Printing Coupons
March 22, 2010 1:37 PM   Subscribe

My Mom wants to download and print coupons. I went as far as downloading the couponprinter software from the net and Comodo warned against it. Is this a safe application? It is a form of spyware in that it collects data, though relying on your agreeing to it. I’m not a computer-talented person, but I know enough to have installed security software for her and to be wary.
posted by mightshould to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Seeing as how you can just print coupons from companies' websites without special software, I'd guess it can only be malware of some kind.
posted by cmoj at 1:54 PM on March 22, 2010


there is particular software that many companies have been sold that is supposed to keep you from committing MASSIVE! COUPON! FRAUD! I forget the name of the major one . . can you post the name of the software widget/program they want you to download? It would probably help.
posted by Medieval Maven at 1:56 PM on March 22, 2010


This seems like a particularly bad idea. If you can see something on the screen, you can print it. You don't need extra software to do this. If people are trying to get you to download and run extra software to print something, they're trying to get you to run something pointless.

I wouldn't do it.
posted by koeselitz at 2:00 PM on March 22, 2010


If it's the one I naively downloaded (I think it's from coupons.com or something like that), then I would stay far away. It borked my computer. It was fine after I removed it and my husband helped me run scans to take out any shrapnel it might have thrown around the system at large, but yeah - uninstall.

Seeing as how you can just print coupons from companies' websites without special software, I'd guess it can only be malware of some kind.

There are some otherwise reputable companies that make you download the coupon printing program in order to access their coupons.
posted by DrGirlfriend at 2:04 PM on March 22, 2010


Sorry for the oversight. The process is couponprinter.com It seems to be used by various aggregate websites that have coupons available for printing. This program limits the number of coupons you can print, as Medieval Maven describes. Coupons.com is one site that uses this printer software.
posted by mightshould at 2:05 PM on March 22, 2010


I've printed from Coupons.com and SmartSource.com with no problems with regards to the printing software that they ask you to install, spyware/malware-wise. Simply printing what you see on the screen wouldn't help at either of these sites, since the coupons themselves [with barcodes and everything] don't generate until you select the ones you want and then print them -- I think the software helps to generate the barcodes as well as limit the number of times you can print them.
posted by alynnk at 2:06 PM on March 22, 2010


I've used coupon printer and my computer did not explode and AVG isn't throwing up a flare. you DO have to have your default printer set to a REAL printer though; it won't let you print to PDF for obvious reasons (since they are using this software in the first place).
posted by Medieval Maven at 2:21 PM on March 22, 2010


alynnk: “Simply printing what you see on the screen wouldn't help at either of these sites, since the coupons themselves [with barcodes and everything] don't generate until you select the ones you want and then print them -- I think the software helps to generate the barcodes as well as limit the number of times you can print them.”

This is easy to achieve with web applications alone - forcing people to download and run a script is pointless unless you're trying to get people to install malware. Again, this is a very bad sign.

Just from a cursory glance, it looks like it's primarily a spam harvester to me.
posted by koeselitz at 2:33 PM on March 22, 2010


forcing people to download and run a script is pointless unless you're trying to get people to install malware. Again, this is a very bad sign.

Seeing as how you can just print coupons from companies' websites without special software, I'd guess it can only be malware of some kind.

Actually, the reason for this is that each individual coupon needs to have a unique id on it or the vast majority of grocery stores won't accept it. From a coupon-user standpoint, this was a huge innovation, because previously most stores wouldn't accept web-printed coupons, because of the enormous fraud associated with them. The coupon software provides the ID and also manages the number of times you can print (typically twice). Coupons.com, Smartsource, Redplum, and most of the big foods websites (think P&G, Kraft, Campbells, etc) companies use this software to manage grocery coupon printing.

I can't speak to the malware part of it, except my own experience: It didn't bork my computer and I haven't had any problems with it. It does certainly collect some data, but none of the software I use (on multiple systems) trips it as spyware and it doesn't seem to be running a process when I'm not actively engaging with it.

Here's the TOS for the coupons.com, which is probably the most-used site that uses this kind of software. They're pretty upfront about what they're collecting, and certainly my sense is that they're not doing anything that isn't spelled out in the TOS.

So, bottom line, its up to her if she wants to agree to the TOS.

Its a little known fact that most sites that use this software (often called "bricks" in the lingo, because the url you print from will start with 'bricks.coupons.com') will also offer a mail-in option for getting the coupons. Here is a "bricks" printable coupon that has a mail in option -- its well hidden, though: go to the very bottom right-hand corner of the page and click the tiny HELP link below where it says ©2008 Coupons, Inc.


FYI: If she's interested in couponing but you decide that you don't want to install the software, the forums at A Full Cup will probably be helpful to her, both in trading "printed" manufacturer's coupons and in directing her to other resources she can use.
posted by anastasiav at 2:58 PM on March 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


If you're thinking about installing Coupon Printer, you should read this and this. Apparently the software collects (or did at one time collect) users' personally identifiable information, including Windows CD keys.

And now I'm going to go attempt to wipe that infernal program off my own hard drive...which apparently is more difficult that simply uninstalling it.
posted by limeonaire at 4:06 PM on March 22, 2010


An update: After uninstalling Coupon Printer from XP, I looked for the orphan files and registry keys Ben Edelman mentioned in his 2007 piece about the software. They weren't there. So the good news is, the Coupon Printer folks aren't leaving the same cruft behind in your registry and Windows directory that they once were. Unfortunately, that doesn't mean they aren't still leaving something behind.
posted by limeonaire at 4:23 PM on March 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


« Older Automatic reminders for email follow-up in Outlook   |   Song help. Shazam failed me. Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.