“Gang-Cut” coupons hurt stores, manufacturers and consumers

Last week, I attended the Association of Coupon Professionals 2011 Industry Coupon Conference in Atlanta. This is the first in a series of articles written to share my observations from the conference on topics related to consumer coupon usage – Jill


What is a “Gang-Cut” coupon?

Whether you’re familiar with the term or not, it’s a problem that has plagued the coupon industry for decades. However, with coupon usage on the rise, gang-cut coupons are again causing issues for manufacturers and retailers alike.

“Gang-Cutting” refers to the practice of stacking multiple, like insert pages on top of one another, then cutting through the entire stack at the same time, either with a scissors or with a paper cutter. While this would seem like a time-saver to consumers, gang-cutting has a long, darker history as it relates to stores.

Many years ago, manufacturers were having problems with stores gang-cutting coupons from unsold newspapers, then turning them in for reimbursement. It had gotten so bad that one organization estimated that over 108 million coupons were redeemed fraudulently annually — and that was back in 1977!

In a sting operation almost worthy of its own feature film, the industry fought back. Targeting an area in New York where gang-cutting and fraudulent redemption was suspected to be rampant, a new “manufacturer” offered a new product in the coupon inserts – Breen Laundry Detergent. The trouble was… Breen detergent did not exist. The 25-cent Breen coupon was designed solely to catch organizations that were gang-cutting inserts and submitting all of the coupons for redemption.

And cut them, they did. Over 117,000 coupons for the non-existent Breen detergent were submitted for redemption from that single ad campaign, giving investigators specific information as to which stores, retailers and firms were gang-cutting on a massive scale. (At the ACP conference, presenter Ron Fischer, founder of Redemption Processing Representatives, actually had one of these Breen detergent coupons in his hand while telling this story!)

 

What does this have to do with today’s consumers?

The Breen sting raised awareness that large-scale gang-cutting and misredemption existed. Manufacturers naturally decided that they did not want to redeem gang-cut coupons, as gang-cutting was indicative that the coupons had not been distributed directly to customers in the newspaper. Gang-cutting still exists today, but the spotlight is also on consumer gang-cutting.

Gang-cutting is of concern to manufacturers for several reasons. One, if a number of identically-cut coupons are submitted for redemption, the manufacturer may assume that the coupons have been sold to the consumer, either via a clipping service or via Ebay auctions. Because resale of coupons violates the terms that the manufacturer has set, the manufacturer can (and often does) refuse to reimburse the store that submitted the coupons. Even if one single customer legitimately did buy 42 bottles of ketchup, if their 42 ketchup coupons are gang-cut, each coupon will bear the same cut lines, shape and markings as the one before it. If the coupons are identified as gang-cut, they’re flagged, and the manufacturer does not have to reimburse.

How does the redemption agent identify gang-cut coupons, when thousands of loose coupons are processed each day by clearinghouses? Debbie Settle of Inmar, one of the largest redemption agents and clearinghouses in the country, gave a detailed presentation about the “life” of a coupon, from the time it’s created until the time it reaches the clearinghouse. Along the way, several automated systems are designed to identify gang-cut coupons and remove them from the mix.

While most coupons are shredded at the end of their “life cycle,” gang-cut coupons don’t make it that far. They are identified, grouped together, and pulled from the rest of a retailer’s particular submission. Again, because their gang-cut appearance indicates that the coupons may have been sold by a third party, the manufacturer does not have to reimburse. These coupons aren’t shredded — instead, they’re kept together and filed for one year with the redemption agent as evidence. At that point, if the store wishes to be reimbursed for them, they may enter a back-and-forth process of having to show legitimate sales for that number of product at their store or location. This Proof-of-Purchase Analysis takes time and effort, and understandably, retailers may not wish to spend additional resources on it — is it worth the store’s time to chase the lost revenue on a case-by-case basis, paying one of their own employees to go back, audit and provide evidence for each claim? If they accept the manufacturer’s decision, the store does lose money on the coupons that they accepted but will never see revenue from.

