Macy’s Issues Worst Coupon Ever


Reader David sends us what might be the worst coupon we’ve ever seen. Not because it’s a bad deal, ($10 bucks off regular, sale and clearance is cool; we’re not complaining) but because we broke our brain in two reading the exclusions and conditions.

First of all, the coupon can only be used from Friday and Saturday, September 7 and 8, 2007 until 1pm only. And then it only gets worse:


*Valid Friday and Saturday, September 7 and 8, 2007 until 1pm only. Cannot be combined with any savings pass, extra discount, or credit offer, except opening a new Macy’s account. Excludes Prior Purchases;
Special Orders;
Super Buys;
Everyday Values;
American Rag;
Ralph Lauren;
Michael Kors Shoes and Handbags;
Dooney & Bourke;
Juicy Couture Shoes, Handbags and Accessories;
Cole Haan;
Bridge and Designer Shoes and Handbags;
Designer Intimate Apparel;
Material London,
Hugo Boss,
Perry Ellis and Tasso Elba Men;
Kenneth Cole, and Lacoste Men and Kids;
Tommy Hilfiger Shoes, Men and Home;
Tommy Bahama and Calvin Klein Men and Home;
Kate Spade;
Vera Wang;
Martha Stewart Collection;
Bedding by Barbara Barry;
Michael Kors and Natori;
China Dinnerware and Gifts;
Regularprice Crystal and Silver;


Electrics and Electronics;
Holiday Lane Trim;
Area Rugs;
Lease Departments;
Gift Registry Kiosks;
Macy’s Gift Cards;
Gift Wrap;
Payment on Macy’s Credit Account; and

Macy’s employees not eligible for Fine Jewelry extra discount.

This coupon is so painful to read that it causes us to repeat the possibly apocryphal Marshall Field quote: “Give the lady what she wants.” Even if it’s ten bucks off a pair of Levi’s. Or an area rug.

Oh yeah, and remember if you’re going to use this coupon… you have to print it out yourself because it won’t be available in the store. That being said, we do hope at least one of you will use this to save $10 because that’s the sort of happy, friendly, nice people we are. May we suggest purchasing some Frango Mints? Enjoy.

Brain Hurting Coupon (PDF) [SlickDeals]
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Edit Your Comment

  1. C2D says:

    WTF? So what does that leave you with? $10 free samples?

  2. stubblyhead says:

    would it have been shorter to list items for which the coupon IS vald?

  3. thepassenger says:

    This isn’t really anything new; their coupons almost always have a laundry list of exclusions. Just one more reason not so shop there anymore…

  4. timmus says:

    Can you all print a higher-res copy of the coupon? I want to print it out to show some people, but there’s really nothing here to print.

  5. DjDynasty says:

    Macy’s is famous for exluding the ENTIRE store. Frango’s, food, and that’s about all left to buy.

  6. SOhp101 says:

    Like thepassenger said, this is how all of Macy’s coupons are. It’s dumb to even think about purchasing anything there that’s brand name; at least at Nordstrom you get great customer service and an awesome return policy.

  7. skrom says:

    Keep in mind most if not all the brands are excluded because of pricing agreements with the manufacturer that they be sold at a certain price and no lower. Brands like Bose and Apple are well known for that. They probably exclude the other stuff because its priced at or below cost.

  8. Meg Marco says:

    @timmus: Can you print the PDF?

  9. Teleolurian says:

    Congratulations, you can still buy authentic Chinese knock-offs. Happy hunting.

  10. catnapped says:

    Here in Pennsylvania, Boscovs and Bon-Ton (both local department store chains) also have a laundry list full of exclusions on their coupons which also make you wonder if it would be easier to list what they actually could be used for (very little, in fact).

    Either they think the general public is blind or stupid (don’t answer that)

  11. hypnotik_jello says:

    @meghannmarco: PDF is 403 forbidden

  12. Mikey375 says:

    I worked at Macy’s; all the coupons are like that. Skrom’s right about the manufacturing agreements as well.
    And as someone who often performed receiptless, ticketless returns on merchandise that had been destroyed by someone ignoring the care instructions, I can attest that Macy’s has a VERY generous return policy.

