WO2002004226A1 - Coupons with sections indicating alternatives - Google Patents

Coupons with sections indicating alternatives Download PDF

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Publication number
WO2002004226A1
WO2002004226A1 PCT/US2001/017990 US0117990W WO0204226A1 WO 2002004226 A1 WO2002004226 A1 WO 2002004226A1 US 0117990 W US0117990 W US 0117990W WO 0204226 A1 WO0204226 A1 WO 0204226A1
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WO
WIPO (PCT)
Prior art keywords
payment
coupons
coupon
due
mechanism
Prior art date
Application number
PCT/US2001/017990
Other languages
French (fr)
Inventor
Andrew Kahr
Original Assignee
Paymap, Inc.
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date
Priority to US61379000A priority Critical
Priority to US09/613,790 priority
Application filed by Paymap, Inc. filed Critical Paymap, Inc.
Publication of WO2002004226A1 publication Critical patent/WO2002004226A1/en

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Classifications

    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B42BOOKBINDING; ALBUMS; FILES; SPECIAL PRINTED MATTER
    • B42DBOOKS; BOOK COVERS; LOOSE LEAVES; PRINTED MATTER CHARACTERISED BY IDENTIFICATION OR SECURITY FEATURES; PRINTED MATTER OF SPECIAL FORMAT OR STYLE NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR; DEVICES FOR USE THEREWITH AND NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR; MOVABLE-STRIP WRITING OR READING APPARATUS
    • B42D15/00Printed matter of special format or style not otherwise provided for

Abstract

An improvement relating to the use of coupons offers alternative terms for a transaction or series of transactions. While the invention comprehends such transactions as payment submission, offer acceptance, or promotion response, the preferred embodiment of the invention concerns a payment coupon, which is any paper or similar object furnished to a person from whom a payment is or will be due. The invention comprises the provision of two or more alternative payment coupons, of which the payer is to select and use just one to accompany his payment. At least two alternative payment coupons are provided, each one for a differing amount to be paid. For example, one coupon is provided for the amount regularly due, with no change in purchases or services. A second coupon is provided for a smaller amount to be paid, and may also serve to enroll the payer in a service for which payments are due later, or after an initial trial period. Alternatively, this second coupon may serve as an order for a product, for which payment is due later, or conditionally. In yet another embodiment of the invention, a coupon provides for a larger amount to be paid, for example to effectuate a purchase of goods or services, together with the rendering of the payment regularly due.

Description

COUPONS ITH SECTIONS INDICATING ALTERNATIVES

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

TECHNICAL FIELD

The invention relates to a method and apparatus for extending any of various offers, requesting payment of various obligations on any one of several optional payment terms, and providing multiple alternative promotions. More particularly, the invention relates to the use two or more coupons to provide multiple alternative terms for such offers, satisfaction of financial obligations, and promotions.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PRIOR ART

The use of a payment coupon which accompanies an invoice is well known. Such coupons are commonly of the type that are printed on a form along with the invoice. The coupon is typically separated from the invoice along a perforated line and returned to the creditor with payment. This provides a convenient way for a consumer to pay a bill.

Coupons are also used for promotional activities, such as supermarket coupons that are printed in newspapers and magazines.

Examples of such coupons known in the art include:

E. Tuttleman, Printing Form, U.S. Patent No. 5,769,403 (23 June 1998), which discloses a payment coupon that is prepared by stacking a plurality of individual sheets of paper atop one another and then slitting or cutting the stacked array into a plurality of segments. Each individual sheet has a plurality of spaced apart perforation lines such that there is provided a first area, a second area, a third area, a fourth area and a fifth area. The first area defines a first binding area; the second area defines a payment portion; a portion of the third area defines a mailing label and the other portion of the third area defines a second binding area; the fourth area defines a payment portion; and the fifth area defines a mailing label area. Each sheet is cut into at least four segments, and preferably, eight segments. When the segments are stacked and bound along their respective edges, they provide payment coupon books whereby each coupon has its own mailing label associated therewith which can be separated from the sheet along a perforation line. In Tuttleman the different areas each perform some different function, e.g. payment or mailing portions for an installment type loan, where regular payments are to be made, and where preprinted payment coupons are provided in a booklet.

