Couponing Ethics: Blogger advocates coupon misuse for deeper discounts

This is the second in a series of articles exploring couponing ethics.
You may also enjoy the previous article in this series: Couponing Ethics: Reader made countless photocopies of coupons.


I've always been in awe of the amount of money we can save using coupons correctly and to their fullest advantage. But for some people, the goal of cutting one's grocery bill in half is apparently not enough.

Coupon misuse has many forms, but the most common form is misredemption. Misredemption occurs when a coupon for one product is used on another. Earlier this month, I was speaking with Catalina Marketing's CEO Jamie Egasti regarding this and other issues facing the industry. He stated "Over the past year, misredemption has skyrocketed," surmising that misredemption is being driven by two factors. One is the continued sluggish state of the economy. But the second is the "Extreme Couponing effect." Shoppers that have seen improper coupon usage glorified on the TLC show feel justified in misusing coupons too, disregarding the terms printed on the coupon in the name of saving even more money.

While most long-time coupon enthusiasts realize that there is a rampant amount of coupon fraud depicted on the Extreme Couponing show, some new coupon users view the show and assume that it is a how-to guide to unlock crazy amounts of savings. After all, it's on TV and those shoppers were allowed to do it, so it must be okay... right?

Some couponers think so. Take a look at this blog post: "How I Paid Just $36.00 for $800 Worth of Downey [sic], Tide, Dawn, and Other P&g Products". The author writes [excerpted]:

I’ve been making my best attempt to emulate the show’s couponers for some time, but I’ve never even come close to the 95%-100% savings that most of the show‘s couponers have enjoyed.

So how do TLC’s extreme couponers do it? Jamie Kirlew, was filmed using coupon family codes... Jamie decoded the UPC’s on various products and used higher valued coupons for cheaper products with the same barcode. An example was seen when she purchased .99 cent Pillsbury dinner rolls using .50 cent Pillsbury French Bread coupons that doubled to a dollar, making the much cheaper dinner rolls free.... this is how extreme couponer Jamie was able to get her groceries for near nothing.

This brings me to my savings... I noticed that shoppers at my local Winn Dixie grocery store had buggy loads of expensive Bounty paper towels, Charmin toilet paper, Oil of Olay soap, Cascade dishwashing supplies, and so on... After a little probing, I discovered that the store was knowingly and willingly allowing customers to use any Proctor and Gamble (P&G) coupon on any item so long as the barcodes from the coupon corresponded with the product being purchased...

Amazing, I could take a $10.00 coupon for one expensive product that I’d never buy and use it for some $4.99 Downey and still have almost $5.00 in overage.

I loaded up with newspapers with the P&G Brandsaver inserts the very next Sunday and traced down every P&G 3700 coupon I could find... I walked away with $184.00 worth of P&G products ranging from Bounty to Scope and paid only .37 cents. In the following two weeks, I’ve made seven more trips to Winn Dixie:

*23 items worth over $120.00 for $5.26.
*28 items worth $128.53 for $1.44.
*24 items worth $116.60 for .30 cents.
*26 items worth $146.85 for .18 cents.
*37 items worth $149.47 for $9.24.
*17 items worth $83.26 for $1.76.
* 5 items worth $44.00 for $6.61

If you read the full post on this author's blog, you will see that she's proudly posted some receipts from her coupon shopping trips, while continuing to stress that her store "told her this was okay." It's bad enough that her sense of ethics didn't kick in, but to write a detailed how-to post and put it on the web in order to teach others to emulate her improper coupon usage and game the system? It's both stunning and incredibly irresponsible.

Most manufacturer coupons, including Proctor & Gamble's, state "Valid only on the product and size indicated. Any other use constitutes fraud." Any other use. I don't care what this shopper might have been told she could or couldn't do at her store -- using Align coupons on Bounty is fraud.

