During the holiday season, many stores offer coupons to save an extra 10 or 20 percent.
But beware. As one woman learned, many of those coupons exclude so many items, they can be almost worthless.
Where is the discount?
Jane Gerhart loves online shopping. So when a special offer from Dick's Sporting Goods popped up on her smart phone, she snapped up a Garmin GPS watch, anticipating $25 off.
"I made the purchase online and the discount didn't appear. No $25 discount anywhere," said Gerhart.
The watch rang up at full price.
It's a common complaint when it comes to the sporting goods giant. Dick's frequently offers coupons for a percentage off your purchase, but often excludes major name brands.
When Gerhart revisited the website to check the fine print, she was stunned at what she found.
"If you click on the exclusions link," she said, "it opens up a list of 111 companies that their products are excluded. And there we found the Garmin watch, the Garmin company, along with Nike, Columbia, North Face, Patagonia, Titlest, Wilson, and almost anything else you'd want to buy."
A Dick's manager explained that manufacturers - not the store - make the rules, and typically do not allow markdowns on current season merchandise.
Dick's, of course, is not alone. Macy's is also well known for coupons that exclude designer and top name brands.
Gerhart says she will just be more skeptical in the future.
"I'm going to ignore them all," she said. "I don't believe any of them!"
One possible solution
If you find a coupon with dozens of exclusions, contact the store or search online and find out when they may be having a" friends and family" sale.
Manufacturers often allow them to give discounts on even the biggest name brands during what is considered a private sale. That way you don't waste your money.