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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Several grocery retailers here are following the lead of other chains across the nation by refusing to accept online coupons after being burned by a blitz of fakes that have cost them millions of dollars nationally, the Columbus Dispatch reports.
Big Bear, Kmart, and Meijer are among the retailers that have posted signs at checkout lanes saying they no longer accept computer-generated coupons. "Such a high percentage of the coupons we were receiving were fake that we could no longer accept them," a Big Bear spokesman told the paper.
Meijer spokesman John Zimmerman said, "We don't accept [computer-generated coupons] anymore because there's too much fraud out there."
But not all retailers in the Columbus area are banning Internet coupons. Kroger and Wal-Mart continue to accept them, even though the chains say they have received fakes.
"We've seen some counterfeits, but we're not going to let a few bad apples spoil the bushel," Kroger spokesman Leonard Terranova said. "A large part of our customer base uses online coupons. If we were to stop servicing them for a few problems that we encounter, we wouldn't be able to serve our customers."
Wal-Mart spokeswoman Sharon K. Weber concurred. "We, like many other retailers, have experienced fraud, but we've got a good deal of customers who live on limited budgets and clip coupons to try to increase their value for their families," she said. "It would be unfair to punish them for the dishonesty of some people who take unfair advantage of the system."
According to the Promotion Marketing Association, 79 percent of the U.S. population uses coupons.