I was also saddened to read the 200+ comments under the article. While the vast majority of people commenting are calling the author out on her fraudulent coupon usage, others seem to be in awe of her unlocking the "secrets" to Extreme Couponing:

"How do I find out if this will work in my area?- just call various stores, perhaps?"

"You definitely got my attention Jo. I am going give this another read to make sure I get all the details. Thanks for sharing and God Bless."

"Nice-now my interest in coupons just went up a few mega notches.."

"Excellent work. I always wondered how the couponers were able to save so much. I am an avid coupon user and the most I ever saved was $90 but still spent $100.00. I guess I do not know all of the tricks yet. Thanks for sharing."

The problem, of course, is that someone has to pay for all of this. If Procter & Gamble does redeem all of these coupons for this Winn-Dixie store, they are the ones eating the cost of this rampant misredemption. Do you think P&G will be thrilled to see numerous Align and Crest Whitestrip coupons sent in for redemption, without having sold any Align or Crest Whitestrips during these Winn-Dixie sales? Not likely. P&G can audit the store, requiring that this Winn-Dixie show proof that they actually stocked and sold the items that they accepted coupons for. And, if the store cannot show corresponding quantities of Align and Crest Whitestrips sold during the timeframe that those coupons were accepted, guess what happens? P&G does not have to redeem the coupons, and Winn-Dixie will eat the cost of all of these shoppers buying Charmin with Olay coupons.

There's a lot wrong with this story, but to me, the worst factor is that the blog author has posted a how-to guide encouraging others to violate the terms on the coupons. She is clear to state that she didn't actually contact P&G herself to see if they truly had an arrangement with the store to accept any P&G coupon on any P&G item. Had she, she would have discovered that -- no surprise -- no such arrangement exists. Several people have posted this blog article to P&G's Facebook page (another posting here)and P&G responded "For clarification, at Procter & Gamble, we do not have special coupon redemption policies for different retailers. Coupons are redeemable only by a consumer purchasing the brand and size indicated on the coupon."

Many people commenting on the author's blog post have likened what she did to shoplifting, and I agree. If you wouldn't shoplift from a store, you shouldn't commit coupon fraud either, as again -- someone will pay the price, even if it isn't you personally. We are all hurt when shoppers commit coupon fraud. Stores are forced to absorb losses, reacting with higher prices. Manufacturers respond with more restrictions on coupons.


At one of the coupon workshops I taught this weekend, a student raised his hand during the Q&A and asked "Can you tell me if the expiration date is actually coded into the bar code of the coupon?" I replied that with the advent of the new GS-1 barcode, yes, it is. He snapped his finger and said "Well, that stinks."

I said "Why? Were you thinking you could just cut it off and redeem the coupon past the date?" He replied, "Yes."

I said "Why would you want to do something like that?" I went on to state that it's important to coupon ethically, and that many stores have a stipulation in their coupon policies not to accept any coupons with the dates cut off. And, even if the store did accept, the manufacturer also doesn't have to reimburse the store if that coupon comes through the clearinghouse far after its acceptance period. "Someone is paying the price for this form of fraud -- are you okay with that?"

He had no response.

Unfortunately, questions like his have become more prevalent in this "post-Extreme-Couponing" world. In speaking to people at my Super-Couponing workshops, it's clear that many people are being drawn to couponing based on the staged, often fraudulent trips they've seen on TV. When I explain that those kinds of trips aren't easily achievable, and that on many episodes, the stores have accepted coupons for products the people did not buy, as well as lifted coupon policies and doubled coupons "just for the show," some of them still seem determined to do whatever it takes to get over-the-top savings. After all, those people did it -- why shouldn't they?

My previous ethics article discussed photocopying coupons, which is another common form of coupon fraud. Under that post, one reader commented, "...didn't think it was right, but never thought there would be repercussions..."

And that seems to be the mindset for some of these shoppers: "It's not right, but chances are, nothing will happen to me, so why shouldn't I try to get the best deal possible?"


