On Wednesday night I watched the program "Extreme Couponing" for the first time. Despite the fact that like everyone else, I'm always looking to save money, I won't be watching it again. It would be great to purchase $500 to $600 worth of groceries for 80% to 90% off, but I have no use for 25 boxes of cake mix or frozen pizza. I certainly have no desire to stockpile 300 bottles of soda or sports drinks.
What I saw was 2 to 3 or more grocery carts full of items that contribute to heart disease and diabetes. Foods which are loaded with salt, sugar and transfats. There were no lean meats. No fresh fruits or vegetables, no whole grain products. Just prepackaged, highly processed foods and sugary drinks.
Has it not escaped anyone watching this program that these women were going out and buying items to add to stockpiles of items that all ready were valued at $10,000+? How far past it's expiration date is some of that stuff? Will someone explain to me why a couple with no children need a stack of canned soup cases that is 5 feet high?
For thse women, coupon finding and clipping is a full time job. All of the women said they spend an average of 35 hours a week on this task. One of them has 5 computers on which she can download more of the e-coupons than she'd be allowed normally. Saving money by extreme couponing has allowed one woman to buy a spanking new SUV. Of course it sits out in the driveway because her garage is used to store all her purchases. Organized neatly on industrial metal shelving units. She has a grocery store in her garage, but she had to go buy $600 worth of groceries for less than $30 because....why? Every one of these women said this type of shopping is addicting.
Apparently it's so addicting that some women are willing to cheat both the manufacturer of the products they're buying and the stores they're buying from to achieve their goals. From what I've read, one woman, shown last month was committing coupon fraud by buying the product, but she was buying the smaller sizes. The bar code reader in the stores apparently reads the family code for products and accepts the coupon even if it isn't for the item listed on the coupon. For instance the shopper had coupons for $1 off the 4 packs of Yoplait yogurt. She used the coupons on Yoplait yogurt in the 6 ounce container.
Supporters who follow her Facebook page commented that she should be left alone since no one was hurt by her actions. That's not exactly true. When the manufacturer audits the coupons from the store, they will see that sales figures on the 4 packs of Yoplait don't match the number of coupons used. It will then refuse to pay the store for the items. In essence, by using fraudulent shopping habits, she committed shop lifting since the store won't be paid. Shop lifting is a crime. So is coupon fraud, which is what she's doing, and she's doing it regularly. Even after finding out that what she's doing is a crime.
NOTE: If you wish to listen to this video, please scroll to the very bottom of my page where you will find my music widget and turn it off. Trying to listen to both may be difficult.
Manufacturers offering coupons are now changing the bar code formula for their coupons to prevent this type of fraud from happening. I would say the fact that they're doing so is an indication of how widespread this practice may be. It costs to change these codes so it seems to me that manufacturers have knowledge of how much they're losing as a result of these fraudulent practices and are taking steps to protect themselves and the grocers who redeem them.