How many gang-cut coupons indicate a problem to the redemption agent? During the conference’s presentation on misredemption, we were shown numerous slides of gang-cut coupons that had been identified and filed – examples of physical misredmption. The largest like number of gang-cut coupons shown on one slide was 113. The smallest? 12.

For consumers using coupons, many of whom purchase multiple newspapers to maximize their savings, the issue of gang cutting is important to understand. It is entirely plausible, feasible, and likely that one person choosing to buy ten newspapers, then stacking the pages together to cut them all at once, believes that their coupons will be accepted and redeemed by the store. But, that same store may ultimately never see the revenue from those coupons, simply because of the way that they were stacked and gang-cut.

Retailers respond.

While manufacturers are concerned with gang-cutting, stores are too. During the ACP conference, a panel of retailers held an open question-and-answer session with the industry audience. Representatives from Shop-Rite, Winn-Dixie and other large supermarket chains stated that the interest in “Extreme Couponing” has also resulted in an increase in gang-cut coupons appearing at their stores — and they’re not being reimbursed for many of them.

One retailer representative stated that they have tried to discourage “extreme couponers” from patronizing their stores, because they are also a chain that doubles coupons. When someone comes in with a large amount of gang-cut coupons, which are then doubled, the store is both losing money on the doubling (which the store “eats” and is not reimbursed for) but they then lose again when the shopper’s gang-cut coupons are denied for reimbursement.

Another retailer said that they have tracked their “extreme couponers'” shopping habits throughout various store locations within their chain. He said that the store’s closed-circuit television system has the ability to zoom to “fingernail level” and see what coupons are being redeemed at the register by calling up the date of a transaction on a computer screen and clicking that day and time’s video. He said that they can also “follow” the same shoppers’ path, again via in-store video, as the shopper goes from store to store to store, using up more multiples of the same coupon, often clearing the shelves in the process.

Rite Aid made some waves within the coupon community in March of this year, when it added this line to its revised coupon policy: “Rite Aid reserves the right to deny redemption for coupons that exhibit signs of misrepresentation, including, but not limited to: “gang cut”(coupons presented in bulk that appear to have been cut by machine – a form of coupon fraud), similar cuts and tears…”

Additionally, Kroger rattled Texas coupon shoppers when they recently announced that they were discontinuing coupon doubling in their Houston-area stores. While their press release did not explicitly state the reason for ceasing doubling, numerous consumer coupon boards voiced extreme couponing as a contributing factor. And, considering the retailers’ statements made at the conference, stores are indeed feeling the sting of not being reimbursed for gang-cut coupons. It’s a double blow if they’re losing on the doubling as well.

Over the past month, shoppers from around the country have emailed to state that some of their local stores have begun limiting shoppers to the number of like coupons per transaction — and the limits are small, 2 or 4 like coupons per transaction per day. This trend was first noted in late 2010 on the manufacturers’ side, when Procter & Gamble added the “Limit 4 like coupons per transaction” text to its manufacturer coupons.

Where does this leave consumers?

It’s important to understand how strongly the manufacturers and industry want to see the resale of coupons ended. During the Coupon Information Council’s presentation, gang-cutting and coupon resale were also discussed, and retailers were advised to deny any coupons at the register that appeared to have been gang cut. Retailers were even told to deny coupons if shoppers casually mentioned that the coupons “came from Ebay.” (Again, if the manufacturer ultimately denies them at the clearinghouse, they’re not going to see credit for them anyway.)

It does leave consumers in an odd situation though. If I want to buy 10 of an item during a “10-for-$10″ sale, and I have legitimately obtained 10 coupons from buying 10 newspapers, I don’t want to hurt the store I’m shopping at by giving them coupons that they might not be reimbursed for. I’ve also never been a gang-cutter. I stack my inserts together in the same file folder pocket, then flip through individually — but again, I usually have 2-4 sets of inserts most weeks, depending on whether I got a couple of extra papers or stuck to the copies I subscribe to. I’m an avid coupon user, but certainly not an extreme one.