This is the second in a series of articles exploring couponing ethics.
You may also enjoy the previous article in this series: Couponing Ethics: Reader made countless photocopies of coupons.


Just curious

What do you guys think that really happened? The blogger in question has posted several comments and a couple of additional new blog entries with comments insisting that certain WD stores in LA and MS indeed allowed this practice with P&G's blessing for a limited time only. She also suggested people call those stores to double-check, and she herself notified P&G to ask if this indeed happened. To date P&G did not respond to her, or indeed other people's complaints about what happened.

Does anyone have a theory based on what the information that we have on this?

The links: http://gomestic.com/homemaking/how-i-paid-just-36-00-for-800-worth-of-do...

http://socyberty.com/issues/coupon-fraud/

http://socyberty.com/issues/coupon-fraud/2/

Disclaimer: although I have a theory myself, which I will share once I hear everybody else's, I absolutely do not engage in coupon code matching and have never done so in my life. I will also continue not doing it. However, I want to hear theories about what you believe happened, from the time the blogger went to the store to when she wrote her last blog entry.

I am interested only in reading well-written, well-argued posts about what you believe happened.

I'd love to know

Honestly, with multiple reports coming in of this "practice," I'd really love to know the truth too.

P&G has already responded on their Facebook page saying that they do not have special coupon redemption policies for different retailers: http://www.facebook.com/PGEverydaySolutions/posts/366285336719620

I don't know...

This woman is quoting way too many people to be lying. She may be, of course, but I wouldn't discount her so readily. And as I said, I have my own theory about what happened. What also corroborates my theory is that P&G does not seem to upset about this, even though people did rush to protest and report this blogger. Even their statement on Facebook is lukewarm at best...

pg

i don't want to start a fight but i could post that i talked to so and so and so and so.
Doesn't make it happening that way.
I would like to see some news or hear from mgrs. or employees that pg oked it.
i am a doubting thomas i guess.
just sounds fishey.

No reason for a fight

However, you are unlikely to hear from the managers or employees precisely because P&G and Corporate did not want this to be widely known. It's bad business practice. If it were untrue, they would definitely come out and deny it. P&G would also deny it, rather than quietly erase Facebook messages. What we do know for sure is that coupon code matches, especially P&G's, were no longer possible after the widely publicized J'aime Kirlew appearance on Extreme Couponing. You know it wasn't possible any more. Yet, here is someone who was able to do it in MS. All of this, plus the fact that the blogger is too articulate, screams overstock riddance at prices that P&G could still make a profit. That's all.

I have an update on this

First off, it would be great if people on this blog refrain from rushing to judgment against any consumer when they have not heard the whole story. I read the blog entries in question, and, as I said, their author has been quoting too many people to be a liar, cheat, or thief. She mentioned specific grocery stores that were running this promotion, she mentioned names of store managers who must have surely received their marching orders from corporate and from the manufacturer, in this case P&G. Here is my theory about what happened:

Louisiana and Mississipi are economically depressed areas with which I am very familiar. I also know for a fact, because I have lived in both, that coupon policies are very different from those of the rest of the country. There have been periods of time, especially after the natural disasters that hit them in the last 10 years or so, when no coupons were allowed in any store, and newspapers simply did not carry them. Other times they accepted them, but newspapers did not carry them, in which case people bought them off Ebay and clipping services, while there were also times that there were special offers with or without coupons, and those were on a large scale. I mean, think about it: if you are a large company, offering steep discounts of overstock products to famously economically depressed areas will earn you good points with the appropriate people and will also give you important tax breaks. It's also good business: rather than sell overstock at Dollar Tree for a buck, you sell them at a steep discount, elsewhere. There are so many different ways of doing things like that.