  13. Meg Marco says:

    @hypnotik_jello: Ok, I’m sorry, I’ll upload a hi-res.

  14. msthe8r says:

    A number of these manufacturers do not allow stores to offer discounts on their products. Coach, Clinique, and Claiborne are famous for it. Almost any coupon you get from a major department store has a lot of these exclusions. I’ve NEVER seen this many exclusions before. The time exclusion for three days running is weird, too. Well, not so weird. “Come in early! Shop a lot! Here’s your discount…on almost nothing!”

  15. RottNDude says:

    What Consumerist readers are dumb enough to get ripped off by a B&M establishment anyway?

  16. ptkdude says:

    I’m surprised it doesn’t end with: “Not valid on any item with a regular, sale, or clearance price containing number(s).”

  17. balthisar says:

    Actually, they sell a lot of stuff at Macy’s. Yeah, that’s a lot of exclusions, but if you shop there, you’ll be able to find something to use the coupon on.

  18. bravo369 says:

    i’m with you on this. I get macy’s coupons in the mail all the time yet I keep falling for it. OOOHHH…25% off…oh wait, I can’t use it on anything. and then throw it straight into the trash. it just seems unethical of macy’s to always throw these coupons out there to get unwitting shoppers into the store only to tell them they can’t use it on ANYTHING.

  19. Bay State Darren says:

    It’d fun to walk into a Macy’s carrying the coupon at the valid time and ask an employee, “Where can I find merchandise that isn’t on this list?” and watch them be stumped.

  20. dazette says:

    I don’t ever shop at Macy’s on principle, but most people I know who do shop there have tried the Macy’s coupon thingy exactly ONCE and then given up in frustration. They say it’s like a scavenger hunt to find something to buy that the coupon is actually good on. Don’t you honestly have to wonder if Macy’s doesn’t tick off more potential customers with this coupon scam than they make happy by offering ten bucks off?

  21. holocron says:

    @hypnotik_jello: Damn I hate Al Boscov!

  22. holocron says:

    Damn, I miss Marshall Field.

  23. the historian says:

    Holo@holocron: me too :(

  24. LivingNCalifornia says:

    This nothing new I get these cards all the time. I think Jay Leno could do a skit about it and all he would have to do is just read the coupon and get laughs. Ironic that you can’t use it on their crappy “Tasso Elba” label aka “Tennis Elbow”

  25. ShadowFalls says:

    I think the list of what you could use it for would be shorter.

  26. Whoa says:


    Uh, how is clearly disclosing what you can’t use it for unethical? This website is about encouraging people to be responsible consumers and READ THE FINE PRINT as much as it exists to bring unscrupulous business practices to attention.

  27. SloanePeterson says:

    They added Coach, because about 3 years ago, I was able to use a discount coupon,(like 25%off) to buy a discounted Coach bag- the retail came down from $168 to $75! It has never happened again though, but me and the Coach bag are still happy :)

  28. Amry says:

    Why are so many people blaming Macy’s here? Blame the brands who won’t let retailers discount their items.

  29. ooolam says:

    I tried to use a similar coupon last time for a George Foreman Grill and I was told it was excluded. That’s when I decided to never shop at Macy’s anymore. This kind of poor promotion is so deceiving.

  30. phoenixcat says:

    Poof on the coupon- if I buy anything there I wait until it is 50-65% off and than 40% off of that. At that point, the prices are pretty reasonable… and being apparently hard to fit, buying clothes online rarely works…

  31. pine22 says:

    thats just crazy though, to exculde so many brands like that, im not even sure what i could buy at macys lol.

  32. bravo369 says:

    @Whoa: I know it’s not unethical but it’s just plain ridiculous. I know what i’ve bought from Macy’s over the years and every single thing is exempt from this coupon. it’s just frustrating and it’s to a point that I think Macy’s only puts it out there just to get some suckers into the store, walk up to the register only to realize they can’t use a coupon yet still buy the stuff anyway.