The “best-practices” approach to help ensure that your store will receive redemption for the coupons you’re submitting is to simply cut the coupons you use, individually, with scissors.

I realize this article’s bound to rattle some heavy coupon users who’ve become accustomed to using scrapbook slicers or single-blade paper cutters to gang-cut their coupons — certainly, many coupon sites around the web advocate these practices to save time and labor. Others go a step further, encouraging users to staple the inserts together in the middle of the coupon, then cut around it – resulting in a stapled stack of identical coupons. Unfortunately this practice provides the clearinghouse and the manufacturer with even more evidence that a group of identical coupons were cut by the same person — and further raise the likelihood that the store will not be reimbursed for them.

Comments

  1. linleather says

    This past week,I found myself wanting a lot of coupons from the same SS insert. I subscribe and receive 7 papers each Sunday. This week it was irritating to discover that the identical coupon was located in various parts of each insert. I do not gang cut my coupons, just like to locate them quickly. My clipping took longer, but maybe this is a prevention against gang cutting?

  2. J.R. says

    Woodman’s doesn’t do the blinkie machines, but regularly has dozens / hundreds of coupons for a particular product cut out and taped to the shelves where that item is.

    I think they used to have coupon fliers for featured products to hand out to customers, but lately instead of handing out the fliers I regularly see the folks at the CS desk clipping them and then someone must be taping them to the shelves.

    I’ve got no indication that they might be doing anything shady; rather it seems they are really trying to help out the consumer by displaying the coupon where the merchandise is.

  3. flygirl says

    thanks for the in-depth explanation. I myself subscribe to 8 papers. I occasionally purchase the Early Sunday Edition on Saturday if I want to get a jump start on planning my shopping. I also cut my coupons individually as I file the complete insert and cut the coupons when I need them. A store should NEVER be cutting coupons to redeem them when a product was never sold. With today’s technology you would think there would be a better way to track coupon use and mis-use. I have used services on occasion to get a few coupons I need. I have never made any purchase of multiple items which would be classified as “Extreme”. It’s unfortunate that the ethical couponers are affected by the “criminal couponers”. I have had some bad experiences with cashiers when I have had a coupon for each item I am purchasing. The unethical couponers are ruining it for the ethical couponers–It’s really sad. I started couponing due to loss of a job and was forced to make cuts in expenses. I don’t want to buy enough mustard to last me for the rest of my life, just until the next cycle low where I can use a mustard coupon to pay 20% or so of the retail price :)

  4. netrbug says

    I don’t know, this just seems kind of silly. Out of the three mentioned, isn’t the store the only one of the three who is really hurt? The manufacturer’s sales increase due to high demand, the *honest* coupon users benefit, but the stores are the ones getting shafted by being denied reimbursement. There has to be a better way to deal with this issue rather than making everyone clip their coupons one by one.
    I hope the store doesn’t deny me entrance one day because I wear a pair of jeans that resembles a pair that is often shoplifted! But they’ll deny my coupons on similar grounds? Come on!

  5. Turken says

    Looks like you got some very interesting info from the conference, and your analysis and commentary are equally insightful. really looking forward to the rest of the series in a “how-stuff-works” sort of way!

  6. jaws1 says

    I’m guilty of using a cutting method in order to have coupons neatly cut (and fit in my binder better). Had I known they’d prefer messy ones, it would have been more inconvenient for me, but I would have complied. But, rather than say that, Kroger just told us the “7%” of coupon users weren’t important to them.

    The reactions of stores concerning EC by grouping ALL couponers in with extremists was wrong. Did they seriously think that no one would see the show and try to duplicate the purchases??? I think not, but it was good advertising for them. The stores came out the “good guys” while the couponers came out as shelf-clearing, hoarding, deviants who should be detested and scorned. … AND many uninformed watchers’ of the show shared this view, “walking” right into Kroger’s plan to discontinue d/t Qs and “blame” couponers for the high prices in the stores.