Which is also why I think that manufacturers, clever and successful businesspeople that they are, invented the whole coupon code families in the first place. It gave them flexibility. What they didn't count on was losing some of their humongous profit margins when people who had been decoding them, I say legitimately, for years, started going on the TLC show and telling the whole world. People had been doing it for years, even sold the secret to small groups of people, as happened with BeCentsable, former employer of none other than J'aime Kirlew, stores were fine with this, and I am sure that when audited by manufacturers, as must have happened time and again, no action was really taken, and no changes were made in the policy, although it would have been easy to make it over a relatively short period of time. It's only when the practice got on TV that it got out of hand. That's why the coupon coding was contained, policies became stricter, presumably until the craze would subside and people with short attention spans, i.e. the majority of shoppers, would go back to their pre-TLC shopping habits. TLC was inconvenient, but it was manageable: after all, manufacturers and marketing companies managed to prevent the marketing disaster that TLC was contemplating to inflict upon the US economy itself. I will say no more on this latter topic, and please, do not pressure me to do so.

So what happened at MS and LA? Simple: P&G decided to allow shoppers to manipulate coupon codes in a limited number of stores for a limited number, though not for all of their products. People took advantage of that, and the latest blogger people have started to love to hate, posted her experience on the web. I truly think that she has given us too much information for her to be lying. She also does not sound stupid at all, nor manipulative. An additional clue is also the fact that it's only P&G products that could be bought this way and no other company's.

Do you want another very serious indication that she is telling the truth, and that P&G did this limited-time only at a limited amount of stores in a small area offer? People, P&G has been at the forefront of coupon and code policy changes, and they have generally been tremendously active. Coupon code matches simply cannot be made any more! Yet, some Winn Dixie stores did it. Unless we assume that for some obscure and non-sensical reason, they changed their computer, which is impossible, or there was a giant conspiracy, so that the specific blogger would get free toilet paper, it really does not make sense. Besides, P&G would be after Winn Dixie like a flash if they had committed this extremely serious fraud because without Winn Dixie's cooperation, nobody could pull anything like this.

As usual, some hot-heads ran to P&G to report the blog, rejoicing at the fact that now, surely, the company is going to pursue this, press charges, a number of shoppers would be arrested and "off with their head" because they bought toilet paper or Buddig for nothing. But what happened instead? P&G gave a lukewarm and non-committal answer, claiming that "For clarification, at Procter & Gamble, we do not have special coupon redemption policies for different retailers. Coupons are redeemable only by a consumer purchasing the brand and size indicated on the coupon. Great question!"

Of course they don't! However, they are totally free to make open or special offers, some of them unadvertised. Did they address the issue brought up about the blogger? No, they did not, even though her receipts were available online.

But do you know what convinces me that I am right and that something very fishy is going on with P&G? It's the fact that some people made comments on this, among them myself. I wrote a very respectful message suggesting that the blogger is not a liar and that P&G just adopted a temporary policy with a few stores in economically depressed areas in order to get rid of overstock. Now if this were simply untrue, P&G would politely respond to me and say that this is not so. Do you know what they did instead?

THEY ERASED ALL COMMENTS!!!!! ALL OF THEM!!!!! So now I have posted again asking them why they erased my post. They were careful and did not answer. To me this says only one thing: they definitely made the offer to Winn Dixie, and some less fortunate people took advantage of it. It was definitely their right, but they don't quite want this to become known, especially since they are using the old coupon code matching policy, or a variation of it, to their advantage. Did you also notice that nobody, not P&G and not Winn Dixie have addressed the questions the public has for them?

The morale of the story: do not rush to judgment and look at things from various angles and different perspectives.