  33. wring says:

    coupon worked. sales associate didn’t bother reading the fine print but scanned the bar code anyway. wheeeee!

  34. thepounder says:

    @wring: Oh, sweet success thanks to an uninformed employee. Awesomeness.

  35. Jackgym says:

    More information please… lol

  36. Greasy Thumb Guzik says:

    One more reason why we want Marshall Field’s back!

  37. saralegal21 says:

    The brand exclusions don’t apply if you are buying stuff on clearance…so it’s really easy to get name brand stuff for ten bucks there when they have 75 percent off and either the $10 off coupon or a further percent off coupon. Is it a good place to buy regular price stuff? Not so much. But in terms of buying stuff off the clearance racks w/coupon…it’s great.

  38. faust1200 says:

    I think the Louisiana Purchase had less litigation involved.

  39. joeblevins says:

    The guy in the cubicle next to me at work was commenting on this yesterday. We couldn’t think of anything you could actually end up buying. Pretty damned funny.

  40. etinterrapax says:

    Sweet fancy Moses. There isn’t a damn thing worth buying with that coupon. Macy’s must die.

  41. wring says:

    @thepounder: I lucked out, this is a coupon that completely relies on the sales associate to exclude the items, it will work no matter what you buy–we got something Perry Ellis and the coupon worked. Score!

  42. goodguy812 says:

    maybe there might be other brands women could buy, but those exclusions limit mens choices for sure. maybe we can hope there are more underpaid employee’s who could care less if you get the discount on one of the excluded items. or maybe try the “customer is always right”. i’d like to see a post where a consumer made a scene and ended up getting the discount. either way, macy’s is aware that most people will just cough up more dough by the time they are at register. after youve tried it on, and pictured wearing it to that party, got your hopes up, you’ll probably cave and they know that.

  43. goodguy812 says:

    maybe macy’s puts all that fine print in there to protect themselves from the manufacturers, but intend to give you the discount reguardless. one could only hope. i’m going in there today to give it a try.

  44. HeartBurnKid says:

    @Whoa: I’ll tell you why it’s unethical; in big bold print, it says “$10 off a $25 purchase”, and then, in tiny little 2-point font, it proceeds to give a veritable laundry list of things it’s NOT good for. Its objective is to deceive the consumer; one goes in there hoping for a discount, and then finds its not valid on about 3/4 of the store. It’s not blatantly FALSE advertising, true, but it’s still not kosher.

    An ethical way to go about this would be to print the list at a size that is easily readable — then it would just be a confusing coupon, and not a deceptive one. Of course, I realize that printing a list like that at a readable level would make the coupon take an entire page, but if Macy’s honestly cannot issue a coupon like this without all these riders, maybe they shouldn’t be issuing coupons like this. Maybe they should stick to discounts on individual items that they KNOW they could discount. Of course, none of those have quite the appeal of the items they already know they can’t discount — and therein lies the reason for the deception.

  45. lestat730 says:

    This coupon is obviously meant to get people who didn’t fully read the coupon into the store. Once there, they will most likely be told that the coupon can’t be used on what they are purchasing and the customer will still make a purchase since they just spent time shopping in the store.

  46. amv09 says:

    i work at macy’s and i can tell you that there is a LOT of things that aren’t on the excluded list…we have a ton of clearance items and it can be used on all of that…the excluded items are probably not on sale anyways so you wouldn’t be able to use the coupon on that…i always scan the coupons and it usually does take the discount on anything

  47. Keter says:

    Macy’s, given their shaky market position, would be very well advised to start simplifying things to woo back some customers. A plain old 10% off coupon with no exclusions could be just the thing at this point. Unfortunately, it might not be possible.

    One of the problems with doing a simple coupon like this lies in their retail model: they use concessions to service things like cosmetics, furniture, and jewelry…and those concessions typically do not want to participate in store-wide discount promotions. Certain brands, like Dooney and Bourke, never go on sale and have contracts with their stores that specifically state that they cannot be included in such promotions. Thus the proliferation of mouseprint.

