TLC’s Extreme Couponing returns for a new season… with more counterfeit coupons?

Georgia-Pacific has already confirmed that this coupon is counterfeit.
So why are Extreme Coupon shoppers still using it?

Extreme Couponing is back again. If you’ve missed the past media coverage regarding fraud on the show, to date manufacturers have confirmed that over 230 counterfeit coupons were used on past seasons of Extreme Couponing, including free-product coupons for Tide laundry detergent and Quilted Northern bath tissue.

Earlier this month, Matt Sharp, executive producer of TLC’s Extreme Couponing, told the Chicago Tribune that the show did not plan any changes for the new season, despite the continued allegations of coupon fraud.

It appears he’s a man of his word.

Tonight, Season 3 of Extreme Couponing premiered on TLC… and two of the shoppers bought large quantities of Quilted Northern. One shopper also used several Hefty coupons currently listed on the Coupon Information Corporation’s list of known counterfeit coupons. And again, the coupons used were visible on screen.

Cole Ledford of Lebanon, Ohio, flashed his stack of coupons in preparation for his trip. While the Quilted Northern coupons were only on the screen for a few seconds, the purple-and-green wave design was clearly visible to anyone familiar with this counterfeit coupon:

Cole took eight or nine 12-roll packages of Quilted Northern to the register:

And, his coupons were scanned and accepted:

Cole also used several free coupons for Hefty products:

But the problem is that this Hefty coupon has been on the Coupon Information Center’s list of known counterfeits since March of this year. The CIC’s alert reads, “Retailers should not accept this coupon under any circumstance.”

Yet, the store scanned them anyway…

… and Cole got the Hefty bags free too.

Angelique Campbell of Washington also bought a lot of Quilted Northern in the same episode:

How much?

768 rolls — the equivalent of 64 12-packs of Quilted Northern. Very few of Angelique’s coupons were shown clearly as they were scanned, but her end balance at Kmart?

It seems logical to conclude that free Quilted Northern coupons may have been used here too.

How long is TLC going to continue passing “Extreme Couponing” off as a “reality” show?

And where are the shoppers on the show getting counterfeit coupons from? I’d love to know, and so would other viewers. The blogosphere’s erupting with posts from other coupon bloggers crying foul about last night’s episode. Some bloggers are trying to determine the source of these counterfeits. One received a statement from Georgia-Pacific that read in part, ” …we are trying to determine the source of the coupons. We typically do not print coupons with redemption values that high, and we do not have any coupons of that type currently.

Last night, Angelique Campbell blogged about her Extreme Couponing trip, addressing where her coupons came from. She wrote, “I also for the first time did have to order some coupons from a clipping service (which is something I do not normally do and try to prevent).”

But had she not bought coupons online, she would have completely avoided the risk of ending up with counterfeits.

Kmart is a sponsor of the show this season — are they comfortable absorbing the loss of any counterfeit coupons that shoppers use during episodes filmed at their stores? As a sponsor, do they allow or condone counterfeit coupon usage on the show? On May 25th, I reached out to Tom Aiello, Sears Holdings’ media contact asking these questions — ironically, prior to the new season’s premiere. I have not yet received a response.

I also reached out via Facebook and email tonight to Cole and Angelique, and I would be happy to speak with either of them regarding their Extreme Couponing experiences and where they obtained these coupons.

UPDATE: 10:37AM CST: Angelique responded to my email asking where she obtained her free Quilted Northern coupons. She apologized for not being able to speak on the phone as her baby is due this week.

Her email states, “I am appalled to hear that there is a possibility those coupons could have been counterfeit…I actually never use clipping services except for this episode of Extreme Couponing as I do not like to endorse paying for coupons, however I resorted to it because of my pregnancy! I have contacted someone from “the coupon information center” to find out what the deal is and to help them in anyway find whoever could have produced these counterfeit coupons.”

Angelique has continued responding in the comments below this article: “I don’t typically buy coupons…and decided to try it out when I realized I just didn’t have enough or even the proper coupons I would need to make a trip work since I had been SOOOOO sick through my pregnancy and not really couponed for months!”

