Home » Blog » I ran a coupon site. Here are 6 mistakes online shoppers make.

I ran a coupon site. Here are 6 mistakes online shoppers make.

Last updated Apr 11, 2024 | Published on Mar 28, 2024

A mixed race woman sitting in front of a computer. She has an expression of disappointment on her face.

Avoid These Frequent Online Shopping Pitfalls

1. Using Expired or Otherwise Invalid (Fake) Coupons

One of the most frequent frustrations for online shoppers is finding out that a coupon they’ve found is not valid or was never valid to begin with. This issue is made worse by numerous (popular and mainstream) websites and forums distributing these codes without verifying their authenticity or expiration dates. The practice is misleading and also undermines the trust in online couponing. Ethically, websites and coupon distributors should ensure the validity of the coupons they post to maintain consumer trust and enhance the online shopping experience.

2. Not Reading the Fine Print

Coupons often come with a set of terms and conditions that limit their use. These limitations can include minimum spend requirements, specific product or category exclusions, and expiration dates. Failing to read these details can lead to unexpected surprises at checkout when the coupon is not applied to the purchase. It’s crucial for shoppers to scrutinize the fine print to understand the applicability of the coupon to their current shopping cart.

3. In the Case of Travel Sites, Not Paying in Full Upon Booking

Travel deals and coupons often come with specific stipulations that ask for full payment at the time of booking. Many travelers, preferring flexibility, opt to pay at the hotel or choose installment payment options, and in doing so disqualify themselves from using the coupon. Understanding the payment conditions attached to travel coupons is essential for travelers looking to save on their bookings.

A mixed race woman, with a look of satisfaction  sitting in front of her computer in the cozy, well-lit room

4. Overlooking the Link in the ‘Shopping Cart’ or ‘Bag’

The design and layout of e-commerce websites vary, leading some shoppers to overlook where to paste their coupon codes. Often, the option to apply a coupon is located in the shopping cart (or shopping bag) page, before proceeding to the checkout or payment page. This placement can be easily missed, especially for shoppers who proceed directly to checkout without reviewing their cart. Paying attention to the entire checkout process and looking for coupon or promo code fields at each step can prevent missing out on potential savings.

5. Not Scanning the Entire Payment Page

On some websites, the option to apply a coupon code appears only after entering your payment details, which can cause confusion and lead us shoppers to miss out on discounts. This design choice is likely a benign, but deliberate attempt to minimize the use of discounts. Either way, consumers should carefully examine the entire payment page, including the sections beyond where credit card details are entered, to locate the coupon application field. One trick can be to scan the page with the ‘Search This Page’ function available on Chrome or Edge. Using this feature you can do a word search for ‘promo’, ‘promotional’, ‘coupon’, and any related term. Scanning for the word ‘code’ will result in just more confusion as that word is used for credit cards and addresses – so stick to the terms directly associated with a discount.

6. Not Being Logged In

Certain e-commerce platforms offer discounts and coupons exclusively to registered users or members of their loyalty programs. In such cases, the option to apply a coupon or even the visibility of discounted prices may only be available to logged-in users. Shoppers should ensure they are logged into their accounts before attempting to apply coupons or access exclusive deals. Creating an account could unlock additional savings and benefits that are not available to guest users.


By understanding and avoiding these common mistakes, shoppers can enhance their online shopping experience, making the most of the discounts and promotions available to them.

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