Here is one more interesting piece of info:

The blogger we are discussing wrote the following, and I, at least, believe her. So should you:

jo oliver | Jan 16, 2012 | Reply

J, it’s only fraud if P&G does not know about it. Do you have any proof that P&G does’nt?My WinnDixie could not even get the products out of the boxes and on the shelves. The store just started rolling the boxes out, and they were gone in 30 seconds. I was waiting seven hours to get checked out. Furthermore, every Winn Dixie in Ms and La were doing this, meaning millions of “fraudulent” coupons. Considering WinnDixie is in the media hard and heavy from being bought by BiLo, I don’t think 50 plus managers would add fraud to thier resumes. I was told that P&G allowe Winn Dixie to do this to remove all the old barcodes from the stores. I tend to believe this all the Scope mouthwash, for example, was sold out with the coUpons, but, when a new shipment of Scope arrived, these no longer had a 3700 barcode and were no longer part of the “use any coupon” thing. In any event, Im trusting that my store and all the others partcipating did in fact have P&G’s okay. On another note, a readee bring up a subject that most “honest” couponers dont like to talk about…coupon clipping services and the alike. Using such services is actually coupon fraud because the transfer, copy, selling, and buying of coupons is illegal, which is why I only use manu direct and newspaper coupons. I’ve seen hundreds of couponing sites barking about fraudulent use of coupons only to further down the page encourage couponers to use services like clipping, which is just as much fraud as knowingly using the coupons the wrong way. Hypocrisy at its best.

Read more: http://gomestic.com/homemaking/how-i-paid-just-36-00-for-800-worth-of-do...

No words...

It is really a shame, because we see Jill post articles like this ALL the time... It used to make me super angry, because I have DEFINITELY noticed a difference in my personal savings - the stores' sales policies and coupon policies have changed since the TLC show aired. I don't have to guess what caused it. However sometimes I feel like I'm starting to get complacent. Because, Oh, look, yet another person is breaking the 'coupon rules', and nothing is being done to them. So what's the difference if we read about it? We get angry over something we have no control over. Which is even more frustrating. I wish the stores, manufacturers, or local police/attorneys would do something about this fraud. Until then, it just gets old hearing the same story over and over.

I can't wait until we read a story on here that says, "so and so BUSTED for using coupons fraudulently"... and we can actually see results from Jill's hard work and postings. I'm thinking it will have to involve an arrest, because I only remember 2 times when the fraudulent coupons led to consequences (one, a lady did get arrested I believe - this was either right before or right when the show began; and the other is that mom who went in and had to pay the $400 back to the store where her son used the FREE coupons...) I want consequences that all fraudulent coupon users will FEAR and stop these terrible ethics!! :)

Its Legal

When I was shopping at my local Winn-dixie on Saturday I spoke to the manager about this. She said this is not coupon misuse because P&G and winn-dixie have a deal to offer any pg product on mondays betwee 8 and 9 am i think for any coupon. Yes shocking but not misuse. Just figured I would let you all know. There are a couple of coupons by pg that you can not use. Sorry I can't not remember exactly which two it is.

P&G says no

P&G has been contacted about this and has stated numerous times on their own Facebook page that they DO NOT allow this, and that Winn-Dixie is doing it without P&G's permission.

Think of how absurd it sounds - the store "has permission" to take coupons for the wrong products only at a certain time on a certain day of the week? Again, P&G has stated multiple times that this is not true.

I'm curious -- which Winn-Dixie location do you shop at?

IRRITATING!

I actually wrote a blog, linking readers to this article, because this makes me so mad! I had a few ideas and I posted them into my blog. I know none of my solutions will work, but those who are committing fraud on purpose should be punished. Do people have NO ethics or morals anymore? Why does everyone feel ENTITLED to scam the manufacturers? Do you know how many times I hear 'Good for them....these companies make billions off of us, so why can't I use a coupon for another product on a more expensive and appealing product?" Stunned doesn't BEGIN my reaction. But if you skew it a different way, and show more of the crime being committed, they say 'Oh, well THAT I wouldn't do' It's the same thing, I just substitute coupons for something else. It just floors me that people feel entitled to scam someone else. Unbelievable! I'm putting a link to the page if anyone wants to read it: http://grocerypokerchick.blogspot.com/2012/02/this-just-irritates-me.html

I am starting to wonder about the ethics and morals today...

