After the news broke in February that a shopper had used counterfeit coupons on an episode of “Extreme Couponing,” readers from around the country emailed, urging me to take a closer look at the season finale of “Extreme Couponing: All-Stars.” Numerous readers pointed out that shoppers in the final episode purchased Quilted Northern bath tissue with free-product coupons. As the Coupon Information Corporation (CIC) has confirmed that the Quilted Northern free coupons shown in Season 2 of the show are counterfeit, did these shoppers also use the same fraudulent coupons in the All-Stars season?
This episode does not show a clear shot of the Northern coupons being scanned, making their legitimacy difficult to determine. But there was another product coupon that many readers have been pointing fingers at: Free Tide laundry detergent.
If you’re familiar with Procter & Gamble’s coupons at all, you may know that P&G, like most manufacturers, is very careful with the free product coupons they issue to consumers. It’s rare to see coupons for entirely free P&G products without a security hologram on them, especially in the quantities that shopper Chris Duff used on the show. On the show, Chris asks the store to bring 200 bottles of Tide from the back of the store up to the register for his trip. The voiceover states, “Chris has full value coupons for the detergent and will get all $800 worth free.” How does someone gets 200 coupons for free bottles of Tide?
After reviewing the episode, there was definitely something questionable about the free Tide coupons Chris used. Take a look:
Each one of Chris’ free Tide coupons has an “Abt” logo on it. “Abt” is the name of an appliance store located in Glenview, Illinois (view their logo on the upper left corner of their website.) I live in Chicagoland and have often heard Abt commercials on the radio offering shoppers free laundry detergent when they buy a new washing machine. On February 14th, I called Abt to inquire about this promotion. An Abt sales representative explained that when you buy a washer, you receive a booklet containing coupons for free Tide laundry detergent.
“How many coupons are in the booklet?” I asked.
“Four,” the sales representative replied.
How would Chris, a shopper from Pennsylvania, acquire 200 coupons for free bottles of Tide, when the coupons are branded for an in-store promotion at an Illinois appliance retailer… and these coupons are only issued four at a time and only to people purchasing a new washing machine?
Logically, there were only two possible explanations to this. Chris traveled to Illinois and bought 50 new washing machines, netting himself 200 coupons for free Tide. The least expensive washing machine that Abt sells is $339. That would be a $16,950 investment (before tax) to legitimately obtain enough Abt-branded free Tide coupons for his Extreme Couponing shopping trip. Possible… but highly unlikely.
Or… the Abt-branded free Tide coupons were not obtained by purchasing washing machines. If Chris didn’t purchase washing machines to obtain these coupons, there was no other legitimate way for him to obtain them.
But there was another problem. The Tide coupons that you receive when you buy a washing machine at Abt also contain a security hologram. The coupons Chris used on the show did not. Considering the sheer volume of hologram-free Tide coupons that Chris had, the most logical explanation seemed to be that his Abt-branded free Tide coupons were likely counterfeit.
I sent this information to the CIC and Procter & Gamble. On February 27th, Dave McCracken, P&G’s North America External Relations, responded:
To: “email@example.com” <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: P&G Follow-Up — Free Tide Coupons
Date: Mon, 27 Feb 2012 22:36:22 +0000
I received your question from the CIC regarding the Free Tide Coupons that were seen during a recent episode of Extreme Couponing. I can confirm the coupons are counterfeit. We will be issuing a PSA very soon to alert consumers and customers of this.
Thanks for your interest in P&G and actions to determine the truth in this matter.
NA External Relations
Procter & Gamble
On March 6th, the Coupon Information Corporation (CIC) issued an official notice that these Tide coupons are counterfeit. I asked Mr. McCracken to verify that these Tide coupons would not be reimbursed by P&G, and he replied, “P&G does not pay for counterfeit coupons.”
After P&G confirmed that Chris’ Tide coupons were counterfeit and would not be reimbursed, I called Bill Glazier, owner of Glazier’s Food Marketplace in Las Vegas, Nevada, the store where the season finale of Extreme Couponing: All Stars was filmed. I expressed to Bill that I appreciated him taking my call, and I brought him up to speed on the previously-used counterfeits on the show. Then, I read P&G’s statement to him over the phone.
Mr. Glazier said, “Is there anything sacred anymore… where is the sanctity? I hope to God they weren’t fake. I’ll hunt them down… that show, God Almighty. They used $12,000 worth of coupons in my store.”
