View Full Version : Coupon with limited number of printing aloud

07-12-2013, 02:45 PM
I have a client looking to set up a coupon on a Webpage that allows visitors to be able to only print the coupon once.
I am looking for the best option on how to set this up.

Example: Person visits Website. Likes the coupon they see. Clicks Print, or File Print. Finds out they can only print it once. Once printed, the person can no longer print it again.

Any example of code that will work or best options would be greatly appreciated!
Thank you!

07-12-2013, 06:21 PM
I've never heard of such a thing. And I don't think it can be done. A web coupon is meant to be grabbed as many times as a person wants to. Put an expiration date on it. Make them use it within a week. Put other limitations on it - One per customer, or one per group. "may not be combined", those sorts of things.

If the coupon cannot be restricted adequately via conditions on its use, it simply shouldn't be offered in the first place. You cannot restrict its printing.

What exactly is this coupon for? If we knew that we might be better able to think of limitations that would prevent the sort of abuse you seem to be afraid of.

07-13-2013, 06:36 AM
I think this has been answered thoroughly, but I thought I'd add something to clarify a bit. What happens when you purchase tickets (for flights, buses, concerts, sporting events, whatever) online? You can print it multiple times. That has never been a question, a problem, or anything else. That's just how it works. So what do you do about it?
If security/certainty matters (airports, for example), you check a photo ID (or any other kind of identifying information) when the ticket is used.
If security/certainty doesn't really matter (a sporting event, for example) [and additionally when it does], you scan the ticket to be sure it is only used once.

The method of printing is never a security method. Checking a second form of identification (beyond the ticket/whatever) is an option. But the simplest answer is to make each coupon/ticket/whatever unique. Have a code, check that code when it is used, and that's all.

If that's too much trouble (which it might be), then this is not a practical project. You can certainly restrict someone to only using one coupon at a time. They might come back in the next day, and you might not recognize them. Ok. That's life. I'm sure that's what happens for all grocery stores, for example. But most people are reasonable about it. Or the stores give a limited window to buy the items, or they might even track them with their frequent shopper cards (or whatever they're called). Regardless, the piece of paper is never the solution.

And as Beverley pointed out, they can just photocopy this.

There's no question this is an unsolvable problem (and possibly one that should not be solved).

And if you really need to solve this, then there is an answer: send this via mail (the real-life "snail mail" sort) and include some kind of watermark/seal that cannot be duplicated on a copy machine. Make it hard enough to duplicate that creating forgeries would not be worth the time. If it's a 20 cent coupon, who cares? If it's a $500 coupon, then you might want to consider a serious watermark or some kind of special paper and so forth. (But in that case, really, you'd just assign an individualized number anyway.)

07-15-2013, 03:11 PM
There has been much discussion with regard to this question so I will summarise the key points, and thin-out the replies, in an effort to make the responses easier to digest.

The general consesus is that you cannot restrict the print operation with a web-based script, because it is a client-side function.

We believe that you need to consider other methods to track the recipient/user at the end stage - when the coupon is redeemed against an actual purchase - and/or impose additional conditions of use.

Ideas for tracking or limiting the coupon on redemption and/or via conditions of use include;

- unique coupon IDs (the same ticket cannot be used more than once - checked off manually against a database)
- limited validity against an expiry date (coupons are only valid for 1 week from the date of issue)
- limited validity against a received quantity ("first come, first served", or, valid for the first 1000 customers)
- one per household / email address / registered account (checked against suitable ID, such as a passport, utility bill, or drivers license)
- non-combinable coupons (only one coupon per purchase)

Depending on the value of the coupon, a further suggestion was made to distrubute coupons via regular postal mail, possibly on special watermarked paper, and again with a unique serial number.

At the end of the day, actually limiting the print function is unfeasible, so we urge you to discuss other possibilities with your client.

Thanks to the contributions of; Beverleyh, jscheuer1, traq, djr33, letom, ajfmrf and clueful