Manufacturer: We're not providing free pizza coupons to Extreme Couponers.
"We can confirm that we are not providing hundreds of free coupons to the show or its participants."
Extreme Couponing often shows shots of its participants humbly clipping coupons out of the newspaper at their kitchen tables... but most of the coupons they're using on the show don't come from any newspaper. Free-product coupons continue to number from the dozens to the hundreds on Extreme Couponing.
After last Monday's season 3 premiere, my email box blew up again:
"Really, more free pizza coupons?"
"The first shopper got 100 free pizzas?"
"Did you see that cart full of coupons for free pizzas?"
They were hard to miss. The first shopper in the Season 3 premiere, Erin Sanders, dumped many coupons for free Freschetta and Tony's pizzas in her cart:
By the end of her shopping trip, she purchased a lot of free pizzas with them:
One hundred free pizzas.
Strangely, this wasn't the first time we've seen free pizza coupons before, either:
During the previous All-Stars season, shoppers used free Freschetta and Red Baron coupons to score hundreds more free pizzas in several episodes. In the All-Star finale, the show's voiceover noted that the together, the three finalists, Chris Duff, Christine Perry and Joni Meyer-Crothers, purchased a total of 717 Freschetta and Red Baron pizzas in that single episode alone. Joni used additional free Freschetta pizza coupons in episode 3 of the All-Stars Season. And, in last night's Extreme Couponing episode, shopper Joyce Hansell also got free Red Baron pizzas as part of her shopping trip. The total number of pizzas purchased on the show with free coupons is currently over 800.
I've been reaching out to manufacturers whose coupons have appeared on the show in large quantities to inquire about the coupons' origins. Freschetta, Tony's, and Red Baron pizzas are all made by the same manufacturer, Schwan's. Is it possible Schwan's has been providing free-pizza coupons to multiple Extreme Couponing shoppers over the past two seasons?
On May 31st, Schwan's Communications Manager Chuck Blomberg responded with a statement:
Thanks for bringing this to our attention. We can confirm that we are not providing hundreds of free coupons to the show or its participants. We cannot speculate on the origins of the coupons. We are continuing to look into the matter.
I also reached out to Chris, Perry, Joni, Erin, and Joyce via their respective email addresses, blogs and online channels, asking where each of them obtained their free coupons, while expressing my concerns about the coupons' legitimacy if they did not come from the manufacturer.
At the time of this writing, Joni Meyer-Crothers is the only person who has responded. Via email:
"Thanks for your concern. I, myself, take the issue very seriously. I confirmed with the store directly that all the coupons I used were reimbursed and none were counterfeit."