The effect that the sensationalized reality, coupon show "Extreme Couponers" has had on the everyday shopper and coupon user.
TLC’s Extreme Couponing Effect
I placed my items on the checkout belt at Target. It carries 3 packages of Ritz Crackerful, and a few other odds and ends. Coupons are in hand, which have been cut from the Sunday newspaper inserts and some printed on the computer at home. As I present them to the check-out lady, the she speaks in her I-am-so-much-better-than-you voice,”We can’t take all of these coupons..”
This is what I call, the “Extreme Couponing” effect. Since the show Extreme Couponing premiered April 6, 2011, thousands of families are trying to ascend to replicating the savings they see every week on the show and become frustrated when they can’t. More bloggers are popping up to share the coupon wealth, more people are cutting and saving every coupon, every week and more cashiers are becoming increasingly frustrated with ringing up these “Extreme Couponers”. Greatly discounted items and deals are becoming more and more difficult to come by as more people get into the coupon game.
At one time, any shopper could walk into a grocery store, drug store, or big box store and present coupons to reduce their final bill, try new products, and/or fill up their carts a little more. Just as the manufactures and stores intended. No fancy tricks, no fraud, just an everyday shopper using coupons included in the local newspaper and found in most store aisles to save around 10% every month. Everyone including customers, cashiers, stores, and manufacturers were happy with the outcome.
But now dirty looks, sneers and comments such as “Oh, you’re one of those extreme couponers” follow anyone who wields one of these money-saving pieces of paper. The show Extreme Couponing, as seen on cable network TLC, is another reality show that does not depict reality. On the April 6th episode, J’aime Kirlew, purchased around $1900 worth of groceries for about $100 after using coupons. The reality is that J’aime used coupons that were not intended for the products purchased, which is known as “Coupon Fraud”.
An episode that originally aired on May 25 depicted shopper Amber at a Frys grocery in Florida. Amber is lucky to live in an area that still accepts double coupons. This is when the store will match the value of a coupon; a .50 cent coupon would be worth $1.00 off an item, etc. This lucky lady was able to stock up on boxes upon boxes of pasta. On May 26th, Fry’s issued a statement which said, “We want to make it clear that the show was done for promotional purposes” . Their official policy is to double only the first three coupons on any one item, and on the fourth and subsequent items only the face value is redeemed.
Try these tips for being a courteous coupon user:
Use coupons before or on their expiration date. A store doesn’t like a coupon from 1988, not matter how good the 80’s was to you.
Make sure the item size and description match the item purchased. Don’t be a J’aime.
Warn your cashier when you have more than 10 coupons. Usually a joke about losing a finger while cutting coupons lets the cashier know what to expect.
Cut nice and neat. If a bar code or date it cut off, the store will not accept it.
Mind your P’s and Q’s. Thank your cashier, manager and bagger for their patience.
Keep your cool. Don’t roll your eyes, or use a tone of voice that will put the cashier into defense mode. Just smile and say “okay”. You can always come back another day.
This brings us back to Target where the check-out person did rang up 3 separate orders, costing me .03 cents each. The rules of the store and coupons were followed, but this may not have been an issue, per-Extreme Couponing.
While walking away, the check-out lady mumbles under her breath, “she’s one of those extreme couponers” in such a way I cringed. Smiling, I leave the store knowing I paid .09 cents for my “haul”.