Consumerwatch: Smartphone coupon app
Published Monday, February 18, 2013 11:16AM CST
Last Updated Monday, February 18, 2013 12:55PM CST
Many people like to save money, and clipping coupons is a great way to save at the store. Thanks to a Toronto app developer, those coupons can appear on your smartphone, no scissors required.
Carmella Di Nardo’s basement is full of hundreds of items, all purchased with coupons. The avid couponer says she started using them two years ago after being laid off. Since then, she’s saved around $4,000 a year.
But Di Nardo says it’s not always easy redeeming them at the till. “There’re coupons you can print online, but then there’s the issue that maybe they’ve been tampered with, maybe the amount has been changed.”
Noah Godfrey, the founder of Checkout 51, agrees with Dinardo. “Couponing is hard work,” he says. “And we thought we could make it easier.”
Checkout 51 is an app developed specifically for Canadian consumers that allows individuals to get cash back by purchasing specific products that appear on their phone each week.
Godfrey explains. “When you’re done shopping, take out the app, snap a photo of the receipt, and once we verify you’ve purchased the products that were on offer, we credit your account. Once your account reaches $20, we send you a cheque.”
The app launched in December. Since then, Godfrey says 100,000 people have signed up, and have saved $100,000 in the process.
However, there are some limitations. The app can only be used on iPhones. Only a dozen or so products appear every week. There is also nothing stopping people from redeeming the cash, then returning the products.
Godfrey says there are security systems in place to prevent app abuse. “We can actually tell trends for what people are submitting and for people who are over-redeeming or who are going through fraudulent behaviour.”
Godfrey also says that so far, there have been no reported cases of fraud associated with Checkout 51.
Couponer Carmella Di Nardo says she’s still not sure that will be enough to keep the app around. “Overuse of the app and some abuse of it will make it end. It’s too good to be true right now,” she says.
Instead, she’ll continue to fill up her binder full of coupons as a way of cashing in on products.