    Well, I will change how I cut coupons for Kroger’s competitors, as I’ve been boycotting Kroger since 3/21/11. After reading this, I doubt I’ll ever shop in a Kroger store again … if they had a problem, they should have explained. It wasn’t like we were hiding anywhere!

  7. lopezj0123 says

    …and I for one am a little scared. I have only been doing this for 9 months but my family budget already HEAVILY depends on our couponing. I am afraid that the rug might get pulled out from under us and be left with having to go back to $600.00 wal-mart trips every other week.

  8. Laurentide says

    This is ridiculous. Ghetto grocers (the same ones that pay crackheads cash for food stamps) commit fraud using coupons and consumers have to individually cut coupons? I don’t think so.

    And the argument about clipping service is the same nonsense that copyright holders tried to use to restrict buyers from transferring ownership of copyrighted works. Lots of lawsuits later, indivuduals’ ownership rights were upheld.

    As for feeling sorry for the grocers, not me. If there is inconvenience for them, they’ll have to take it up with the manufacturers. It’s not my job to spend my time obsessing over the way my coupons are cut.

    There is FAR more to the retailer-manufacturer relationship than coupons. Did it ever occur to you that the manufacturers are using threats of refemption delays and accounting requirements as leverage againsr retailers’ shelf space fees?

    I’ll cut coupons in the manner most convenient to me. If a retailer refuses to honor them, they lose my business. End of story.

  9. ecullen says

    I have to say after watching the TLC show Extreme Couponing it really disgusts me to see people who stockpile 15 years worth of toilet paper. What does someone need that much toilet paper for. It frosts my cookies because that just makes me question if someone came in right before me and bought the store out of a certain item that was on sale just to “stockpile” it and now I can’t go in and get my 2 or 3 items that I wanted because they just cleared the shelves. I THINK ITS PURE SELFISHNESS. I’m sorry but I think its a great idea to put limits on items. Call me crazy but I’m sick of taking the time out of my life to make a detailed list just to go in and find empty shelves. Not to say that a lot of times its the stores fault for not stocking up when they know something is going to be a good deal. But still GIVE ME A BREAK WITH THE STOCKPILES.

  10. DiamondCass says

    I don’t think it’s silly for us to cut our coupons out individually so that we continue to have hte privilege of using coupons.
    I work in a restaurant, and if anyone is in that industry, you probably know that there is a VERY THIN LINE between profit and loss. Our managers are constantly on us for all different practices that affect our bottom line. A few years ago when I started at this restaurant, the employee discount was 50%. Several months later they reduced it to 25%. Some people roll their eyes and complain about this, but I agree with our managers – I’d rather pay 25% less than full price and KEEP MY JOB!! than complain and push to get 50% back.

    My husband and I both feel very blessed to have jobs that pay great money in a society that is really hurting right now. We have friends that have been out of work for months and months and are “overqualified” for many positions. I also have friends who are fellow moms who don’t have family around like we do to babysit when we are at work (YES, we are very lucky) and they go back and forth whether or not it’s worth it to start work since they would then have to pay for childcare.

    If you don’t care about the details and behind-the-scenes information Jill is posting, that probably means that you dont’ coupon out of necessity but out of the “rush” of getting stuff for super cheap. Because if you were couponing out of necessity of staying inside your budget, you WOULD be concerned about this – just like I am willing to give up certain privileges at work to maintain my job, I am willing to change my habits to be able to continue couponing.
    If you are using a clipping service, you probably ARE buying way more than your family needs. (unless you have an abnormally large family!) People that have no consideration for the effect their actions have on others really burn my biscuit!!!