Mr. Glazier then said, “Wouldn’t the producers of that show verify this themselves? What about Gabby at TLC?” I shared that many viewers and websites following the show have noticed numerous instances of fraud, and that when the last set of counterfeit coupons were confirmed, I reached out to Dustin Smith at Discovery for a statement, and he gave none. A reporter from the Wall Street Journal’s SmartMoney.com also asked Mr. Smith for a comment on that situation, and he declined to give one. The Tampa Tribune also covered the counterfeit story, and again, Mr. Smith declined to comment.
Mr. Glazier continued, “It was that Chris that used those [Tide coupons.] If I find out this son of a [expletive] did knowingly use counterfeits… Chris, that little mouthpiece? That’s the one.” He paused for a moment and said “How would he get them, get so many?” I said that I didn’t have any information as to where the counterfeit coupons came from. He continued, “You know, if the coupon scans, we take it. The only time we’re going to find out is if it doesn’t come back to us as paid.”
As we ended our call, Mr. Glazier mentioned that this was actually the fourth episode of Extreme Couponing filmed at his store, and he said “Do you know that they actually brought one girl from Boise, Jessica Hacker, here to our store to shop? Because she couldn’t shop for the show at any stores in her area. When the big guys say no, where do they go? To the poor, independent retailer. They were here for three days after Thanksgiving!”
There are several issues here to consider.
The entire season of Extreme Couponing: All Stars has been a game show-style competition to win a golden shopping cart trophy, as well as national recognition as the winner of the show. Each week, shoppers competed to see who would save the most with coupons.
The winner of Extreme Couponing: All Stars used counterfeit coupons to win.
Discovery’s website has a statement from its CEO which reads in part, “Discovery Communications has been committed to making a positive impact in the lives of our viewers with the highest quality nonfiction content… in that same spirit, we understand that Discovery’s impact and potential to make a positive difference in people’s lives extends beyond the screen. Building on the mission-driven nonfiction content that is at our core, we are committed to responsible corporate citizenship…”
Yet TLC continues to decline to comment on multiple instances of counterfeiting shown on this program. With this revelation that additional counterfeit coupons were used, I again reached out to Dustin Smith at Discovery Communications. At the time of this writing, I have not received a reply. I also reached out to Chris Duff and offered him an opportunity to speak. And, at the time of this writing, he has not returned my call. (UPDATE: 3/8/12 11:00AM CST: A reader shared Chris Duff’s email address with me, and I have also reached out to him via email.)
At what point will TLC release a statement about the confirmed counterfeit coupon usage on their show by multiple shoppers? Are they prepared for the possibility of even more counterfeit coupons coming to light in the days and weeks ahead?
Ultimately, where does the ratings race end and the criminal conspiracy begin?
It’s my hope that the appropriate law enforcement or federal agency will begin looking into this. I truly feel for Bill Glazier over the financial loss his store will face. And, what if more manufacturers confirm that additional counterfeits were used? With over 800 additional free-product coupons used in his store during this episode, not counting these counterfeit Tide coupons, Glazier’s Food Marketplace could be facing a loss of up to $12,000 if additional counterfeit coupons surface in the days ahead.
Image from TLC’s “Extreme Couponing” used under Creative Commons license.
More instances of counterfeiting, fraud, and rule-breaking on TLC’s Extreme Couponing:
- Confirmed: 34 Counterfeit coupons used on TLC’s “Extreme Couponing”
- Why your shopping trips aren’t quite like the ones on “Extreme Couponing”
- Shopper admits committing coupon fraud on “Extreme Couponing”
- Supermarket apologizes for participating in “Extreme Couponing,” allowed shopper to misuse coupons for the show
- Store that does not double coupons doubled coupons “just for the show”
Green Is Good says
I am going to assume he did not know they were fake! Isn’t Chris the one studying religion? And doesn’t he always donate everything he gets? Why use fake coupons if you are not benefiting from it?
Something always seemed weird to me about Chris like he would do anything to beat the system. The first time he was on he was showing off 150 pairs of free jeans he got from Target from when that $5 Jeans coupon was on their site. How do you get 150 of that coupon if you can only print 2 unless you make photo copies? Oh it’s ok though cause he’s donating the jeans to charity right *sarcasm*
Are you looking at the rest of his coupons? He had hundreds and hundreds free coupons for Red Baron pizza. That episode just seemed so weird. he obsessed the Free Hugs lady was going to beat him and makes some phonecalls the night before to get free coupons. If he is ordering free coupons he knew they were fake but would do anything to “WIN.” Who can magically just get hundreds of free coupons over night like that?
