Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Why Couponers Cheat

 I've been seriously disturbed lately at what I perceive to be an increase of deal seekers using coupons to rip off grocers and retailers.  It makes me sick to see shoppers purposely profiling checkers they think will not "look too closely" at the bad coupon match ups or won't haggle with a shopper at what they know to be unethical coupon use.  I have heard of shoppers driving to stores 25 minutes out of their way (from Orem to Payson) just for these reasons.

So why do couponers cheat?  Why, in essence, steal from a store for personal gain?  I have a couple guesses:

#1.  They don't know any better.  Though I think this is the least likely of all unethical coupon use instances, I'm sure there are shoppers out there who have been told that reading bar codes or lying about ad matching prices is ok to do.  Um, it's not.  You may have seen a television show recently or even read a blog detailing how to read bar codes for the purpose of cheating a store.  Some teach these practices and claim it's to help shoppers know what products they can use their coupons on.  Baloney!  It is my personal belief that there is no legitimate need for any person to understand how to read a bar code other that to cheat and ultimately steal potential revenue from a store.  All a shopper has to do is read the wording on a coupon to know what products they can apply it to - period!  If a coupon says "Save $3.00 on Huggies 60 ct diapers"  you buy 60 ct diapers, not a smaller pack, not wipes, not any other baby product.  To use that coupon in any other manner is unethical and fraudulent!

#2.  They feel entitled.  We live in a day and age when people feel entitled.  They deserve to be given whatever they've set their minds to.  I've heard of shoppers who felt like they were overcharged at a store on a previous shopping trip so the deserve the extra (and unethical) savings on their current shopping trip.  If you were over charged it's your responsibility alone to correct the situation once you've noticed the error.  Don't pad your next bill with savings to compensate.

#3.  They think it doesn't hurt anyone.  Wrong!  Cheating stores by using incorrect coupons or lying about pricing is theft - plain and simple.  Ask your local grocery manager, the next time you shop, how many coupons they had rejected last month and what the total dollar value was and you'll be amazed at their coupon losses.  Couponers say all the time, well they get an extra $0.08 every time I give them a coupon so they're making money on the deal.  Not necessarily true.  That extra $0.08 goes towards redemption costs, mailing cost etc...  The coupons aren't redeemed for free.  Stores have to hire companies to manage the redemption process for them and guess what - they have to pay for those services.

#4.  Addiction.  I'm the 1st one to admit that shopping with coupons and saving the kind of money that couponing provides is addicting.  It's like a drug free coupon high!  You walk in to a store and walk out saving 60%-90% on your bill and you're grinning ear to ear at what you've accomplished.  Bravo!!  But that rush can sometimes be akin to gambling fever, when you'll do anything to save that much money again. (Seriously, I'm likely never going to use those Shout Wipes that are Free after double coupons but I did indeed buy them simply because they were free.  FYI - I'm not buying any more even if we get more coupons!)

#5.  Their Family is more important that any one person or retailer.  Hey, I love my family as well, but I also try to keep in mind that I should only buy what we really need.  In Utah County, Walmart doubles coupons every Tuesday.  But just go into the store on Monday at 5pm and you'll see lines of shoppers willing to wait 7+ hours to empty their overflowing 5 carts onto the conveyor belt.  Why clear shelves of products you won't use?  I think it's a combination of some of the reasons above, but I also think we try so hard to give our family the best that we forget everyone else in the picture.  They have to be first, and fast, so that if they beat someone else to the store and can get all the goods, they've won some sort of prize.  Not a great prize to win, IMO.  Using coupons unethically to obtain these savings shouldn't make anyone's family proud.

#6.  They're just thieves with no moral code.  No explanation required.

Why be so harsh about coupon cheaters?  Why not just let them be?  First, I hate that shoppers are using my name and website to provide justification for their unethical tactics.  I have heard from multiple cashiers claiming that shoppers will say, "Amy/SavvyShopperDeals.com, said we could.  I went to her class."  Fortunately most cashiers know me or the site and know that's a lie and one you will called to the mat for!  Cashiers have told countless shoppers to email me if they think they're right.  I've yet to receive one of those emails.  Why? Because they know they've lied.

