Was coupon fraud shown on TLC’s Extreme Couponing?

By / 4 years ago / Shopping News / 148 Comments

To my regular audience, we’ll get back to grocery coupon talk very soon. However, this is an issue that cannot be ignored, as it affects the perception of all coupon shoppers who use coupons in an ethical manner. Many readers across multiple, respected coupon sites and blogs contributed to this report, and I will try to acknowledge them all at the end.

Earlier this week, I posted an article about Jaime Kirlew, one of the shoppers featured in TLC’s new season of “Extreme Couponing.” Jaime made a name for herself last year when she posted YouTube videos showing her shopping at Target and fraudulently using coupons for one product on another (coupons for Crest Whitestrips on Tide, coupons for Olay Body Wash on Secret deodorant, and so on.) When commercials for the new show began airing, many members of well-read messageboards among the couponing community recognized Jaime from her YouTube videos and raised concerns about whether she would use coupons in a fraudulent manner on TLC’s Extreme Couponing.

The first clue that something was amiss with Jaime’s shopping trip was her grocery list:



This list raised a lot of red flags with seasoned coupon shoppers because there are no products listed on it. Instead, the list consists of manufacturers’ names, and in the next column, a list of five-digit family codes — a portion of a product’s UPC bar code. The header row of that column appears to end in a “C” (UPC.)

Why would someone create a shopping list consisting only of product family codes, plus the coupon’s dollar value that shares that family code?

Unfortunately, there’s really only one logical answer to this question — to use a coupon for one product on another, knowing that the register will “match” that coupon to a similar product.

Note that I do not teach UPC decoding as a method of matching coupons to sales — it is not only highly unethical, but using the information obtained via decoding to intentionally then misuse a coupon to buy something other than what is specified is coupon fraud — a crime. 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. (And, don’t get any “clever” ideas that decoding barcodes to use one coupon on a different item to get a better deal might be “smart shopping” — it’s fraud, plain and simple. This family-code coupon fraud exploit is being eliminated with an industry-wide update to the barcode system this year. Safeway stores’ registers have now received the update, as have many others around the country.)

I’m going to post the evidence that many readers found over the past few hours. Please feel free to draw your own conclusions.

Looking at the video of her shopping trip from Wednesday night’s premiere of Extreme Couponing on TLC, a reader posted three screen captures of the cereal Jaime purchased and the coupons she used to buy it:

The cereals that Jaime was shown buying in the episode were Honey Nut Cheerios, Lucky Charms, and Kix, which were all part of a good sale the week of February 4th (if Safeway’s ads are the same as our Dominick’s, which they usually are, those 3 cereals were priced at $1.99 per box that week when Jaime shopped.)

However, the coupons that she appeared to use were for .75 off Fiber One cereal.

As Fiber One is a more expensive cereal, General Mills typically issues higher-value coupons for Fiber One. That .75 coupon doubled to $1.50, netting her .49 cereal. A great deal… IF the Fiber One had also been on sale too. But it wasn’t.

For the sake of argument, let’s assume that perhaps she also bought Fiber One cereal and it just wasn’t shown on television.


In the next set of photos, we see Jaime’s box of coupons for her trip. Note the .50 coupons for Pillsbury French Bread and $5-off-2 Nivea Body Lotion:

On the show, we were not shown her buying any Pillsbury French Bread or Nivea Body Lotion. However, she did buy .99 small cans of Pillsbury rolls and bottles of Nivea Body Wash.

With the small Pillsbury cans on sale for .99, the .50 Pillsbury French Bread coupons applied to them would double to $1, making them free. The Nivea Body Lotion that the coupon is for typically sells for over $6/bottle. However, that week the Nivea Body Wash was much cheaper – $2.99 (again, if our Dominick’s ad from that week is the same as Safeway’s.) Using the $5-off-2 coupon made the body wash .49.

Great deals… IF the coupons had been for the right products.


But again, for the sake of argument, let’s assume that somewhere, she also bought Pillsbury French Bread and Nivea Body Lotion, even though we never saw those products purchased on the show.

In this photo, we see Jaime has a paper clip full of coupons for .50 off 4-packs of Yoplait Yo-Plus yogurt:

On the show, we were not shown Jaime buying any 4-packs of Yoplait Yo-Plus Yogurt. But she did buy quite a few single cups of Yoplait Yogurt, which typically sell for around .33 per cup:

With a .50 Yo-Plus 4-pack coupon being applied to a .33 single cup of Yoplait, each cup is free with possible overage. But again… it’s coupon fraud to use the 4-pack coupon for an entirely different variety of Yoplait on the single cups.


So, again, for the sake of argument, let’s assume she also bought Yoplait Yo-Plus 4-packs, which viewers weren’t shown in the segment.

In this photo, we see lots of packages of Buddig Original lunchmeats in her cart:

These 2-ounce packages of Buddig Original meats were on sale for .89 per package. On Jaime’s spreadsheet shown at the top of this post, she notes that she will be buying 63 packages of Buddig, and she notes that she has $1 coupons for each of them with the UPC family code 77400.

Looking at a coupon database, there were two current Buddig coupons in the inserts available during her February 4th, 2011 shopping trip. One coupon was a $1-off-4 2-ounce Buddig Original meats (again, the kind priced at .89 during this sale.)

The same coupon insert also contained a $1-off-1 Buddig Deli Cuts coupon. Buddig Deli Cuts is a more expensive variety of lunchmeat that comes in a larger, 12-to-16-ounce package.

Again, back to the spreadsheet. She planned to buy 63 Buddig lunchmeats priced at .89 each with 63 $1 coupons.

If she was using the $1-off-4 2-ounce packages of Buddig coupon (the correct coupon for this size product) she would have had to buy those lunchmeats in quantities of 4, again, as it is a $1-off-4 coupon. Couponers are notoriously good at math when it comes to figuring out trips!

It would make no sense to buy 63 of something that you needed to buy in quantities of 4, (you’d buy 64, an even number) unless…

She intended to use the $1-off-1 12-to-16-ounce Buddig Deli Cuts coupon on the Buddig Original 2-ounce variety that were on sale for .89. With a $1 coupon, they’d be free… but that would be fraud.

Which coupon did she appear to use for the Buddig Original 2-ounce lunchmeats?

The $1 coupons for Buddig Deli Cuts, 12-to-16-ounces.

Here is a photograph of the coupon, oriented the correct way so that the size and product can be read:

Because this coupon shared the same family code as the smaller packages, it scanned – but the coupon is not for this product. It’s for a different kind of Buddig that is also a larger size.


Why is this a big deal?

If the correct products were not purchased with the coupons used, it’s coupon fraud. Coupon fraud is a crime.

The terms of a coupon state “CONSUMER: Redeem ONLY by purchasing the brand, size(s) and quantities indicated. ANY other use constitutes fraud.

  • Using a Fiber One cereal on Cheerios is a crime.
  • Using a Pillsbury French Bread coupon on Pillsbury rolls is a crime.
  • Using a Nivea lotion coupon on Nivea Body Wash is a crime.
  • Using a Buddig Deli Cuts coupon on Buddig Originals is a crime.

However, without seeing her receipt, and without seeing the entire contents of her trip on television, we do not know what else she may have purchased in this trip.

Unfortunately, there may be a few novice or non-coupon shoppers who, even when confronted with this, may think, “So what? She got great deals!

And, they’re out there. When this story started to break yesterday, a fan on Jaime’s Facebook wall wrote,

“Gabby Paige – I don’t even get why people are bothered by this??!! It does NOT affect YOU or any one else for that matter it doesn’t take money or food out of any ones pocket whooooo carrrreessssss everything is so dam n expensive these days any way!”


Actually, this DOES affect all of us.

It affects the store because if the manufacturer wishes to audit the store for this transaction, and the manufacturer determines that the products that the correct products were not purchased with these coupons, the manufacturer can refuse to reimburse the store for them. Then, Safeway will “eat” the cost of this shopping trip, because the terms of the coupon were not followed — the specified items were not purchased, so they don’t have to pay.

It affects new coupon shoppers whose interest is piqued by what they see on the show. Seeing something on television validates it as “truth” for many people. If they see a “reality celebrity” using coupons in an “off-label” manner, for products that are similar but not, as the manufacturer puts it, “ONLY ..the brand, size(s) and quantities indicated,” they will assume this is acceptable — or else, why would it be shown on television? People assume that surely, the show must have an expert or professional on hand overseeing the kinds of trips that these shoppers are planning for the cameras, because thousands of viewers will want to duplicate what they see. Their other shows (My Strange Addiction, Hoarding) have a psychiatrist or therapist on board to protect and guide the people being depicted on the show, don’t they?

This situation also affects anyone who isn’t an “extreme couponer” but simply wishes to use coupons during a shopping trip. What kind of scrutiny are people like you and me going to face at the register, when cashiers assume “those darn coupon shoppers” are trying to put one over on the store?

One bright spot in this story is something I touched on earlier — as the industry transitions away from the old bar code to the new GS1 Databar (the “funny-looking” barcode on the right side of your coupons) it will eliminate this kind of fraud, as the new barcode is much more specific to the type of product that it can be used on. The new barcode system upgrade is in place at most stores now and has been rolling out around the country since this episode was filmed. DO NOT try to defraud the system by decoding barcodes.

The evidence is the video is difficult to refute. It looks like coupon fraud was committed on television, in prime time, as a ratings-grabber. Coupon fraud IS a crime.

If the manufacturers refuse to reimburse Safeway for these coupons, Safeway will take a loss somewhere in the range of $1,800. Jaime’s pre-coupon total was over $1,900 on the show, which she couponed down to about the $100 mark. How is that any different than shoplifting $1,800 worth of groceries from Safeway?

The answer: It isn’t.

And “Extreme Shoplifting” isn’t what this show should be about.


Readers from SlickDeals.com, AFullCup.com, The C.W. Night Owls, TelevisionWithoutPity.com, New Jersey Couponers and of course, this blog, contributed to this story. I sincerely appreciate everyone’s input, observations, and screen captures. This is not a story written by one person — it was written by many (especially considering that I don’t have cable.) Special thanks to Alanisrox69, Timmsa, Debate, Holamelitta, with another round of thanks to the passionate crew at The C.W. Night Owls, and anyone else I am forgetting. Full size screenshots of all of these images are in the comments for the original story.



UPDATE: Since this story broke, a Safeway spokesman gave a statement to the Baltimore Sun that Jaime told them that her “strategy” was to use coupons for products she wasn’t buying:

On the day of filming, Kirlew told Safeway managers that part of her strategy was to use coupons on products for which they are not intended, said Greg TenEyck, spokesman for Safeway… “I did hear that’s what happened, that she had said, ‘This what I do,’ and our folks said, ‘That’s not our policy. You’ve got to use the correct coupon for the correct item,’ ” TenEyck said.

UPDATE: On May 11th, Jamie Kirlew admitted to the Wall Street Journal that she did use coupons in a fraudulent manner on the show:

You matched barcodes, as long as they worked, rather than products, right?

Yes.

Do you believe that was the right thing to do?

Yes, I believe that I have done nothing wrong. I’ve even had managers take my purchase and check me out. They’ve told me, “If the coupon goes through at my register, I’m getting reimbursed for it.” I have never been approached by anyone in authority telling me to do something different.

Will you change your methods now that manufacturers are changing the barcode system?

I do not intend to change my shopping habits unless or until the code changes…

What do you want from this interview?

I want to stop being the Scapegoat. I used a Buddig Deli cut for a 12/16 ounce packet for a 2 ounce packet because the numbers matched. The coupons went through at the register and I did not have any problem.

Since this episode, readers have noticed other instances of apparent coupon fraud on TLC’s Extreme Couponing (link to comments) as well as other situations that seem to push the ethics of couponing, with one shopper driving around town picking up “unclaimed” newspapers from the driveways of other homes.



UPDATE: On May 26th, Fry’s Supermarket released a statement that during the May 25th episode filmed at their store, the store allowed the shopper to double ALL coupons in her transaction, even though their store policy is only to double the first three. Viewers began crying foul on coupon sites around the web, and Fry’s released a statement about the show on its Facebook page:

We appreciate your comments regarding the recent airing of TLC’s Extreme Couponing that was filmed at our Fry’s Marketplace in Sahuarita. Fry’s was flattered to be asked to participate in the national show and showcase one of our stores. In addition, we also had the opportunity to show that we are running one of the hottest coupon promotions out there by making all manufacturer coupons up to a dollar and gladly accepting all grocery competitor coupons. We understand that some customers may have questions regarding the coupon policy after viewing the show and we welcome your comments. We do want to make it clear that the show was done for promotional purposes and that our coupon policy posted here on Facebook remains the same and is for all Fry’s stores.

The store’s policy is to double the first three coupons, but all of the coupons were doubled for the show’s taping. Other shoppers watching the show would have the impression that they, too, could enjoy doubling every coupon at Fry’s, but Frys made it clear that they lifted their coupon policy as a “one-time” exception while this episode of Extreme Couponing was being filmed — other shoppers will only be able to double the first three coupons at Fry’s.

And they still call it “reality television….”


If you’ve arrived here while searching for information on “Extreme Couponing,” it might interest you to know that the TLC coupon show was originally supposed to be “America’s Coupon Masters,” an instructional show intended to teach people the correct ways to use coupons.
If you’re seeking information on how to learn to save 50-70% on your grocery bill each week without spending more than an hour a week, or filling your house with a crazy amount of groceries, Super-Couponing is for you.

148 Comments

  • mashupmom08. Apr, 2011

    Thank you, Jill, for taking the time to compile this — simply astounding.

  • Green Is Good08. Apr, 2011

    I can’t believe she would show herself doing this on TV. Does she think she is above the law?

  • buffy050608. Apr, 2011

    It’s amazing that people don’t think this affects everyone – fraud causes us all to suffer as manufacturers and stores raise their prices. Jill, thanks so much for teaching ethical coupon practices!

    One thing I’m curious about – had she not had 4 carts and almost $2000 retail to purchase, would a cashier have noticed if they didn’t buy the same product? I’ve NEVER had a coupon work for an item I didn’t intend, and I’ve had cashiers point out if I’ve accidentally had one in my stack that wasn’t for the appropriate item. Our cashiers in Chicagoland seem to be pretty helpful and observant, so I’m wondering if the large purchase makes it difficult for the cashier to do their job.

    Thanks again for everything you do!!

  • cpnsrus08. Apr, 2011

    For taking extra time to compile such a well-composed article – you (and the others) did a fabulous job here.

  • ghostmom0108. Apr, 2011

    I guess I always thought TLC was a bit more legitimate in their developing of TV shows. Now, it seems they are only out for the ratings and to hook viewers. I hope sensationalizing the topic without regard for legal/illegal is not a trend in their programming.

  • onlyethicalcouponers08. Apr, 2011

    In their quest to show “reality” they instead are showing something totally unachievable.

    I followed this story all night long over different sites and Facebook and you know how many websites have new coupon shoppers saying stuff like “I thought I was doing pretty good but how can I get that kind of great savings I saw on TV???”

    The answer is……..you can’t. Unless you cheat.

    Great job TLC. What happened to being the Learning Channel?” People aren’t learning anything but fraud.