I was on a couple of other forums and blogs and can't tell you the number of times people would state "it isn't anyone's business what I do with the coupons I get or if I want to resell something I've purchased..." as well as the "it is ok to stick it to the big companies...". I don't know maybe it is other people's business because 1. it is illegal...2. it ruins things for the rest of us...3.trust me, the big companies are only going to stick it right back to us by higher prices and lower coupon values...

Big business under attack

I firmly believe that part of the problem is the whole attitude toward corporations that is held by many people including those in the current governmental administration. I'm not trying to be political but it certainly seems that businesses are being vilified for trying to make a profit. When the average consumer hears this day after day, they begin to feel justified in cheating the big corporations. As we all know, if the corporation has no profit it will go out of business, raise prices, lay off people or any combination of the above. We've already seen a decrease in the value of coupons. It's just a first step. OK, I'll get off my soap box now.

Not so!

Many people just rightly believe that the absolute Lockean approach to economy is so 17th century! Not to mention that it is detrimental in the long run. Come to think of it, not even Locke himself held as firm and radical views on this as that.

Welcome to the 21st century already in progress!

Already happening

It's already happening, which I think we have all seen. The next article I am working on for this ethics series is on coupon resale. One manufacturer I spoke with stated that they actually look on Ebay for their own coupons, and if they see too many of them up there, the coupons' value goes down the next time they offer one.

Not to mention... "Void if sold?" How hard is that to interpret? People come up with amazing ways to justify unethical behavior.

It is amazing to me how people can justify what they do if they're "sticking it" to a large company. What they forget is that the large companies -create- the promotions that allow us to save so much. Without them, we cannot do what -we- do. It's a very symbiotic relationship, not an "us against the companies" vendetta.

Here is another interesting thing

The stuff about "void if sold or transferred" on coupons is really something not even stores adhere by. My local Walmart, for example, has a coupon exchange corner, where people have dropped literally thousands of coupons for others to pick up and use in an effort to exchange them. Even here, on Jill's blog, people exchange coupons, admittedly not for money, but they do exchange them. There are no real clearcut rules, except from the coupon xeroxing issue, or indeed the creation of fake coupons, both of which are virtual counterfeiting of money.

aha!

So I commented on the post... with the following:

"I say this article's title should be changed to "How I Cheated the System and Saved Using a Method I Should Be Imprisoned For!" This is just plain wrong. On a scale of 1 to 10, your ethics bomb into the negatives."

:-)

Blame TLC EC Show - Kroger and the Stores that Propped the Show

Please do not forgot to put the blame and responsibility on TLC, Sharp Entertainment, KROGER, and all in the INDUSTRY that allowed the show to be aired to DRIVE SALES and PROFITS - and allowed the show had no oversight - -and taught openly COUPON FRAUD!! The only REALITY to the show was KROGER was the BIGGEST STAR!! COUPON distribution has gone down - - and PRICES UP!! Now Kroger employees had to sign a contract since the show stating if Kroger's new limits of 5 LIKE coupons and 2 LIKE Internet coupons is not adhered to they will be fired. Now couponers are being discriminated and given looks when using coupons. Just take a look at Krogers Facebook page. Now Kroger has optimized their prices and profits - - the sales and savings have dropped since the show aired.

I totally agree!

The stores are to blame and above all, so is TLC and its sponsors. As for the audience, if the audience had any ethics, they wouldn't be watching the show. I don't watch it because I don't want to boost their ratings. If I knew which products are also advertised during the show, I would boycott them as well, but as I said, I don't tune in.

People, as long as there is an audience and no consumer pressure, the show will go on. From every point of view.

It does affect us all!

The economy is tough and everyone is getting hit - consumer and retailer alike. I believe it is people using coupons fraudulently, encouraged and accelerated by the TLC show that has ruined it for the rest of us. The store sales are not as good, coupon values are lower, expiration dates are shorter, and using the same, ethical couponing techniques I started using 3 1/2 years ago (thanks to Jill) I cannot save as much. I still save on average 50%, and that is incredible!! However, there were some shopping trips when I could save up to 80% with a really good sale matched with really good coupons... ethically! So, thank you to all the rotten apples that spoiled the whole bunch. Perhaps they don't know better, so a big thank you to Jill for teaching correctly from the beginning and keeping us all informed!