UPDATE: 2:45PM CST: Tom Aiello of Sears Holdings (parent company of Kmart) responded to my emails. I wrote asking for a statement about Kmart sponsoring a show that has featured counterfeiting and coupon fraud.

He responded, “We find that so many of our customers are always looking for great deals, and believe Extreme Couponing is another fun way to engage our loyal customers- just one of the many ways we engage our customers everyday with great value.”

(Kmart considers sponsoring episodes of a show that promotes counterfeit coupon usage a “fun way to engage loyal customers?” A cut-and-paste feel-good PR statement doesn’t exactly apply to a situation where criminal acts are involved.)

Unfamiliar with the counterfeit coupons and coupon fraud on TLC’s “Extreme Couponing? Read more here:

In the media:

Images from TLC’s “Extreme Couponing” used under Creative Commons license.


  1. Dirk Deal Diggler says

    Why cant anyone do anything about this train wreck!! there were alot of other frees that seem suspect to me, $3.50 off valasic pickles $5 off clorox Wipes free bags of doritos and you should look more & find more fakes, you know they didn’t stop at just 2 kinds! Nothiing ever happens to these people so keep looking Jill

  2. suziq143 says

    I’m amazed that this is allowed. As stated previously, this is FRAUD, and it’s punishable fraud! It also has turned the couponing world on its side, with the few bad apples tainting the bunch. For the legitimate couponers out there, it makes it very challenging when you go into a store that is leary already and they are making your life a miserable H#LL because you have coupons…we have become “Those People”.

    Truly wish this is one show that would be round filed!!!

  3. janae says

    Jill I was wondering when they started Angelique’s segment did you catch the stack of Publix store coupons that she was sorting. It struck me as odd if she lives in Washington state why she would need Publix coupons and where did she get them from and where she could use them. Publix is located in Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina and Tennessee

  4. amerc says

    Do you think copying and pasting your word for word communication with the woman is right? I don’t. It sounds like you are directly attacking her, which I also don’t think is right. Especially with the pictures.

    So I guess I’m wondering, are you a person who instructs people how to save money with coupons, or do you just like trying to expose people? I’m not sure what your motives are, but you kind of sound like a ‘tattle-tale’.

    My advice to you is to reconsider how your portraying others and in exactly what light you are portraying them in. I have a hard time respecting people who take it upon themselves to be finger-pointers, when they are in no position to do so. There is fraud EVERYWHERE, which you could simply warn people in your coupon world without looking like you are directly attacking another person. I’m just sorry that Angelique felt like she had to explain herself to you. Because really, who are you?

  5. cmsvmom says

    Considering that the counterfeit Northern coupons are now VERY familiar after last season, and the fact that Joel’s family had to pay back the California store, you would think that the producers of EC and TLC would have sufficient memory spans to notice that, duh, those are the same coupons that caused all the trouble last year….

    They claim no responsibility and hang it on the couponers – but this has been going on for a while with them and they DO have responsibility. How do so many of us know those coupons are fake? Why, we checked it out after last season. So every couponer who reads blogs and news stories knows that those coupons were fake and the store needed to be reimbursed. However, the people in charge of EC, TLC, and Discovery Communications LLC obviously dont coupon because they clearly think it is a freak show. They’re so busy doing important media savvy things, that they just cannot take time to PROOFREAD THEIR OWN WORK and notice that the very same counterfeit coupons that got them in trouble before are being used and shown again.

    TLC is responsible for the content of the show. It can now be demonstrated that they DELIBERATELY are encouraging stealing. And they think their audience is that stupid.

  6. xokatxo1 says

    This is why I refuse to even watch the show, ratings go down, show goes off the air :D

  7. palatino says

    Here is a news report from 2 days ago in his home state. It says “He said he watched the show and learned how to save with online clipping services.”

    Too bad they are not REAL COUPONS!!! When are people going to learn? When is TLC going to step up and acknowledge all the fraud!

    [Note: Edited by Jill to fix video link. Thanks for finding this.]