  • AmyFouty08. Apr, 2011

    I have been couponing for a little over a year now, and consider myself still a rookie, I had never thought about this product family couponing as anything legitimate. It has happened to me a couple of times, very innocently where I have purchased a Kraft dairy product, such as the new Philly Cooking Creme, during the same transaction, I purchased Kraft’s Breakstone sour cream. The coupon I had for the Philly matched with the sour cream, not the Philly cream. The cashier noted that but, it still went through and I was not trying to do anything wrong. It was a $1.50 coupon and was not doubled at the store- my store only doubles to $.50. It sounds as if this problem will go away once the barcodes are updated.

    I watched the Extreme Couponing episode with real interest but it did seem almost too good to be true to me, and it appears based upon your research that it is very possible we were witnesses to some coupon fraud.

  • casagrande08. Apr, 2011

    nice job Jill and helpers. excellent report

  • susieqs208. Apr, 2011

    How did the cashier not notice this, no fiber one cereal, no 1 lb package of lunch meat? She could have had it on JFU pricing for .55 like I do, unless JFU is only at Dominick’s stores.

    It is already hard to try an explain to some cashiers the legitimate use of 2 coupons( one B1G1F and a $$ off coupon) when purchasing 2 products……

    thanks for teaching us the right way….

  • musical developments08. Apr, 2011

    Has there been any response from TLC?

  • lylebrous08. Apr, 2011

    As an avid couponer, this makes me sick… I am a Husband and a parent to 5 kids. I also run a Non-Profit Food Pantry. I use coupons to buy items for my household and to donate. You can always save money like this if you do it correctly and ethically. I have recorded the show, but yet to watch it. In fear that I may throw my remote at the TV. When this show originally aired last year I thought it was awful. It depicted people hoarding things. Since then, those people have defended themselves by saying that they donated, etc. I am not sure I truly believe it. Regardless, this show is not moving more people to using coupons, it is going to get the stores to stop accepting them, let alone double them. Point blank, TLC should remove this series immediately as it does an injustice to those of us who find coupons beneficial and use them the right way. Good to know that this gal is a Paralegal as she most likely will need the assistance. I apologize to anyone that uses the same grocery chain as they will most likely make everyone suffer for this.

    Lyle

  • Anon this time08. Apr, 2011

    Even my husband noticed that every. single. coupon. beeped at the register. Do you really think that the poor cashier, somehow chosen by the manager to appear on national television, would stop the transaction on camera and question the coupons? Of course not. I think Safeway was just trying to get good press being on TV.

  • savin up08. Apr, 2011

    First thank you Jill for always showing your readers the honest way of couponing. I don’t understand why this is so difficult for some people? Play by the rules and you’ll benefit from the coupon. Simple. When I plan a shopping trip and the store has all the items it works out great and that is the objective. I have been following your site for a year now and have not only saved a lot of money but had a lot of fun doing it! When a really super deal comes along many times I have been asked by a cashier or the next person in line how I did that. I always write down your site name and tell them to follow what you say and they too can save money. Thank You!!

  • MelanieG08. Apr, 2011

    I have been couponing for about a year, and every blog I follow always cautions against misuse of coupons. I am so disappointed by this woman’s actions. I usually save 30 – 50% on my bill and think that’s just fine. My son is going to a birthday party where the parents requested donations to the food bank in lieu of presents. I used all my B1G1 coupons and gave all the items I got for free to the party. But I still spent $79 for what I kept for my family. And I didn’t donate 62 bottles of mustard,either. I hope this show is not renewed.

  • gkappy08. Apr, 2011

    Think anyone is going to report her to Bud at the CIC? It’s people like this that ruin it for us honest coupon users. Been couponing for almost 30 years, seen many changes through the years, and people that abuse the system really upset me.

  • Raggamuffin08. Apr, 2011

    I don’t know about many of you, but I can’t get through a register without the cashier looking at every coupon that beeps and trying to match it to my products. I believe they should take this off the air because it is IMPOSSIBLE to get that much stuff for pennies. You would have to have dozens of free coupons, rewards, at a doubleing store to get even close. I may be wrong, but that’s my opinion.

  • Yukipr08. Apr, 2011

    I am sooo glad this “conversation” is going on. I saw the program last night for the first time and after the first 10 minutes I had to stop. I felt sick to my stomach, irritated…. I waited 30 minutes in order to be able to finish watching the episode. The show despicts all the reasons of why couponers like you and me get bad looks at the store. And then the shopper on the episode complaints getting bad looks from the other cashiers, I wonder why?

    I do not think the show should be call Extreme Couponing, it should be Extreme Hoarders. There is so much need out there. Kids in this country go to bed at night without food, that is not right. Only one of the 4 people showcased last night, donated food (Mr. Coupon with over 1,000 boxes of cereal!). The lady from the east coast (forgot her name) helped fellow shoppers at the store, so she is good on my book. But really, do the other 2 people need all of that food in their houses. Yes, let’s say they did everything by the letter, they still had to pay for the coupon clipping service and the coupon matching website… They never took those amounts into account when detailing the total savings, did they?

    I think it is WRONG. It is wrong to go to the store and buy 100 boxes of pasta. I think the stores should have know they were filming, because the shelves were really stacked up. When there is a good sale in Chicago land, we all know we have to rush; otherwise they will be nothing left of the shelves or we will have to go from store to store.

    There is also something call Couponers etiquette. Up to this point, when I go to do deals, I always leave items on the shelf or tell empoyees that the shelf is empty. Why, because that’s the RIGHT thing to do. I might be stocking up, but the people behind me might be needing the item regardles if they have a coupon or not.

  • TrendChatter08. Apr, 2011

    Due to a coordinated effort by Jill Cataldo http://jillcataldo.com/ (and her couponing fan base) to attack me and my FB page I am going to turn off comments for the time being. My REAL friends and fans want to read what I have to say without all the noise. I will be addressing concerns in a blog post… and that will be the end of it.

    http://www.extremecoupondiva.com

    http://www.facebook.com/ExtremeCouponDiva

    You ladies have a nice day!

  • jjstoner200308. Apr, 2011

    I am a BIG fan of this show…it is the reason I started couponing, and I have saved a tremendous amount of money since the special aired in December. My boyfriend and I are saving for a house, and I cannot even begin to tell you how much of a safety net my ‘stockpile’ is becoming. I have also helped my family and friends realize what they are capable of saving. BUT, and this is a VERY BIG but…I never realized there was such a thing as ‘coupon fraud’. I just figured that if the register/cashier didnt accept the coupon I must have messed up my transaction somehow (usually it was expired. lol!). I never imagined that people would try to purposefully ‘scam’ a store. After I showed my boyfriend the documentary I thought he would be so excited at how much the people were saving, but his reaction was the COMPLETE opposite of mine. He thought that companies would see what people were capable of saving with coupons and it would ultimately change what we were able to save. I thought he was crazy for thinking that; however, after reading this article I may just go home and apologize for doubting him. I have saved way too much money the ‘right’ way to let people like this mess it up for me, my family and friends. I REALLY hope there are consequences for what this woman has done. Make HER pay, NOT the rest of us…

  • ginad197908. Apr, 2011

    I am brand new to couponing (just took Jill’s class at the Darien Library back in February) and I was intrigued by TLC’s show and watched it the other night. I definitely thought to myself for her to be getting such deals like that, she HAD to be doing something fradulent! I am ecstatic with the fact that I have brought my grocery bills to under $100/week and I look forward to improving upon that! I think she is being greedy and hope she gets punished in someway for this.

    She was even sickening to watch and if I had to watch her put her shiny lipgloss on one more time, I thought I would puke!

    Also, thanks SOOOOO much to Jill for sharing he talent and knowledge! It’s nice to know I can save a lot of money, honestly!! Her class was a life-changing event for me. Even my kids ask me if I have any coupons for their favorite snacks because I have not been buying any of those types of products without coupons!! :)

  • mickeyfreak908. Apr, 2011

    This is what I posted on her site!

    “Everyone who doesn’t think this affects you are you WRONG! I hope you get arrested. IF someone stole $1800 worth of merchandise from a store they would be arrested on a Class II Felony and everyone supporting you would agree, do the crime, pay the time. You did just that and aired it to the WHOLE world. It is people like you who ruin it for EVERYONE. You are the reason that some cashiers give us dirty looks. You are part of the reason the deals have been so terrible over the last year. The manufactures will stop putting out coupons and catalinas if they are loosing tons of money because they are being used incorrectly. You are immoral, a criminal and I hope you have to pay for your crime like everyone else”

    This is just another IDIOTIC thing Safeway did! Allowing fruad on national TV. Real Smart!

  • susanlv787908. Apr, 2011

    This is my first time ever posting so first of all THANK YOU SO MUCH for getting me into couponing and being so thorough on EVERYTHING you do! I watched Extreme Couponing out of curiosity like everyone else. The more I watched the more I shook my head and sighed. I will admit when I first started couponing I was so excited by the free to almost free stuff that I fell into the trap of getting items I neither needed or would use just for the thrill. I also fell into the trap of ‘stockpiling’ way too much stuff that all too quickly expired and had to be thrown away. So since it is just my husband and I, I am an extreme couponer in modest amounts—two or three of something is fine with us! BUT I have a few questions…

    Even if you have a large family, who needs 63 bottles of mustard? (I didn’t hear anything said about donating)

    If you are a family of 2 why do you need the large stock pile the one couple did?

    I have heard about double coupon values at some stores, but am I ignorant to any in the suburbs of Chicago?

    How were these people getting $500 worth of groceries for only $5? Again, I may be ignorant on this, but don’t you still need to pay the tax on the pre-coupon amount?

    Fianlly, who would ever think of using something like Fiber One coupons for Honey Nut Cheerios (I realize that is the point of this post!) but the thought has never even occurred to me!

  • rigglet08. Apr, 2011

    I started couponing last summer and am thrilled to have cut my shopping bills in a little more than half. I watched this show and when she was getting 72 bottles of mustard, and said “clear the shelf” to her husband–I got sick to my stomach. Now, to see that she may have used coupons fraudulantly based on the codes–ugh. My question is, can she be investigated and/or prosecuted based on this shopping trip? I realize that the entire contents of her carts weren’t shown, but surely, TLC has footage of everything being scanned. Based on her previous Target youtube footage, she is aware that her couponing techniques have been questioned. I’m not sure why she would go on this show and do this type of couponing again, with everything being taped so there would be evidence she is commiting coupon fraud. I just don’t get it. Could she be prosecuted or would Safeway have to file charges against her?

  • Coupon savings08. Apr, 2011

    1. If my legit, even insert (non internet), coupons get a 1 minute read each at Dominicks to see if they are ok to use, how can a wrong one be accepted? Maybe the store did it on purpose to do a favor to the show?

    2. Now that it is in the light, does TLC have a liability? I guess they can add language at the end/beginning of the show but it is fishy to me.

    3. Now what? Does that lady get in legal trouble or goes on showing fraud on TV?

    Typically, stuff happens when it hits the written press or tv news, like Dominicks’ and Target’s problems. I wonder if this is going that way too.

  • Bargain Babe08. Apr, 2011

    Thank you for a very well-written follow up.

    Although it seems to me that everyone could have saved a LOT of time if you just chose to highlight the item(s) that Jaime used a coupon on correctly. Although that would have put her in the “10 Items or Less” lane. And THAT’s being generous.

  • DealJunkie08. Apr, 2011

    I find it funny that the screenshot has an “Extreme Hoarders” ad in the corner – how relevant.

  • speechchic08. Apr, 2011

    I have to take issue with the Fiber One cereal coupons. If you notice all of the small print under the 75 cents line, it lists all of the cereals the coupon can be used on. I have tons of 75 cent coupons that can be used on Honey Nut Cheerios, and these coupons often have one cereal pictured but can be used on a dozen or so cereals. So, I cannot rule out the possibility that the coupon included Honey Nut Cheerios.

    That is not to say that if she did indeed use these correctly, it minimizes the other incorrect uses. But if an accusation is made that is unfounded, it then can cast the others into a questionable light. I have coupons that have Cheerios and FiberOne both listed on them. Can we guarantee these did not also?

  • tstykcoupon08. Apr, 2011

    Dear Jill,

    I truly believe that when people do things that are wrong, it will eventually come back to bite them in the you know what! I agree with everyone here. I watched last night and was truly sickened by how much product was being hoarded and not shared either with other shoppers or with food banks. How many people need a two year supply of anything if it is going to go on sale again. NOBODY should have that much product in storage unless you have a huge family to take care of or you are running your own food bank. I sure hope something comes out of all of the outrage being expressed here.

    Thank you, Thank you, Thank you all for your comments.

  • mom2tobyevan08. Apr, 2011

    I always wondered why I was never able to save as much as the “extreme” couponers! Not only do the stores in Florida NOT double/triple coupons, but there are seldom coupons for fresh produce or meats. I save a decent amount based on what I do buy. I would LIKE to save more, but its not always possible. And I don’t buy stuff ONLY because its on sale or a great deal like many of these people do. I mean… 77 bottles of mustard???? haha i buy 1 bottle like every 2 years it seems, if that often! After reading this though, I don’t feel like I could save nearly as much as you see some of these people doing because many of them may do the same thing J’Amie did. PLUS, the stores around here look at the coupons pretty detailed… people behind me tend to get irritated, so I warn them they may want to go to a different line :)

  • nyomi mae09. Apr, 2011

    Hey did anybody notice on her shopping list next to “French Yellow Mustard” it says $1…not $.50???? So I am curious what coupon she used fraudulently for those as well???

  • JenObie09. Apr, 2011

    I got interested in “super-couponing” when I saw the original TLC special. However, I talked to several people before even attempting anything like what I saw. My real estate agent was the one that led me to Jill’s site and I am so very thankful that she did. I have to admit it makes me nearly ill when I see how much some of the people on the original special bought. Especially the man at the end. I personally feel he should also qualify for an episode of ‘Hoarders’.

    I was at Wal-Mart in my area this evening however and I had a coupon for .35 cents off of 8 oz. or larger of Softsoap. This particular store did not carry the 8oz. size however. They had 7.5oz. sizes. So I asked a manager if due to the fact that they did not have the correct size, could I still use the coupons I had. He checked their coupon policy and said that yes they would honor the coupon. I only bought two of the soaps, but after reading the article I am wondering if I committed coupon fraud even though I did ask the manager. If so, then I will return the items.

    On another note, my friends and I struggle each month just to feed our families. I have been putting to use what I learned from Jill’s video and whatever extra products I have gotten, I have shared with three other families. We are pooling some money together for newspapers and groceries. Only about twenty to thirty dollars each, but every little bit helps. Between our four households, we managed to save nearly three hundred dollars and no one person had to buy the lion’s share of the food.

    I will also say that as far as this Jaime woman, until I saw her name here I had never heard of her and with what I have now read, I wish I still hadn’t.

    If anyone lives in the Aurora IL area, the Cermak grocery chain does not take coupons printed from any of the coupon sites.