L. Krost, Multiple Value Coupon System, U.S. Patent No. 4,817,990 (4 April 1989) discloses a multiple retail coupon and a means for using it to identify and persuade a user of a competitive product to convert to a sponsoring manufacturer's product. In particular, an upper sheet is adhered to a lower sheet, the upper sheet having a center section and division lines defining at least one pair of rectangular sections. End sections of each of the rectangular sections correspond to the center section. Cooperating printed matter is provided on an inner face of the lower sheet so that a consumer selecting one of the rectangles will ascertain a value of the sponsor's product which is redeemable. A consumer of a competitor's product will receive a higher value than a consumer of a sponsor's product to persuade the competitive consumer to convert to the desired product. Thus, Krost provides a coupon that is redeemable for greater value for a sponsor's product than for a competitor's product.

J. DeLapa, C. Howe, Focused Coupon System, U.S. Patent No. 5,822,735 (13 October 1998) and J. DeLapa, C. Howe, Focused Coupon system, U.S. Patent No. 5,353,218 (4 October 1994) disclose a merchandising system for generating and redeeming product discount coupons that prints coupons for a selected consumer from a group of consumers by selecting particular coupons from a group of coupons to provide to the selected consumer and printing the coupons. Both the consumer and coupon identifications are encoded on the coupon in machine-readable form whereby the machine- readable code may be read at a point-of-sale terminal using a code reading apparatus. The portion of the read code corresponding to the consumer identification is replaced with a generic code to provide a substitute code. The substitute code is applied to a look-up table in order to determine coupon parameters related to the coupon identification. The entire machine-readable code may also be captured and uploaded to a central database for determining the coupon identification and consumer identification in order to update the database of consumers and coupons. In this manner, coupons redeemed by a consumer may be used in selecting future coupons for that consumer. The system may provide for coupon redemption by providing sufficient information to a manufacturer in order to generate a rebate to the retailer. Thus, DeLapa et al provide a coupon identification system.

J. Peach, P. Korba, K. Rapp, Process and Apparatus for Administering Promotional Mailings, U.S. Patent No. 5,035,955 (1 October 1991 ) disclose a process for merging promotional information, based on multiple requests and relating to different promotions, into a single stream for the printing and mailing of coupons, checks or other promotional items. The requests relating to a particular promotion are matched with an associated promotion control record, with one or more promotions similarly associated with an account control record in the case of preparing checks. Prior to printing, individual data entries for various promotions are combined, and sorted in a sequence predetermined for qualification for various postal rate classifications, thus to minimize the cumulative cost of mailing the entries. Pertinent information associated with each entry is printed on sheets of card stock, each sheet separable into four individual segments to provide four checks or coupons. Prior to printing, the entries are re-sequenced such that eventual severing of the card stock creates stacks or bundles of mailing items arranged in the desired mailing sequence. Thus, Peach et al disclose a coupon processing system.

As can be seen from the above examples, much thought have been given to the use, processing, and manufacture of coupons. However, while the art teaches various techniques that generate and use coupons in merchandizing, financial, and promotional activities, there is no cohesive and convenient way in which a consumer may be presented with alternatives in a single document. For example, it may be desirable to provide a consumer with options in a payment plan, such as the opportunity to repay a loan according to any selected one of various loan amortizations. Unfortunately, there is currently no simple way with which these options may be provided to a consumer such that the consumer may respond in a straightforward, effortless, and immediate fashion. Further, there is no way that a consumer may provide a response without the possibility of making an error in the process of responding. This is because a consumer is typically offered the opportunity to respond by marking a choice on a form or by entering information into fields in a form. This task is highly confusing when a consumer receives a mail piece that includes a tear off coupon with which the consumer has become accustomed to using in responding to such mail piece, e.g. where a consumer receives a monthly loan statement and payment coupon.

