Couponing Basics

Coupon Etiquette Tip #2: Don’t Be a Peelie Thief

One seemingly gray area of couponing is whether or not you should take a peelie coupon off of a product without purchasing the product. As part of my coupon etiquette series, I’m going to explain why you should not be a peelie thief.

What is a Peelie?

A peelie is a coupon that is attached to the outside of the package of a product and can be peeled off and scanned at the register on the same day you purchase the product. These coupons are usually found at random and are a great way to save money!

Unfortunately, some people take those coupons without buying the item. Many times I have come across product displays where it is evident that someone has taken the peelie coupon off of every single product!

Should You Take Peelies?

Peelie coupons are clearly meant to be used on the item they are attached to. Many of them even note that the cashier must remove the coupon at the register in order for it to be valid.

If the coupon is attached in any way to a product, I consider it a part of that product. It becomes the property of the purchaser of that product.

I view peelies the same way as a free sample that is attached to a full-size product. The free sample belongs to the purchaser of the full-size product, even though they are not technically paying for the free sample. In the same way, the peelie coupon belongs to the purchaser of the product.

Would you cut a coupon off the back of a cereal box without buying the cereal? Would you open a package, take the coupons out, and place the package back on the shelf? NO.

Just because this particular coupon is on the outside of the package does not mean it should be taken without the purchase of that item.

There are other coupons in stores (like blinkies and tearpads) that are free for the taking – and you don’t even have to use them at the store you find them in!

This brings me to a similar etiquette tip – don’t take all the coupons.

How Many Coupons Should You Take?

It is okay to take more than one tearpad or blinkie coupon. You can even take several, depending on how many are available. If there is just one lonely tearpad, I recommend you only take one or two coupons. If there are stacks and stacks of coupons, you could probably take three or four.

In the end, it’s all about being courteous. Treat other couponers the way you would like to be treated.

:: Coming up next up in the coupon etiquette series: “Don’t Steal Newspaper Inserts.”


  1. So taking peelies is bad but BUYING all the newspapers with coupons in it so noone else can buy any is perfectly fine. Blah blah blah.


  2. Sometimes the stores have to remove the peelies when they are past the manufacture expiration date. That happens quite often on dry goods or condiments like pasta, flour, ketchup, or mayo.


  3. Peelie “thieves” are those inconsiderate people that take most of what they find ONLY to SELL them. And many peelies that are being removed are damaging the products so the stores are losing MONEY. So be careful and use what you take! Sadly I’m seeing sites where people are upset when it’s pointed out where these coupons might be found for FREE.


  4. Oops I’m a peelie thief. I took a hand tag off a juice because I wanted to buy the product. But I bought the product at a different store a week later on sale. I guess I only considered it bad to take the coupon and then never use it. Lesson learned….I am without tact and coupons attached to a product must be bought in that store on that exact juice ….not on an identical one later……

    Ps I had no clue people seem coupons like that online until recently. I always offer mine for free. I saw someone posted on craigslist free coupons….you just pay for my time to clip them.. I laughed at how absurd that was and left the page.


  5. We are forgetting one thing….some of the people who take all the peelies then turn around and sell them on ebay at outrageous prices….or rather sell their time for STEALING the peelies on ebay. This also happens with tearpads. People take the tearpad…the whole tearpad or several of them and then sell the time it took them to STEAL the pads on ebay. Then when others go to the store to purchase a product….there are no tearpads. So, now if that person wants any of those coupons….they must buy them from the person who STOLE them in the 1st place. This happens often. Example…..Gold Peak Tea runs coupons on a tearpad BOBO free….You pay approx $5.00 on ebay for the time it took someone to STEAL 10 of those coupons. I hope someday that is considered a criminal offense because it should be. Those peelies and tearpads are there for EVERYONE to use.


    • You keep mentioning STOLE and STEAL. these are free….How is it stealing if its free… Also want to mention in today’s world grceries are extremely high priced and i f i want to feed my family I NEED coupons. I take what I want and what I can use. I had over 100 BOGO Sobe coupons and used every single one. And I do purchase coupons on ebay. If it will save me money that’s what I will do. Regardless who thinks they are STOLEN. Its life. Feed my children or “coupon etiquette”? Hmmmm….