  • Steve F.09. Apr, 2011

  • MomInND09. Apr, 2011

    I’m surprised at how many people are blaming TLC for this. If it weren’t for this program I probably would have never thought twice about couponing, it’s letting millions of people know about something that could help them out. Is J’aime dishonest? Absolutely, but this is not TLC’s fault, this show is not set up like their other reality shows where they are actually there to help someone. This isn’t “Intervention” or “Hoarding”, where the sole purpose of the show is to help someone with a problem. This show is about profiling people who use coupons to save insane amounts of money – it’s for entertainment purposes only. Expecting this show to be setup like a show who’s sole purpose is addressing someone’s personal problems is silly, this isn’t that type of show (though it very well could be). Not only that, but blaming TLC for J’aime’s dishonesty makes no sense. They have no obligation to make sure that she’s being honest and I think that the show has more positive effects than negative. If you’re truly concerned about J’aime and her dishonesty contact the stores she’s been shown to shop at and let them know about it, also contact her city’s prosecuting attorney and let them know that she’s committing fraud and it’s been video taped.

    This show is like “American Choppers” or “Kate Plus 8″, it’s for entertainment value and is not about helping someone with their personal problems, there would be no need for them to get a “coupon consultant” on the show.

    I’m interested in couponing, I look forward to spending more time on this site but blaming TLC for J’aime being dishonest seems a bit backwards to me.

  • Elaina09. Apr, 2011

    Now it makes sense. Sure, it’s nice to get primped up when going ANYWHERE, as a woman, but now it makes sense as to why Jaime emphasized the fact on the show.

    She was trying to look ‘cute and innocent’ and ‘like she had money’ so she would be the last person they suspected of coupon fraud — and/or if they did catch her, she can cry ignorance.

    Pathetic. Now, thanks to her, the coupon policies might change drastically.

  • robin1422809. Apr, 2011

    Wow. After watching Extreme Couponing and then reading the article about that Jaime character I actually feel much better about MY couponing & savings. I am new to this couponing. Been doing it about 2 months now and I am amazed how much I have saved thanks to peoople like you who give us so much information. I thought I was doing real good until I watched Extreme couponing, and wondered how the heck they saved that much money. Your article was mind-blowing and I LOVED the closeup pictures of Jaime’s shopping cart and coupons. She thinks she’s so fabulous, doing her little dance at the checkout counter. She’s a common thief plain and simple, and now everyone knows. Thanks for posting this, it is a real eye-opener!

  • alanisrox6909. Apr, 2011

    The original Jaime Kirlew Target videos have been found and they’re BACK on YouTube, and this time they’re there to STAY!!!

  • wenG09. Apr, 2011

    I’m a new couponer – learning of a class that was being held in my area (by J’aime) got my interest. These ladies who had taken this class recently were talking about, among other things, using coupons from P&G with family code upc’s that work toward other products. I saw one of their coupon binders, I saw their receipts (from Target) and was shocked at how much came off of their bill from using those Swiffer and Crest Strips coupons for other P&G products. They outright told me this is what they had done, and what was being taught.

    They told me it was legit and that this lady was a paralegal and had researched it…it sounded a bit funny to me. But I wanted to go to a class for myself..and they were telling me that there was one nearby the next weekend (for $30 per person). Unfortunately I was unable to go, but it got me to do internet research and learn couponing myself. And I happened upon this site (among others). And I started hearing about the new Extreme Couponing show, etc…I have learned a LOT just doing online research and now know that my suspicions were correct, that there was something not right about that practice. I’m just glad I didn’t waste $30 on the class…

    Even if she is denying it, she has been recently teaching these methods you describe to other people (and charging them for it), and that makes me mad. I know that one of these people mentioned above has a list of UPC codes specifically to use with her couponing, and had put a LOT of work into it. She is under the assumption (from talking with her) that she is doing nothing wrong. Many of these poor people who have taken her class may not know they are doing wrong, I just hope they learn that it’s wrong before it’s too late. So your posting this does help, I hope that all the right people read this…and I sure hope that she doesn’t ruin couponing for everyone else who wants to do it the right way.

  • noname.2610. Apr, 2011

    Wow- I always felt bad I didn’t save more. Now I know why. I wonder if all the people cheat.

    I did pretty well at Target today- with store and manufacurers coupons coupled with sales. When I factor in 5.00 gift cards from previous trips I only spent 15.00. I did it legally-no fraud just good planning and a little luck.

    What is really scary to me is -What does she do when no one is looking? Who knowingly commits a crime with cameras rolling and millions of people watching. I don’t mean this to be flip, but she must have mental health issues.

    In defense of the 1,000 Total ceral guy he said he was going to donate them to charity. He said he often donated his stuff.

  • SherryRogers10. Apr, 2011

    Using coupons religiously over 40 yrs, not fanatically like TLC folks. So,let’s consider another “fraud” issue. Too often, I’ll know I’ve presented 20 coupons. Reviewing receipt later & see only 16 were deducted! More noticeable, presenting high dollar coupons, then discover it wasn’t deducted. Asking clerk when I hear beep, they assure me it was accepted. Look at it later,No it wasn’t. So who’s defrauding who??? Where’d THAT money go? OR,coupons rejected by the scanner. Clerk, customer, then, even manager cannot see what the issue is. Once presented $7 coupon & it deducted $3.50! Frustrating to plan shopping trip to be rejected by scanner/staff. An attitude of “that coupon” lady is a scammer is demeaning! Making such a big deal out coupon fraud is laughable at folks w/ way too much time on their hands. Bottom line is, typically I get back more than I put into them. Recall once apologizing to the cashier for all the coupons (they can make one defensive). She quickly said “Oh don’t apologize, if you weren’t here, I wouldn’t have a job”

  • adbrown10. Apr, 2011

    I love blogs like this one, websites and facebook pages that help the people that just want to try to lower their bills. But it made me sick to watch this show the other night, will not be watching again. In my opinion it does not teach anything. It does not show how to do couponing from the start till you are getting some good deals and savings.The things her and others who use coupons fraduantly are hurting all of us who use them. I have been told I was a theif and was stealing from the company and a liar. It is not right what she is doing and I just hope it doesn’t make our stores change the coupon policy’s.

  • silviavm10. Apr, 2011

    I read your post and feel that little hint of light at the end of the tunnel!! That lady may have committed fraud but if it weren’t for jill exposing her, I would not have read maeganB’s post about your great efforts!! I was so happy to hear that you and a few friends are pooling together to feed your families and use couponing to get you to do just that. I have been couponing for one year now, april 11th tomorrow is my 1yr anniversary!! I would like to give coupons to your group that I will not need/use so that your group can reach your goal!! I will email Jill my email address to see if she can link us up. May you have eternal peace.

  • LauraWilliamsMusings11. Apr, 2011

    I just wanted to say thank you for your insightful post and the heads up you have given everyone about this situation.

    I linked to your post on my blog as well as this is something that should be addressed by all coupon bloggers out there and to let their readers know that what was shown on the show by her may have looked good but it was not the correct way to shop.

    Laura
    http://laurawilliamsmusings.blogspot.com/2011/04/couponing-ethics-fraud-tlc-extreme.html

  • Carolee11. Apr, 2011

    I’m not from the USA so I am not familiar with the rules and laws, but I wonder if there is some kind of legal loophole or a law that covers this kind of thing.

    Is there a law somewhere that says if the register matches up the coupon to the product, then the coupon can be used on that product, regardless of what the text on the coupon may say?

    If the cashier, the store and the manufacturer all rely on the register to determine if the coupon is valid and can be used, then perhaps the law might state that the register’s actions are correct. If that is true, then when the register matches up coupons to the wrong product, that may actually over-rule anything written on the face of the coupon.

    In Canada there is a detail in the consumer protection laws, which state that any abuguity or contradiction must always favor the consumer. But cashiers don’t scan coupons here. Instead they read them over two or three times, and hold them up against the product you’re buying (and I swear the cashiers look for any reason to try to decline a coupon). There may be a similar law in the US which could apply to how registers read coupons. ??

  • Irishbelle6311. Apr, 2011

    I worked for about 5 months at a local grocery store and was quite surprised when on several occasions there at my register were stacks of coupons that I was told to add into whatever I had taken in at the end of the day so if the store owner isn’t worried about fraud why should I. I’m not saying it’s right but what kind of an example is he to the communuity he lives and has a business in. My feeling is as long as you’re buying some sort of product for example, a coupon is for Huggies diapers and it’s used for Huggies wipes what is the big deal, it’s not like someone is giving coupons for products not purchased. Where I live which is considered the poorest state in the nation there are no rewards like double or triple coupons at least once a month, there is absolutely nothing. We wouldn’t need coupons though if merchandise was priced affordably. Likewise with sales in any store.

  • onlyethicalcouponers12. Apr, 2011

    From SlickDeals:

    Dear JailMeKirlew:
    We have disabled the following material as a result of a third-party notification from J’aime Kirlew claiming that this material is infringing:

    Jaime “Jail’Me” Kirlew Committing Coupon Fraud at Target Part 2
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f014iZzowDc

    We have disabled the following material as a result of a third-party notification from J’aime Kirlew claiming that this material is infringing:

    Jaime “Jail’Me” Kirlew Committing Coupon Fraud at Target Part 1
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9AfZh_CrYes

    Please Note: Repeat incidents of copyright infringement will result in the deletion of your account and all videos uploaded to that account. In order to prevent this from happening, please delete any videos to which you do not own the rights, and refrain from uploading additional videos that infringe on the copyrights of others. For more information about YouTube’s copyright policy, please read the Copyright Tips guide.

    If one of your postings has been misidentified as infringing, you may submit a counter-notification. Information about this process is in our Help Center.

    Please note that under Section 512(f) of the Copyright Act, any person who knowingly materially misrepresents that material was disabled due to mistake or misidentification may be liable for damages.

    Sincerely,

    — The YouTube Team

    ___________________________________________

    So J’aime doesn’t want the Target videos up anymore? Why not, if there was “nothing wrong” with those shopping trips?

  • fxplorrollin12. Apr, 2011

    This article caught my eye. The first thing Jaime says is she always teachs people NOT to clear the shelves. She sure didn’t follow that rule. You have to copy and paste the link into your address bar. http://financiallyfit.yahoo.com/finance/article-112514-9255-1-confessions-of-an-extreme-couponer

  • wordsforliving12. Apr, 2011

    I’m a new beginner couponer trying to learn and didn’t even realize coupon fraud even existed! Now, I’m wondering if I should continue trying to learn how to coupon if the manufactures will discontinue offering high value coupons and cashiers treat couponers like they are trying to defraud the stores.

    I know practically nothing about couponing and I’m just so confused and discouraged right now.

  • Brian N13. Apr, 2011

    Carrie the Frugalista just posted a great interview with Bud Miller from the Coupon Information Corp on what the manufacturers think is legal and not. It really clarified a lot for me.

    http://www.chicagoshopping.com/deals/frugalista/chicago-shopping-coupon-fraud-interview-with-coupon-information-corp,0,3526617,full.story

  • cfergy2114. Apr, 2011

    Ok, I’m not defending Jaime on the show but technically the manufacturer is responsible for coding every item with a different number.
    In general, every item the manufacturer sells, as well as every size package and every repackaging of the item, needs a different item code. So a 12-ounce can of Coke needs a different item number than a 16-ounce bottle of Coke, as does a 6-pack of 12-ounce cans, a 12-pack, a 24-can case, and so on. It is the job of the UPC coordinator to keep all of these numbers straight! So if they are doing their jobs how can someone use one coupon on something else? even if the description on coupon is different – still it should match what they coded, no?

  • Turken14. Apr, 2011

    Any word from Ms. Kirlew in defense of the fraud allegations? I’d love to see her side of the story (aside from delusional claims of a “coordinated attack from Jill & Company” that she initially posted here), preferably with receipts. I thought that I saw somewhere that she was going to post a public reply, but have yet to actually see that show up anywhere.

    I know that Jill doesn’t necessarily want to be the antagonist here, and this blog typically does a great job of trying to keep things positive, but if this story just drops off the public radar and gets forgotten then that means that J’amie and her ilk “win” and will only continue to use (and teach) their fraudulent tactics until the manufacturers make drastic changes that impact us all negatively.

  • jessisamess15. Apr, 2011

    What she is going is wrong and I wouldn’t do it.

    But I am a little suprised to see a high and mighty response against those who use the coupons against the coupon terms. You do realize that the coupon also states they can not be traded or sold right? In it’s most strictest sense, you could not trade coupons with your mom….if you were that adament about following the coupons terms. Clearly, no one is going to bother you…but is that the point? No one would have bothered Jamie either until she started posting youtube videos about it and got on a TLC show with her $1,900 purchases.

    I’d also like to point out that the trading/selling thing is a gray area. Simply because a coupon has terms on it does not make it law. Which is why there is still plenty of buying and selling of coupons on ebay. And no, they don’t have to say “you are paying for my time to clip them”. Ebay has already stated in their TOS that they are counting the purchase as the coupons, not your labor. I don’t have the time to look it up, but does anyone know of a SPECIFIC law that bans the use of coupons in this way? Maybe there really isn’t one. Unethical and wrong, absolutely. Like I said, I wouldn’t do it. But for sure I buy coupons all the time on ebay. I’m not going to let the “terms” of the coupon stop me in that regard. They could say you must wear a pink and green polkadot shirt before you redeem the coupon, doesn’t make it a law.

  • supersaver111@hotmail.com15. Apr, 2011

    All I’m hearing is she used this many cent coupon to this sale and this many cents coupon on this item… and she is horrible.

    OMG let’s just go after her because she is an easy pick.
    Look around yourself (I mean get your head out of the coupon book)
    there is people steeling more money in this society then that women can even imagine. Look at the Wall Street how much is stolen there??

    Look at the presidents of the companies how much they get paid to F**k up the companies into the ground and make people jobless and homeless.
    What happens to them “not much” because people are not seeing that, they are more focused on this women misusing coupons.

    Let’s look at the government: Did you ever see their expenses, did you ever realized that they pay $1+ for roll of toilet paper??
    NO I guess not because if you saw that you will be a lot more shocked then you are shocked by this women doing “Coupon Fraud”.
    And guess what government doesn’t care how much they are paying because its really not coming out of their pocket its coming out of YOURS.

    You may just wonder hm isn’t the roll of toilet paper going for .50 cents or less? Yes it is but you have to understand that .50 cents difference
    goes into the pockets of (family members, friends or business partners) of government official who in fact get kick backs for making this possible.

    You want to talk about corruption? just look at that deal
    that you found: Product XXX on sale for $1, Ooo yea and you have a manufacturer coupon for $1/1 on that XXX product.
    Sounds like a match made in heaver right? wrong…. you still have to pay tax on that…Somebody is giving you something for free
    and you have to pay tax??…So how come nobody sees COUPON SCAM there???

    I’m not here to support this women but its just shocking that this many people jump to comment on her behavior and her mistakes and
    don’t see problems all around them. I mean seriously ???

    And, next time when you change that zip code to get that good coupon ask yourself is that a “Coupon Fraud” ???
    Hm, maybe not, Is that Unethical? O oo YES.

    Oooo, OK you are bad, but not as bad as her.
    OK I GET IT!!!

    And all of you that came together to write this article maybe you should focus your
    energy on something more meaningful for example: Why are we paying tax on items that we get with coupons?

  • Coupon Maven15. Apr, 2011

  • jnjkoz15. Apr, 2011

  • Coupon Maven16. Apr, 2011

    Over the past few hours, a lot of news outlets seem to be picking this up. The New York Post just posted this one:

    Xtreme Coupon Scam?

    http://www.nypost.com/p/entertainment/tv/xtreme_coupon_scam_h6b8IUZBN2yXSANUx5CmNL

  • wow. just wow16. Apr, 2011

    I know it takes a village to effect change, but I am stunned by the amount of energy that you and your supporters have spent on something so darned trivial.
    Why not put your energies into something a bit more meaningful, like trying to find Osama bin Laden perhaps? All I can think is that you’re peeved because she is on the show and you are not.