It would be desirable to offer various options to a consumer without requiring the consumer to mark or otherwise indicate such selection apart from the act of tendering payment or accepting the terms of an offer or promotion in a manner in which the consumer currently tenders payment or accepts such terms.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The preferred embodiment of the invention concerns an improvement that relates to the use of coupons in offering alternative terms for a transaction or series of transactions. While the invention comprehends such transactions as payment submission, offer acceptance, or promotion response, the discussion herein describes a payment coupon.

The subject invention comprises the provision of two or more alternative payment coupons, of which the payer is to select and use just one to accompany his payment. At least two alternative payment coupons are provided, each one for a differing amount to be paid. For example, one coupon is provided for the amount regularly due, with no change in purchases or services. A second coupon is provided for a smaller amount to be paid, and may also serve to enroll the payer in a service for which payments are due later, or after an initial trial period. Alternatively, this second coupon may serve as an order for a product, for which payment is due later, or conditionally. In yet another embodiment of the invention, a coupon provides for a larger amount to be paid, for example to effectuate a purchase of goods or services, together with the rendering of the payment regularly due.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS Fig. 1 is sheet comprising an offer letter according to the invention;

Fig. 2 is a sheet comprising statement and multiple payment coupons according to the invention; and

Fig. 3 is a block schematic diagram of a system for implementing a multiple alternative coupon scheme according to the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The preferred embodiment of the invention concerns an improvement that relates to the use of coupons in offering alternative terms for a transaction or series of transactions. While the invention comprehends such transactions as payment submission, offer acceptance, or promotion response, the discussion herein describes a payment coupon.

For purposes of the preferred embodiment of the invention, a payment coupon is any paper or similar object furnished to a person from whom a payment is or will be due. A payment coupon shows the amount due and is intended to be sent by the person together with the payment to effectuate payment. The payment may be by check or other monetary instrument, or by credit or other card or account authorization. Payment coupons may be sent attached to or accompanying statements or bills, or they may be bound into coupon books in the case of multiple payments for which the amounts are known in advance.

As discussed above in connection with the prior art, only one payment coupon is provided corresponding to any particular payment. The subject invention, however, entails the provision of two or more alternative payment coupons, of which the payer is to select and use just one to accompany his payment. At least two alternative payment coupons are provided, each one for a differing amount to be paid. For example, one coupon is provided for the amount regularly due, with no change in purchases or services. A second coupon is provided for a smaller amount to be paid, and may also serve to enroll the payer in a service for which payments are due later, or after an initial trial period. Alternatively, this second coupon may serve as an order for a product, for which payment is due later, or conditionally. In yet another embodiment of the invention, a coupon provides for a larger amount to be paid, for example to effectuate a purchase of goods or services, together with the rendering of the payment regularly due.

One preferred embodiment of the invention is illustrated in Figs. 1 and 2. Fig. 1 is sheet comprising an offer letter according to the invention; and Fig. 2 is a sheet comprising statement and multiple payment coupons according to the invention. For purposes of illustrating the preferred embodiment of the invention, Figs. 1 and 2 collectively comprise the Hibemia Real Estate Loan Statement which is mailed to a consumer in connection with the consumer's mortgage.

In Fig. 1 , the consumer's address 12 is printed onto a form letter that includes a notice that is displayed prominently indicating that the statement includes a "Special Offer" 10. The form letter is also personalized to include information specific to the consumer, e.g. loan information 14. Finally, one or more sections of the form letter 16/18 describe the special offer to the consumer. In this example, the offer is a mortgage equity acceleration program that is offered by the consumer's loan company, i.e. Hibemia.

