Was coupon fraud shown on TLC's Extreme Couponing?

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?


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.

I see that you have been a user of this site for 22 minutes.

My blog has been a source of money-saving information since 2008.

If you read the above article carefully, I do not even have cable, so I am unable to watch the show. All of the information I compiled was sent to me by many members of other sites and other couponing boards, who watched it, dissected it, took the screenshots, and provided the information about which coupons did not line up. Had they not brought this to my attention, this article would not exist. The story had already been building for hours on several other sites simultaneously, and they then began sharing the information here. Have you visited those sites as well?

My reputation in this industry is fine -- numerous retailers, manufacturers, and coupon industry professionals told me over the past week at the industry's annual conference that they were very happy that the couponing community came together to expose possible coupon fraud being shown on television. Portions of this blog post were also shown to the attendees in a session on coupon fraud. Everyone is extremely concerned about this.

I do not know Jaime personally. But coupon fraud affects all of us who coupon ethically and honestly. Had she not created a series of YouTube videos last year showing how to use coupons for one product on another at Target, no one would even likely have known to watch her transaction on the show so closely to see if she would do the same thing with TLC. (SlickDeals.com has devoted over 200 pages of posts to this topic since the show aired - this blog has just one. They have uncovered far more information over there than I reported on, and they continue posting more and more that they have uncovered each day. Several members of their site have been working with the media on this as well.)

If Jaime would like to end the speculation, she could simply post her receipt from this shopping trip on her own site. Many readers of her Facebook page have been asking to see it since the show aired -- instead, her Facebook page has now disappeared.

And with her page gone, a few of her followers have come over here to voice their support for her. If you are a friend of hers, I understand how difficult it must be to see someone you care about in the spotlight for negative reasons.

The day before the show aired, Jaime gave an interview to KrazyCouponLady stating that while she had "made some mistakes" in the past (with her Target videos) she wasn't doing that anymore and advised others to use coupons correctly. Then the show aired... and KrazyCouponLady retracted the entire interview.

The truth is this: This story would not exist if the coupons shown on the show matched up to what was being purchased. Period.

As others have also echoed below, the only people who come over here to post that they have issues with the couponing community raising their concerns over possible coupon fraud being glorified on television are people who do not have a problem with it.

sour grapes?

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?

Coupon fraud is not "trivial"

Next to my house the biggest budget category I have is household/groceries. J'ailme's actions affect me directly. I use coupons ethically and I have been saving lots of money. I'm even donating full sized, name brand goods to my church's food bank.

Luckily the new cash registers will make J'ailme's methods inoperable - yippee! so I don't have to pay for her steals through higher prices and/or fewer coupon offers.

Yep, all of us are jealous and want to make fools of ourseleves

on national tv! We're just upset we didn't have the chance to do a victory dance when we tried to commit fraud and it worked. This has nothing to do with couponing ethically, or that one person who had to have her moment of fame is ruining couponing for those of us doing it correctly.

Of course it's the stores fault. We have to pass the blame once again and not take ANY responsibility for our actions. If they let the coupons go through it had to be ok.


Committing fraud on national TV and teaching others to do it as well?

Would you consider it "trivial" if someone on a national TV show tried to show people how to shoplift groceries from their local store. Because what she did is really no different. She is stealing from the store and/or the manufacturer. And has the gall to do it on national TV!

You're way off...

base in calling anywhere here sour grapes. Nobody here is upset that they aren't on the show. We are upset because coupons are how we save our families money. Using coupons, for me at least, is the difference of over $50 a week. That is a lot of money to be saved. Fraudulent coupon use may limit my ability to use them and save money. It is rumor that Target has already started limiting coupons... Probably because of this.

Finding Osama bin Laden? Really?

Nobody here is patting themselves on the back for "taking her down", she has done this to herself.

I don't dispute that what the

I don't dispute that what the woman from the show is doing is wrong and that ultimately she may end up ruining extreme couponing for some others, but there is an undercurrent of self-righteousness from the OP that is just plain petty.