    Pat yourself on the back because you “took her down,” but why not go after the shops that allow this kind of “fraud” to happen? If safeway or target really cared wouldn’t they have done something about this issue already?

  • Kate82417. Apr, 2011

    I am absolutely astonished at the amount of negativity you have posted about the Extreme Couponing Show situation. Do any of us agree with it? No. We know what’s right and wrong. But, you seen to have a personal (yes, personal) vendetta for this girl. You seem to want to paint a Scarlet “F” on her. Karma works in mysterious ways, for everybody. As a result of trying to take her down, you are ruining your own reputation. It honestly gave me a sick feeling to read everything that you’ve posted. I will be sticking with more positive money-saving blogs.

  • ladybugg276317. Apr, 2011

    Somebody please tell me how people use 63 coupons or any multiple of coupons at the same time… my coupons seem to say one per purchase or one per visit…. now i figured there was hanky panky going on with TLC but the grocery’s would not put there name on the line with manufacturers…….how do you use multiple coupons at one time with out make multiple pay outs….ladybugg2763

  • askmrlee18. Apr, 2011

    Unfortunately, the extreme couponing that a few do probably has spoiled the image for legitimate couponers. P&G now prints “limit 4 like coupons per transaction” on its coupons.

    I’ve been to Target and I used a $10 Crest Premium WhiteStrips coupon on the promo pack which bundled the Premium WhiteStrips with free mouthwash, toothpaste and a toothbrush. However, the register did not automatically match the coupon. The cashier at first thought I used the coupon incorrectly, but after careful reading and a few moments for me to explain that the promo pack is going to have a different UPC from the parent item, she manually entered the coupon.

    Coupon UPC flaws will likely exist even after the databar upgrade, but manual coupon overrides will be recorded. I’ve also seen some systems which require the cashier to manually match the coupon to the item.

    The ultimate proof will likely come down to a LaneHawk or similar security system. I have no affiliation with this company, but I found their video demo to be very interesting. In summary, this system records all keystrokes and register scans and is synced with the surveillance video. Any exception or irregularity like a price override is flagged for later review. If J’aime shopped at a store equipped with such a system and she committed fraud, she will be caught eventually.

    http://bit.ly/fvAhkT

  • kwilson18. Apr, 2011

    This thread has been really amusing to read. Some of you seem angry at Jill, which mystifies me. My 2 cents:

    -I learned a lot from Jill’s write up on this story. While it saddens me that reality TV and people like Jaime exist, Jill breaking it down educated me further about how those little scraps of paper I take to the store work. Thanks, Jill!
    -Negative or positive, this is, after all, a blog about couponing, so of course ANY story about couponing is relevant. Of course it impacts us by stores and manufacturers having to raise prices to cover shoplifting and fraud. Duh!
    -If you don’t like a topic on this blog, then don’t read it.
    -This is Jill’s website. Jill can write about whatever she wants. Jill’s hours of work each week benefit thousands of us, so back off. Jill, your ability to turn this into a business for yourself is truly inspiring and a great example of the American spirit and ingenuity. I hope you are making tons of money doing this, you deserve it!

  • angel196620. Apr, 2011

    Thanks Jill:

    I am the provider in my home, by being single and taking care of my alderly mother I have to make sure my money can go far and keep my budget at the same time, using coupons
    helps me to stretch my money and stay within my budget. Watching these people on EXTREME COUPONING makes me sick, this is not saving money, this is EXTREME HORDING, I am wondering right now how long is going to take for the supermarkets and manufacturers to change their policies regarding coupons.

  • coupster2220. Apr, 2011

    .. I thought I read that TLC is investigating the claims of coupon fraud against J’aime. If they are, then why is the episode scheduled for a repeat while they are checking into the fraud claim?

  • feebeelouise21. Apr, 2011

    i’ve been couponing less than a year and really love the savings and have learned a lot from sites like this. i am disgusted by a lot of what i’ve seen on the TLC Extreme Couponing show. i see greed and very distasteful behavior (clearing shelves and coupon miss-use) that reflects poorly on people like me who love coupons and do it on a smaller scale. a few bad apples can really cause a BIG STINK that effects everyone!

  • Coupon Maven21. Apr, 2011

  • feebeelouise21. Apr, 2011

    I see extreme couponers engaging in greediness and hoarding behavior, and then they justify it and pat themselves on the back by announcing to everyone that they are donating items to food shelves or the troops, et cetera. if a couponer wants to make a “donation” they should take a dime out of their OWN pocket.

    who is really making the “donation”? if company X spends money to invent and manufacture and market a product, it should be their decision if they want to donate a portion of their profits to charity. if they do, that’s great. I don’t think companies who issue coupons intend them to be used to clear shelves or used for people to buy things they don’t need just so they can apply the overage to their shopping bill.

    is the extreme couponer who “donates” things really being altruistic here? they claim they are donating the time they spent clipping and shopping. well, i say please spare yourselves! please have some consideration for the shoppers who come after you to find an empty shelf, not to mention the bad reputation you are giving to everyone who is using coupons honestly and in moderation.

  • AshleyLynn21. Apr, 2011

    Hi everyone!

    I am new to couponing but I am looking for advice on how to do it correctly. I am a newlywed, and we are also new home owners so anything I can save would be amazing.

    Can anyone tell me how to get started?

  • danieller12321. Apr, 2011

    As a noobie, I am just starting to learn the trick of the trade. My first thought when I saw this show was going to air was, “YES! Teach me!” lol….but then as I began watching, I was only left going “how do they get away with that?” after almost every episode.

    Now, I worked in retail management for quite a few years, and I have had my share of people who tried scamming the system, so I know what stores try to avoid and simply will not allow 99% of the time, but what confuses me the most is the hoarding of the coupon inserts?

    I could see someone having several coupons for the same product and not questioning it, because perhaps they are given to them by friends/family who do not save/use coupons, but, when you have 100 coupons for the same item…..?

    I guess what I am wondering, is when I see these ladies, Jaime being one of them, with literally a ROOM full of milk crates holding inserts, is THAT legal?

    I’m just curious, like I said, I am a newbie.

    ~dani

  • Koupon Karma21. Apr, 2011

    I am a newbie couponer. Stayed up until 3 am this morning clipping coupons. Was all spun up about saving my family money on groceries (which I will do, legally). Hmm. I did my math and nothing quite panned out. I was thinking, what am I doing wrong? How do they buy THAT much food and pay near nothing…..
    Well, now I know! And I am disgusted about this whole deal. I was confused in the first place about starting couponing, reading the fine print, etc, doing the math.
    And all along, I am wondering why the heck are they going to the shopping store with a limit of $10 for the week? Take enough money (as if you don’t have ANY coupons)to pay for your groceries if something doesn’t pan out! And WHY would they be soooo nervous at the checkout?
    Bottom line is: If I KNEW I was misusing coupons… my BUTT WOULD DRAW UP 3 inches at the checkout counter too! And the adrenaline rush? That was an anxiety attack from not knowing if you were gonna get caught! Guess what? You’ve been caught! Makes “cents” to me!

  • KVela3021. Apr, 2011

    If you would read the fine print on the Fiber One cereal coupon you will see a list of cereal that are also covered for that coupon. Usually General Mills has a number of cereals that are valid for a coupon. That is also true for the yogurt coupon. It might be good for the 4 pack but they usually list a single amount that the coupon is good for. I use coupons all the time and work for a company associated with coupons so I know that there is no way the store would have gave her credit for any product unless it was covered on that coupon. There is such a low profit in the grocery business that store are not going to let money walk out the door.

  • Kathi22. Apr, 2011

    Some have mentioned purchasing items for the troops. One thing to be aware of is that at the overseas commissaries people can use coupons up to 6 mos after their expiration date. They also have “their own style” of double couponing–you can use 2 coupons on one package (so for example buy 1 bag of diapers but use 2 coupons requiring 1 bag)You can help families stationed overseas by sending your expired coupons and the ones you are never in a hundred years going to use anyway. Less cost for shipping coupons too!

  • barman22. Apr, 2011

    I’d like to see a professional legal opinion on why this would be violating a law. My understanding is that this is still a mostly free country where a store can accept a roll of toilet paper in exchange for $50 worth of groceries if they are willing.

    Fake coupons or fake money are not being printed. If I offer up an old rubber shoe for some groceries and the representative of the company agrees to accept this, then they have engaged in a legal agreement of sorts with me.

    The actual cash reimbursement for the coupon is between the store and the product company. It’s the store’s responsibility to see that the proper product was matched up.

    Work as a cashier and every day you will see little old ladies trying to give coupons for the wrong product. There’s no way they would ever be legally punished. Also, they will sometimes hand you a $5 when they meant to hand you a $10. I don’t see how this would be legal fraud either. Again, it is up to the store.. They have the final say on whether or not an item is allowed to leave the building.

  • DealSnob23. Apr, 2011

    Reality shows always have only partial truths. I am so glad there are ethical couponers who try to set the record straight. Thank you! I agree with those who say that this hurts us all. Yes, it does. I went to Walmart recently and the cashier showed my coupons to 3 different workers before she decided to accept them. When I go to Giant Eagle, the cashier sometimes runs over to the service desk with my coupons and asks about them before accepting them too. It’s getting harder to use coupons ethically. Now, we are also faced with unethical couponers trying to mimic these deals from the show. Some people feel that they have the right to use coupons however they see fit. A cashier at my local Giant Eagle said that they had arrested someone recently for using copies of printable coupons. I say, “good” … that type of behavior again hurts us all.

  • roaming24. Apr, 2011

    Jill I am guessing you know about this since they talked to you for the story but I was shocked!

    http://www.baltimoresun.com/entertainment/tv/bs-ae-extreme-coupons-20110412,0,7629896.story?page=1

    On the day of filming, Kirlew told Safeway managers that part of her strategy was to use coupons on products for which they are not intended, said Greg TenEyck, spokesman for Safeway. But Kirlew was not allowed to do so, said TenEyck, who was not at the filming but related what store officials who were present told him.

    “I did hear that’s what happened, that she had said, ‘This what I do,’ and our folks said, ‘That’s not our policy. You’ve got to use the correct coupon for the correct item,’ ” TenEyck said.

    What did Mr. TenEyck think when he saw the show and she did it anyway after they told her she could not?? Jamie posted last week on her site that using coupons for the wrong thing was “her strategy” and she stood by it. Now here is a Safeway guy saying that she said this is her “strategy” again.

    Coupon fraud is not a strategy!

  • Queen_Michelle24. Apr, 2011

    TLC please remove J’aime Kirlew from your Extreme Couponing Episode! Everybody should join this group and stand up for what is right! She needs to be edited out of this show! Please join and invite your friends! J’aime’s actions effect us all whether we coupon or not! Thank you in advance! http://www.facebook.com/pages/TLC-please-remove-Jamie-Kirlew-from-your-episode-of-Extreme-Couponing/160169154044377

  • couponbug24. Apr, 2011

    Ditto! Great post. Stop fraud!

  • amciotola24. Apr, 2011

    I used to do a lot of couponing at CVS and used the Extra Care bucks to their limit. However, I’ve never used a coupon other than it’s intended purpose. If I needed to do multiple transactions I would do my first one then go to the back of the line and wait my turn again.

    What Jaime is doing is completely wrong and I think TLCs response is severely lacking. “We’re investigating.” is basically telling us that they are hoping we’ll drop the complaints and go away quietly. The re-airing of that specific episode confirmed that.

    I would love to be able to get deals like this but in the ethical way. Because I have a heavy workload of being an computer engineer I can’t dedicate the time that severe couponers can but I am happy with the deals I can find. My goal is to create a stock pile on the brands we use of the non-perishables. I certainly wouldn’t mind a huge TP and Paper Towel stock pile. :)

    Anyway, keep up the great work guys. I’m re-learning a lot!

    Annette :)

  • afinch25. Apr, 2011

    Growing up, my mum was an average couponer, but she wanted a way to teach me and my brother – and to a lesser extent my younger sister – how to live well on a budget. We didn’t have a ‘stockpile’ option available to us, and we very much lived paycheck to paycheck, with two working parents. But I digress. What she did do was sit us down and say ‘okay, you’re going to rotate weeks, every third week, for three months. You have $100 each to plan a balanced dinner for our family for seven days’. We learned straightaway it was better to buy a 5lb bag of potatoes than it was to buy a box of them. After a few weeks, we figured out it was cheaper to make our own sauces and soups – and far more fun. Once he even managed to afford a night of steak and potatoes for the whole family, with a luxury trip to the ice cream parlor for dessert.

    Then my mum upped the ante by dropping our budget 25%. Now I realise it was probably money issues, but to us it was a fun game – balanced dinners for a family of 5 on that budget got us to learn how to save coupons from the paper and hold on to them, even when it wasn’t our week. I learned from mum how to shop within my means, and use coupons to help supplant that. She was there to offer gentle encouragement [and veto power for heavily processed foods – no kraft dinner with hotdogs tossed in] at the grocery store, and helped us with the Sunday paper. But nothing – NOTHING – as crazy as what these children of these ‘extreme couponers’ are learning.

    I mean, goshdarn, we had a full serving of fruit and veggies at every dinner – and dessert if we could afford it, or I’d get watermelon and make that dessert/fruit. I can’t imagine who I would be or what I would eat if my mum were an ‘extreme’ couponer and I had bbq sauce under my bed growing up instead of toys and books. This show just makes me sick.

  • clydemily25. Apr, 2011

    I saw this link on another coupon site where J’aime shows how she saved what you saw on TLC. Interesting. http://montgomeryvillage.patch.com/articles/video-coupon-diva-answers-her-critics#video-5762341

  • cpngirl25. Apr, 2011

    Does she realize she just taught everyone how to commit coupon fraud?? And she changed her shopping list to exact items for this video.

  • couponresonsible25. Apr, 2011

    Fraud is a pretty strong allegation for this segment. A manufacturer offers up coupons for a wide range of products and does often print terms that include allowing coupon use for “sister” brands as with cereal, yogurt sizes, etc. It is very rare for a store to nit-pick through sizes and such–hence the system as it is now–if the bar code scans the product becomes discounted, end of story (and store and company are happy) The woman in Baltimore is not the first to use this method and if it was true fraud it would have been fixed long before this.

    Whats important to remember is that the manufacturer is looking to get customers to purchase products. I guarantee you that they are not up at night worrying over Suzy Homemaker purchasing cereal A they make vs. cereal B or yogurt sizes, etc. As for Safeway changing their system that is completly their perogitive, however, will most likely result in coupon hassles which will slow down lines, increase labor cost, customer dissatisfaction, and eventually lower sales. Remember folks, coupons are a form of advertising and used to get people in the door–using them against your customers, even extreme customers is far from productive.

  • dani113027. Apr, 2011

    “Seeing something on television validates it as “truth” for many people.”

