New Jersey could become the first state in the nation to require retailers to provide paper coupons.
A bill to be introduced in the state legislature on Thursday would require retailers to offer paper coupons of the same value as digital coupons, NJ Advance Media learned.
“When companies offer consumer discounts, they shouldn’t discriminate against people who may not have access to smartphones, computers, or the internet,” said the chairman of the Diet’s Consumer Affairs Committee, who wrote the bill. . “These are the people who need discounts the most.
Consumer advocates say the bill would be the first of its kind in the country.
Ahead of Thanksgiving, the advocacy group sent letters to the presidents of 12 major supermarket chains, urging millions of consumers who don’t have internet access or smartphones or miss out on sales because they’re not tech-savvy. Prompted to provide an alternative. – Knowledgeable enough to take advantage of the offer.
Groups such as Consumer Reports, Consumer Action, Consumer World and PIRG called the amount non-digital shoppers are overpaying “amazing.” They cited a steak package that was $9 more expensive without digital coupons, and a 15-pound turkey that was $15 more expensive for those who couldn’t use digital coupons.
They also cited ice cream that costs twice as much without digital-only coupons and cartons of eggs that cost 75% more.
Consumer World’s Edgar Dworsky, who signed the letter to supermarkets, said: “We have asked stores to voluntarily stop charging higher prices to elderly and low-income people who unplugged, but very few have done so.”
Dworsky encourages consumers to write letters to CEOs of major supermarket chains to pressure them to implement alternatives to digital-only transactions.
Stop & Shop, Acme and Safeway also received letters.
Albertsons, the parent company of Acme and Safeway, said it is “extensively using” the rewards program when asked about the bill.
“We primarily offer this price through our website or the U app banner store on smartphones, but many of our stores offer discounts to individuals who may not have digital access. You can also present the weekly flyers to the cashier for the application at the time of registration.” “We will continue to provide support to ensure users of our rewards program in our store have the best possible experience and price.”
Stop & Shop did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the bill.
ShopRite, which is owned by Wakefern, which has more than 175 stores in New Jersey, has not received the letter because at least some of its stores offer coupon kiosks that allow digital coupons to be added to in-store accounts, Dworsky said. .
Nearly 40% of people over the age of 65 don’t own a smartphone, 25% don’t use the internet, and 43% of households with incomes under $30,000 don’t have broadband internet access, according to Pew Research. citing data from
The group has offered stores several options to ensure the sale is available to all consumers. For example, having paper coupons next to products on digital sale, or allowing cashiers to charge digital prices upon consumer request.
“Recognizing that all customers are entitled to equal access to your offer is simply good business,” they said.
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Contact Karin Price Mueller at: KPriceMueller@NJAadvanceMedia.comFollow @KPMueller on Twitter.