    Wouldn’t it be nice if all of Jill’s audience (now even bigger than before!!) stood together and said that we are only going to coupon ethically because we appreciate the coupons manufacturers put out, are thankful our stores accept them, and want it to continue that way. I bet that’d make WAVES throughout the industry!!! :)

  11. Songstress2 says

    So I am one to say that maybe coupons shouldn’t be cut in bunches of like 50, but if I use my scissors to cut 5 inserts, more than likely they are going to look identical. I have an issue with the possibly new coupon system because 1. as an ex military spouse, my grandmother lived in MI and I lived in FL. We many times did not get the best coupons. However, she would send me coupons for things that I could use like diapers, certain foods, etc. Why would you just all together not want a to generate sales for your company. The manufacturers make a TON of money on items because there are quite a few people that I know of myself who NEVER use coupons…pay full retail, thus the manufacturer making a huge profit. Especially since I am sure that to produce these 4-5 dollar boxes of cereal, it doesn’t take them that much to make! There is only so much that a consumer can do. What if I have a friend who lives in a different state that doesn’t have the money to purchase an item but i have a coupon? I, with the new system, couldn’t send it to them!? That’s absurd and very ridiculous! I use coupons quite frequently. I have gotten coupons from almost every means possible and have been happy to do so. There are many people who benefit from coupons. Why change things now? Because the multi billion dollar companies are “feeling the crunch?” Yeah right. We are as consumers with the constant rise in food prices. Especially in different areas. For instance, 4 years ago in FL a gallon of milk cost me almost 3.50 and rarely went on sale, but up in MI, it was always on sale. I used coupons to get it cheaper! If they want to try and cut out coupons, go ahead and see how much people switch to store brand. I know I sure will on almost every product I buy. Because the store brand cost just about the same to create, but in most cases quite a bit less!

    Now for the stores that have allowed consumers to double more than 3 like coupons, not getting reimbursed for them is kind of your fault. Like on the show, if you have like 45 coupons and they all double, that’s on them. Not doubling will just really push people to other stores that will. And I can honestly say that if my stores stop doubling, then Walmart will be my place of shopping because they have now made their store MORE coupon friendly with the new policy. Big retailers need to quit the bs. You make so much money that you don’t know what to do with it. You’re not hiring new employees (most of the store I go to up here, I have seen the same people working there with the exception of those high school workers that leave for college…which are replaced usually by more high school workers).

    A stockpile of items that I can legitimately use is not a problem in my opinion. Like my family, we go through paper towel, so when it is on sale and I can get it for free or cheap, I stock up. Now for me, if that means trading coupons or paying someone for a few (literally a few) here or there, I don’t mind. They have managed to get the coupons and sometimes through legitimate means. On the show, one woman said that her local newspaper drops off the inserts fro papers that we not purchased on Mondays to her house! Is that legal…technically she didn’t pay for the papers, but she sure might have a ton of them! Is using those coupons committing coupon fraud? Couponing used to just be a “fun” thing for me to do, now it is 100% necessary for me to survive. If we all made as much as the presidents of those companies do, then coupons wouldn’t be needed. But that’s not the case. They need to look at the economy and not make it harder on the consumer.

    Sorry for the long post (may be a little scattered), but I have had an interesting week for “news” and am really tired of a lot.

  12. softersoftest22 says

    I do feel bad that the stores are losing money because the manufacturers don’t accept gang-cut coupons but the fact is that many of us don’t have the time to sit down and individually cut out coupons and I don’t think that people should be penalized for using a paper cutter or even a clipping service for cutting out coupons. It is illegal to sale coupons and that is as it should be but it is not, however, illegal to pay for someone’s time which I am assuming is what you are paying for when you pay a clipping service. So technically an illegal act has not taken place so it is not right for manufacturers or stores to refuse to accept these coupons. I know they want to prevent coupon fraud and that it perfectly fine but as it says above, just because a coupon was “Gang-cut” does not mean that fraud actually happened. Maybe the stores need to develop a better way to track what is purchased and what the coupons are used for. Don’t penalize us because you have to prove that people bought the items that the coupons were for. It sounds to me like it is more of an issue that needs to be worked out with the manufacturer than the consumer. I think that setting a limit of ten coupons for like items is an ok policy. If I want to buy more I can do two transactions or just go back another day. If stores, manufacturers, and consumers alike would stop trying to take advantage of a situation then these problems wouldn’t develop in the first place.