    This is so true. I have been couponing for just over a year. I have told various people about how much can be saved and even shown them my receipts. (Look I got laundry soap for .30 a bottle!) Most people just blew me off (even family). Now since the show has come out I have those same people asking me to show them how to do this-and asking for good deals. I have had a couple of friends and family friend me on facebook-then when I ask for extra coupons people arent using I get the-ohh I watch that show too! I have to explain I have only seen one episode of that show, I ask this every couple of weeks, and have been shopping like this for over a year. A lot of these people wanting to coupon now are the same ones I have been trying to get to do this for over a year. I have even taken them with me to the store! But they see it on TV so now it is ‘real’.

    My daughter (10) loves the fact I use coupons. She brags about my total. We set down to watch this show. It just so happened to be this episode. She was very impressed by it. Wanted me to do the same thing. I had to explain why that would never happen. Our taxes are different, our store doesn’t double up to that amount, etc. That was the first and only episode we watched. I got sick to my stomach just watching her take everything off of the shelves! This was before I found out about HOW she was doing this! Though I have to admit I have been known to do something similar. Sorry but all of those toothbrushes look alike to me. (that is the only one I promise!)

  • Jo_Shoemaker28. Apr, 2011

    Yesterday, I watched an online video where the “host” interviewed one of the EC’s (I believe her name was Stephanie…I may be wrong) who actually appeared on the show on Wednesday, 4/27/11. In the interview, the host asked the woman if she truly spent 60 or80 hours a week on her couponing (which was a statement she made on the show). She kind of snickered & confirmed that in an “extreme” situation she has/had spent 60-80 hours…but “normally” she only spends 20-40 hours a week cutting, organizing & preparing her shopping list.

    I realize that this is different than the woman you are talking about (using one coupon for a different product). However, as this misstatement made by the couponer, I, personally, consider this as falsifation of the “facts” and/or deceptive and ununethical! I think it is the “responsibility” of the EC & TLC to NOT mislead the general public. In addition, I think it may intimidate people who are new or newer to couponing and thus, discourage them because they do not have that amount of time to devote to couponing. I acknowlede that each person can be as “extreme” as they choose to be. This post is MY personal opinion and others may not agree with me. I just think it is important that information put out there should be ACCURATE AND HONEST!

  • pmc369703. May, 2011

    I work for a large food manufacturer. We are corporations who need to make money to keep our shareholders happy and willing to support us. People to take advantage of us in this way are one of the reasons we have to increase prices, decrease size (equivalent to increasing the price) or look for ways to take cost out of our products. She is stealing from the safeway and she is stealing from the product manufacturers. This impacts our production plants- and the people we employ. It is not victimless and it does harm!

  • couponcity03. May, 2011

    I guess because I stated that I had coupons that allowed Fiber one and Cheerios along with a few other names that was wrong. I received my coupons in the mail in a booklet called Big savings from Gen. Mills. It had coupons that were the same as the smartsource and redplum but it also had alot of different ones including a coupon that looked exactly like the one on the show, but allowed several different kinds of cereal. I didn’t bother to read it cause I only eat Fiber One. I did read it later. Has anyone else received this booklet? I already used many of the coupons and cut up the rest. But it was about 6 pages with about 10 coupons and some information about the company and the products. I also received a booklet in my mail with lots of coupons for pepsi, sobe, tostitos (sp?) etc.
    Just because I was commenting I had also had coupons that allowed several types of cereals doesn’t mean I was defending her actions. Certainly she should buy what the coupon states. I also mentioned I had accidently used the Nivea lotion for body wash but the cashier caught it. I had coupons for both, but the print was small and I simply grabed the wrong ones. Kudos to my cashier. I simply pulled out the correct ones.
    Messages should not be deleted because you don’t like them, they should only be deleted if they show vulgar, criminal or hateful messages.
    I also have NEVER seen a $10 off anything coupon except my stores coupon. I have had those for $10 off an order of whatever. But you earn that with what you buy and how much over time.

  • couponcity03. May, 2011

    I love this show, because it has taught me a few things. I never knew you could stack coupons. I am glad it showed me you could. A couple stores I shop at will and that is helpful for things like diapers and wipes. I also learned about the binder method. Before I had coupons scattered in my purse.
    I also learned that couponing is saving. I really didn’t do it before this show. But it has taught me that you can use a few coupons and stock up and get a great deal.
    I think those of you who do more couponing then me, since I am a newbie, should apply for this show and teach REAL couponing. That would be much better then saying they should end the show. I don’t think ending it is the answer, I believe teaching REAL savings and ethical shopping will go much more further. I loved the woman who said in the first epidsode. She only buys those things she will need and goes around collecting from people who throw them out. She had the right idea. You don’t need to buy 100 bags of croutons if you don’t really need them. I HATE croutons, so I will cut those out and get them ready for the coupons overseas. Someone likes them somewhere!

  • avenger05. May, 2011

    Since the Jai’me episode, we had Missy using Purex with Zout coupon to buy cheaper Purex. Desirae used a ton of Marcal toilet paper coupons that say “limit 1 per customer.”

    Last night a girl used the Starkist Selects (more expensive) tuna coupon on the cheap cans of tuna. They rang at the register as wrong item (AT OUR JEWEL OF ALL PLACES!) and she asked for a manager to override them and they did. What the heck?!

    I noticed too that they are blurring people’s shopping lists and not showing shots of all the coupons being scanned & yet I still caught that. The show is a mess and a lesson in what not to do. “Extreme Couponing Fraud” on TLC!

    And the other couponer – 150 pairs of free Target jeans with that $5 printable coupon that is limit 1 per transaction?! Please. Does he have 75 computers in his house or did he photocopy them. What seems more likely?

  • gefiltefishee05. May, 2011

    I have to be honest, I’m terribly conflicted about this being coupon “fraud.”

    Now, I understand that, legally, this may constitute fraud, but I also feel that way too much of the blame is being placed on the coupon user.

    On some level, I kind of feel like “you know, all she’s doing is using the system’s loopholes to her advantage.”

    I don’t agree with the statement that this is the same as shoplifting. If a shoplifter tried to run out of the store with merchandise, not one employee would ALLOW them to do that. In the case of these coupons, the employees are ALLOWING the customer to use them – and so is the computer system! Many of you have said that by showing this on TV we are sending the message that this is OK, but don’t you also think that by allowing these coupons to be used (whether by computer or employee), the stores are sending the message that it’s OK for customers to use coupons like this? Why would you give her the means, or allow her to do something that you don’t want her doing?

    No one is doctoring coupons, no one is holding a gun to the cashier’s head, no one is trying to hide the coupons they’re using, and I think a good first line of defense on the store’s behalf would be to include basic coupon knowledge in their team member training. Both the cashiers AND the COMPUTER SYSTEMS are accepting these coupons. She may not technically be supposed to use coupons in that manner, but if that’s the case, why are the stores accepting them? You can’t dangle a chicken dinner in front of a starving child and expect them not to try and eat it. Stores are upgrading to a system that prevents this – great. But until then, they kind of have to deal with the consequences of their flawed system.

    Let’s remember – the system these manufacturers and stores have designed have physical loopholes that allow for this to happen. Why punish the user for using these loopholes to their advantage?

    (I’m simply providing an alternative view on this, not attacking anyone else’s views. If you respond to this, please be polite. )

  • rgalatioto06. May, 2011

    She did most definately commit fraud by using the coupons for a product other than specifically stated on the front of the coupon (including size). It’s like going into a grocery store and paying a cashier with ‘monopoly money’ and walking out of the store. The stores wind up eating the cost of all of the product she takes out of the store when they are unable to redeem their coupons from the manufacturers. I don’t know where a lot of the ‘extreme couponers’ shop, but in the greater New York City area, they put limits on how many items you can purchase when things are on sale. As well, stores scrutinize the coupons and make sure that you purchased specific items that match coupons. Many times, I have had to take items that have been bagged out for verification that they matched the coupon. The stores’ practices are lax and this woman is taking advantage. She is putting the savings that many depend on from coupons in jeopardy by her selfish and illegal uses of them.

  • Coupon Maven06. May, 2011

    The Coupon Information Corporation (organization which fights coupon fraud) released a statement:

    http://www.couponinformationcenter.com/extremecoupon.php?st=5fe98

    CIC Position on Extreme Couponing
    May 5, 2011.

    The Coupon Information Corporation (CIC) expresses our great disappointment with TLC’s current series, Extreme Couponing, and hereby offers our expertise and other assistance to TLC and Sharp Entertainment (which produces the show) to enhance the program with more accurate and realistic information. In addition, we hope they address potentially illegal acts that appear to have been portrayed on the show.

    Professionals in the coupon industry believe this show creates unrealistic expectations about how coupons work and promotes the misuse of coupons. For example, the show appears to portray coupons being used in violation of the terms and conditions printed on the coupons, such as using coupons to obtain products other than those specified by the coupon offer, and focuses on consumers who have procured large quantities of coupon inserts from unknown sources, which may raise civil and/or criminal issues.

    In real life, individuals attempting to use such large quantities of coupons or attempting to use them in violation of the terms stated on the coupons would most likely have their coupons refused at the register or, depending on the circumstances, be investigated by law enforcement. According to media reports, TLC recently stated,

    “While the series documents extreme couponing strategies, we take any concerns about specific tactics seriously and are looking into the situation.” We look forward to hearing what TLC discovers.

    The CIC’s and other industry experts’ previous offers of assistance to the producers to make this an educational show were previously turned down. Nevertheless, we stand ready to help in the event the producers or TLC reconsider their path and seek to turn this into a show that accurately reflects appropriate coupon strategies and use, which would result in real benefits for TLC’s viewing audience.

  • jlsmith2813. May, 2011

    I agree that people should not try to commit fraud to get discounts or FREE items! It hurts all of us that use coupons honestly! I have been using coupons for awhile and I only use legit and free sites like Couponing Ideas – http://www.couponingideas.com or Coupon Mom – http://www.couponmom.com that teach the right way to use coupons. I learned a lot from both of these sites. I try to find sites that do not focus on purchasing tons of items with coupons like the show on TLC does.

    I am afraid that this show is going to cause stores to stop doubling coupons! One of my favorite stores K***** stopped doubling coupons in certain regions. Luckily I have another store about 15 minutes from me that does still double coupons for right now anyways.

    I don’t understand how they can even get by with using the wrong coupon on the wrong item! On one of my shopping trips I had all of my coupons I planned on using in an envelope. However, one of the items were not in stock when I got to the store. After shopping for 45 minutes I forgot about not being able to get this item. When I handed the cashier my coupons and she was scanning them; that one coupon beeped an error (Item not found). It was then that I realized I did not pull out that coupon from my envelope. Of course I apologized and put the coupon away. This taught me a new method though. Now I have 2 envelopes. One for the coupons I plan to use (if they have that item in stock) and one for the coupons of the item I put in my basket. It makes it a lot easier because I can just transfer over only the coupons I know I am going to use to make sure they match exactly with the correct items in my buggy. Of course everyone has their own method.

    My point is that these people that spend hours trying to match up bar codes to the box code to try and get items they do not have coupons for; which to me is spending time trying to figure out how to cheat the system. This is just wrong! If they would focus on getting items they only have coupons for they would find that they still can save money! I have saved several hundred dollars each month by matching my coupons to my store’s sales and doing it honest.

    I really hope these people that are doing it dis-honest will stop before it hurts other people. There are many people that are struggling to get by. Some do not have much money for food because of job loss. Coupons may be their only way to put food on the table. If coupon policies change because of the dis-honest people it could cause those that really need to use them to not be able to afford food for their family when their store’s stop doubling coupons.

    Before using coupons my family was also struggling to meet bills and put food on the table. This economy had been tough the past 2 years. I really hope that stores will start cracking down on these dis-honest couponers!

    Just my opinion.

    God Bless!

    Julie

    PS. If anyone knows of any other FREE coupon sites that are legit please let me know. I am always trying to learn more ways to save.

  • thejen15. May, 2011

    I am new to couponing and find this entire issue totally fascinating. I became interested from watching the show and then when I started my research process and happened to mention that to an online friend of mine in a non-coupon chat mentioned something about coupon codes from something she heard someone else say at a checkout counter about how she saved so much money because “she knew her codes”. I looked around a little bit online but did not spend too much time figuring out what I now know as the whole “loop hole” process. Until reading this article, I never gave it much thought, and then it clicked.

    So then it kinda clicked again when I started to think about when she (Jaime) along with others from the show, ‘realized’ the amount at the checkout was climbing higher and higher, she said herself that her heart would race (with obvious nervousness). My question is: why would an extreme couponer, who spends hours planning and calculating a shopping trip down to the very last detail, be not only surprised at the pre-coupon total let alone be nervous?

    There are several types of indicators when someone is being deceptive, one being body language that most times can be viewed by the average person and the other is what most people have a harder time detecting through outwardly body signs and that is biological responses such as increased heart rate, which many admit to experiencing at the checkout. Granted this is an “addiction” for many which includes a “high” and I understand that to a point, but why would a prepared shopping experience cause any uncertainty by the coupon shopper?

    Could it be that the person KNOWS they are getting away with a legal loophole but yet they also KNOW what they are doing is technically and intentionally defrauding the coupon system and that is why they get nervous at the checkout because deep down they are afraid of getting caught? I mean who ever heard of a “healthy addiction” anyways? If you aren’t doing anything wrong or trying to get away with something, what is there to get nervous about? Dedicated to saving money would be what I call those persons who honestly coupon in the correct manner (not an addiction) and I seriously doubt that they get nervous at the checkout.

    My theory is purely speculation and is not intended to put anyone on the defensive. I totally acknowledge that there may be something with the extreme couponing experience that I may be missing or do not understand since I am new, so if I happen to offend anyone by accident I apologize in advance. :D

  • jlsmith2816. May, 2011

    That is a great point! I also wondered why they seemed so nervous at the cash register on the show! I always calculate exactly what my total will be before coupons and what it should be after coupons before I ever walk out the door. Of course sometimes my totals are not exact because the prices may have went up or down since my last visit. I also know exactly which stores around me will double and which will not, and how much they will double up to. This helps keep things pretty accurate.

    My best tip to those starting out new is to always read the “fine print” on the coupon. What I mean by this is to not always go by the picture. Some cereal or other coupons will say in fine print all of the types of cereal and sizes you can use the coupon on. For example the picture on the coupon might be for Frosted flakes but the writing on the coupon might say you can purchase Frosted Flakes, Raisin Bran, etc. with the coupon. If the item is not pictured or listed on the coupon then it is safe to assume that you can NOT use the coupon for that item. Some people think that just because it is a General Mills coupon that you can use it on ANY General Mills product; but this is NOT true! You have to look at the coupon and see exactly what the coupon allows you to get a discount on.

    Trying to use the coupon on items that are not pictured or listed in the small print is wrong. This is trying to cheat the system in my opinion. Yes, stores do get reimbursed for the coupons value and some also get a small handling fee per coupons 5 to 8 cents. BUT… Many manufacturer’s require the store to show invoices of exactly how many they ordered and how many have been sold of that item to prove the coupons could have been used on the exact product. If someone uses 100’s of coupons on items that were not intended for the coupon the store’s inventory will not match up and it could cause the store to NOT get reimbursed for those coupons! This means the store looses money because of a couponer that thought it was okay to try and cheat the system.

    The easiest way to do things is to just keep it honest! There is nothing wrong with saving money or even getting a few things for free if you are using the right coupon on the right item.

    You can save a lot of money just by looking at the store’s current sales and then matching the sale of the items to coupons you might have.

