Downloadable coupons come with sneaky extras

An article has surfaced on SlickDeals forums that describes spyware like practices. It was quite an eye opener for me to learn to what extends goes to limit/track the coupons you print using their Coupon Printer. In addition there is some interesting information about possible privacy issues with the software. Here are some:

  1. Installing with deceptive filenames and registry entries that hinder users’ efforts to fully remove Coupons’ software.
  2. Failing to remove all components upon a user’s specific request.
  3. Assigning each user an ID number, and placing this ID onto each printed coupon, without any meaningful disclosure.
  4. Allowing third-party web sites to retrieve users’ ID numbers, in violation of’s privacy policy.
  5. Allowing any person to check whether a given user has printed a given coupon, in violation of’s privacy policy.

As I understand, this whole story is a result of a’s litigation against John Stottlemire, a guy who reverse engineered’s Coupon Printer and published online instructions on how to completely remove the code off of your computer. Doing so would allow you to reinstall the software unlimited number of times and hence print unlimited copies of coupons, something that would ruin business model.

The company wants Stottlemire to turn over the names of people he knows downloaded his software, and is seeking damages from the coder that could amount to hundreds of thousands — or even millions — of dollars. And it’s not offering him 10 percent off.


  • Harvard Business School assistant professor Ben Edelman takes a closer look at
  • coverage: here and here
  • John Stottlemire’s side of the story: link

See also:

3 Responses to “Downloadable coupons come with sneaky extras”

  1. 1 Alex Oct 1st, 2007 at 9:05 am

    Hmm… I sort of guessed that “coupon printer” is not just printing coupons awhile ago. I suppose you just have to come to terms that you “pay” for $ or % off you are getting with your personal info. I don’t see big problem really, there are different sorts of personal information and spyware is not tracking, at least in my knowledge, the sensetive part. But then again, I don’t see big problem with goverment listening to my phone conversation if it helps to save lives. But that’s another can of worms I’d better keep closed.;)

  2. 2 Gerald Buckley Oct 2nd, 2007 at 3:20 pm

    I’ve talked with the guys at before and seems to me they’re holding Stottlemire to the T’s & C’s of their SLA.

    As for the ’spyware’ claim… I dunno… Again, go to the T’s & C’s of the SLA… I’d be surprised if people aren’t acquiescing to some things in order to use the solution.

  3. 3 John Stottlemire Oct 2nd, 2007 at 4:53 pm

    I’m not sure who you spoke with at Coupons, Inc and it doesn’t surprise me that you would post such a negative comment about the case that is on going.

    There were no Terms and Conditions in any software which I downloaded and installed from the website during the time period in question, of course, Coupons, Inc has since fixed that.

    The current EULA they are using are a direct result of Professor Edelman’s report (and dated after he published that report) and the changes made to it (to cover the items of concern pointed out by Professor Edelman) were dictated (or would have been dictated) by TRUSTe. (You can see TRUSTe’s report at

    I am amazed at the number of “experts” who draw conclusions without having all information available to them.

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