This is starting to sound too familiar: about 10 years ago, Vlassis the distributer of Red Plum (and as of more recently, Proctor & Gamble) began to cut down their circulation of FSI’s (free standing inserts) by removing them from the Sunday Newspapers and distributing them through the mail instead. The idea was to boost distribution Eventually, they changed their tune and most saw the happy return of the Red Plum in their weekly paper.
But now, this next change means business and it’s for an entirely different reason. Plainly stated, they are serious about stopping the theft and reselling of their inserts!
Atlanta was the first city to see this cut. This past weekend saw 3 Red Plum inserts but folks from Atlanta were astounded to find none in their papers. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution confirmed they are no longer receiving and distributing the P&G and Red Plum inserts!
The same thing happened to the Detroit and Phoenix markets in May of 2017. Los Angeles has not seen the P&G for at least a year, and Tampa has gotten by without Red Plum coupons for several years now. All areas have the same thing in common: they have the highest rate of these coupon inserts disappearing out of the newspaper plant and being turned up for sale online via Instagram, Facebook groups and coupon clipping services. Some will boast having thousands of inserts, even several weeks before they are to hit the papers. How exactly do they obtain them? Most are not about to share their secret.
Coupons in the News spoke to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution recently. “The stated reason given by Valassis was that they were removing their FSIs from the major daily newspapers due to a high incidence of inserts being stolen and resold online,” Gabrielle Austin, Director of Major Retail, Centralized Accounts for AJC owner Cox Media Group, told Coupons in the News. “Valassis claimed to have tracked the origin of inserts that are being made available for sale, and have determined that they are coming from certain cities, so they’ve chosen to no longer make them available via the major newspapers in those cities.”
Sometimes it’s brazen theft, like the case that occurred in Rhode Island last month where a POLICE OFFICER was caught walking into a newspaper distribution facility and walking out with stacks of inserts which his wife then sold on Instagram.
With now many major cities losing 2/3’rd of the available coupon inserts in distribution, it’s not hard to imagine many couponers are very upset about this change. It’s certainly understandable, but you cannot really fault Vlassis with their decision. It may be harsh, but they have certainly had enough with folks making a profit off their coupons which were intended to be distributed free of charge. What they say is certainly true in this case, a few can ruin it for many.