    Example: If you have a coupon for brand X Mustard that is a $0.40 coupon and let’s stay your store doubles up to $0.50, then your coupon is actually worth $0.80! If the brand X mustard goes on sale for $0.99 and you use your coupon (if doubled) then you would only pay $0.19 for the brand X mustard. Even if your coupon does not double you would be getting it at $0.59. That’s not bad! If the brand X mustard was on sale for $0.80 and your $0.40 coupon doubled then you could actually get it for FREE. The smart thing to do is to only get enough for several months (not several years) in my opinion. If the coupon was not for brand X mustard then you don’t use the coupon for that sale, that simple and honest.

    Most items will go on sale at their lowest price about every 12 – 14 weeks. So there is no need to stock up on hundreds of items in my opinion! If you get enough to last you several months then you should be fine until the next sale.

    I really hope that these massive couponers do not cause stores to not accept coupons because when they are used the right way you can still save a lot of money.

    I wish the show would put average couponers on there that only stock up on a few months supply and show how they collect, organize and use the coupons to “teach” people more about couponing instead of just showing someone going in for hundreds of the same item and their totals when they check out. It needs to be more of a teaching show! If you are an extreme couponer and I have offended you; I do apologize. I am not trying to upset anyone, I just wish the ones that do things dis-honestly would stop, and think about how they are affecting all of us honest couponers and the stores that are losing money because of them.

    When you use coupons the right way to save money the stores do not lose money and you save honestly! Everyone wins that way. I have saved several hundred dollars a month by doing things the right way; so it can be done.

  • armymom20. May, 2011

    …Couponers shopping in stores that DOUBLE Q;s….
    TLC makes it look so appealing with that concept. What many “newbies” don’t realize is that only a couple of stores will double the Q’s.

  • mrscarrigan21. May, 2011

    Was looking around at more sites to do for my Coupon Blog Reviews, and stumbled across this article! I’ve been hearing about how she had commited fraud, but this is the best post I’ve seen! Thanks! Hope you don’t mind, but I”m going to link to it today!

  • couponingideas23. May, 2011

    That is a wonderful idea, but unfortunately they will not want couponers like us because most of us only get a handful of items when they are Free or at a huge discount. We don’t normally clear the shelves like they do on TV. It is really sad because they are giving people “unrealistic” ideas of what couponing is all about.

    Most stores will not let regular people like us do the things they have showed on TV! For example: Most stores will not let someone split up transactions into 10+ just to stay under the coupon limit! A lot of stores now don’t double coupons, and good luck finding one that triples.

    I wish the show would focus more on teaching every day people how to save money with coupons; using them the right way! I thought I was an extreme couponer by using only 5 to 10 of the same coupon when things were really cheap; that was until I saw the TV show that has people using 100+ of the same coupon! To me, it is selfish to clear the shelf of hundreds of items; leaving other people none!

    Maybe if enough people write to the show requesting they show realistic couponing they will have people on that get less of each item and save around 50% – 70% on their groceries as this is the more realistic overall percentage. Yet, I still doubt they will.

    The thing is you can save a lot of money by using coupons. However, saving 90% – 100% is not something that happens for everything. You can find a few items that you can get this kind of discount on usually almost every week. But they are on just a few and it does require going to 2 or more store usually because one item might be on sale at Walgreens and another might be on sale at CVS. Of course if you get those “few” free items a week then you will eventually see the savings because it will be one less thing you have to buy for a little while. Most items go on sale every 12 to 16 weeks at their lowest price.

    God bless,

    Lynn

  • HonestCouponMom197523. May, 2011

    I am shocked, and speechless! I am a mom who is much like you and started several years ago couponing out of necessity. I made spreadsheets, tracked sales, and savings etc, even shared it with my neighbors. Then life took off, I got a great job, money was good and I forgot all about it. Too much work in my busy schedule.

    I was recently watching TLC’s Extreme Couponing Show, since a recent layoff has reminded me of the value of thriftiness, I was impressed to say the least. So much so that I suggested to my church group, that we should do this to donate to local food pantries etc. I had NO IDEA, that fraud was going on. Why would I? I would never think of doing something like that in the first place!

    What a HUGE disappointment to me!!! I started my own coupon binder, thinking what a great way to organize. My shopping trip today did save me 38% and I was disappointed initially until I started reading this blog, and a few other websites, that led me here. I am truly applauded at what some of those “couponers” are doing!

    J’amie, unfortunately, appears to be the only one being called out for her crimes. Even if what she did is not going to be prosecuted it’s morally and ethically wrong and unacceptable, and we honest American Citizens sit around and wonder why we are all going broke and prices are sky high!

    I think they all should be exposed. Another national, well known, syndicated station should feature you, Coupon Manufacturer’s, CEO’s and the CIC and others about this issue. It would Force TLC to take the show off the air. I have always been a fan of TLC but no more, I am truly disgusted!

    Furthermore, I think all the “stockpiled” products that were taken from the stores should have to be returned. After all they weren’t legally paid for were they? These people are getting away with grand larceny and they should have to return the items, then these corporations would not have to take the losses and raise prices….again. The stores should retrain the managers and staff and prosecute these people. I don’t want my crest toothpaste to eventually cost me $15 a tube because “John Doe” didn’t want to pay for it!

    BTW…IN CLOSING…Now I am pretty proud of my 38% savings and would like to know more about purchasing healthy items and getting coupons for them too!

    Thank you Jill!

  • charley25. May, 2011

    I was amused at the episode where the lady used the $2.00 off coupon on the Millstone coffee. The coupons I have say it have to be 1/2 pound or larger. She used them on the tiny 1.5 ounce bag, that was 1.69. She was given over $28.00 in overages because she bought about 100 of them! They showed that she had the same coupon I have, and it was used ok. Does the manufacture pay the store if it was used incorrectly?

  • SoCalGal26. May, 2011

    This is criminal activity. I have been “Extreme Couponing” for years for the right products legally. I hate it when people try to cheat the system, it hurts everyone in the end. I feel lucky if I walk out with a 74% savings which I did legally this past week with no coupons, just the sale price. I also do not clear shelves it leaves the next person empty handed. Call ahead, even if they say you can get 5 offers on $5 for every 10 items, meaning 50 of the same item. My store manager loves the heads up and will tell me if it is a problem and gladly write a rain check for when they have more on stock.

    The new coupons will eliminate this switching and keep it even.

    If you watch closely you can see fraud in many of the episodes. Very sad.

  • Coupon Maven26. May, 2011

    Apparently, in last night’s episode, a shopper at Fry’s was allowed to break the store’s rules on limits and how many coupons can be doubled for the show. Viewers on other sites have been crying foul, and Fry’s has released a statement about the show on its Facebook page:

    We appreciate your comments regarding the recent airing of TLC’s Extreme Couponing that was filmed at our Fry’s Marketplace in Sahuarita. Fry’s was flattered to be asked to participate in the national show and showcase one of our stores. In addition, we also had the opportunity to show that we are running one of the hottest coupon promotions out there by making all manufacturer coupons up to a dollar and gladly accepting all grocery competitor coupons. We understand that some customers may have questions regarding the coupon policy after viewing the show and we welcome your comments. We do want to make it clear that the show was done for promotional purposes and that our coupon policy posted here on Facebook remains the same and is for all Fry’s stores.

    The store’s policy is to double the first three coupons, but from what others are saying… ALL the coupons were doubled for the show.

  • sugarpies31. May, 2011

    And if you get the Jesus Christ Superstar lyric reference in that you’re my new BFF. :)

    I started watching Extreme Couponing a couple weeks ago out of boredom. After the first episode I saw which happens to be the one discussed in this article I was inspired. I had no real intention of buying $2K worth of groceries for $100 and turning my house into a mini-mart, but I figured if I could shave my $150 bill down to $15 I’d be a really happy camper.

    As I began my research into how to “coupon” I was surprised that no one seemed to be doing things the way the people on the show did them. Most talked about saving between 50% and 70% if you were really good. So, how were these people on these shows doing it?

    Then I ran across the statement from Fry’s (the store featured in the show is just south of where I live in Tucson). They admitted they had allowed the woman in the show to use coupons inappropriately and in ways that they NEVER allow others to do. Their FB page lit up like a Christmas tree with outraged customers. After seeing the episode, I had decided to abandon my local Albertson’s and start shopping at Fry’s because they seemed to have a much better policy for coupons. Come to find out the “policy” they showed on the episode was a hoax.

    Then, as I was doing my research in how to coupon I kept running across sites that offered “coupon codes” I had no idea what these were. I thought it might be something like a discount code that you would use at Amazon.com or something. After reading this article I now understand that the people swapping “codes” are actually conspiring to commit fraud and theft. WOW!

    So, while I was inspired, I’m now a little sad and tired that I spent so much time being jazzed about fixing my hurting budget only to find out the whole thing is a hoax. I’m hoping that the “good” folks can still lead me to my magical 50-70% savings on my grocery bill legally, though. :)

    BTW: for those who say what these people are doing is not fraud, please consider the legal requirements to prove fraud in court:

    Fraud must be proved by showing that the defendant’s actions involved five separate elements: (1) a false statement of a material fact,(2) knowledge on the part of the defendant that the statement is untrue, (3) intent on the part of the defendant to deceive the alleged victim, (4) justifiable reliance by the alleged victim on the statement, and (5) injury to the alleged victim as a result.

    The use of the coupons for items for which they are not intended satisfies all of those requirements. The fact that a manager or cashier conspires with the person to commit fraud – by presenting the coupon to the manufacturer for reimbursement knowing it was used inappropriately is yet another charge.

    In short, TLC and the store managers and PR people are defrauding manufacturers of thousands of dollars if they are presenting these coupons to the manufacturers for reimbursement. My guess is that the stores are eating those thousands of dollars in exchange for the air time and thereby avoiding a prosecutable act because they KNOW what they’re all doing is highly illegal and immoral.

  • honeybee31. May, 2011

    I have been watching TLC’s “Extreme Couponing” and was inspired…for a few minutes. I love to use coupons, however, I don’t have 40 extra hours a week to devote to clipping coupons. I work two jobs. I will endeavor to try harder to save with coupons, but I sure as heck don’t need a wall of toothpaste or a store shelf of deodorant. That Jaime broad kinda turned me off by purchasing items other than what the coupon was for. I balk at that crap. Just by viewing the stock piles featured on this show makes me think that these people will star on the next episode of “Hoarders”

  • MoneySavvyMamma02. Jun, 2011

    I greatly dislike this show for a multitude of reasons – but mostly because I knew there had to be fraud. I live in the Chicagoland area and couponing LEGALLY and ETHICALLY, I manage to average a savings of 65-75% for groceries and I can get about 80% on personal necessities. I have no stores that double my coupons, I just spend my Sunday evening matching up with the sales ad. My stores don’t offer an overage, I face high tax on everything I buy, but as seen by my blog, it’s not impossible.

    I think this show draws so much attention because we are facing hard economic times. Unfortunately this show is leading people to false hopes and empty promises, and teaching others that it’s okay to clear a shelf or two, which is just ethically wrong. No one needs 50 bottles of BBQ sauce, nor do they need 70 boxes of cat food.

    I’m constantly telling people that “extreme couponing” when done right can save you money, but you simply wont get a $2,000 grocery bill for pennies on the dollar. It’s funny to me how no one ever seems to notice that they buy A TON of those nasty yakisoba noodles, rarely do you see them with fresh produce or meat in their carts. I wish they’d come out with something a bit more ethical. I’m constantly being asked when I’m out with my coupon binder how I do it, do I spend countless hours (absolutely not) clipping coupons, how much money have I saved, have I gotten anything for free…. it would be nice to see a few sound minds go on a television show and explain the proper way.

    Savings is a right, not a privelage,and unfortunately it’s a right that will be taken away from a lot of us due to coupon fraud and abuse such s that displayed on TLC’s Extreme Couponing. Thanks for the blog post, it was nice to see I wasn’t the only one raising a brow!!

  • CouponNewb02. Jun, 2011

    It was a rainy foggy weekend and I sat glued to the TV watching Extreme Couponing with amazement. I have never seen anything like it before. The savings these women were getting were insane to me. On average I spend around $100/week for groceries, for JUST ME. Despite the fact that the show is reality TV, never had it even crossed my mind that the savings were fake!

    Immediately after watching all the available episodes I plunged myself in front of the computer and started researching double couponing, lol At least from what I gathered it seemed like that was the major factor in receiving the awesome deals.
    Disappointment #1 – no double couponing in Chicago.

    After I spent the last couple of days cutting out coupons and looking through the weekly ads it does make more sense to be a little more reasonable with the expectations of savings.

    Now I find out they fraudulently used the coupons on the show.

    Disappointment #2

    I’m almost embarrassed a reality TV show made me forget to have some common sense =/

  • avenger03. Jun, 2011

    Finally got around to watching Wednesday’s episode on the DVD and surprise, more coupon fraud from our friends at “The Learning Channel!”

    She had peelies for $2 off Kool-Aid or Country Time canisters, a whole big stack of ‘em. The question of where or how she got so many peelies aside, guess what she didn’t buy, kids……Canisters of Kool-Aid.

    What DID she buy……. drum roll please…….. Kool-Aid packets. Hello there, fraudulent overage!

    Saw on Shaw’s Supermarket Facebook page too that they have a rule to double only 6 coupons per transaction but ohohoh guess how many doubled for the show that was filmed there? Why it was all of the coupons. What a surprise.

    This show makes me SICK.

  • J.R.05. Jun, 2011

    Was just rethinking this whole fiasco a bit.

    Now that we know that the stores were in on the whole thing, it probably isn’t fraud at all, just a “staged” TV show. Most likely all these bogus transactions were never redeemed back to the manufacturer, they were just reimbursed by the TV show producers.

    It’s no more fraud than what happens at the start of NCIS is murder. It’s actors working off a script. It’s made for TV drama. Fiction. Anything except “reality” TV.

    Which makes the whole show worthless, and worse, frustrating to the consumer who hopes to save money the way they saw in the show.

    The only real fraud is that perpetrated by the producers of the show on the viewing public.

  • commonsence06. Jun, 2011

    Hey, if the store lets you get any item thats not intended for that coupon, thats on the store not the customer. Are you the coupon police? sounds like snitching to me!

  • Firedancer08. Jun, 2011

    I was a cashier for many years and had to hand enter all coupons, we needed to have every coupon with each product to make sure it was a match!
    (Glad I didn’t have anyone with that many coupons!)

    If the cashiers actually took the time to look at the product or question them on any of them I’m sure they would be sweating a lot more at the till! I’m sure that’s why they are shaking, Its more being scared they will get busted not about spending the extra money. It would defiantly eliminate fraud

  • Lakisha09. Jun, 2011

    Hello Jill,

    Your site came up when I was researching coupons among many others. When I read your content I was VERY pleased with your genuineness and ethical behavior. I have always been into saving but have gotten away from utilizing coupons. The show Extreme Couponing is disturbing and I am happy you are not a part of it. In fact I refuse to join any site that advertises themselves as EXTREME.

    Thank you!

  • kayaj10. Jun, 2011

    I have every episode recorded and saved. I was watching the 6/1 episode of Kelly and Rebecca. Rebecca bought travel size Pert shampoos, she used $1 off coupon for the regular size bottle. SERIOUSLY MAD AND SICK!