  13. Chewpip says

    I have to admit, I started couponing thanks to the TLC show. However, I am someone who loves to hate the show. There have been reports of coupon fraud from one person featured on the show already. How many more are going to commit it because they aren’t well informed on how to use them. Yes, tons of people have flocked to sites and forums about couponing. Those people have a chance to learn how to coupon properly, but there are many who probably are just clipping and going to stores unaware of how to use them.
    With that said I need to comment on this post. I have not read through every reply, but I feel I need to add my two cents.
    I lost my job almost two years ago. My husband has been struggling to keep this ship from sinking for a long time. We are a one income family with 5 children. 4 teenage girls and 1 teenage boy make up our brood. When I got laid off we had to move from a LARGE 3 bedroom house to a little 3 bedroom apartment in a very undesireable neighborhood where our kids can’t even go outside unless they are going from apartment to car, car to apartment. Our kids (2 who are seniors this year) had to leave the schools they’ve been going to for YEARS, their friends, and their relative freedom behind.
    Anyone with one teenage daughter knows the HBA expense involved with having one, now multiply that by 4 add in a son a husband and myself. We buy (on average)5 bottles of shampoo, 5 bottles of conditioner, 5 bottles of body wash, 4 all in one hair and body for men, 7 sticks of deodorant, 4 tubes of toothpaste etc. EVERY MONTH!! That’s a lot of money when you think about it.
    I’ve only been using coupons for a couple months. None of my stored double. When I find a great deal on HBA items you better believe I’m getting my hands on as many coupons as possible to get as much as possible. So, my closet has been turned into a mini HBA department, but I guarantee that within two months if I didn’t buy more, we’d be out. So, I am guilty of stockpiling HBA products. However, I am not one of those people who go in and clear the shelves. I’m usually the one waiting on rainchecks until they get more in.
    I buy 4 papers a week (that’s all I can afford). On recycling nights, I can be found scouring neighborhoods for discarded inserts in other peoples trash. I do not feel bad about it at all. They are throwing those away, they don’t want them, won’t use them, and I do want them and I will use them. I used a clipping service once, because all of the papers I bought didn’t have inserts (another annoying thing, how do these inserts just disappear from papers…theft). I cut them out one by one because when I try to do more than one at a time I usually end up cutting off the exp. date or something.
    Long story short, if I can get all my HBA free/cheap, shop great sales using coupons to greatly reduce how much I’m spending on groceries, and not send my husband into a stress induced heart attack, I’m going to do by any LEGAL means necessary. I follow all the rules, and I learn something new everyday.
    No matter what, I will find a way to get more coupons. If I have to dumpster dive, recycle bin dive, use a clipping service (I only order full inserts and cut them myself) I’m going to do it. I HAVE TO DO IT to survive.
    Manufacturers, stores, managers, and employees can change the rules as often as they want. If it becomes too much of a hassle I’ll find a different store, but I will get those discounts. If I don’t, this ship will surely sink, and I won’t let that happen.

  14. DealJunkie says

    Very informative article!

    Scrapbookers can use their pinking shears to customize cuts :-)

  15. icoupon2 says

    I’m shocked by some of these responses. “The manufacturer and the stores need to work it out” “Who is really being hurt? The stores” “I’m not going to uphold their bottom line, I’m going to uphold my FAMILY’S bottom line”. Newsflash…the stores and the manufacturers HAVE worked it out…and that’s what they’ve decided, gang cut coupons won’t be paid out. Period…end of story. You don’t care about your store’s bottom line? Will you care when their bottom line is affected enough for them to change their coupon policies not in your favor? Of course…you’ll be up in arms ranting and raving and how dare they. How dare YOU is a bigger question. What makes you all so special, so busy so..whatever it is that you think you are that rules and policies don’t apply to you? If there isn’t a tiara on your head, you are not the Queen of Sheba and the rules do apply to you.