  8. lmerideth says

    I use couponing to help support my family. I don’t get HUGE savings but it helps. I am tired of the looks some people give me and I have even been asked if I was an extreme couponer like on TV, because I do have a coupon binder. I have the binder because not all sale items are advertised. This show gives anyone that uses coupons a bad name.

    If the show wants to be helpful they should teach people how to do it the right way. This show just discourages people because they can’t match what they see.

    There are enough programs on Tv that show people behaving badly, we don’t need another one.

  9. qupanquuen says

    Reading through the comments and listening to Jill’s constant attack of clipping services prompts me to say something.

    They got the fake coupons from EBAY…not reputable clipping services!!!!!!!

    Clipping services buy the papers and pull the inserts out. Then they sort them, then they cut them then they organize them and then they put them up on their website (which they have to maintain) They pay taxes, state (if applicable) and federal. It is a SERVICE. An illegal business can not get a business license!!!!!!!

    The terms on the coupons are just that…contractual terms. The company authorizes you to use this coupon under these conditions. AND EVEN THAT is not adequate. In order for a ‘contract’ to be valid contractual terms must be spelled out plainly and agreed upon by both parties. The terms on the coupons are not very clear, nor or they specific enough. Coupon clearing houses can REFUSE COUPONS they feel were not redeemed properly ONLY because the stores have a separate contract with the terms spelled out clearly agreed and SIGNED by both parties making it binding. Violation of the contract will not cause either party to be arrested. It’s a contract not a legislative law. The coupon itself says plainly ‘redeem send to this address and we’ll pay 8 cents’ no if ands or buts. However in order for a large store to manage coupons they must redeem through a clearinghouse, and the clearinghouse requires them to sign the separate contract with them.

    I am all for exposing coupon fraud, what I am not for is dishonestly. Coupon clipping services ARE NOT ILLEGAL…for pete’s sake don’t you think there would be government raids on them if they were??? If they were doing anything that violated the terms of the coupon, um those big companies have big lawyers they could take them to court and have them ordered to close down. (Again not arrested, but taken to court) No clipping service out there is big enough to take them on. It would be nothing for them to shut down clipping services if they were doing ANYTHING wrong!!!!

    The only thing they were able to stop was newspapers giving their extras (or selling them) to people/clipping services because the newspaper and the insert companies ENTERED INTO A SPECIFIC, legally binding CONTRACT about how to handle the leftovers (dispose of them)and the newspapers violated the contract by selling them. And all the insert companies could do is warn them to stop or they will take their inserts out of those papers and sue for damages from the broken contract.

    Jill, I love you site, I love that you expose fake coupons and TLC’s irresponsibility. However, you have a PERSONAL vendetta against clipping services and you are lumping them together with fraudulent coupons sold on Ebay to further your agenda and you are being dishonest about and dramatizing clipping services. It’s morally wrong.

    A clipping service is a valid business. It is also a huge help to those who do not have time to collect, clip, sort and then find when a sale come out their coupons. They are wonderful for our elderly community who do to declining health can’t or it’s to difficult for them to do all this work. The single Mom working full time raising little ones does not have a lot of extra time. In the end since you are just getting the coupons you use it costs the same as getting multiple papers or less. (overall)

    Now you expect everyone to respond to your stuff, please respond to mine. Please, have your crew go out and look at every clipping site and see if you can find ONE fraudulent coupon!!! I KNOW you can’t. So please make clear the difference between Ebay and clipping services.

    And for the record most people who sell coupons on Ebay are honest. OH and that’s a good. On Ebay per their rules you are actually selling the coupon, not the service. None of these big companies have stopped them, with a lawsuit or anything because IT’S NOT breaking any contracts or ILLEGAL. There are no law statutes about coupons!!!

  10. qupanquuen says

    Sorry appear to harp on this, I just found this article while looking for something else. You really need to be more honest with your bloggers about the legality of coupon clipping services. If you feel they are unethical, or not a business you wish to support then please stand by that and I will respect you but don’t mislead, it puts your credibility and motives into question.