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Extreme Couponing or Extreme Fraud. What Do You Think?

It seems there is a big controversy in the couponing world these days which has been sparked by the new reality show on TLC called, “Extreme Couponing”. I first got wind of the controversy the day after TLC aired a segment with J’aime Kirlew, a paralegal and coupon workshop instructor living in Maryland who started couponing after her husband was laid off from work. On the show J’aime showed how she spent over $1,900 in groceries at a Safeway Store in Damascus, MD and after using all of her coupons she only paid $103. That seemed amazing! Was it too good to be true?

It seems that many in the coupon community believed so. On Wednesday, April 6th, blogger and coupon queen, Jill Cataldo ran an article on her website, titled, “TLC’s Extreme Couponing raising controversy as new season approached.” (And “Was coupon fraud shown on TLC’s Extreme Couponing?” ) In the article it show’s some very questionable practices that seem to be used to get the most out of scamming the couponing system. Coupons being used for other like items.

In the article on Jill’s website she states,

Without explaining exactly how it is done, there is a portion of a coupon’s barcode that matches a portion of the product’s barcode. This is how the register determines if the product has been purchased. Because of the way that the older barcode on a coupon matched that coupon to a product’s family code, coupons for one General Mills product might scan without beeping on a different General Mills product.

It seems that the self proclaimed “Diva For Coupons” J’aime, has been known for posting videos of her shopping at Target where she used coupons for a product for another product by the same company.

Fan’s of Jill’s were up in arms about the way J’aime saved all of the money. To begin with they felt she committed a fraud crime by using one coupon for another product. This was the same as shoplifting to them. What would the store do if you shoplifted $1,800 of their products?

Since the store could not account for all of the coupons that the manufacturers would reimburse them for, the manufacturers could deny the claim for payment. What does the store do then? Is the store at fault for not policing their customers better? Jill and her followers felt that this really gave the couponing community a bad name and that it affected the perception of all coupon shoppers who use coupons. You can get alot of items for free legally and ethically if you shop wisely.

The fan’s of J’aime where just as much up in arms as Jill’s fans were. They didn’t see what the big deal was. They claimed people and corporations use loop holes all of the time for their own advantage. Many wondered questions such as: what’s wrong with getting what you can, however way you can? And thought: the stores and the manufacturers make more than enough money to cover the cost. J’aime’s followers felt Jill and her follower’s should move on to more important issues like, Japan and what is happening over there.

So, is it wrong to get something for nothing? Or is it wrong to play the system to get something for nothing? In today’s economy what is right and wrong? The answer is simple. We all know what is right and what is wrong. We can justify anything we want to, to make it right for our cause. Shouldn’t what is right be simple. Use the Kiss Method (Keep It Simple Stupid). If you follow all of the rules you can get items for free and there is nothing wrong with that. But think about how you would feel if someone swindled you out of something you paid for and because you were trusting and they took advantage of you. Listed below are easy to follow couponing etiquette.

  • Obtain your stores couponing policies and read through them.

  • Read your coupons completely and follow the manufacturers directions.
  • If buying in bulk don’t take the last item unless it’s the only one left. Always leave some for fellow couponers.

Coupons are there to help us save on products we use by the manufacturer’s who appreciate our loyalty to their products. Lets not destroy that.

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About Amanda Miller

Amanda Miller
  • http://www.frugalbeautiful.com Shannyn @frugalbeautiful.com

    I am weird about extreme couponing not just because they at times can rip off the store by manipulating the system, but I wonder, how can some of these families ever work through what they bought before it’s outgrown or goes bad?!  I love a good deal myself, but if you’re buying simply because it’s a deal (5 shirts for the price of one?!) I’ve noticed that I have a tendency to devalue what I’ve purchased and don’t spend as much effort taking care of it. 

     Why would I care about a pair of shoes if I have another one exactly like it that I got for cheap/free, it can be wasteful.

    • http://GetOutOfDebt.org Steve Rhode

      I’m with you completely on this.

      One of the big surprises from the show ‘Extreme Couponing’ was I learned that some of the individual stores were waiving their regular coupon policies to allow the filming of the show that day.

      Besides, who needs 300 bottles of Mountain Dew?

      By the way, how about submitting a money saving guest post

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