    Using a coupon IS a privilege NOT a right, even here in the good old USA. Get out your Bill of Rights, and your Constitution….says nothing in there about “All men are entitled to save $1.00 on dish soap”.

    Keep gang cutting, but don’t dare come back crying when stores & manufacturers clamp down even further and it affects your ability to coupon the way we currently do. It’s what my mother would call cutting off your nose to spite your face.

  16. sbean2010 says

    doesn’t include any of the inserts. The rural areas are unlikely to get the inserts in their local paper. I live in a rural area and the local paper doesn’t have inserts and surrounding area papers are also without inserts. The large paper indicates that it covers the eastern part of our state but it doesn’t do home deliveries. You can subscribe via mail but then it comes without inserts. I have been fortunate thus far to be able to get that paper out of the newspaper box on Sunday morning for the most part but there have been a couple of times that I utilized the clipping service to buy whole inserts b/c I missed out (those boxes frequently malfunction). I have also been in a position of being on vacation and running into the local CVS and buying a couple of that area’s Sunday paper that has the inserts. I would prefer to buy my own papers and cut my very own coupons but I have found that sometimes it isn’t an option. In the end……I prefer the name brand but I am not above heading over to Aldi’s and buying what they have to offer without the coupons that the manufacturer obviously doesn’t want to put in my hands.

  17. michelle98 says

    I buy 6 papers at a time. I’m not going to cut them one by one nor will i cut sloppy. I cut along the dashed lines.

    What is with the paranoia on this blog lately anyway? this is just making people scared and paranoid about using coupons.

  18. soapboxtray says

    It is discouraging however that some of the blog followers are so head strong about not stopping their clipping method. I am quite shocked. I personally will do whatever little bit of effort needs to be done to make sure the stores I frequent are getting their maximum value back. I agree with the poster that said it is ridiculous to be informed of something by Jill that is a concern and will take a change in habit for some and then just completely disregard. Very interesting. I guess I do live in my own little world where I see this community as friends and family and when I see things like this I am just disappointed, that is all I can say.

    If your time/pride/stubbornness is that valuable then who am I to say I suppose. I am very grateful for the information and couponing for me is a gift. Not a right.

  19. Anamazingrl says

    I am brand new to couponing, so this is good to know. Not only did I learn about gang cutting, but you answered a question I had. I was not sure if I could clip multiple coupons for each items or if one coupon would cover all the items I purchased, so thank you for keeping this site informative.

  20. couponerworksinretail says

    I work in a retail store and I also use coupons. It is not just the stores that are hurt by illegal use of coupons, It hurts the employees as well. When a store doesnt get credit for coupons it comes out of their profit. If the store doesnt make a profit the hours get cut. If the hours get cut then the employees don’t work. It is a cycle that doesnt always have a happy ending. As long as all customers follow a companys coupon policy and work to make sure they are couponing the legal way, every one can be happy. And it does hurt stores when one person wipes out a shelf because then the 50 customers after them are angry because the store is out of an item.

  21. n sarah says

    I don’t get it… takes 5 to 10 minutes to print a sales report in any chain store. Any chain store will always sell many, many more of a product w/out a coupon than with a coupon. Any major food company that ships directly to a chain also knows exactly, real-time, how much of a product they’ve shipped to a chain. They won’t risk making a chain mad by not paying for some coupons. I will still stack my 6 inserts and cut. This sounds like some arena is trying to get some people to quit buying coupons and/or clearing shelves.

  22. netrbug says

    Would it be possible for a store to “trim” all coupons before submitting them for reimbursement? Is that illegal to do? I know that part of the problem is that stores themselves are submitting coupons fraudulently. But if stores have used their best discretion in accepting coupons and are worried about not being reimbursed, then why not trim up your legitimate coupons before submitting them?