Fig. 2 shows the actual statement 20 and alternative payment coupons 22, 24 that accompany the form letter shown in Fig. 1. In Fig. 2, there are two payment coupons, at the top of each of which is a perforation 21 , 23. The bottom payment coupon, which is the easier one to detach because to do so requires tearing at only one perforation, calls for a payment amount 26 equal to the payment regularly due but reduced by a $50 bonus 30, 31. Use of this coupon causes the consumer to "enroll in Equity Accelerator." Equity Accelerator is an additional service not yet being bought by this consumer, and this service has a free trial period.

In this particular practice of the invention, the back of the statement or an introductory letter (see Fig. 1) contains marketing and explanatory information about Equity Accelerator, and the back of the Payment Coupon providing for the $50 bonus gives the terms of the consumer's authorization for Equity Accelerator, which terms are accepted by the consumer's signature on the coupon 28. If the consumer does not use the Equity Accelerator coupon 24, then he uses the less accessible coupon 22, which is located directly above the Equity Accelerator Coupon and which is identified as a regular mortgage payment coupon 29. This coupon requires the consumer to send his regular payment amount 25, which is $50 greater than the amount payable if he chooses the bottom, Equity Accelerator coupon. A customer signature 27, 28 is requested on each of the alternative coupons.

The invention comprises appropriate processes, that are implemented in the preferred embodiment of the invention by software, to recognize and properly credit payments whether or not accompanied by coupons, to initiate purchase or enrollment as authorized by use of an alternative coupon or payment amount, and to correctly resolve exception situations.

Fig. 3 is a block schematic diagram of a system for implementing a multiple alternative coupon scheme according to the invention. When a payment 35 is received, a first module 36 determines if a coupon is submitted with the payment. If not, the payment is otherwise identified and forwarded to a payment processing module 39. If the payment is accompanied by a coupon, then a second module 37 determines if the coupon is a standard payment coupon or a special offer payment coupon (for example, by reading a bar code on the coupon). If the payment is accompanied by a standard coupon, then the payment is forwarded to the payment processing module 39. If the payment is accompanied by a special offer coupon, then an enrollment request is forwarded to an enrollment module 38 (for example, to enroll the consumer in the Equity Accelerator program), and the payment is then forwarded to the payment processing module 39. Should an error or special condition occur, an exception handler 40 is invoked to track and resolve the error or special condition.

Although the invention is described herein with reference to the preferred embodiment, one skilled in the art will readily appreciate that other applications may be substituted for those set forth herein without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention. For example, a key aspect of the invention is the ability to offer alternatives to a consumer that provide different terms under which a same transaction can be executed. This is significant in that various options may be selected and preferences may be added or modified within an established transaction, such as during the repayment of a loan. The use of multiple coupons for this purpose significantly reduces the burden placed on a consumer in completing a selection process, while strategic placement of a preferred response biases the consumer to a preferred option. It is expected that these aspects of the invention will find many applications in addition to the Equity Accelerator example provided herein. Accordingly, the invention should only be limited by the Claims included below.