All part of the me society...

Very sad. I really am sad for people who are so out to get as much as they can for themselves. Or the game of it or whatever the reason. These are enlightening articles Jill thank you. I have never seen Extreme Couponing. First I don't have TV service... Second, after seeing your clips and posts on it, I wouldn't go anywhere near TLC online. Very disappointed in their choice on exploiting that. I have had so many people ask me while in line and handing over my coupons if I was an Extreme Couponer.

Ethics

I have never knowingly used a coupon in a fraudulent manner. I did accidently present a .25 coupon at Jewel last week for Kleenex. The cashier pointed out to me that it was expired, but took it anyway. That was her discretion and I appreciated it.

Was I raised in a different country? I think there is a perception that they're "getting over" or "sticking it to the man." Really? When I get home and look in the mirror, I have to be able to look myself in the eye. That extra .50 cents or a dollar is not worth screwing up my karma or having to answer to the big guy later on. And it just feels better to do it within the structure of the game. Would you cheat in Monopoly?

These thoughts may be a little disjointed, but I think you get what I'm talking about.

Agree

I like your point.

I know how you feel...

it does come back, only greater. I tried to get a catalina that didn't print from Kellogg's. It was late in the night but not past midnight, and I should have gotten a $10 catalina. (This was almost a year ago). After contacting Catalina, they said they would send it but never did. Last week, out of nowhere, I received a $15 check in the mail from Kellogg's. I have no idea what it was for, but it was about some Krispie lawsuit. I never filled anything out or never even heard of such a thing. But, immediately, I thought of the $10 that they never sent me a year ago.

That's why when I get cheated from the store (by a cashier not letting me use a legitmate coupon for one reason or another), I don't get upset, because I know it's coming back to me--- later and greater!

both good and bad

will come back to you later and greater! Good for you for seeing the big picture!

I hear you!

I've always believed that if I get $10 dishonestly (either a cashier giving me incorrect change or using coupons wrong whatever the reason)I will lose $100 somewhere down the line and it just isn't worth it.

The other day I had misread a catalina deal and the cat didn't print but I went to the service desk and asked. They gave me the money ($9) without question because they know me at that store. I just went back to the shelf and read the deal again and realized my mistake. The cashier actually said not to worry about it and I left with the money. I couldn't even get my car out of the lot because I was feeling so guilty so I parked my car again and went back in and returned the money. It felt so much better to leave the store knowing I didn't cheat or get anything I didn't earn. Also, hopefully I've built even more trust with the staff at the store. As someone else mentioned I have to look at myself in the mirror every day.

It's just not worth it in the long run

I like that you got what I was trying to say.

I'm like Christina, if the clerk gives me the wrong amount, I give it back. At the end of her shift, she's the one in jeopardy if her drawer is short. What if she loses her job because of it? It all boils down to "do unto others" and even if it's some faceless company that you think can afford it, remember, P&G wouldn't be in business for very long if they didn't figure out how to make a profit. And that means passing the shrinkage on the the consumer. We all lose out in the end.

Bravo!

I work as a cashier, not for a store, but the local municipality. I always am a little nervous when we balance in the mornings because I try very hard to make my drawer come out correct, but let's face it, we're all human and we all make mistakes.

One day, one of my co-workers was at my window and helped a gentleman. A few minutes later he came back to the window and told her she had given him the wrong change....and handed her a $100 bill!!!! She had given him back the $100 that he paid with INSTEAD of his change!!!! They were both talking and neither noticed the error until he walked away and looked in his wallet for something else. He immediately came back and told her what happened and said he couldn't in good conscience keep the money because it wasn't his and it wasn't right. He knew the drawer would be short the next day and he didn't want anyone to get in trouble. We all learned a valuable lesson that day...it would have been SO easy for him to just keep it, and let's face it, no matter who you are, $100 is a lot of money.

