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Ask DSM Readers: Blinkies, Tearpads and Peelies Ethics

by Tara Kuczykowski on June 17, 2010 · 507 comments

Tearpads and PeeliesPhoto by Heidi Kennedy

Every week I'll pose a question for you to share your experiences and tips. If you have a question that you'd like me to post, I'd love to hear from you!

Recently, another Tara asked this question on the Deal Seeking Mom Facebook fan page:

"What's your position on blinkies & in-store tearpads? Do you think its okay to take a few to use at a later time or another store (for a better deal)? I do this sometimes. My thinking is that they are not store property because they are manufacture coupons."

She later added that she never takes peelies off one package to use on another but wonders if others do.

What about you? If there is a blinkie or a tearpad with coupons at one store, do you take a few to matchup with a better deal later on? Is there a limit to how many you think is okay to take? Does it matter how many are left? What about peelies? Do you ever take coupons off one product package to use on another?

Join the discussion -- add your two cents to previous Ask DSM Readers questions too!

{ 507 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Carrie June 17, 2010 at 10:16 pm

I read through a lot of this and have a question: Does anyone else's store have a time-sensitive blinkie machine? Mine will allow you to take one, pause and take another. If you try to take three or more, there is a large lapse in time between them printing. Maybe it's a problem in my area? I can't imagine that by the dirty looks I get from my coupons. And yeah, I've taken four or more blinkies, when I am buying four or more of the item the coupon is for!


2 Cindy Waddill June 17, 2010 at 11:13 pm

It is never ok to take a peelie off a product you are not buying right then. But as far as the blinkie are concern, yes, the manufactures put those out for the consumers and I believe it is our choice as to when we use then. It is hard to "empty" one out since they will only dispense a couple at a time. If it is an item I use a lot I may linger on that isle for a few minutes to take another couple, or make sure if I come back in the store again later for anything to check again to see if the blinkie is still there. Some of them are up for a few weeks, so that allows us to get multiple coupons.


3 Amy June 18, 2010 at 12:04 am

i dont see a problem if you are taking a tear pad or blinkie coupon - as long as it is with in reason - not to resell... but if you know that you really like a certain product, and there is a blinkie or tear pad, take a couple... so when u do see them on sale then u have them...
i dont think it is right to peel them off of items... i ran across that at one time... i went to get the ritz toasted crackers....and they had a 1.00 off coupon on the front - there was a huge stand that had them (and it was like 1130/midnight..) i went back at 9am that next morning - there was a huge stock, but there were no coupons on them... you could see the little plastic sticker they were attached to, but no coupon, that really upset me...beacause i was going to BUY The product and use the Coupon. :( o well,


4 Cheryl June 18, 2010 at 12:11 am

I see ppl in target all the time peeling coupons off of items they do not buy. I think what a shame. When I go down the baby isle I see that the j&j powder,lotion,oil and such have had all the coupons peeled. I don't think that is cool. Tear pads I will take 1 or 2. If it is an item I know is going on sale and it has to be something I am low on. Like ziplock bags or something like that.


5 Dee June 18, 2010 at 12:43 am

I don't see anything wrong with taking blinkies, peelies or tearpad q's if I know that I will use them at a later time. I don't take every single one or anything crazy like that but I will take a few if I know that I will absolutely use them. I won't take them if I know that I won't use them because someone else might need them a lot more than me. I've seen places were someone has went thru and taken all but one of the peelies and I think that they must be selling them or something. Its just common curtousey to leave some for the next couponer! :)


6 Laura C June 18, 2010 at 12:47 am

I've read all the comments and read the article linked by madmommy above, and I would like to play devil's advocate. The peelies are commonly for the same amount and having same wording as the coupons found in the newspaper inserts. Most recently, I saw peelies for $2 off any 2 Scrubbing Bubbles products, and I had a stack of the equivalent newspaper insert coupon sitting in my coupon binder. I have also watched the stock guy at Target slap peelies onto products, and believe me, he was haphazardly sticking them on 'whichever' products he was closest to with no rhyme or reason to variety. He obviously had a roll of stickers to stick, and he was sticking. Thus, is the peelie truly part of the product packaging such that one is stealing them when they remove them? Or rather, isn't the peelie just an alternative dispensing/distribution means used by manufacturers to provide coupons for consumers to use. The exception: peelies which specifically state that they should only be removed only by the cashier. Given that some peelies make that specific statement, while others are silent on that point, can we not view this as the manufacturer setting the standard by what they print on their coupons? To make an analogy, would those who consider taking peelies stealing also not use a coupon to get a free travel sized item (promoted by most bargain bloggers as a positive) when the manufacturer supposedly 'clearly intended' by the value that it should be used on full sized item but failed to make the trail/travel size exclusion?


7 Tara G June 19, 2010 at 12:53 am

Laura C said :To make an analogy, would those who consider taking peelies stealing also not use a coupon to get a free travel sized item (promoted by most bargain bloggers as a positive) when the manufacturer supposedly 'clearly intended' by the value that it should be used on full sized item but failed to make the trail/travel size exclusion? --- My reply to that is: One cannot assume that one should not use such a coupon on a sample or travel sized item. Product manufacturers surely are aware that some might use coupons ( indicated as "good on any size" with or without that wording) toward small packages. Perhaps it IS some manufacturers' intent, instead holding sample promotions & sending samples through the mail.


