The Magazine

Discount Eyewash

The coupon as emblem of consumer confidence.

May 5, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 32 • By JOE QUEENAN
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It’s not just that I fail to use the coupons that are routinely dispensed to me; I actually find these coupons demoralizing. Cents-off coupons for razor models I do not own and toothpastes I will never put in my mouth actually depress me. They make me believe that I am living in a parallel universe where nothing I want to buy will ever go on sale, where I am doomed for all eternity to buy cut-rate exfoliating creams and gross, generic, house-brand dental floss and sickening, low-budget beverages that combine fruits that were never meant to be united in the same receptacle. I feel the same way about those Must-Act-Now-Never-To-Be-Repeated-Weekend-For-Two-Getaways to the Black Hills of South Dakota. Responding to offers like this is probably what got General Custer in trouble in the first place. 

Meanwhile, the car of my dreams and the 67-inch 3D television I crave will never, ever go on sale. 

One day, the American economy will explode, and the consumer will come on strong. But that day will not arrive until AAA batteries are mothballed, off-brand deodorants are deep-sixed, and heavily discounted eyewashes are a thing of the past. What would really help would be store coupons that read: “FIVE BUCKS OFF YOUR NEXT PURCHASE OF ANYTHING. NO, MAKE THAT 20 BUCKS. OH, HELL, BUY ONE AND GET SIX FREE.”

Joe Queenan is the author, most recently, of One for the Books.  

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