Not "petty" at all; people

Not "petty" at all; people are upset, including myself, that this could change the way we can coupon. We are saving money in a fun, easy, and LEGAL way. It is not "petty" to be upset that one camera hungry "couponer" may ruin this for us.

Read all the positive comments Jill gets for the work she does on her site.

New York Post article

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?


Looks like the authoritys are getting involved.

OMG OMG What a Story...

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.

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?

It's really not

"she used this many cent coupon to this sale and this many cents coupon on this item"

Let's not forget that MOST times she is getting the item for free. Let's also not forget that we aren't talking pennies. I don't know about your family, but $1,900 in mine is a big deal. That's $1,900 in (potential) fraud in ONE instance. She's been doing it for years.

To use a coupon that says "$5 off our biggest bag that retails for $10" and use it for an item that only retails for $1, that's a big deal. Now she is making money off that item (though I think this part of the show was fake as the only store that I know that POSSIBLY offers overage is walmart).

It's not like you or me going into the store with good intentions and grabbing the wrong product...let's be honest, some of those coupons are a little too specific and its very easy to grab the wrong one. She intentionally and systematically abused the system for thousands of dollars for years.


Paying tax is no scam at all. You always pay tax on the pre-coupon total, because the state gets tax on a $1 sale, whether you pay with a dollar bill or a $1 coupon. Coupons are considered cash to the register. That's quite elementary, actually. (Best of luck trying to argue to the state why you do not believe they are entitled to sales tax when you use a coupon.)

Everything else you wrote, from the price of government toilet paper to the problem of homeless people in this country is completely irrelevant to the issue, and really, a sad attempt to spin the story in a different direction.

The fact remains that if she used coupons in a fraudulent manner, the manufacturers can refuse to reimburse -- her entire transaction is on video, not only with TLC, but with the store's closed-circuit security TV system within the store. (And before you say "well they can't see what coupons she used..." - actually, they can. At the industry coupon conference I attended this week, one retailer said that their cameras are so good that they can zoom right down to a person's hands to see what coupons they paid with - and pulling up that video in their computer system is as simple as entering the date and time of the transaction, and which register they want to look at - and the video pops right up on their screen.)

If the manufacturers refuse to pay, the store loses $1800. Period. You don't think they're going to want that money back? She could face not only fraud charges, but charges for intent to defraud, even theft.

Put it this way - if someone "found" a way to steal $1800 from the grocery store, showed exactly how to do it on television and inspired others to do the same... you'd be fine with that, because "there is people steeling more money in this society then that women can even imagine."

(P.S. Grammar check: "are," not "is." "stealing," not "steeling." "than," not "then." "woman," not "women.")

Tax 1, Tax 2, Tax 3

"Best of luck trying to argue to the state why you do not believe they are entitled to sales tax when you use a coupon"

Exactly my point don't pick on "them" pick on her she is an easy one.

The way you "Exposed Her" is really not professional and it didn't benefit anyone except those that want to commit coupon fraud.

If you really cared you would off take on this issue offline with authorities, but I get it you created a BUZZZ and more exposure for yourself. More exposure more $$$$.

P.S. I think grammar was good enough to get the point across.

Uh huh

You are either J'a'i'm'e herself, related to her, or from her blog.

Jill doesn't get paid by the amount of traffic directed to her site. She doesn't get paid for answering questions, nor does she charge attendees for her classes, (unlike J'a'i'm'e). Most importantly she teaches and promotes correct and ethical couponing to everyone visiting her site wishing to learn how to save their families money.

Jill also does not delete posts, like yours, that go against what she thinks or believes, unlike your sister, friend or mentor or whatever J'a'i'm'e is to you. You certainly did not come here to be constructive or to learn anything. Jill did what she did for a reason and that was to show everyone ooohing and ahhhing over the ridiculous so called extreme couponing J'a'i'm'e did, that what J'a'i'm'e did was in fact wrong and is not achievable by following the terms of a coupon, and that is fraud. Had any other couponer on the show shopped in the same way, you can bet they too would have a thread dedicated to what they did wrong.

Everything this woman did on the show was fraudulent. Even her name is a fake. Her name is spelled JAIME not J'AIME. UGH.