8 Marissa June 18, 2010 at 1:01 am

Yes, I'll take peelies off one item to use on another item. Example - today at Target - I peeled off .55 shout manf. q's from the big bottles to use on the little bottles. Just because I peeled them off doesn't mean they are not going to be used. Sorry to whoever wants to buy those big bottles..but I got there first. I think I'm just smart enough to know that I can use them on a different size...Just because they are on the big bottles doesn't mean I have to buy the big bottles. Also, if I see peelies at walmart and the product is on sale at target (but there aren't peelies at target)...I'm gonna peel the walmart peelies off and use them at target. I don't see anything wrong with that. It's frustrating when people sell peelies on ebay, though. I hate that! I wouldn't take peelies off if I wasn't absolutely sure I need them.

My mom buys stuff all the time because they have peelies on them..and then she forgets to use the peelies. I used to do that before I got the "couponer eye". I can spot a coupon from a mile away. A lot of people don't even use/see the peelies.


9 Amy July 31, 2010 at 8:24 am

I was just looking for Kashi coupons on Ebay and low and behold someone is selling a whole stack of peelies! ARGH! That is so not fair.


10 carolyn October 4, 2011 at 3:16 pm

I wonder if they are aware that this is illegal and Ebay is under litigation right now from coupon suppliers like Smart Source,because of allowing people to sell them?


11 Diana B June 18, 2010 at 6:08 am

To me, peelies and blinkies are the same thing, just different methods so I will take one or two and save them for later if I know it's something I'll probably buy anyway.
The people who are writing that it's wrong to take a peelie haven't really stated WHY it's wrong...


12 Rachael Mercer June 18, 2010 at 7:46 am

In my coupon workshops I teach that peelies/tearpads and blinkies are a great source of coupons....and that you don't wait until you want to buy the item. If you see it now, get it now. Because I guarantee when you go back to buy the item on sale, the peelies/blinkies/tearpad coupons will be gone.

I think there's nothing wrong with removing peelies or taking blinkies or tearpad coupons with you. Typically, if I can find 4, I pick 4. If they have outlandish exp. dates a year or two in the future, I'll pick off more.

You see, I purchase 2 double papers in my area, so typically I have 4 of each coupon anyway. If I'm going to do any matching or stacking, I need 4 of the peelie/blinkie/tearpad.

I do have a problem with tearpad stripping--where you come along and steal the whole tearpad to distribute yourself--whether to friends or by selling. I don't think the manufacturer would be happy to know you've done that. They didn't appoint you distributor.

But overall, unless the coupon says save on THIS product or save NOW when you buy this product, I think it's perfectly acceptable to help yourself--within reason!


13 Kristen June 18, 2010 at 8:02 am

The way I see it...not everyone uses those peelies. They buy the product and throw the box away (peelie still attached). My girlfriends do it all the time. They're not into couponing, so the peelies just get tossed.


14 Angie W June 18, 2010 at 9:19 am

I agree about taking a few blinkie and tear pad coupons if I am going to use them in the near future.
But, I have to draw the line at using peelie's off products I am not buying right then or using them for different products. To me, that feels dishonest. Others may not feel that way, but I'd rather use my soap and noodles without having a guilty conscience. :)


15 Lea June 18, 2010 at 11:47 am

Has anyone ever had a large cart of items and forgotten to peel their peelie coupon off and the clerk at the register doesn't peel it off either? Gets me mad, bc the peelie coup is likely the reason that got me to purchase the item to begin with.

So, in some cases, I have been known to pull an extra peelie off and use for bulk purchases. Again, only if I know I am going to use them that day, not for future use.

As for Pull off and blinkies, they are free reighn. How many times have you seen someone kids pull the blinkies in sheer fun. They take like 10 and you know those will never be used.



16 Tonya June 18, 2010 at 12:33 pm

I think it's fine to take the blinkies and the tearpads for future use. I never take more than 2 at a time, though. . As a previous commenter said, it just seems dishonest to take the peelies off products that I am not buying. I hate going to the store and not being able to find peelies on the products that I want to buy when I know they should be there.


17 molly June 18, 2010 at 1:06 pm

I take any kind of easily obtainable coupon that I will definitely use. My thought about peelies re: the article linked by madmommy is that if manufacturers want to move a certain product, they should make the peelie only for that product. Now, I don't take a lot of peel, tearpad, blinkie, hang tag, or other coupons, only a reasonable amount that I will definitely use. Probably 90% of the time, the coupon I take I will use on that product at that store, just a few weeks later when it's on sale.
I would never remove a "free" or "bonus" item from packaging or damage the package itself in any way. Coupons printed on the package and free items attached are done so before they reach the retail outlet, while peelies are attached after the product is on the shelf, thus I don't see the peelie as being an inherent part of the product, just another way of distributing coupons.
My biggest ethical concern is the buying and selling of coupons. To me, that is explicitly stated on the coupon as being illegal. Call it what you will, justify it as you want, but I will never ever do that.


