837: Coupon Code

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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 in the proper form for a discount on one of their products. Coupon codes are usually a single, simple word. In this comic, Cueball gets the discount by entering a long and detailed blackmail message in the normally short coupon code form, implying that blackmail is a better "coupon" than an actual one. This works so well that Cueball is discounted the full price of the product he's buying. The humor comes from the fact that Cueball's blackmail attempt works as if the online seller was an actual person in real-life, and not an automated computer.

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.


[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
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-

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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)

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)