  • CindyBrockGA12. Jun, 2011

    I have two questions:

    1. Why can’t all the people who shopped at that same store sue the store – maybe for discrimation of some type?

    2. Can a manufacturer block out a chain of stores and no longer accept their coupons?

    My couponing buddy called and told me that she was at Kroger in N. Georgia yesterday (6/10) and they told her they were going to stop doubling coupons.

    The biggest ‘trip’ she and I made didn’t even involve doubling: it was a great deal at a great time. In fact, we made $.06 cents on every box of Ronzoni pasta we bought. (We gave a lot of this away to relatives/friends who have very little money.)

    According to the show, only 5% of the available coupons out there are used. I would say that’s about right. Yet I still believe(d) that if the % goes up too high, stores are going to really start changing their policies (e.g., no doubling, no more than X number of coupons per transactions, etc.). The drug stores (e.g., Walgreens, CVS, etc.) already limit the quantities. Besides, stores DO NOT have to accept coupons – but that’s a whole other competitive edge situation.

    I (personally) don’t believe in stockpiling for the sake of “showcasing” what I have. The person I thought was the greatest example of why stockpiling is good is the minister who donated everything he got to a local charity. For me, unless it’s a good deal and it’s something I can use and/or give away (e.g., food pantry, homeless shelter, relatives, friends, etc.), I don’t plan to buy it. My focus right now is on sending the personal hygience items to soldiers – especially the female soldiers – in the middle east.

    ~Cindy ;)

  • rjaks15. Jun, 2011

    This was very interesting to read. Thank you for it. I took the time to look up Discover and found that they have an ethics hotline. and a viewer relations department. I have sent them a note that due to this show and how it has come across that they have lost a viewer. While I am sure getting one letter from one viewer will not make a difference I would think getting several would. While I have done well saving money with coupons, I have also been able to give more to food drives and to our military overseas too. I have been able to save 80 to 90 % on HBA and 65 -75% on food items.
    Thanks again for this post.

  • Naaktehond19. Jun, 2011

    If the cashier allows a cupon to be used for anything other than its intended product size, We know the cashier is wrong and not doing the job he/she is paid to do, but is the person using the cupon wrong. IMO maybe not legally wrong but absolutely morally wrong. A person who knowingly takes cupons into the store and places incorrect sized items in their basket in the hope that the register will accept the cupon is stealing. we know right from wrong dont we?
    I watched the show yesterday for a few hours. I felt that they all had in common greediness, too much toothpaste, too much handsoap, some allowed their free products to take over their house storing in every closet. The guy with the pregnant wife made me the saddest of all, he stood in the basement oggling his “stuff” while his wife waited upstairs.
    another thing i noticed about this extreme show is all of them, while at the register, were very nervous, and I wondered why… after reading this page I now KNOW why.
    Cupons are not a bad thing, but through massive misuse they could become a thing of the past.
    Donna Rogers

  • tking19. Jun, 2011

    As a grocery cashier you do see people trying to extreme coupon. Safeway’s policy is 1 manufacture coupon and 1 store coupon (which the show doesn’t properly state). I know when she shopped seeing the store ad, and the store itself. My main issues with this show is this, The TLC people never show you the random $1-$5(maybe) off your next grocery order coupons. They are catalina coupons that you may get when you purchase so many boxes of a certain item. Safeway at the time she was shopping also had a deal where she also could have bought so many gift cards get so much off your next grocery order coupon, usually about $10 off. also they didn’t show any special mailer coupons like so much % off an order or $10 dollar off a $50 eligible purchase. Also in order to even film in a grocery store, especially a Safeway you need to have basically the District Manager’s permission which means that the store manager might have been told they might have to eat the coupons reimbursement to for the free publicity. No, Safeway wouldn’t have gotten reimbursed for those coupons, and in real life that cashier might have lost her job. again you can assume you didn’t see the all the items but the registers would have denied the coupon which then as the cashier we then look at the coupon and make sure the item was in the cart and the right size, etc.

  • hchobart0119. Jun, 2011

    I have been trying to use coupons for a month now. It is extremly hard with the prces here. There are no doublers, limited quantity, # of coupons you can use. Its all a lot of crap what these women claim to do. Id like to see somene come to NWI and get of the store for free. Not going to happen

  • gcc.obrien19. Jun, 2011

    This was actually the first “reality” show that I have actually enjoyed watching if you could say that.

    This is just another reality show, just like all the others. It is human nature to get away with all that you can, not that I do that. I use coupons as they are intended and this show actually inspired me to at least start using coupons again. Do you really think that all those people on all those reality shows actually live that way? I’m sure there are some that just love the drama that goes on in these shows, but personally, I can’t handle it.

    I was just saying to my husband today, though, that I was wondering where those people got all of those $5 coupons because we NEVER find anything that great unless it’s for something that’s $25 – 30 at regular price.

    Incidentally, I do not believe these people are hoarders, sick, maybe. But many of them intended to donate items to food shelves and shelters. Another reason I don’t think they are hoarders is because most of the people who are hoarders mostly save junk that cannot be used by anyone. I didn’t watch that show, but the one with all the dolls could have made millions selling them on e-bay. Too bad. . .

    But, my husband and I are both dieting and that one lady with the 6 children was buying all of that processed frozen food and I was thinking that all of that sodium is going to kill them. We buy mostly fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables and fresh meat and I guess I’m not lucky enough to find coupons for those.

    Also, most stores do not allow you to get money back from a coupon, since most coupons say up to the value of the item and most say that they cannot be stacked with other offers and many of these people did this. I don’t understand how the stores involved in this could change their registers to accept this.

    I don’t think it’s bad to clean out a store of some item, though. How many times have you taken the last item they had off the shelf before someone else can get it? I know it’s happened to me, and I’ll bet you’ve done it, too. Just because these people do it by taking many of them rather than 1, doesn’t make them bad people. In fact, many of them called the store in advance to order the items ahead so they would have enough of what they wanted without emptying the shelf.

    The one lady I couldn’t stand last night, was the one who made her husband carry the coupons around and she berated him when one envelope was misplaced.

  • Patti 5821. Jun, 2011

    Firstly, sorry for length. I have always said if people would learn to use coupons they could stretch food budgets. Wish they taught classes at social service organizations. I have seen so much food in past jobs they could have gotten twice the value just using coupons.

    As for TV show, it’s TV–’nuff said. Couponing is good to HELP the budgets. And if U are good at it, Thank You Jill, all the better.

    I have used coupons for as long as I have shopped (I’m 50s range). My mom used them in the 60’s. I shop sales w/coupons; clearance w/coupons; look for mfg coupons from mfgs. I have actually had true savings 50% with my coupons because I get meat, dairy (items which don’t have coupons), fruits/veggies when I shop too. I don’t have time, gas, or want to shop multiple times if I don’t have to. These people rarely show meat, veggies, or anything that usually has no coupons.

    There are many coupons I have used in the past 3-4 months online and in papers for sales to go w/them, but it does take some effort on the shoppers part. And…sometimes you do have to shop at more than 1 store. I have 4 stores within a 2 miles radius. I make it a 1 day trip usually and shop all stores in a circle format. If I wanted more and am able to purchase I usually am in the area at least twice and can reshop for the item to ‘store’ it for future use.

    I have overshopped and not used items as well because I just didn’t get to them or forgot I had them and they DID go bad. Don’t believe everything they say about it won’t go bad. There IS a limit on time for many items. They are not all good forever. You need to be sure to rotate your items and keep track of useable ‘use by’ dates. Many are good for a while after that date, but it depends upon how/where you store items and what the product is.

    Good luck. Start small and see what you get and work toward a bigger percentage of savings. Stores ARE working to help shoppers with special sales. U just need to take time to compare and look for deals.

  • beverlycolt26. Jun, 2011

    Thanks for the information

  • Dealznstealz26. Jun, 2011

    Here’s the radio show – Living the Dream Mom J’aime Kirlew http://www.4shared.com/audio/KQyErMTA/radio.html
    J’aime says she will continue to coupon the way she has always couponed in the past – she is denying that she used coupons fraudulently. Join us on Facebook – Boycott TLC’s Extreme Couponing Show and sign the petition to end the show. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Boycott-TLCs-Extreme-Couponing-Show/146376222097929?sk=wall

  • marya201103. Jul, 2011

    The store’s policy is to double the first three coupons, but all of the coupons were doubled for the show’s taping. Other shoppers watching the show would have the impression that they, too, could enjoy doubling every coupon at Fry’s, but Frys made it clear that they lifted their coupon policy as a “one-time” exception while this episode of Extreme Couponing was being filmed — other shoppers will only be able to double the first three coupons at Fry’s.

  • DawnS06. Jul, 2011

    I also show people how to coupon but this woman is screwing people, and companies out of money. She is stealing. She is also REALLY annoying.

  • danbo07. Jul, 2011

    Call it what you want to but it’s theft by deception. I’m not a lawyer and am not going to get into a legal argument here, but I have been in law enforcement for over a decade and believe me, sooner or later some zealous prosecutor will take up this challenge regardless of a store complaints or not. Just hope that the industry gets the bar codes changed before it hurts all of us shoppers/couponers.

  • silerk09. Jul, 2011

    I really appreciate this information. I agree with what most people are saying, that it is wrong to use the coupons fraudently and ultimately it can hurt all the rest of us who do it correctly if the stores end up losing too much money and have to start taking away some of the benefits they give us. And seriously, if I am witness to something illegal, whether it has anything to do with me technically, it then becomes my business. So to anyone who says it doesn’t hurt us so why are we complaining, that is my response. It concerns all of us.
    I am adding this site to my favorites! Just found it today.

  • DMarie21. Jul, 2011

    So I began watching the TLC show and got inspired. I’m a teacher who is off for the summer since I have a little more free time right now, I decided to give it a try. My first couponing Sunday my husband and I bought 4 Sunday papers. Two of the four didn’t have a coupon insert. I found out that one of my local papers no longer offers coupon inserts.
    Last Sunday I bought a rather expensive Sunday paper and to my horror, when I dove in it to start my own match up to the flyers I discovered the coupon insert was missing again. I drove back to the store this time and spoke to customer service. After explaining my complaint she stated, “Oh she must be back again!” Apparently there is a woman in my area who purchases one paper at the grocery store but fills it with inserts from a bunch more.
    I did see an article about woman doing the same thing using a self serve kiosk on a street. It is disappointing. I guess I’m naïve!
    I also think that using coupon coding is fraud. I live in the greater Boston/New Bedford area and there was a person on the show from outside of Boston. Like the other commenters I have only been able to save 40-50% doing it the “right” way. It’s definitely better than not couponing at all. I hope after school starts back up again I’ll have the time to continue with my summer experiment!

  • Nayners2424. Jul, 2011

    A few times I’ve gotten the wrong item that didn’t match the coupon. I’ve either put the item to the side, or get the right product. There have been times when the cashier somehow put it through. I thank the cashier and go on my way. But this woman is a crook. I cannot believe TLC didn’t make a statement, and I cannot believe the store accepted this so easily. What is says is that if you can get away with it, by all means do so!

    I recorded some episodes of extreme couponing a few weeks back and was watching them this morning. I couldn’t get past the second recording before I had to come to the computer and look up info on this show. I was disgusted by the junk food that these people were buying. I didn’t see anyone of them purchase meat, or fresh produce. Where does that come in? I also noticed that they bought so much that I’m sure the shelf life would expire before the could eat the food. I think someone had 60 boxes of ceral? One woman, a military stay-at-home wife, who home schooled her children bought tons of microwaveable meals. I thought, if you’re at home everyday, why are your children eating this junk? Hopefully ths food is being donated to those who really need it.

    Needless to say, I will delete the rest of the episodes. I don’t like reality tv because it’s so fabricated. This is just another example. I’m sure these people get paid, too!

  • Bethany104. Sep, 2011

    Has anyone noticed how the manufacturers are ripping everyone off. Food sizes are shrinking and prices have doubled and tripled.

    How can a wheat or corn cereal be $4 for a tiny box. Wheat and corn are cheap and farmers get supplements from the government to grow even more of it, even though wheat and corn and sugar are what makes humans fat and causes heart disease and cancer. Farmers that grow healthy vegetables or fruits that do not make you fat and do not cause heart disease, do not receive any government supplement money. Why, because veggies and fruits are healthy.

    Wheat and corn and sugar helps many corporations get richer. Wheat, corn and sugar manufactures are getting richer by raising the prices for no reason except for money. Heart disease makes the medical corporations and big pharmaceutical corporations a lot of money. These public corporations have shares that people buy in the stock market. The shares go up, if the medical and big pharma corporations make lots of money off of the bad health of Americans, eating crap like wheat, corn and sugar which makes up most processed foods makes a lot of corporations big profits and makes shareholders bigger dividend checks.

    So extreme couponing isn’t hurting anyone. The manufacturers, medical and big pharma are ripping us off.

    Coupons makes some things a little more affordable.

    Go to walgreens. I went there with a $1 off coupon. The clerk was raising all the prices of that product up $1, so the coupon was worthless. I could have bought the product the day before at the same price without the coupon. Thats ripping off the customers. Thats walgreens fraud. Frauding the customers.

    Etc.

  • Nico190804. Sep, 2011

    I apologize if I’m being off topic, but what does “doubling” coupons mean? That the store doubles a coupon’s value? If so, I have never seen or heard of it in my area.

  • Bethany104. Sep, 2011

    Most the items coupons are for processed foods, so I don’t use many of them. Mostly looking for discounts or coupons for healthy foods, fruits, veggies, milk, meat, eggs, etc. Not much available for healthy foods. I mean, how many boxes of cereal, bread, pasta, catsup, mayo, salad dressing, barbeque sauce does one really need? I have gotten that stuff, and then it just sits on the shelf till I move and throw it out.

    There are a few household items I use coupons for, and have lucked out a few times, and got a manufacturer coupon and store discount and got bags full of products of really nice face wash, bath soap, etc for free. So we gave everyone sets of face wash, bath soaps, etc for gifts.

    I use natures anti bacterial white vinegar for cleaning, so I don’t need coupons for toxic cleaning products. Most natural products don’t seem to have coupons very much if any. But I see lots of coupons for very toxic cleaning products, which I don’t want or need, as cancer is not my thing. I don’t see coupons for the gallon jugs of vinegar but it is only $2 so it lasts a long time, does a lot of cleaning, and is useful for numerous things and vinegar is so safe, you can even drink it. It dries clean and non sticky. Vinegar for cleaning is safe around all children and pets.

    I worked for JC Penneys years ago for about 2 months till I got a better higher paying job. I worked in the fine jewelry dept. For every sale, we had to go in an hour or so early to raise the prices before the store opened. If the sale was 20% off, we had to raise the prices of all jewelry 20% so to fraud the customer in thinking they were getting a deal. That was JC Pennys Fraud. Frauding the customer.

    I expect this fraud has been going on since the beginning of time. If you bought goat milk on sale, they raised the price to cover the sale. Buy a goat, get one free goat. Bogo on goats, Bogos on chickens that lay eggs or so you hope. Maybe they rip you off and sell you an old chicken that can no longer lay eggs. So they frauded customers as long back as forever. But then you could go confront the frauder, and ask for a younger chicken that lays eggs. But with these big corporations, it is very hard to reach the president or ceo to explain how they frauded you and customer service is usually not too helpful.