There are still honest people in the world, and those of us that coupon ethically are being given a bad name by the ones who don't.

Giving ethical couponers a bad name ...

For my Thanksgiving dinner I used a LOT of coupons. I saved close to $143 dollars and paid about $42. I felt bad because I was using all of my register rewards that I had collected the week or so prior and I had about $90 worth of RR. That was my most savings shopping trip ever. I did buy the Estrovan boxes like crazy to get those RR. I am set for at least a year with Estrovan now.

But what the lady Jo is doing is not good for couponers.

I don't understand

I'm probably naive but I've had the registers beep at every store I've use coupons at so that the cashier has to verify I bought the right item so I'm confused how you can use a wrong coupon. I read all the fine print before I get to the register because I'm afraid that I'm going to get the wrong item. I guess I'm just not smart enough to figure out how to cheat the system or it just wouldn't occur to me to do so.

Expiration dates on coupons

During Jewel's recent "Twice The Value" event I had a cashier refuse to take my Activia coupon. The reason was that I had accidentally cut off the expiration date. Since I had cut it out of my allYou magazine, I came home and taped it all back together and cut it out again but this time I was sure to include the expiration date and I used it the next day. Whenever I use coupons the cashiers always check to see that there are expiration dates and that the coupons are not expired. I fully expect them to do this. [And it is part of Jewel's official coupon policy.] The cashiers also check to see that I actually did purchase the item for which I have the coupon. I also expect them to do this! Even though I have couponed for my entire life, thanks to Jill and the things I have learned here, I have been able to raise my standard of living while still subsisting below the poverty line. Times are very hard in the world now [and especially my industry] but I have done this all legally and above board. Sadly, like all things in life, there are some who will always try to take a shortcut or find a loophole and ruin it for everyone. If only they would think it through a few more steps and understand that they are hurting everyone.

So very sad!

I have had trips where I get up into the 60-70% off range, by using my coupons the way they are intended to be used. Anyone who can't be happy with those kind of savings, and would knowingly commit fraud to get more, might as well just go ahead and shoplift the items directly. At least then it would be obvious to everyone that what they are doing is theft. Thanks, yet again, for reminding us all that coupon fraud is still fraud.

Coupon Fraud

The sad thing is that when this fraud is discovered,(P&G will be auditing Winn Dixie next quarter)its likely that the store manager (and any other employees)will likely lose their jobs, and then their families will be the ones who suffer. Just because you CAN do it, doesn't mean you SHOULD do it. We all have the freedom to make our own choices, but that also means we have the responsibility to accept consequences for our choices. Sadly, those consequences can extend to people that have nothing to do with the choices we make. In this case those consequences usually lead to higher prices for everyone in that store, the same way theft and inventory shrink do. I wonder if this blogger ever thought about the consequences of her decision?

Darn that TV show!

Thanks for yet another well written, informative piece. No wonder the industry wants your opinion, you actually have a moral compass! I save 50-60% on a regular basis and am thrilled. That's quite "extreme" enough for me. Thanks for showing us the way.

Wow!

I really don't know what else to say. Actually yes I do know what to say...Thank you Jill for posting this and calling it what it is, not only fraud but shoplifting. It is absolutely no different than stealing.

Thanks for all you do Jill!!

Re: Extreme couponing

I've followed Jill's blog for awhile now..........but after seeing the extreme couponing shows I feel like I'm not doing enough because I don't get the savings they do on the show. Knowing now that most of them aren't using them in the way they are intended I'm satisfied when I get the savings I do.....because saving is saving even if it's not 90% of the bill. And I can leave with a clear conscious because I've done it honestly, by using this forum as a guide and the bloggers on here really help me find the deals I miss.

This blog is helpful as both

This blog is helpful as both a reality check and an ethics check.