Sad that he is a seminary student though. He should know better. But it’s okay he donated all the Tide and pizzas (not.)
Honestly, I’m wondering if the CIC will just go after TLC for this sort of thing. It’s all over the show, and it’s disgusting. I feel bad for this poor store owner that he may be out $12,000.
I read your column in the Orlando Sentitnel and wrote you in January to ask about the TIde coupons. I saw this on the show and wrote to TIde and asked why did they give them to a youth pastor on tlc but not families like mine struggling so much. My email to TIde ask if I could have some too and they wrote back and said no they do not give out free coupons and look for their coupons in Brand saver. But those are only like .50. So I was confused and wrote you to see how to get some free TIde for us we really need it. Thank you for finding the truth and I am ashamed for Chris to steal from that store. I saw the show got so hopeful we could get bunch of free coupons to help us out too and now none of its even real. Well thank you for finding the truth.
I’m sorry but didn’t Mr. Glazier wonder why the big guys didn’t allow this in their stores? I mean seriously…I do not know if some sort of payment is made to the stores or what arrangements there are between a store and the network but he was willing to let them tape 4 episodes and bring in people from other areas who oouldn’t shop in their own area. Makes me wonder what he hoped to gain from all this but it backfired on him.
If it looks like a rat and it smells like a rat it is probably a rat.
Do we need to get the FCC involved?! Not only does TLC refuse comment on Joel counterfetting from a couple weeks ago with all his fake coupons they put him on AGAIN in the new episode for another shopping trip! What he is doing is illegal, and now here is another person on this godawful show committing counterfetting and TLC just thinks they can say no comment? Ooh I am SO mad!!
The shame is we all know how fake this show is but regular people don’t. They are making fake coupons for fake shopping trips. Really when you think about it all that stuff Chris donated is STOLEN!! If he was counterfetting dollar bills instead of coupons to buy it it would be stolen goods that could be repo’d.
If the FCC can get their panties all in a bunch about Janet Jackson’s boob I think people committing counterfetting, a felony, there would be something they should do. These people should be in jail.
Extreme Couponing: An Extreme Disappointment
February 13, 2012.
The Coupon Information Corporation (CIC) expresses its continued disappointment with TLC’s series, Extreme Couponing. Last May, the CIC offered our expertise to assist TLC and Sharp Entertainment (which produces the show) in enhancing the program with more accurate and realistic information concerning the activities portrayed on the show. Neither TLC nor Sharp Entertainment responded to CIC’s offer.
Late last year, Consumer Advocate Jill Cataldo alerted CIC to the allegation that TLC aired a program featuring a minor using counterfeit coupons to purchase several hundred dollars worth of a product.
CIC reviewed the situation and confirmed that a minor had indeed used counterfeit coupons on the show.
We also learned that after the store had been denied payment for the counterfeit coupons and it contacted the show, the minor’s mother repaid the store for the product that was “purchased” with the counterfeit coupons.
Unfortunately, none of this was ever aired on the show or otherwise disclosed to viewers of Extreme Couponing. Indeed, to our knowledge, the original, unedited episode featuring the use of counterfeit coupons by the minor is still being aired in its original format.
After confirming the facts, the CIC engaged in a number of communications with Discovery Communications (the parent company of TLC). The CIC suggested that Discovery Communications take the following actions to help rectify the situation:
1.Deletion of the episode from all corporate websites and other forums with public access and a prohibition from re-airing the episode featuring the minor
2.A statement reviewing the facts of the situation, focusing on “turning the page” and moving forward with new controls to be aired as part of another episode and posted on corporate websites associated with the show.
3.Retention of an independent industry expert to insure the integrity of future episodes, with a commitment to following all laws and rules pertaining to couponing.
To our knowledge, as of this date, neither Discovery Communications, TLC, nor Sharp Entertainment, have implemented any of our recommendations or taken any other actions to address the situation.
I hope the stores sue TLC for fraud. This may finally get them to behave.
Good grief! I stopped watching the show as soon as Jill let us know it was a lie. I wondered how it was happening but too naive to believe the show/shoppers would outright commit fraud. Thank you Jill. Really awful that they even brought the kid back!!! If the stores keep agreeing to this nonsense they are no better (in my mind) than TLC and the shoppers.