I feel like I have now been assigned to be the Utah coupon police, a job I don't want!  But it seems that now, along with my weekly email to Walmart stores of the hot double coupon items that they need to stock up on for Tuesday double coupons, I'm going to start sending them out a cheater list as well.  Ie... coupons which shoppers will try to use on incorrect ounce sizes etc.  FYI - I've already been asked to take in Sunday Ads asap to try and prevent all the cheating with Rite Aid and Walgreens Up or Register Reward price match attempts.  I'd like to just go shopping and not have to worry about all the cheaters out there, but I guess that's not going to happen.  And, FYI I'm already hearing rumors about double coupons ending due to theft and cheating.  Keep it up and we'll all suffer.

Bring on the comments.....


  1. I'm sorry you are being forced into being the Utah coupon Nazi, but thank you for enforcing morals and ethics in this arena! People need to realize it says more about who THEY are than how much money they are saving when they are doing things like this.
    Thank you for all you do for those of us who try to "play the game" right!

  2. Thank you so much Amy for posting this blog. I've been couponing at the payson walmart as well, I have seen so much of this lately it's crazy! I caught several ladies lying about prices and I had to tell the cashier and manager and even show them the ad. Also, people were giving the final price (with coupon) just so they can get the item for free or cents. I've caught ladies making up totally new prices and I had the ad with me as well and gave it to the cashier. I've seen ladies drive from salt lake and even OGDEN! Just last night, I ran into walmart and saw a whole bunch of ladies and even one lady had 7 cart fulls of shopping! Ladies were angry with her because she would save her spot with 2 of the finished carts and then go get more shopping and check the prices again in the front of the store! (with her other 5 carts) It was ridiculous! I couldnt believe it and one lady in line was telling other ladies that they can get old spice deoderant with the buy one get on free body wash but just get all deoderant. she just got all deoderant! but good thing the cashier checked! cause she had to put the deodarent she thought she was going to get for free back. They arrested a lady for stealing newspaper out of the vending machines that was right across from the police station! thats what she gets! you never get far by cheating, cause you'll always get caught!I hope they read your blog or maybe you should post this in the Daily Herald? They all need to read your blog.

  3. I TOTALLY agree! Yes these fast few years have been a STRUGGLE to say the list but as I have said before.... My INTEGRITY is worth a few dollars saved! Thanks AMY!!!!

    I actually read a blog about Extreme Couponing where they said they got more than 1 of the FREE Trial size Cascade. I asked how they did it since it said "Limit 4 like coupons in same SHOPPING TRIP" I was finally able to get mine but I only bought 4 like I was supposed to! And I just happened to say to the cashier that it was the rule with that coupon so she knew for next time :) I really can't stand Liars, Cheaters or Theifs!

  4. I really hate what the world has made of couponing- using others for gain, and hurting the people that truly honestly need to stock up for their family, but save their hard earned cash at the same time! I really hope that the fad of "exxtreme couponing"/STEALING will end soon. Then the rest of us will be able to get on with our lives without the bad name that honest couponers have to deal with right now.

  5. I agree! I have been so frustrated with the extremes people will go to! I have been trying for months to get the bandaids that are free on double coupon days and every week they are gone!! Who needs boxes upon boxes of bandaids! No one! But I needed the 2 boxes I was going to get for free! 1 for me and 1 to give to my little sister just starting college! It is ridiculous that people will hang out in Walmart for hours just to get carts full of free things! They are ruining it for families that may need those things that are free. I know there have been times that I have. Having my husband be out of work, I need some of those things that are free. Hopefully everyone will start playing fair and couponing can be a great thing for all families, not just the few that clear the shelves every week

  6. I SO much admire your integrity. What is saving a buck if you're losing a little bit of yourself by saving that buck dishonestly?

    Along those lines, I do have a question for you. A friend was telling me that her one of her local drug stores will accept coupons that scan, even if the wording says a different product. For example, the computer accepts the coupon that is for $2 off Huggies Pure and Natural even though she is buying Huggies Snug and Dry. She asked the cashier to scan it, just to see, and since the computer accepted it, the cashier did too.

    Now, I don't think this is ethical, but I'm wondering who loses out there -- how does the process of the stores getting the coupon money from the manufacturer work? If the computer accepts it, is that a computer glitch that ultimately the store will end up paying for (losing that coupon money)? I've just always wondered about how the funds switch hands and whatnot. Kind of random, I know :)

  7. Thanks Amy for standing up for what's right. We need more people to do just that, stand for what's right not what you can get away with.

