Coupons situation - mortal sin?

My mom and older sister (married with a baby) use coupons for grocery shopping, and both of them use extra coupons (for things that haven’t really bought) so that they can ‘save’ money. I have told my mom before she should should not do that, and she did say before that she wouldn’t but of course she didn’t stop. My older sister started doing the same thing now that she is married. I really don’t like that they do it, but I know if I say something they won’t listen anyway and will just think I’m being weird about it. Anyway, I suppose this would be considered stealing??? And, my concern is if it’s a mortal sin?

Would it be considered a sin for me also, because I use the things that my mom buys from the grocery store??? This has really been a concern for me lately, and I am getting stressed, among other things. I am planning to go confession, but now I am worried that after confession I would still be sinning, if I use the things that my mom buys. I hope this makes sense, because it’s more difficult to explain through writing. Thank you!

I’m not really sure how you can use a coupon for something you didn’t buy, because in stores with scanners it will not accept the coupon. In a small store that may be more manual, typically the check out attendant matches up coupons with items in the bag to ensure no cheating.

Yes it is stealing and yes it is wrong. But, no it is not wrong for you to eat the food especially as I assume you are a minor in your parents’ household. When you are out on your own, it is your obligation not to use coupons in a dishonest way. But you cannot control your mother, and you have pointed out that it is wrong. That is all that you can do.

Is it a mortal sin for them to be doing that?

Have you ever noticed that on some coupons it’ll say “Cash value 1/10 ¢” or something similar? Maybe they are just getting a tenth of a cent! :stuck_out_tongue:

If not, the store should fix their computer system and tell customers they can’t do that. I’m not saying it’s not wrong, but it’s weird that they’re getting away with it if they’re actually getting more than a tenth of a cent per coupon.

And I agree with others who say don’t worry yourself about consuming the food; you did what you were morally obligated to do and the rest is on them. Don’t allow yourself to become tormented by scrupulosity over it. Pray for them to be given the gift of honesty in matters small and large - pray out of love for them, not out of fear. :slight_smile: God knows your heart and your desire to do right. :heart:

This past Sunday we had the verse from Isaiah at Mass - prophesying about the Messiah: “A bruised reed he shall not break, a smoldering wick he shall not quench.” In other words we live in a broken world, and we’re all works in progress. God will work in each heart; His grace is available to all. Your family members are the bruised reeds and the smoldering wicks - pray for God to heal them and set them ablaze with the Holy Spirit! :extrahappy:

There is actually a bit of a science to the bar codes on coupons. Some people have “cracked the code” so they can determine that an individual coupon will actually still scan for another item even though that item is different from what is listed on the coupon. That can make it possible for people to use high value coupons on low cost items.

If the person has a large transaction and a whole pile of coupons, most cashiers are not going to take the time to look at each coupon and make sure the item was actually purchased. They just start scanning them all. And if it goes through, the cashier wouldn’t notice anything different.

But, yeah, that’s coupon fraud and it is wrong.

Yes, there’s some cashiers that just let it go through. Would this be a mortal sin for them???

I would say it is grave matter-- it sounds like they have been doing this for a long time and have probably accumlated quite a lot of money via defrauding the stores. So, it is a serious transgression against the 7th commandment.

We can never say whether something is a “mortal sin” for another person, because we are not mind readers and do not know if the person lacks culpability for some reason.

From what you have said, it seems pretty clear that they know this is wrong and are doing it anyway. So, in general, that would be “mortal sin”.

They should talk to their pastor in confession.

Wish hold your high horses a minute
how is this a sin?

Let’s say I have something for sale. I put a lable on it saying $100
Joe blogs comes up and offers me $80 he’s not trying to pull a fas one he’s negotiating the contact. It’s up to me to accept or reject his offer.

If I take a basket of goods to a checkout and offer a mix of cash/cheque/credit cards/coupons is up to the store and their agent to determine if they are willing to accept my offer.

Fraud is deliberately trying to hide a cheat like offering fake money or fake coupons.

There is no sin in asking a sore clerk or computer if they will accept coupons as part payment. Whether or not the face offer on the coupon appears to directly apply.

What I took the OP to mean by the phrase “use extra coupons (for things that haven’t really bought)” is what some people do when (for example) they take a coupon for $1 off a box of cereal and use it on one of those $0.79 bags of deli meat (thereby actually making $0.21 on the transaction).

I never knew such things were possible, but as my wife got more into couponing, she came across such things. Sometimes a coupon is coded such that it will technically “work” on a completely different product. Expoliting that is coupon fraud. It is a crime and it is also immoral.