Not that it matters

but yes, the website owner does get paid by how much traffic there is. That's why ads are used on webpages. The more traffic, the more money. But as I said, that doesn't really detract from the owner or the info presented on the site.


... if people click the ads. And with most of the ads, revenue is generated only if people click and then follow through on an offer. Simply looking at the ads does not generate money.

Not true. Google Adsense also

Not true. Google Adsense also pays based upon the impression count. This is why I would encourage as many people as possible to report "Jailme's" websites to Google Adsense as sites that encourage fraud and/or other illegal activities. Punish her where it hurts - take away her ad revenue!

Uh huh FACTS

Check your FACTS before you reply...


Prea seems to have her facts in order. jaime went on national television and committed coupon fraud. Jaime thought no one would notice. When they did notice, she chose to run and hide. If she was on the up and up this wouldn't still be an issue. She could have responded to it, proved she didn't commit coupon fraud and moved along. She chose not to, she said she was going to, but she didn't. This is not the first time Jaime has been filmed committing coupon fraud. She admitted her use of coupons in the Target videos were fraudulent. You can't claim an "oops I didn't know it was wrong" the second time around when you've admitted it already.

Jaime was/is charging for her classes. Jill does not. Jaime is exploiting (and dare I say infringing upon) TLC's copyright of "Extreme Couponing" and the TLC logo all over her blog and Facebook. The fact of the matter is she altered their logo by adding her information over it. She renamed her blog specifically to include the "Extreme Couponing" name...Why? To drive traffic to her blog. And yet you are here accusing Jill of trying to create buzz off of it? I think you are the one who should get your facts straight.


I KNEW I was misusing coupons, WOULD Kill at the counter too! And the adrenaline? That was a criticism from not educated if you were gonna get caught


I never supported JAIME or whatever her name is. FACT

FACTS from jillcataldo.com site:

Monday, May 9 @ 7:00pm - Yorkville, IL
Super-Couponing 2: Saving on Everything!
New Life ChurchYorkville
This workshop is open to the public but is limited to women only.
$5 admission at the door.
Registration opens April 22.

Jill doesn't charge??? and sell her DVD???

Ooo, She doesn't just charge she discriminates "women only"? Seriously?

I am not charging an admission

... the church is charging a $5 admission. That admission is kept solely by them - please feel free to call and ask. It is not up to me if the organization hosting the class chooses to charge an admission, though very few of them do.

New Life Church also typically has both a Spanish translator and a sign-language translator for the deaf present during my class. I would guess that neither of those translators work free of charge and that part of the admission is to offset their costs.

I also am not the person who decided that the class is for "women only," but again, it is up to the church -- their women's circle is sponsoring the class. Last time I spoke at this church, men showed up anyway, and they did let them in, which I was pleased about. You are free to call them and confirm all of this if you'd like.

(I taught a class for "Mothers of Multiples" today -- if they choose only to open it to mothers of multiples, again, that is not up to me. Next month I am teaching a class for foster parents. Members of that organization attend free -- the organization has also opened it to the public for a $5 admission as a fundraiser -- again, the decision of the foster parents' organization that booked the class. My speaking schedule is determined solely by the organizations requesting the workshop.)

As far as the DVD, it was something I wrestled with for quite some time. There are enormous production costs involved in creating a DVD. It was priced at the point where it needed to be to cover those costs. It is also priced lower than most people charge to teach private coupon workshops -- and you can keep it and refer to it indefinitely. No one is forcing anyone to buy it. I teach free coupon classes every week, and I strongly encourage people to attend free if they can. Many public libraries also stock the DVD, which of course is free to watch if you get it there.

I am surprised that you have issues with any of this, but no issues with someone charging $35 a head to teach a class.

no charge

I've seen Jill's talks 6 times and there has never been an admission charge.

I'm sure she does get paid by the libraries she speaks at. I'm speaking at a local library later this year, and they have an honorarium that they pay speakers. It's more than gas money (so far), but not enough to live on unless I did several a day. Most libraries will NOT let you sell stuff when you speak, so I've never seen Jill selling her DVD at a presentation.