  48. goodguy812 says:

    @wring: maybe its just protecting them from manufacturers when they don’t really care what you buy. in this day in age of computers, if they were that hard up about it, they would have made sure nothing could slip through the cracks.

  49. MFfan310 says:

    @Greasy Thumb Guzik:
    As a former Chicagoan, I can tell you that Marshall Field’s did the exact same thing with their coupons, too. In fact, every midprice department store, whether it’s Macy’s or someone else like Carson Pirie Scott, Dillard’s, Belk, etc., is like this when it comes to coupons. As said, it’s often times due to the product manufacturers.

    Cosmetics and fragrance companies like The Estee Lauder Companies, L’Oreal’s Lancome and fragrance divisions, Coty, Groupe Clarins (who also owns Thierry Mugler Parfums), Shiseido (including Beaute Prestige International and ZIRH), etc. are really bad when it comes to not having their products on sale. Hell, their use of retail price maintenance in contracts is worse than Apple’s! At least Apple allows for Best Buy to offer stuff like a free iTunes card or third-party iPod accessory with the purchase of an iPod nano… whereas Shiseido/B.P.I. won’t allow Macy’s to throw in much else besides product samples with a bottle of Issey Miyake. What’s with that? (And this is coming from a loyal Mac user who also knows someone who works for B.P.I. as well.)

  50. Greasy Thumb Guzik says:

    I remember the coupons Field’s printed every week.
    Yes, there were exclusions, but nothing like the amount that Macy’s put into this coupon.

  51. mccomber says:

    The agency I work at does a lot of stuff for Macy’s Star Rewards program. We have to place, replace and otherwise jam this stuff into everything we do, and we always laugh about the exclusions; it would be easier to just say what people CAN buy. My favorite? The fact that we have to change “area rugs” to “floor coverings” based on what part of the country the coupon is being sent to.

  52. sarkathstic says:

    The cashier at the Macy’s store I went to was giving this coupon to everyone who came in on everything it would work on – and combined it with my star savings pass. :)

  53. Whoa says:


    I stand by my comment that it was not unethical. It’s certainly not as consumer-friendly as it could be, but that is not the same thing. As others have pointed out, Macy’s does not have a choice when it comes to discounting certain brand-name products. And as I said before, a responsible consumer reads the fine print before they go to to store and end up buying crap they don’t need at full price. The sheer size of the exclusions paragraph is immediately apparent, and a good indicator that it is worth reading. The exceptions are not buried in unrelated text or lumped into one tiny line that says “does not apply to products with an ‘e’ in the name.” That would be unethical.

  54. TangDrinker says:

    If it’s NOT unethical, it certainly is not consumer friendly. My family has been loyal Hechts customers for the past 10 years. Now they are Macy’s. We tried using one of these coupons last weekend on some children’s clothing and were told that it wouldn’t work on it. The sales rep agreed that the coupon was nearly worthless and that Hechts was never that bad with the fine print.

    I wonder if someone were to successfully use one of these if confetti and ballons would drop from the ceiling.

  55. msmsry says:

    Hell, I like them better when they were Foley*s.

  56. gruffydd says:

    That’s a standard coupon from Macy*s

  57. ptkdude says:

    @ptkdude: HOLY CRAP! I was able to redeem a Macy’s coupon tonight! Here’s how it went down: I’ve been in dire need of a new suitcase for quite some time, and I wasn’t happy with how “well” the cheapo ones I’ve bought in the past have held up. Macy’s had a decent Samsonite on sale for “50% off”. I had a coupon Macy’s had sent me for 20% off (15% off in home), with the standard exclusions including “sale merchandise”. I was pleasant with the sales clerk, joked with him a little and handed him the coupon like I use them all the time. He scanned it no problem and I got my extra 15% off. After he had completed the sale, he mentioned that in the future, being extra nice to the sales clerk frequently will enable me to use my coupon, as the register doesn’t usually stop them from accepting the coupons for excluded items.