  23. JoeyJ says

    And I was enraptured. Large family, if I could even save 200 dollars, I would think I was all that. But anyway…

    I don’t understand why it is illegal to use coupons that I haven’t cut myself. If the coupon has been printed, who cares who cut it out? If I use a coupon on a product that hasn’t run through the register, it beeps and they tell me that I didn’t purchase that item or it is outdated. If I purchase the item, what does it matter where I got the coupon? Just curious…

  24. Coupon Maven says

    Unfortunately, I’ve had to lock this thread due to the conversation degenerating into personal attacks between forum members which diverted completely away from the subject of this article. (I do understand that fans of gang-cutting are very passionate about their methods, but the discussion got completely out of hand.)

    Future disregard for civility will result in account suspension.

  25. Coupon Maven says

    After writing this story, I received a lot of outcry from fans of gang-cutting who sent me links to sites showing exactly how to staple and cut large stacks of inserts with paper cutters or scrapbook slicers, saying that it was “their right” to cut them however they want.

    Understand that it is also the manufacturer’s right to deny payment for those coupons to your stores too -because- of the way they’re cut.

    Others wrote to say “this isn’t really happening.” (To which, I ask, why would the industry’s largest annual conference be devoting time to discussing it then? It would be difficult to find a more authoritative source than the ACP.)

    Many of you know that I also work as a consultant to both manufacturers and retailers in various capacities. Last week, I spoke with a supermarket chain in the southern US who told me that they had over $15,000 worth of coupons from one single, cereal manufacturer denied by the clearinghouse…last month.

    Anyone who does not feel that “this is really happening” has to ask themselves this question: Do you honestly feel that retailers aren’t going to react to a $15,000 loss from a single manufacturer in a single month? They are.

    Rite-Aid was the first to add “no gang-cut coupons” to their coupon policy this year, and they will likely not be the last.

  26. Coupon Maven says

    Update – I’ve unlocked the thread to resume discussion of gang-cut coupons, provided it stays civil.

    When this post originally went up back in April, many people wrote and posted that they felt this was just a joke or excuse. Despite the evidence, they felt that manufacturers rejecting coupons simply because of the way they’re cut wasn’t reality.

    Have you read the wording closely on the Dr. Pepper Ten 2-liters that are current through 11/21?

    “Void if coupon is gang cut or mint condition.”

    (And yes, mint condition is also a reason for deny-ability — if a large stack of coupons is gang-cut and not “handled” enough by people, they can be considered too clean by the clearinghouse — another indicator that they may have been sold.)

  27. vpaguilera says

    Thanks so much for these articles. I am a couponer and have learned these practices that you are talking about through other sites, but I will not use them anymore. I didn’t know how much it would hurt others in the long run, they seemed like “stratgegies”. But NO MORE! I want everything i do to be on the up and up, someone God would be pleased with. I want my children to learn the same thing. I don’t want others to be hurt for my own selfishness, nor do I want the stores to lose money on these practices. I can’t tell you how grateful I am and I’m so happy to have found your site!

  28. RachelsCoupons78 says

    This is gonna make it really hard to clip coupons in a timely fashion! Let myself get just two weeks behind, but ended up spending most of my day off yesterday clipping… and that was only dealing with 4-6 copies of each insert, still stacking like sheets together and carefully cutting with scissors. I’m pretty picky about neatness and staying on the dotted lines, and hate when my papers get soggy or torn, but maybe a little mess might be a good thing so my coupons don’t get rejected as being “gang-cut”? It’s getting harder & harder to do this both properly and efficiently so I still have time for other pursuits besides cutting paper! Lol, I just realized how funny that would sound to anyone who knows me given that my main hobby is making greeting cards! Anyway, I hope that eventually it will stop feeling like we’re in a war between frugal shoppers, stores and manufacturers, because for the last year couponing has been the only way for me to make ends meet…

  29. gnvsaves says

    What’s wrong with being neat and cutting your coupons nicely? I can see if you have 100’s of coupons for an item. Well say you have about 24 items. You buy 24 items and used neat cut coupons, you should not be in any trouble. If they don’t want people to buy the products why make coupons. I shop for at least 3 other people sometime and I use coupons. I also give coupons away from my papers that I don’t use. I sometimes just tare them out, so if they get neat cuts it should be a lot easier.