TLC may have unleashed a monster with its “Extreme Couponing” television show, documenting people who use coupons to realize massive savings. However, stores are catching on and changing policy to restrict extreme coupon use.
Kate plus coupon fraud
Reality television channel TLC started running a show several years ago called “Extreme Couponing,” which shows people fastidiously collecting and using coupons to save massive amounts of money on groceries and sundries. Subjects often have to buy huge amounts of stuff, but it isn’t unusual to see an $800 bill go to $30 or $40.
However, the show unwittingly documented a fraud. One subject, according to Time Magazine, a 16-year old boy from California, allegedly used fake coupons during his appearance on the show, getting a huge discount on 408 rolls of Quilted Northern toilet paper. His mom had to pay the store back and TLC hasn’t commented about it publicly. Coupon fraud, according to the Houston Chronicle, is estimated to cost retailers nationwide more than $500 million per year.
Backlash getting bigger
There has been an “extreme coupon” backlash brewing for some time. In 2011, according to Time, Kroger stores started barring “stacking coupons,” or combining a store’s coupon with a manufacturer’s coupon and limited the number of online coupons customers could use.
Select Walmart stores have been changing procedures at cash registers so extreme coupon practitioners have to wait much longer for check-out to be completed. The idea would presumably be that the extra hassle of waiting forever would deter them from doing it so much.
According to ABC7, a Denver, Colo., ABC affiliate, Target and RiteAid have limited “buy-one-get-one,” or “BOGO” as they are sometimes called, sales. Some manufacturers are also refusing to honor overages, or when coupons add up to more than the price of the item, so customers won’t get cash back and stores won’t get reimbursed for the coupons.
There are also occasional reports, according to Today, of various local grocery stores nationwide changing policies or deciding to not honor large numbers of coupons at one time. Denver’s ABC7 also reported that a Denver-area grocery store, King Soopers, limited all coupon use to five coupons per item.
Stores are starting to get wise, and they don’t like seeing large amounts of merchandise go out the door for pennies or for free.
Houston Chronicle: http://blog.chron.com/frugalconfessions/2011/06/coupon-fraud-part-ii/