Jill, I’m glad the CIC is helping with this but why don’t they DO ANYTHING? Nobody cares that Chris made all these free Tide counterfeits and used them on TV. Tide should sue him, the Graziers store should sue him, somebody needs to actually do something or this turns into another Jail’me where because nothing happens & other couponers think it is ok to do the exact same thing. Maybe these companies really are that big that an $800 loss means nothing to them so for argument sake why shouldn’t we all be doing it? There needs to be some penalty for these people and the show or guess what the world is “LEARNING” from the Learning Channel, how to counterfeit and have no punishment at all.
I dont know what denomination he is in but I hope they expel him from seminary and dont allow him to be ordained, unless he goes public about the whole thing. He lied, cheated, and stole. Oh, but for a good cause. Right.
I would NEVER want to attend a church, participate in a ministry, or support a mission where he was the leader – unless he owns his behavior, regardless of the legal consequences that the corrupt media conglomorate will likely oppress him with.
absolutely sick to my stomach. I feel so bad for that grocery store owner.
Momma Goddess says
TLC = The Lying Channell
How long can TLC stay quiet? Here is a good letter I saw on the EC Facebook wall:
My email to Discovery Impact: email@example.com
What kind of a positive impact is it when you show a minor and a ministry student using obviously counterfeit coupons for free items, defrauding store owners – and have no comment? When the ministry student is the winner of your tin plated golden shopping cart? And you say nothing, and even feature the minor on another episode, and show him ripping toys out of a childs hand?
You are encouraging fraud and theft. You are NOT showing real couponing. And the effect on real couponers is enormous. We are now treated like criminals, when we have been doing this honestly to feed our families for years.
“Building on the mission-driven nonfiction content that is at our core, we are committed to responsible corporate citizenship, inspiring our viewers with on-air messages, promoting and practicing sustainability for our planet, supporting lifelong learning, working with our partners, giving back to our communities, helping our employees thrive at work, and growing a diverse and successful industry.”
I have an idea…contact gawker.com and have them publish this article. It’s a juicy article since it’s a ministry student who got away with scamming a grocery store! I just hope this article gets a huge buzz so TLC can stop filming EC!!
I don’t know how to take this. Yes this guy used 200 coupons of Tide with a store logo on them at a different store. But it doesn’t mean that they are counterfeit. Probably what happened is that he bought them online from people in the state where they originated. IT is not illegal to buy these coupons online. Usually stores like this (and Lowes, and Home depot etc) leave these coupon booklets in stacks around the area where appliances/appropriate products are sold. So some not so considerate person took the whole stack and decided to sell them online.
I would say that the liable party here is the store that produced these coupons to really be store specific but used manufacture coupon coding so they are scanning at other stores. Target coupons for example will not scan anywhere else. The accepting store should also not have accepted 200 coupons that probably state “redeemable at specific store”. The processing center will of course say these coupons are counterfeit because they are not designed to be reimbursed by Tide manufacturer. The store produced these coupons not to get re-imbursed but to eat up the cost as a discount on a new washing machine.
If the guy who used them knew they were store specific then he is guilty of coupon misuse. But even so, in many cases stores accept competitor coupons so even that he can argue himself out of it.
I really hate shows like extreme couponing that encourage people to clear shelves and hog all these products that will probably expire. They claim they “donate” the stuff but what about the working poor who is not depending on donations but just wants to shop the sales like they were intended to? If you coupon normally and follow sales there is no reason to stockpile like crazy because sales repeat. Stores should also enforce sale limits so everyone can share in the savings.
I watched this week’s EC episode on the DVR and you know they shopped with Joel, the first counterfeiter again. Can you believe they intro’d Joel with footage of him using the fake Quilted Northern coupons that everyone knows is fake? Like they couldn’t re edit that episode in the month since that news came out? Nope, it’s good TV! Show it again!
I just wonder when the amount of counterfeit coupons used becomes a felony & the DOJ will get involved. TLC is knowingly allowing show participants to commit fraud. When does the dollar amount hit the limit that a governmental agency will shut them down. I don’t care if the whole network was put out of business. They obviously have no ethics and are not promoting anything beneficial to the American public.
TLC can’t be bothered to comment on more counterfeits on their show, but they have plenty of time to send out casting calls for the new season of Extreme Couponing on March 8, one day after Jill’s story about more counterfeits comes out?? Calling it a “wonderful opportunity” for shoppers??