Just using regular coupons – even in “extreme” ways – is an entirely different story. My wife regularly makes money buying things like toothpaste and deodorant. But everything she does is working within the parameters of a given store’s coupon policy. Thus, there is no problem with it.

Stealing and fraud are both sins against the 7th commandment.

While indeed negotiating a contract with someone is not a sin, that is not what this thread is about.

When you purposely take coupons for items you did not buy and try to get them past the check out cashier-- in many cases by altering the bar code-- that is fraud. The cashier is not the owner and has no authority to accept a different price or “deal” for groceries. You are being absurd.

Or altering or using coupons for something you did not actually purchase to cheat the store out of money.

That is not what we are talking about. And it is not within the store clerk’s authority to accept a coupon for diapers for the purchase of hamburger buns.

I would talk to your confessor about this, but your situation may be a stretch for being a mortal sin.

I really don’t see an obligation for you to not use their things with proper permission. :shrug:

I have to disagree on some of your points.
1 altering a coupon is of course fraud.
2 a store clerk is an agent of the store who is authorised to negotiate a contract of sale within the stores policies. If those policies include taking coupons as part of that permitted range of options then asking a clerk if he will accept a coupon for diapers when you have bought beer and toilet paper is not fraud it is an attempt to negotiate a contract.

It is up to the store and their policies to reject or accept the offer.
The store will probably know if they sell the other item enabling them to offset the coupon against a different item.

Note if we are talking about coupons issued as part of a welfare package it might be illegal to use the coupon in any other way. But for normal commercial promotional coupons from advertising materials then provided the coupons have not been tampered with and there is no attempt to deliberately miss represent a coupon then it is simply one of several permittedformsof pay payment.

Of course if there is an attempt to deliberately miss represent a coupon then that is attempted fraud. But there’s a big area between delineate fraud of altering a coupon or trying to misrepresent a coupon and simply offering a bundle of coupons and asking which the clerk or computer will accept.

Furthermore the authority of a store clerk to negotiate on price vary depending on the company and type of store.
I know there’s no point trying to haggle at a checkout I the supermarket, except within specific price match promotional offers or if I think a mistake ha been made at which point a manager or supervisor will be called.
Conversely in the electronics department you can jolly well bet I will try haggling over price. I will find the best price for the item I want and then go to the store I trust to give good after sales service and ask if they can match or beat that best price.
Sometimes they say yes. Other times they say no. Other times they are already the best price but ill ask if they will give me any discount for a multi buy on accessories as well.
When I am negotiating contacts for the company I work for its similar. I will initially offer a price that I think is fair and profitable and gives us a reasonable chance of winning the contract. If I especially want to win that contact I will explicitly ask if the company want us to beat a rival quote.
Other times the client will explicitly try to negotiate a lower price.

Or biggest client (a major international supermarket chain) has negotiated a very different fee structure from our normal pricing model and we can deal with any size of contact from private individuals to huge multi billion pound projects.

my point is that there’s a very big difference between asking a sore clerk if they will accept a coupon and deliberately trying to miss represent that coupon as being different from what it is our worse altering the coupon.
The first is an honest attempt to haggle the latter is clear fraud.

Please calm down.
Let me break it down for you:
The mom is using coupons for things she hasn’t bought. She isn’t negotiating or asking in advance. She is (according to the OP) defrauding the store, and deliberately.

Negotiation is not a sin. Bargaining is not a sin. Defrauding others or stealing from them, a large corporation or a small family owned store, is a sin.

The topic of this thread, and the subsequent posts in answer to the OP, have to deal with coupons, and using them fraudulently.

The extra information you have shared is extraneous and does not pertain to this.

Yes, it’s a sin. She is using the coupon in order to willfully get money off that she is not entitled to. There is no open and knowledgable good-faith negotiations going on here.

Is it a mortal sin? It’s hard to tell, but I’m leaning towards saying it isn’t in this specific case. Why? Because repeated sin coarsens us and dulls our conscience. It is possible that she truly thinks it’s no big deal, and that regardless of the act, that the dollar amount makes it immaterial. (Material being an accounting term - 10 cents out of balance isn’t material/ worth worrying about, but $1000 IS material.) This idea is similar to a theft being considered a misdemeanor vs a felony based on a dollar amount.

Does God use this standard when judging? Perhaps. IMO, better to be on the safe side and be aware of the act itself.

I agree with others - do not worry about eating that food. You are not responsible for whether your mother cheated someone out of $1 or two.

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