  8. I completely agree! I think your personal integrity is worth a whole lot more than lying about prices or trying to get $1 off the wrong product.

    I've stopped doing Double Coupon Tuesday at Walmart because of all the craziness and never being able to find what I want. I've heard rumors of people getting trampled over "free bandaids". I'd rather pay 50 cents for them than get shoved around. I can see double couponing ending soon because of stuff like this...

    I have a question, what did you mean when you said: "FYI - I've already been asked to take in Sunday Ads asap to try and prevent all the cheating with Rite Aid and Walgreens Up or Register Reward price match attempts" ?

  9. Love it Amy, call them out on their crap! Stealing is stealing no matter how much you sugarcoat it.If you have to explain yourself, then what you are doing is wrong especially if you point the finger towards someone else and don't take responsibility for your own actions.

    Couponers have been stereotyped and all have been put into a category of dishonest people. It is really sad that it has come to this.

    The other day while at Walmart matching the Kmart double coupon deal, a lady behind me called me an "Extreme Couponer" and I told her, "Sweety, I have been doing this for a year and I am in no way an extreme couponer and I hate that show!"

    I hope the ones who are honest in our daily coupon dealings have the courage to stand up to someone who is not. I would just hate to see things go so far south that it almost makes couponing no longer worth it.

  10. I work as a cashier in a popular Utah County grocery store. I won't tell you which one for personal reasons, but our scanners make a rude beep when the "item is not in current sale", and the screen tells us. I have told countless customers about limits listed on coupons and referred them to the item listed on their coupons. I have also encountered the "they've done it before" scare tactic. Really? Not in the store I work at.

    It makes them mad that we pay attention. I've never known a cashier to lose his or her job over coupons, but it's not worth my job if you want to know the truth.

    Daily I've told customers that they have to pay the sales tax on their items, (as it states in the fine print) and they get all snotty and mad, but you know what? You're not paying 75 cents for the item, you can pony up 4 cents more fore it.

    I've daily told customers that they have to pay the sales tax on their items, (as it states in the fine print) and they get all snotty and mad, but you know what? You're paying 75 cents less for the item, you can pony up 4 cents more for it.

    But guess what! To the couponers who think they can pull a fast one: Your checker really gets irritated when you convey that you think we're stupid. For customers to treat us the way you think we're stupid, is really insulting, disgusting and tells a lot about their lack of character! I may not have as much education as you, but I'm not stupid.

    So please, be honest with yourself and don't act surprised when I tell you, "most of the tactics use on 'extreme couponing' are illegal, and are federal offenses....Really. Please use coupons wisely, and stack them with store coupons and rain checks. That's great. I think it's wonderful, but don't think you're entitled to something you're not and please, treat your checkers with respect.

  11. I was excited about the double Tuesday at walmart but now I dread it most of the time.. I was hoping all the T.L.C. hype would end SOON. I am amazed at how our Walmart's shelves are empty before the crack of dawn... I am having better luck with just price matching and adding a coupon for face value. The think that scares me the most is the loss of price matching in general because of lying... Cereal is the biggest problem... People choose cereal that is not part of the sale. Just because it's the same brand doesn't mean it's an automatic O.K. ...

    Thanks for all the hard work you do to help us all save money..

  12. I really appreciate your comments. I started couponing about 1 year ago after attending one of the savvyshopper classes. It has saved my family money, but I have never understood how some people can make up prices or use incorrect coupons and feel ok about it?! I have tried the double coupons at walmart a few times and was curious as to why everything was always gone so fast (I would even get there in the morning before my hubby had to go to work so I could get the deals...but even then the stuff was gone) now I know why, and it is just insane! I think that this is probably going to be taken away because of peoples behavior and it is really sad that a few (or maybe even a lot?) ruin it for everyone :(!!!

  13. As I grow older it amazes me of what people think is 'OK". If this continues to escalate the stores will stop excepting coupons or make it extremely difficult to do. I remember when most stores doubled the coupons value. We all love a good bargain.. But its getting out of control and it is going to ruin it for the rest of us.
    Some of these lovely coupon shoppers pick items that are high dollar and return them to other stores for full value. aaagggrrr drives me nuts.
    Thank you all for doing the right thing.


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