Don't know the policies of other venues, but they can usually do whatever they want.

I know someone else who does the professional speaker circuit. He talks at schools and churches. I don't think he charges for his presentations. There is certainly no admission charge. He DOES sell his CDs & DVDs at his events, and I'm sure those sales make up for what he doesn't charge for the presentation.


what if she meant my facts on how Jaime spells her name? That's another fact I can prove in non-disputable black and white - no video required. LOL

I agree

Just because there are more important issues out there, doesn't mean other issues have to be ignored. My goodness, I wouldn't be able to get up, dressed and out the door each day if I was only allowed to focus on one "good" cause....ever. At that rate, everyone should be in Japan right now....

Grammer checks: Low blow and annoying.

Coupon Fraud/Tax

Nicely put, Jill. I fail to see the connection of paying sales tax on items we are "purchasing" and what Jaime did with coupons. We are purchasing these items even though we are using coupons to pay for them. Since when does the government give anything away for free. Seriously... not even close to being the same thing.

Coupon Fraud in the manner that Jaime was demonstrating on camera is no different than walking in to the store and walking out with carts full of groceries without paying. It is theft, pure and simple.

Oh and calling it a mistake when it was brought to her attention before filming this show... really... seemed like she doesn't care about breaking the law and hurting the reputations of the couponers who use coupons legally.

I'm not going to defend this lady...BUT

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.

Coupons cannot be "transferred" is not "traded."

"Transferred" relates to transferring the coupon from one medium to another. Photocopying is transferring (transferring it to a piece of paper.) Scanning it in and making your own book of coupons is "transferring" the coupon, again from its original medium to another.

Vocalpoint and General Mills send out house party coupon packs and "share with your friends" packs that specifically tell you to give them to people to know - yet these coupons say "cannot be transferred." Again, it doesn't mean you can't transfer it from your hand to your friend's hand. :)

You are right

guess I never looked at the terms that closely. Thought it was traded. But it still stands that they can't be sold...at least according to them.

Just wondering...

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.

Not off the Radar, TLC gave a statement to Entertainment Weekly

I agree that this story should NOT go off the Radar. It is important to get it exposed so the world does not think all coupon users do this!


TLC 'looking into' allegations of coupon fraud on 'Extreme Couponing'
by Sandra Gonzalez
It seems even the coupon world isn’t scandal free these days.

Allegations of “coupon fraud,” or using a coupon to purchase a product that is not listed on the coupon, have been made against J’aime Kirlew, who appeared in an episode of Extreme Couponing last week, by coupon bloggers.

TLC said in an exclusive statement to EW: “We have received a strong response to the premiere and are listening to and reading the various comments around the show — as with all programs, we appreciate the feedback. While the series documents extreme couponing strategies, we take any concerns about specific tactics seriously and are looking into the situation.”

Consumerist has the story today too

Consumerist.com (Consumer Reports' blog) has it today. Rachel at Mashup Mom just sent the link over (thank you, Rachel.)

Extreme Couponing: Fraud Edition



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?

Don't Blame the Manufacturer

There are many factors regarding the technical aspect of coupon redemption amongst retailers because every retailer's computer system is different. Here's a real-life example of computer systems not cooperating with coupons:

Milky Way's regular retail at Food Lion: $0.99
Milky Way's MVP price at Food Lion during one sale: BOGO ($0.49)
Manufacturer's Coupon for item: Buy One, Get One Free (up to $0.99)

Now, most people know that anytime a coupon has a space for the cashier to write in the price the register prompts for the cashier to key in the price at the register. Well, because of Food Lion's computer system, if a customer bought two Milky Ways at $0.49 each because they were BOGO that week, then if the cashier scanned the coupon the price keyed in should have been $0.49. What happened was the register never prompted for the checker's intervention. The register calculated the price at $0.99, regular retail, never taking into consideration that the Milky Way was actually bought at $0.49. Thus, the customer only paid the sales tax getting both Milky Ways for free.

The coupon stays the same, but the registers are different, so depending on where customers shop they may easily be able to use coupons for items that solely have matching manufacturer codes.

