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coupon train

coupon train
 n.— «“A coupon train is a great way for a bunch of different people to share coupons from all different parts of the country.”…It works when a person posts a “train” on a coupon website.…That person is known as the “conductor.” Then others called “riders” sign up. When the “train” has enough passengers it “leaves the station.” That means a package of coupons is mailed from the conductor to the first rider.» —“All Aboard On The Coupon Express” by Erika von Tiehl WFOR-TV (CBS4) (Doral, Florida) Oct. 25, 2007. (source: Double-Tongued Dictionary)

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  • As one of the people in the story featured above, let me share a little more with you about coupon trains.

    A coupon train originates with a member of a grocery coupon forum like http://www.hotcouponworld.com or http://www.organicgrocerydeals.com has an idea to create a new train and spread coupons across the country by connecting riders (participants) at different stations (cities). Usually, the train has a theme. One I am partipating on right now has a theme about the Oregon Trail, and features a rider from every state of the Lewis & Clark expidition.

    The conductor is responsible for organizing everyone’s names and addresses, and then fills an envelope with coupons. There are different kinds of train requirements as set by the conductor. It could be that no pet or baby food coupons are allowed. It could also be that there is a certain amount of coupons needed to ride the train (say 100, or enough that no more than 1 stamp would cover postage).

    But then there are more intense trains – super trains – with THOUSANDS of coupons that come in a full priority mail box, and can cost as much as $9 to ship.

    No matter what size train you’re on, the object is then to move the train forward as quickly as possible because coupons do expire.

    When the train hits the station, the rider takes out what he or she might be able to use, pull out and recycle the expired coupons, and refill the train the rest of the way from their own stash of coupons.

    A good conductor will also have riders take note of wishlists. A wishlist is the list of desired coupons that are going to the next person in line. It personalizes the train even more when a rider gets coupons she/he was looking for.

    An unsuccessful train is one that derails somewhere along the way when a rider hasn’t fulfilled their end of the bargain. It ruins it for everyone else who committed to be on the train. At Hotcouponworld, it’s more rare than the norm because a board like ours operates with a high degree of trust and a feedback system similar to those at Ebay or other auction sites.

    A successful train is when the train makes it all the way back to the conductor and has entirely new coupons in it. A repeater is where the group opts to go for another ride together (or add/drop a few new stations and riders) but has the same theme and takes off again from the same point of origin.

    The purpose of a train is to obtain multiple coupons and pass on coupons you might not be able to use. If a rider ahead of you can use high value baby coupons and you have no children, passing them along helps the next person on the route save money. And really coupon trains are all about connecting people, having fun, and saving as much money at the store as humanely possible.

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