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Coupons left on shelves are hazard

Dear Abby: I'm a 43-year-old veteran of the grocery industry. I am also an associate of one of the premier supermarkets in the country, and I disagree with your response to "Chicago Clipper" (Feb. 18)!

Coupons are a necessary evil and are graciously accepted, but they create an abundance of work for retailers. It takes countless hours of sorting, logging, filling out forms, mailing and receiving to be reimbursed for the face value of the coupon. This is hardly a benefit to the grocer.

The abuse and fraud associated with coupons adds up into millions of dollars. When a customer leaves one on a shelf for the next shopper, it usually ends up on the floor. When they are placed on an item in the dairy or meat case, they inevitably fall to the bottom and clog the drains.

By leaving an unwanted coupon on a store shelf for the next customer, Chicago Clipper is NOT "paying it forward." She's adding to the problem. So, please, folks, keep your coupons in your purse or coupon book until the checkout line.

-- Florida Butcher

Dear Florida Butcher: Thank you for pointing out to my readers and me some of the problems coupons may create. Your sentiments were repeated by many retailers. However, other shoppers and retailers offered suggestions that may help to eliminate the problem, including: coupon exchanges, donating them to the military, posting them on Craigslist or Facebook, etc. Read on:

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Dear Abby: I leave coupons for others, but I often go one step further. If I see someone with the item in his or her cart, I'll offer the coupon directly to that person. I have met pleasant people who are happy to get a break at the cash register.

-- Marie in Maine

Dear Abby: I am a coupon user. I am also a grocery store employee. I constantly have to pick up coupons left by customers.

Why not hand the extra coupons to your checker and ask that they be offered to the next customer?

-- Store Manager in Montana