it can work well. For some people. Under some circumstances.

    But what you won’t hear timeshare sellers tell you:

    It is often hard to trade it off. To substitute it for another condo somewhere else in the country.

    Also something else you will not hear:

    Selling off a condo unit once you have bought it can often be difficult.

    If you are really in the market for that type of buy, you might try it.

    Nothing to lose.

    But if you have no intentions of now or ever looking at the timeshare market, you might want to forget it.

    It probably is not worth your time.

    Trust established providers

    The rule here: only trust coupons from vendors who have a solid reputation.

    Everyone who sells coupons makes claims.

    And these are something you can look for.

    Giveaways to the type of coupons you don’t want include highly impossible deals.

    Half-off admission prices may be an offer that is the real thing. But be sure to check on anything that sounds simply too good to be true.

    So how do you know the coupon is fake?

    Free or high-value coupons usually have holograms, watermarks, heat-sensitive areas, serial numbers. Or even lacking that, they have some other means to authenticate the coupon.

    If yours doesn’t have something similar, it could be a fake.

    The Coupon Information Center or CIC, as we mentioned before, is a non-profit association.

    They have some good advice.

    Their suggestions:

    • Never pay for coupons. That’s a warning sign.

    • Beware of e-mails containing high-value coupons, no matter the source. (Just because Grandma forwarded you an email with a free coupon doesn’t mean it’s legitimate.)

    • Avoid coupons posted to online discussion forums.

    • Avoid any photocopied coupons. That’s a no-no.

    • If you do print coupons at home (a very legitimate practice), check your computer screen. The coupon itself should not be visible. Legitimate coupon distribution systems “cloak” the coupons so while you can view a progress bar that says “your coupons are printing,” you won’t see the coupon itself.

    • Concerned that you may have a fake? You can always get a list of counterfeit coupons at the center.

      Everyone likes saving money.

      You love saving money, too.

      Of course.

      So while you can find legitimate discounts for Busch Gardens Tampa tickets, and Disney tickets, and LEGOLAND tickets, be sure you are dealing with someone who has an established reputation.

      And realize these places also need to make money.

      So if you come across an impossible deal that offers something to be good to be true, hey, it probably is. ###