Look at Kirlew defending FRAUD. I e-mailed him about his partner using fake coupons and this is the response I got,
“I am a fan of the show and each of my show-mates. The author of these articles is not the God of Couponing so what you read is rarely true. The same bloggers tore me to shreds following my episode. I’m still standing! All of the accusations were ludicrous! You asked if I believe in ethical Couponing — absolutely I do!!!”
My 11th Commandment: Thou Shalt Not Pay Retail!
As Seen on TLC’s Extreme Couponing
On Mar 11, 2012 4:36 PM, “Wade Schillo”
From: Wade Schillo
I’m just curious if you believe in ethical couponing or save at any way possible? In a recent episode of TLC’s EC, fellow couponer Chris, was obviously using fake Tide coupons. I was curious as to how you feel about that and if you feel Chris or TLC should reimburse the store the $12,000 in fake Tide coupons he obviously used. I’m a fan of your couponing, and hate to see people like Chris ruin couponing for all of us. Expiration dates are getting shorter, stores are getting tougher on coupons than ever before. Just wondering your thoughts…Thanks. Have a great day.
This mail is sent via contact form on J’aime Kirlew Couponing
A lot of people here in the UK look up to this show as an example of how couponing is better in the US, I used to think the same but was shocked to discover a lot of the big savings on the show are down to misredeemed and fraudulent coupons, I used to really enjoy extreme couponing but I can’t look at it in the same light again. Now when my fellow Britons start praising the show I show them the links to your blog articles.
Coupon Maven says
Time.com mentions the Tide counterfeits in a story today:
Read the full story: https://moneyland.time.com/2012/03/15/casting-call-for-extreme-cheapskates/
I think what irks me the most, is that its done in the name of God and helping others. When its ACTUALLY STEALING! I mean, for the love.
I joined just to comment on what you have said about Chris Duff as I was horrified when I read your little post including him.
You have him labeled as if he is a theif here in this post. Newsflash, No, honey if anyone is a theif you are by charging money to teach people how to save. Splashing ad after trashy ad across the screen upon sign up begging for our 9.99 all the while trash talking other who actually TEACH others instead of begging them for their money.
Chris seems very real and if he did use fraudulant coupons I bet he didn’t know about it.
You seem to like to try to capitalize on others, and to be more specific you capitalize on their mistakes. Intentions or not you really seem to like to treat everyone on that show as a theif, are you jealous perhaps that TLC didn’t invite you to the party so you could add that to your tiny list of tv appearances?.
Chris and his wife are no theives, they help out their community. So if you want a good blog post how about writing about how he and wife’s giving nature is a good thing for couponers to think about doing instead of spouting lies about them?
When have you done something that important for others? Talking down about other all the while praising yourself and giving out coupon advise that anyone can find minus your fees is not going to win you any respect. You also could do good as Chris has, instead of trying to ride a news story to the bank by tagging in your posts with coupon fraud busts and then trying to tie innocent persons such as he and his wife to it.
My best guess is that you wouldn’t even know how to help others. Your site seems very self-absorbed. You don’t seem to care about the fact that even if his coupons are not what he thought they were he is guilty of nothing as he did not know.
The only thing he is guilty of is being a target for troublemaking bloggers such as yourself who have nothing better to do that to hate on someone who is trying to do good in the world.
The information on your site about couponing is limited at best and anyone can learn how to do it by Google as long as they don’t ask you because you seem to want to charge money for your “help”.
I agree with other posters here when they tell you that what you write about people can come back to haunt you if they decide to take it into court for labeling them as criminals.
Please for the sake of every couponer out here in the world find out the real story before you decide to trash someone without cause.
You would come off as more of a professional couponer than just another sideshow gossip blogger. Maybe then more couponers would take you seriously.
If not then I feel bad for the persons from the show who you decide to target as it is a given that people make mistakes. That does not entitle a petty person the right to label them a theif as you have here for nothing more than to link to a famous couponers name to a poorly written blog post.
I believe that the TLC network should reimburse the store for the entire value of the counterfeit coupons used. It is irresponsible of the show directors not to have checked out the validity of the coupons used on the show.
The retailer should not have to suffer for the fantasy entertainment value of the public. Was the retailer paid anything for their appearance? Probably not.
The person who had all the coupons, if he or she knew they were counterfeit, should be prosecuted, just like any other fraudster, for fraud for the amount of the coupons.
In my opinion, most so-called ‘reality’ tv is odious, time-wasting dreck that shows that the media thinks the American public is stupid.