18 Candice S June 18, 2010 at 7:00 pm

I would not buy Tearpad/Blinkie or Peelie coupons. I do not mind buying other coupons on Ebay or a service though, for the right price. I will not pay more than right around a buck for a stack of coupons, and the shipping needs to be reasonable. As the listings state you aren't "paying for the coupon" but for time and effort to buy the paper, find the coupons, cut them out, list them and package them. If I feel the price is insane or they are trying to cut a lot of profit I just won't do it.


19 Nohemi October 30, 2012 at 5:52 pm

Either way you are paying for the coupon, if you were paying for a service they would cutting coupons you yourself bought. So you trying to say that you are paying for the service is a load of bull.


20 Nicole June 18, 2010 at 10:19 pm

I am guilty. A few weeks ago I took some peelies off of Wheat Thins at Target because they only had them on the large boxes but the small ones were on sale. My son will even ask do you want more mom. So if I am guilty then so be it. The manufacturer planned on people using them and so I will. I totally agree that people who sell them are wrong.


21 Susan June 24, 2010 at 5:33 pm

I think we should just be considerate in our coupon practices, not greedy or desperate. I think it's okay to take between 1-3 of the blinkies, especially if it's an item you go through quickly or you have a friend who could use it. But taking much more crosses the line for me, personally, because I know there are others who are also trying to save. Often the same coupon exists in another medium. Hoarding doesn't help, and it gives couponers a bad reputaion.


22 olivia June 24, 2010 at 10:44 pm

I will not peel off coupons to use somewhere else or on another size product, I truly believe that the manufacturer meant it for that specific size of product. I don't have to worry about taking too many blinkies, I just pick up the ones people have discarded by the machine. As for tear offs, if I use the product I will take quite a few of the coupons..


23 amy g June 25, 2010 at 8:37 pm

As the person that installs the blinkie and the tear pad and the occasional peel off. It is ok to take more than one espically the blinkie. We do maintance on those weekly to biweekly to restock them. AND yes we turn in numbers for how many are left when we take the machine down. The company's then use the info for markting stratagies and such. Yes the machince will pause after the second coupon is pulled, the biggest reason is so that coupons are not wasted. To many times before this feature I would discover some small child just having a ball pulling coupon after coupon.
And you help fund jobs like mine.
Thank you


24 DIANE July 2, 2010 at 1:13 am

I was on another site (I can not remember the site) and some one posted that at an Albertsons's store 2 women were bande for life from the store for taking peelies off an item and not buying that said item. Anyone else hear of this?


25 Steven Conway August 10, 2010 at 2:29 am

Ethical or unethical, I don't know. All I know is our local Publix & Winn Dixie had $0.55 off Dr. Pepper peelies since last week and they were being placed on those bottles not by store employees but by the local Pepsi distributor in-store.

Problem with using those is both stores had them at $1.89 per 2 liter. I spent the whole week making trips into every Winn Dixie & Publix I passed and would take only 5 at a time. Since those 2 grociers are our dominant grocery stores here, by the time I was done I had collected 48 peelies.

I then took them to the only Fred's store we have this past Saturday as they had the Dr. Peppers on sale (well more like their normal price) of $1.00 each...but as a bonus...every Saturday, Fred's doubles coupons up to $0.70.

I walked out of the store with 48 free Dr. Peppers.

As far as I'm concerned, we are only playing the game the way the retailers and manufacturers have forced us to...especially when you have little to no money to spend as it is.

And as someone who has worked for Coca Cola before, stock is constantly replenished and yes they do have large rolls of those "peelie" coupons they use. To be able to get my hands on an entire roll. lol


26 MaryLena Anderegg November 14, 2011 at 6:50 pm

I'm just a beginner at this but my husband is the blinkie king. He takes only those blinkies that match one of three criteria: (a) we use the product, (b) one of our friends uses it, or (c) it is an item needed by our church food pantry. We take only the number we would use in a six weeks' period (varies with product). We would never take a stick on coupon from a product unless we bought it. Our view is how we would feel if someone did it to a product we bought.


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28 catherine March 16, 2012 at 4:35 pm

The other week soup was on sale and I found tearpad coupons. I put a few out for other customers. I even told about and gave customers cupons who had the soup.


29 Leona April 28, 2012 at 8:55 am

I would never take a coupon off a product unless I bought it. I will take more than one coupon from a blinkie for future use if I use that product.


30 kodachrome June 20, 2012 at 9:05 am

right or wrong that is indeed the question? I certainly dont know the right answer, I do take blinkies and tear pad q's i do not always use them right then and there. I guess it is a matter of opinion and as we know an opinion is just that


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35 Canadian Extreme Couponer Theresa October 1, 2012 at 9:21 pm

I think you should only take what you will use for tearpads but never more than 10.
Blinkiies - same as tearpads

Peelies - NEver only if you purchase the product.


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