  6. I hate when people steal peelies and hangtags as well. There is a reason it’s affixed to the product and not the shelf. I make sure to bring this up when teaching friends how to coupon as well.




  8. Thanks for posting this – it boggles my mind that anybody would think it was okay to take something attached to a product and not buy it. Sad that it has to be spelled out why it’s not okay, and some people still don’t get it!


  9. This wasnt a peelie – but it was in the Yoplait Gogurt box – a free tube squeezer. Rude people just broke into the box, stole the squeezer and that was it. How rude! I contacted Yoplait to suggest perhaps next time they have the promotion to maybe find a way to affix the item to the inside of the box – maybe with a dab of rubber cement. Told them I’d buy a squeezie from them but they said they weren’t for sale. (On a little side note I kinda thought they may send me one in the stinkin’ mail…just out of courtesy but they didn’t) Hopefully they will forward my suggestion onto the promotions people @ Yoplait like they said. Anyway – just had to vent ;-(


  10. I guess I’m the lone dissenter so far. Peelies are just coupons, folks. There’s no “law” or “rule” that you can’t take them off the product. After all, they are only good on that product. If I take a peelie, it’s for a product that I am going to buy but I’m going to buy it at the lowest price, which may not be at that exact store where I found the peelie. It’s not like you can take the coupon and use it on something else. And, yes, you shouldn’t take them all.


    • You take the peelies to use at a later date/cheaper price. What about the next person that needs to buy it today and has to pay that higher price….wouldn’t it be nice if they had the coupon??


      • I’ve been on both sides of the fence with this one.

        Last week, I went into Rite Aid to get some JR Watkins that was on sale for $1.50 = .50 cents each after peelie coupon. I bought 4 and left about 30 on the shelf, all with peelie coupons affixed to the product. There was a huge variety! Two or three days later, I went to the same store and all of the peelies were gone. Every single one while all of the lotions and soaps sat on the shelves. Sometimes, I kick myself for having courtesy of others and leaving items on the shelf when things like this happen.

        There are other times, especially when a coupon is close to expiring or I have plans to use it immediately, when I take some peelies or hang tags. At my Hannaford, there were literally a hundred or more hang tags for Vlasic pickles or relish that sat there for months. When I knew they were on sale at Shaw’s for practically free, I took 4 and plenty were left behind. I did the same thing when Honest Tea was on sale for .50 cents and there was a $1/2 hang tag only taking a few and leaving behind some for others.

        I don’t think it’s a moral issue as in it’s stealing from the purchaser of the product but I do think you need to use courtesy, kindness and common sense.


  11. I just hate peelie thevies!!!

    Have to share… I sent my husband out to buy me a few packs of Foster Farms ground Turkey for some turkey burgers. To my delight there were 3 coupons inside!
    $4 off a whole Turkey
    $2 off any 1 ground turkey, turkey culets or turkey tenders tray pack
    $1 off any 1 fresh ground turkey or turkey sausages
    all exp 4/30/12
    Oh how I wish I had a freezer!


  12. Amen! Someone took all the peelies from the Mayo I bought today. And it’s soooo obvious because the clear plastic backing is still on the container. I was so erked!Lack of ettiquette. Just buy it. And how about stealing the coupons from under the plastic lids of thing? Even worse,heh?


  13. Im glad you put this post out there. I think its so rude when I go to buy a product and someone has already taken the peely. From almost all of them! Its only common sense that it only belongs to the purchaser of the product! I wish everyone who does couponing would get this post. Hope lots of ppl read it.


  14. ive seen worse than peelie thiefs awhile back pg put high $ coupons in packages seen those ripped open to get coupons out and iames cat food was putting $3 coupons in trial packs seen those ripped open! which was dumb cause target was selling the packs for$3and allowing me to use a$3 coupon so was gettig food for free plus coupon to get more! imade a couple if trips to target to get free food but did it the legit way! also one “green” walmart had pretty much same deal with the cat food only had bigger packs for$4.98 with $3 coupon inside.


  15. frustrating when someone comes home with the product and receipt, peelie still on and not on the receipt

    Last week at Target’s yoplait sale, i was out of coupons ($ off 6 $ off 8) but wandered by and found some nice person had left hers (they were expiring that day). I do that sometimes too.


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