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Media Alerts and Press Releases
8/19/2003
If It Seems To Good To Be True – It Probably Is

Harris Teeter joins other retail merchants to protect against coupon fraud

Charlotte, NC - Starting immediately Harris Teeter will no longer accept computer generated coupons printed from the Internet. "Home made" counterfeit coupons are currently being circulated on the Internet through auction services, message boards, e-mails and other methods. Harris Teeter does not accept counterfeit coupons.

Grocers in Georgia have alerted the Federal Trade Commission and the FBI to an Internet coupon scam that is preying on unwitting consumers. The fake coupons are now making their way out of Georgia to other states.

Shoppers surfing a variety of Internet sights are finding offers to download coupons for huge discounts on some of their favorite foods - from Häagen Daas to Stouffer's frozen dinners. Stores have since found out that the manufacturers will not honor the counterfeit coupons.

"These coupons are like counterfeit money," notes Kathy Kuzava, President of the Georgia Food Industry Association. "This new scam is the biggest of its kind to hit Georgia in more than 14 years," adds Kuzava and by the time it is over, experts estimate it could cost the nation's grocers in excess of $1 million.

"We are joining many other retailers who have been stung by these counterfeit coupons to protect our customers and our vendors," said Rod Antolock, Senior Vice President of Operations and Merchandizing for Harris Teeter. "Each week we have over 4,000 items on sale each week with our VIC card program and we work hard to offer competitive pricing as well as honoring legitimate manufacturer's coupons," Antolock adds.

The problem for our customers is they have no way of knowing which online coupons are legitimate. The Atlanta Journal Constitution is reporting that some coupon packages have even showed up on Ebay. Bud Miller, Executive Director of the Computer Information Center, a manufacturer's trade group dedicated to fighting coupon fraud says, "There is no reason for consumers to buy coupons - period." Adding, "In fact, the sale or transfer of coupons is in violation of nearly all manufacturer's coupon redemption policies."

Consumers beware, it seems the old adage still stands, If it seems to good to be true, it probably is. If customers have questions about the validity of their coupons they can go to The Coupon Information Corporation at www.cents-off.com.

The Federal Trade Commission works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop and avoid them. To file a complaint or to get free information on consumer issues, visit www.ftc.gov or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261.