Claims

1. A method for offering alternative terms for a transaction or series of transactions, comprising the steps of: sending a transaction request to a recipient; and providing at least two coupons within said transaction request that convey alternative terms for said transaction.
2. The method of Claim 1 , further comprising the step of: providing said at least two coupons in relation, one to the other, where a first coupon is more readily accessed than one or more other coupons; wherein preferred transaction terms appear on said first coupon.
3. The method of Claim 1 , wherein said at least two coupons are printed on a common sheet and separable therefrom by perforations.
4. The method of Claim 3, further comprising the steps of: providing a single perforated edge in a first coupon that includes preferred transaction terms; and providing two or more perforated edges in one or more other coupons.
5. The method of Claim 1 , wherein said transaction comprises any of payment submission, offer acceptance, or promotion response.
6. The method of Claim 1 , wherein said coupon comprises a paper or similar object furnished to a person from whom a response is requested.
7. The method of Claim 1 , wherein said two or more coupons each comprise a payment coupon which shows an amount due and is intended to be sent by a person together with a payment to effectuate payment.
8. The method of Claim 7, wherein one of said two or more payment coupons, is used by a payer to select and accompany said payment.
9. The method of Claim 8, wherein one coupon is provided for the amount regularly due, with no change in purchases or services; and wherein one or more additional coupons are provided for an alternative amount to be paid.
10. The method of Claim 9, wherein said one or more additional coupons serve to enroll said payer in a service for which payments are due later, or after an initial trial period.
11. The method of Claim 9, wherein said one or more additional coupons serve as an order for a product, for which payment is due later, or conditionally.
12. The method of Claim 9, wherein said one or more additional coupons provide for a larger amount to be paid to effectuate a purchase of goods or services, together with the rendering of a payment regularly due.
3. A mechanism for offering alternative terms for a transaction or series of transactions, comprising: a printed transaction request that is sent to a recipient; and at least two coupons within said transaction request that convey alternative terms for said transaction.
14. The mechanism of Claim 13, wherein said at least two coupons are provided in relation, one to the other, where a first coupon is more readily accessed than one or more other coupons; and wherein preferred transaction terms appear on said first coupon.
15. The mechanism of Claim 13, wherein said at least two coupons are printed on a common sheet and separable therefrom by perforations.
16. The mechanism of Claim 15, further comprising: a single perforated edge in a first coupon that includes preferred transaction terms; and two or more perforated edges in one or more other coupons.
17. The mechanism of Claim 13, wherein said transaction comprises any of payment submission, offer acceptance, or promotion response. 18 The mechanism of Claim 13, wherein said coupon comprises a paper or similar object furnished to a person from whom a response is requested.
19. The mechanism of Claim 13, wherein said two or more coupons each comprise a payment coupon which shows an amount due and is intended to be sent by a person together with a payment to effectuate payment.
20. The mechanism of Claim 19, wherein one of said- two or more payment coupons, is used by a payer to select and accompany said payment.
21. The mechanism of Claim 20, wherein one coupon is provided for the amount regularly due, with no change in purchases or services; and wherein one or more additional coupons are provided for an alternative amount to be paid.
22. The mechanism of Claim 21 , wherein said one or more additional coupons serve to enroll said payer in a service for which -payments are due later, or after an initial trial period.
23. The mechanism of Claim 21 , wherein said one or more additional coupons serve as an order for a product, for which payment is due later, or conditionally.
24. The mechanism of Claim 21 , wherein said one or more additional coupons provide for a larger amount to be paid to effectuate a purchase of goods or services, together with the rendering of a payment regularly due.
PCT/US2001/017990 2000-07-11 2001-05-31 Coupons with sections indicating alternatives WO2002004226A1 (en)

Priority Applications (2)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
US61379000A true 2000-07-11 2000-07-11
US09/613,790 2000-07-11

Applications Claiming Priority (1)

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AU7518301A AU7518301A (en) 2000-07-11 2001-05-31 Coupons with sections indicating alternatives

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Citations (4)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US1468592A (en) * 1919-05-03 1923-09-18 Ethel N Comfort Coupon ticket
US4817990A (en) * 1987-09-14 1989-04-04 Lee Krost Associates Inc. Multiple value coupon system
US5353218A (en) * 1992-09-17 1994-10-04 Ad Response Micromarketing Corporation Focused coupon system
US5769403A (en) * 1995-09-21 1998-06-23 Tuttleman; Eric S. Printing form

Patent Citations (5)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US1468592A (en) * 1919-05-03 1923-09-18 Ethel N Comfort Coupon ticket
US4817990A (en) * 1987-09-14 1989-04-04 Lee Krost Associates Inc. Multiple value coupon system
US5353218A (en) * 1992-09-17 1994-10-04 Ad Response Micromarketing Corporation Focused coupon system
US5822735A (en) * 1992-09-17 1998-10-13 Ad Response Micromarketing Corporation Focused coupon system
US5769403A (en) * 1995-09-21 1998-06-23 Tuttleman; Eric S. Printing form

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