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Chicago Coupons Book

Rachel Singer Gordon is a blogger for the popular Web site, mashupmom.com. She's led an insurrection of readers who are upset they aren't getting the coupon inserts in their Sunday Tribune. (Chris Salata/For the Chicago Tribune)

When Steve Fischer opened his home-delivered Sunday Chicago Tribune on Jan. 2, he was more than a little excited.

It wasn't the front-page story headlined "Are food dyes worth the risk?" that made Fischer so happy, or the Arts and Entertainment section, which previewed theater, books and rock concerts.

For Fischer, the real prize was the plastic bag stuffed deep inside the paper, an insert that contained no less than five coupon books.

Fischer felt as if he had hit the jackpot.

"That weekend, it happened to be phenomenal, " said Fischer, who lives in the North Center neighborhood and considers himself a casual coupon clipper. "I went out to buy 10 more papers because there were just some phenomenal coupons in there."

But when he returned home with the papers, none, he said, had any coupons.

To say Fischer was upset would be a bit of an understatement.

"You have to make your ends meet however you can, and you go and buy the Tribune and you're not getting what you paid for, " he said.

Upset, he e-mailed the newspaper's customer service department to ask why the coupons weren't included in the papers and where he could buy additional papers with coupons in the future.

That started a weeks-long e-mail string that left Fischer both upset and confused.

"Nobody can tell me anything, " he said. "All I want to be able to do is buy Tribunes in the city on Sunday with extra coupon inserts, and nobody at the Tribune can tell me anything, and that's kind of sad."

Feeling he was getting the runaround, Fischer e-mailed one more Tribune employee on Monday — yours truly.

He was not the only one.

For months, coupon and shopping blogger Rachel Singer Gordon of Lombard had been receiving complaints about missing coupon inserts in Sunday Tribunes.

"I know it sounds strange for people to be buying multiple papers just for the coupons, but it's pretty common, " Gordon said. "The Sunday Tribune sells at Dollar Tree for $1 … so I always tell people in my coupon class to look at it as an investment."

Of course, that only works if the coupons are actually in the paper.

Just hours after Fischer sent his e-mail on Monday, Gordon posted a story on her website, mashupmom.com, encouraging readers to contact What's Your Problem? if their Sunday Tribune was missing coupon inserts.

A dozen readers heeded Gordon's call and e-mailed yourproblem@tribune.com with complaints.

Make no mistake, the Problem Solver loves a good consumer battle, even when the fight is within Tribune Tower.

So on Tuesday, the Problem Solver forwarded all the e-mails to newspaper spokeswoman Kate Mersman, who promised to look into the issue.

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