    So I wonder, do coupons really save money, or are most stores just raising the price to cover the coupon?

    Of course, if you get both a manufacturer coupon and store sale and get the item for FREE, then you are ahead. If you have time to do this, the more power to you.

    I haven’t seen this much, but have tripped into it occasionally. Then we did drive from store to store to get all the free items to give as gifts or give away to those that need it. But it takes a lot of time, unless you can really use the product or use it as gifts. And with the cost of gas today, not likely to drive far, unless it is a really great deal and I really want it and can really use it.

    The TV shows showing people getting all this stuff for free is so misleading. They get paid some $10,000 a week or per show, for new reality show actors. If they are popular and the show gets lots of feedback of who you like in the reality show, they get their pay doubled or tripled the next season.

    Then the stores change the rules for the TV show, so they can buy lots of free stuff with coupons, but anyone else who goes to the same store can’t get to use unlimited coupons. That is so misleading. Thats the problem with reality shows, they aren’t reality. But TLC is selling advertising and making money if there is lots of controversy, so they want controversy because then the TV show gets free advertising on inside edition, entertainment tonight, news shows all over America, etc. And if the person or persons on the reality show get a lot of bad buzz, then they get their own pay from the show increased from $10,000 starting pay, to double or triple to $20,000 or more per show or per week. So they love all this controversy, it pays. I wish I was on this or any of the shows. The reality show pay is quite high for those that get chosen to be on the TV reality show.

  • TijerasGirl17. Sep, 2011

    I’ve been “extreme couponing” for over 5 years, and I am sick at what this show is promoting! (& that’s even w/o the fraud). Who needs 100 boxes of ANYTHING? I have NEVER used a coupon for the wrong item (at least, not intentionally), nor will I ever. It’s just plain wrong.

    Since no stores in my state double coupons (although Target’s web coupons & Walgreen’s Register Rewards come pretty darn close), so if I save 45-65%, it’s a good day. Of course, I’m shopping for a real family and not a TV one, so I buy things like meat and produce and dairy products and dried beans. Also, for all those thinking that this is too much work, spending 60 hours a week is insane (I spend 1-2 hrs/week max planning my shopping trips and organizing my coupons). AND, WHO IN THEIR RIGHT MIND WOULD SPEND 9 HOURS IN A GROCERY STORE (unless you work there – sorry). After an hour, I’m just plain DONE, and that includes checking out.

    Then there’s the mentality that the less they spend the better they are (the whole “buy the smallest size for the biggest savings” mantra they all seem to have). Sure, if it’s free, it’s a good deal. BUT, you have to do the cost/per analysis on every item. They’re so happy that they’ve gotten some item for 30¢ for, say, an ounce. If they’d have done the math they could’ve gotten the same item for 25¢ an ounce if they’d bought another size. Bigger is not always better (I’ll never forget the cheese sale they had at my local grocery one week – 8 oz. packages were $1, 1 lb’s were $2.50 and 2 lb’s were $6 – crazy!), but smaller is not always better either.

    And then there’s some of the crap that they buy. Who would buy more than 1 or 2 of something they’d never tried? What if they hate it? Where’s the savings in having to trash it or give it away?

    So, with all of that in mind, here are my recommended “rules” for couponing:
    1) Ask family & friends for their unused coupons before wasting money buying additional copies of newspapers (especially important for newbies).
    2) Always do a cost comparison on a per basis (per piece / per ounce / etc.) before deciding which size to buy (sometimes the one on sale still isn’t the best purchase).
    3) Clip only the coupons for things that you regularly use, for ones that you would try IF they were free, and for alternate brands IF you are willing to give them a try.
    4) Never buy something just because you have a coupon for it. It’s still an impulse purchase!
    5) Never clear a shelf at a store, unless: they only have a few left (1-5) OR you are ABSOLUTELY SURE that your family will use AND enjoy all of them. (Don’t take away another person’s ability to enjoy the same sale – it’s kind of selfish).
    6) Don’t get hung up on the savings % shown on your register receipt. Instead, keep track of what you were spending before using coupons and after.
    AND – Golden Rule #7:
    7) You save the most by buying nothing at all.

    Happy shopping!

  • carekeen05. Oct, 2011

    I live in the area where this self-proclaimed “Diva” calls home. You’ll notice she uses the Safeway guide for a Damascus grocery store. She lives in Bethesda. The distance between the two towns more than makes up for any of her “savings.” She’s been banned from her local grocery stores for her extreme, fraudulent couponing, and she’s making it difficult for Damascus shoppers to take advantage of the same sales. It’s shameful…what she steals from the store, the store has to pass on to other customers. The store has a bottom line too. But this Diva is so self-absorbed she couldn’t begin to understand how business really works.

  • justestuff18. Oct, 2011

    Thank you so much for pointing out so many facts out!

    I am a couponer and abide by all rules, policies and regulations by the manufacturers and stores.

    People who break rules don’t think about the future when they do things like that, and don’t really fully understand how it affects rest of us.

    Saving is great, but breaking rules are NOT.

    We teach our kids to follow rules and directions … shame on them!

  • aguadalupita26. Oct, 2011

    Because of Extreme Couponing I became a couponer. I new it was too good to be true, yet I decided to try it and see if I could save money since I went into bankruptcy recently. I would never had thought that it was fraud since I used to be a cashier for a grocery store and they always told us that if the coupon went thru it was ok to accept the coupon. Since I have been couponing I have asked some stores (not all but some) if they do the same and they all have said yes “if it goes thru we will take it”. I only asked once to the first store I went to (for example, I shop at 4 Walmarts but I only asked the first one I tried the couponing on). And I only asked because I figured the store I worked at must not care cause they also accept expired coupons. After the other stores told me yes, I thought the manufactures wrote this as a “just in case” legal thing to cover their end. Once again I am new to couponing and I was educated wrong on how to use them before I started couponing. I would like to apologize to everyone since I have wronged and committed fraud knowingly but not intentionally (if that makes sense). YOU HAVE OPENED MY EYES. Thank you. Kind of feeling bummed out ’cause I can’t really find any good grocery sales and now I don’t think I will find any good household deals either =(

  • fluffysue22. Nov, 2011

    I always suspected something was up with this coupon show, but I never knew the extent of it. I figured the stores were looking the other way as far as their coupon policies, and wondered if people were stealing coupons, but I had no idea how far it was going. It is one thing to accidentally purchase the wrong version of a particular item with a coupon, but to deliberately manipulate the system by figuring out how to get a completely different product is wrong. People like this are the reason why store policies get more and more restrictive, ruining things for normal people doing normal shopping.

  • phowardg07. Dec, 2011

    I have always suspected that coupon fraud might be prevalent in couponing. There is always people gaming business for an advantage and businesses gaming people for an advantage and of course I believe there is lots of fraud. Fraud being defined as extorting money for gain through services or products that are not what they are purported to be. In this case there was money extorted for a product not purchased.

  • momof4angels12. Dec, 2011

    Reading this is so disappointing. I’m new at couponing and I was wondering what I was doing wrong because these women were walking out with so much basically for free. I’m relieved that I don’t have to live up to these couponers and that I’m doing it correctly. No one is losing when I coupon and I can actually show my face in the store again.

  • kapoorsyah26. Dec, 2011

    Ohh thanx for sharing it !! Hope people get awareness from this post !!

  • vpaguilera10. Jan, 2012

    I’m new to couponing since my husband lost his job, and I have to say I’ve done quite well so far. Recently, I have become a fan of Extreme Couponing and couldn’t wait to watch the next episode, but this has really messed it up for me. I’m grateful for this post, as a matter of fact, I saw this episode last night! I am still going to coupon, and I have learned alot, but I will do it with integrity. No wonder they called it “Extreme Couponing” instead of “America’s Coupon Masters”. I’m praying that we don’t get couponing taken away from us permanently because of situations like this, double couponing in parts of south Texas has already been taken away. Thanks so much for the information.

  • happygreens2day12. Jan, 2012

    I am shocked that there were actually comments supporting this woman! What did the Facebook fan say? Go after the real criminals? Are you kidding me? I wonder if they would have thought the same thing if she were shopping at their store? Kinda doubt it. I believe someone implied this was a Safeway store? Their policy specifically states “We will redeem coupons only for the specific items included in our customer’s purchase transaction.” How hard is that to figure out? This article made me sick.

  • sheeg115. Jan, 2012

    My question after reading this post and the comments is why have these fraudulent shoppers not been arrested? Granted, I understand the stores are enjoying the publicity but wouldn’t an arrest also bring a ton of publicity?

  • Jah121523. Jan, 2012

    Wow this article was truly fascinating! After reading this I realize that I might have unknowingly done coupon fraud. I am a reformed fraudalent couponer. I use to go to major retailers and use expired coupons. They went through every time and I was not once stopped. I was even told at a few grocers that they accept expired coupons. However, I stopped, knowing I didn’t need to. The guilt I felt deep down was not worth the extra savings. But this, i never knew was even wrong. Let me play devils advocate for a second. How do you know manufacturers do not want you to use coupons on their products, if its in the same family or expired ones for that fact? I am an MBA graduate of a prestiguous university that is well aware of manufacturing and marketing to consumers. I actually work some what in the buisness. Grocers mark up their products that they sell to consumers at almost 300%. So if a grocer accepts the coupon why is it bad. Just because a manager tells you something doesn’t make it true. With the secrecy of the corporate headquarters of these grocers and manufacturers, how do you know they would rather you buy their product in the same family or one of their competitors. This whole thing really makes me think.

  • TeriAnn28. Jan, 2012

    I didn’t realize for a while that they were using coupons for products other that what they were purchasing. But it was clear that they were working with some very liberal coupon policies that aren’t available to me. Makes sense now if the store is lifting their real policy for promotional purposes. It’d be nice if they said that up front on the show. I can even understand a business taking a $1800 hit on purpose (if let’s say for fun that they didn’t redeem the coupons from the manufacturer because they knew it was fraud). I mean, think about it… that’s a cheap commercial, for prime time no less!

    But “reality” isn’t obviously not.

  • LifeOptimist19. Feb, 2012

    Thank you for writing this and all the people who contributed. I was originally inspired to take couponing seriously by watching the show. I figured there was something they weren’t showing us.
    I mentioned this post and wrote one in response about setting realistic goals for couponing. I hope people do not get discouraged and that everyone will think twice and do it ethically so couponing doesn’t get ruined for everyone.
    http://www.couponcrazykelly.ca/2012/02/realistic-expectations.html

  • tesagw26. Apr, 2012

    I liked your post. I will keep visiting this blog frequently. Most of the words that you shared inspired me to write about this on my blog also.

  • lmdabbs29. May, 2012

    I did a search for “Extreme Couponing where did she get coupons” and found this article. First, I had no idea this barcode thing was even possible since the computers at my stores seem to pick up even a slight discrepancy. But now, the show makes so much more sense to me and I see why I’ve never been able to pull off a 90-100% transaction with multiple different items. Sure, I’ve gotten lots of free items when the coupon said free or the value matched the price, but not $1000+ worth of groceries. Now I don’t feel as inept, lol. My original search though, was about a woman on EC premier last night (5/28/12) who had some weird, very high dollar coupons that were definitely NOT from Sunday inserts. Some of them were gigantic. Where did she get them? She’s the one who kept them all loose in a big Ziploc…$2100+ of items for $0. They showed where all the other people got their coupons.

  • NFriday29. Nov, 2012

    Hi- I was just on the extreme couponing website, and I was reading some of the comments on the board, and there was one woman who was proud that she was an extreme couponer. She said that she bought 20 coupons worth $25 each at one of those coupon clipping services fpr Sonicare. She then proceeded to go to Walmart, where they were on sale for $19.95, and used all the coupons. By the time she factored in the cost of the coupons, she made $93. She then turned around and sold them on ebay. Pwople were amazed about this, and wanted to know more. Nobody questioned whether the coupons were legit or not. I am sure they were not legit. Hope this helps, Nancy

  • natasha22b01. Dec, 2012

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  • melabr25. Mar, 2013

    I’m late to this party. I watched several episodes on Netflix last night.One woman claimed her coupons came from God. That’s a fruity statement. I have no idea how people get 100 coupons for the same item. There has to be something shady going on. That aside, I think that what this Jamie person did is despicable. It is dishonest. Some of these checkouts took 4 hours. Assuming the cashier makes $10 an hour, the store is down $40 right off the bat. Yes, the cashier is getting paid because he/she is there, but monopolizing him/her for hours is not figured in to the store’s budget. Add to that the fake coupons for which they won’t be reimbursed, and the amount just keeps going up. It’s theft. It’s wrong. These people are probably the reason that coupon policies have become so strict in the last few years. The whole show rings false. 100 loose cups of yogurt in a cart? Wrong. When I want a large quantity, say a case of something, I ask them to bring a box from the stockroom. The cashier enters ’12 quantity’and scans 1 can. It’s fast. It doesn’t waste bags or the stock person’s, bagger’s, cashier’s or my time. The computer crashing in every episode? Hey, TLC, you know this happens. You would have asked the store about the number of line items allowed prior to cashing out unless 1. you are idiots or 2. you want to create suspense. Everyone knows it’s 2. Furthermore, no cashier rings up 30 of the same item one at a time. They count, enter the quantity, and scan one. 30 items are contained in one line. As for the stockpiles… some people give things to charity which is great. The others are nuts. 75 bags of chips? They will expire if you don’t eat chips for every meal for a week. One woman bought 100 bags of Dole salad. The narrator said she’d have enough for 6 weeks. In what world is bagged lettuce, or any lettuce, able to stay fresh for 6 weeks? 100 candy bars for a family of three? I hope you have a good dentist and excellent insurance. Type 2 diabetes isn’t far away. That brings me to my next question. Some people say they won’t buy anything without a coupon. They buy 50 Oodles of Noodles type things, 10 frozen pizzas, 20 blocks of cream cheese,10 bottles of mustard, and 20 bottles of barbecue sauce. Call me crazy, but I don’t know how you can make a meal with those ingredients. I presume the mustard and barbecue sauce are going to be poured over something. What? There was no meat. So the person spent 10 or 20, or 60 dollars. Great. There is no mention of the next trip in which they buy meat and produce with few or no coupons. There is no mention of the cost of the clipping services, the shelving units, the extra fridges, or the electricity used by the 2 chest freezers and three fridges that one family has. When you factor in those things, the savings amount is much less than the discount at the register. I do use coupons for things I normally purchase.I do buy extra papers if there is a coupon for something I buy a lot of. I do enjoy a bargain, but I am realistic. I feel bad for the people who watch this show and believe that these purchases are legitimate or possible.

  • britanica108. Aug, 2013

    Hi Jill,

    I watched that episode of TLC, and question is that having too many coupons of same products and manufacturer is legal? Or that shopper has fraud coupon?

    May I use so many coupons at same store for same products?

    Thanks

  • alice1452316. Apr, 2014

    I only read a few comments here but just wanted to say, “where I live, the stores will NOT take that many coupons. Doesn’t matter how many you have. If it doesn’t scan, it isn’t taken. I have watched the show and from the beginning, I knew it was something “fake” about it. Those things just don’t happen in REAL life. Secondly, it not only is a rip-off from the manufacturer, it takes away what morals and honesty is all about.