837: Coupon Code

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Revision as of 08:10, 29 November 2022 by (talk)
(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)
Jump to: navigation, search
Coupon Code
This also guarantees he won't be one of the ones to get a bobcat.
Title text: This also guarantees he won't be one of the ones to get a bobcat.


Some online stores allow you to enter a coupon code for a discount on one of their products. Coupon codes may be a single, simple word related to the product or seller or a complex sequence of characters.

In this comic, Cueball is buying something online, and he comes across the option to use a coupon code for a discount before checking out. Instead of entering a coupon code, which is often a random sequence of numbers and letters, he chooses to enter a long and detailed blackmail message in the normally short coupon code form, hoping that blackmail could scare the seller and serve the way a coupon code would. This works so well that, instead of just receiving a small discount on the items he bought, Cueball is discounted the full price of the product he's buying.

The humor comes from the fact that Cueball's intimidation works as if the online seller checking the coupon codes was an actual person, and not a computer, which is how coupon codes are checked. In addition, his blackmail message was far too detailed and specific that it could only be used on a certain person and would have virtually no chance of succeeding, unless he knows the seller so well that he even knows about crimes he did secretly.

The title text references 325: A-Minus-Minus; it has become a running gag that bobcats are occasionally sent by mail by Black Hat in various comics. By blackmailing the seller, it is unlikely that the seller will want to antagonize Cueball by sending him something that may lead to his injury. This implies that the seller is Black Hat; while petty crime is usually not the first association, given his impressive track record of malice, it would also not be completely unimaginable. Should this be true, this comic would also mark one of the few instances in which Black Hat does not get the last laugh.


[The panel shows an online shopping form.]
Shipping: $14.08
Total: $80.02
If you have a coupon code, enter it here:
[An empty form.]
Check out
[In a frameless panel, Cueball is looking at his computer.]
[The empty form is now filled in. The rest of the panel shows the same page.]
Form: In 1987, you quietly took something from the house of a dying woman. You thought nobody knew. You were wrong.
[Cueball is sitting at his computer.]
[The form is updated.]
Shipping: $14.08
Total: $80.02
Applied: -$80.02
Final price: $0.00
Thank you
-Your order has been placed-

comment.png add a comment! ⋅ comment.png add a topic (use sparingly)! ⋅ Icons-mini-action refresh blue.gif refresh comments!


If you see in the first frame, the Subtotal is a one-digit number, possibly $3.19. Yet the tax is way higher, and the subtotal is higher still. Thoughts? --Kuilin Li, [email protected], didn't bother registering. 03:00, 9 January 2013 (UTC)

The word next to the (potential) 3.19 isn't 'subtotal', though. The first letter might be a K or R, no idea on the second, the third is probably an E, K or R again, a 'one foot' letter like I or T, a C (I think), another 'one foot', a round bottom like a C or O, then possibly an H. I'm sure it's a real word, knowing how much detail he puts in the simplest things, am pretty sure it's not 'subtotal', but no idea otherwise what it actually is. --StarChaser Tyger (talk) 03:59, 30 January 2013 (UTC)
My guess is that it says "AMERICIUM". —Tanner Swett 22:29, 22 March 2013 (UTC)
Hmm, looks like you could be right. Also, americium is a radioactive element commonly used (in tiny amounts) in smoke detectors. It's probably the only transuranic element you can find in your house. --Aaron of Mpls (talk) 03:46, 29 August 2013 (UTC)
This would be a nod to what if where someone tries to collect all the elements even dangerous ones162.158.62.55!

I don't really get the joke: is it about the idea that stealing something from the house of a dying woman is a rather common thing to have on one's conscience? and Cueball tries to leverage on that everywhere he can? Or would it be that Cueball really knows who is on the other side and what he can pressure them on? - Cos (talk) 14:28, 7 February 2013 (UTC)

The joke is that coupon codes are normally bland, corporate, impersonal, and small (you don't save that much money generally). Also, they're now sometimes shared on sites like RetailMeNot. This is just the opposite. It's a highly profitable way of exploiting a personal secret the buyer knows about the seller. Mattflaschen (talk) 03:48, 9 February 2013 (UTC)
Highly effective way? Only if the buyer was reading the discount code input manually! 12:53, 21 February 2013 (UTC)
It's the romantic image that there is more behind the interface than mere, cold technology. But atleast a sentinent being, if not humans. I don't think there's an actual joke that is supposed to make you laugh here though. -- 22:11, 3 July 2013 (UTC)

It is way too specific to be a "shot in the dark", the extortionist clearly has inside knowledge. 01:01, 18 January 2014 (UTC)

See https://xkcd.com/440/ 18:05, 19 June 2015 (UTC)
Price of the product

I think the price is 3.14, as it is the closest number that matches with the image & perfectly divides into 65.94 (80.02-14.08). --ParadoX (talk) 00:58, 4 April 2014 (UTC)

That sounds like something Randall would do, since 3.14~=π . Z (talk) 20:35, 20 April 2014 (UTC)

If you look closely, you can see a single dark pixel near the other edge. I think it looks more like 3.99 or 3.79. IJustWantToEditStuff (talk) 02:47, 23 November 2022 (UTC)

Wish it worked in the XKCD shop. 06:08, 18 September 2014 (UTC)

I agree with the black mailing the cashier hypothesis, but I initially read it as a Black Hat esque prank where the coupon code was given to the one who committed the crime.

Interestingly enough Cueball's chair is missing its back in the first panel it appears in. - ComradeBlaze 19:26 9 July 2021 (UTC)