Does that make sense?

It is not the job of the UPC coordinator

Using coupons is a contract. When you use them you agree to the terms or don't use them. Just because a coupon can ring up for an improper item doesn't mean that's legitimate.

Car manufacturers make cars that go above 70 MPH - so is it their fault when you drive over the speed limit?

[also posted on fb...] From

[also posted on fb...]

From the back of a coupon I pulled out of my folder:


Jamie used these coupons in a fraudulent manner, not as intended. She stole from the store, and from the manufacturer.

The smoking gun here is that the register rejected every one of these coupons, but the cashier "overrode" it so they went through. If that isn't a warning that something wasn't on the level, then people must be blind.

Question: was this all Jamie's doing, or is the cashier involved part of an inside ring to defraud the store???

unfortunately its not so simple

Every product from a manufacturer does have its own unique UPC code. The problem lies in the coupon.

If every coupon was only redeemable for a single item of a single size in a single flavor/variety, then it would be easy to keep things straight. However, consider that a large manufacturer may produce thousands of products (since we're considering every size of every variety as a separate product) but the standard coupon bar code only has three digits available to define what item it applies to. On top of that, many of those three digit combos will be unavailable either because the numbers are set aside for special use, or the manufacturer hasn't paid the bar code industry to license the whole block of numbers. And finally, at any given time there may be numerous coupon promotions going across a manufacturer's line of products, each with their own product inclusions and exclusions. Printing and distributing individual coupons for each unique item would be highly impractical and often times simply impossible.

So, rather than a direct coupon-to-item lineup, the UPC coordinator instead has to group products together into families based on product similarities and then tie the coupons to those family groups. Creating family groups requires a fine balance too. If the families are too broad, a coupon can be applied to items that were grouped together but never intended to be part of the same promotion (such as trial size packages becoming free with coupon). If each family is too narrowly defined, then for a single coupon to apply to multiple flavors and/or sizes would require the coupon to cover multiple family groups. However, that can only be done by placing a wildcard character in the coupon UPC's family code (this appears to be the case with the Fiber One cereal). But, once you throw in wildcard characters you open up a whole host of other products to the coupon as well, and it is these situations which people like J'amie have learned to look for and exploit for profit. Keeping the balance turns out to be a lot more complex than initially imagined. Clamp down on the system too hard to keep out the fraudsters and you instead cause headaches for the stores and the legitimate customers.

Well Explained

Concise and well explained. I admire your organization.

CIC Information

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.


Discouraged New Couponer

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.

You really can't go wrong

You really can't go wrong following Jill's system (thanks Jill!). What I did when I (re)started (I took a several-year break from couponing) was this:

Every Sunday, buy 3 papers.

Every Sunday night/Monday, read Jill's deal post. I would highlight what I needed or wanted to stockpile, and buy those things up to the limit of my budget. My rule of thumb for meat when I restarted was I would buy 10-15lbs total of meat per week, mixing up between whatever Jill's post said was a stock-up price. I have a hungry DH and 3 hungry teenage boys LOL.

Just being on autopilot and following her deal posts really helped me build a useful and not overly dramatic stockpile in a pretty short period of time (about 2 months).

Don't be discouraged. Keeping your coupon orders small makes everything much simpler and easier to keep track of.

Good luck!

Coupons are here to stay

Coupons are a great way for manufacturers to charge different prices to different people. Now with the new coupon reading machines the kind of fraud Jaime does won't be possible (unless the cashiers are tricked into overriding the machine).
Couponing is worth it.

Article I stumbled onto

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-confession...

J'aime had YouTube take the Target videos down again!

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

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

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.


— 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?

Here is a new spot the vid is at


save it to your photobucket account too so we keep it going around.

I would love to see this

I would love to see this video, but it's saying I need to log in... what is the password? Thanks!

Here is a new spot the vid is at


save it to your photobucket account too so we keep it going around.

Video recording is NOT

Video recording is NOT allowed in Target stores or on Target property what-so-ever. So, its not her video footage to copy right. It's Target's and should have never been taken. I can guarantee she did not ask permission to take the videos.