Extreme Couponing: Fraud Edition

A lot of people find TLC’s new reality show “Extreme Couponing” horrifying due to the at times obnoxious behavior and extremely organized hoarding of the show’s subjects. But fellow (less extreme) couponers are upset for a different reason: they think that one woman featured on the show got some of her fantastic deals by using coupons fraudulently.

Blogger Jill Cataldo assembled evidence from a variety of forums and assembled it in one huge, damning post. We may never find out whether the allegations are true, but don’t take notes: these methods, which include buying items according to UPC number families rather than actually paying attention to which item the coupon is for, won’t be possible for much longer as stores upgrade their registers to use a new, more sophisticated coupon-barcoding system.

The head of the Coupon Information Corporation, an organization that represents coupon issuers, had harsh words about this practice:

It’s a criminal act. You need to use the coupon only within the terms and conditions printed on the coupon. In English and Spanish or whatever the local language is. A coupon is a contract and an offer. You have to follow those terms.

Using a coupon incorrectly would be applying a large coupon that says it’s limited to larger items to a smaller, non-allowed item: say, applying a coupon for a quart of Yoplait yogurt to a single-serve yogurt and getting the product for free. There are legitimate ways to combine store sales and double coupons to get items for free, so where’s the challenge in going the fraudulent route?

Was coupon fraud shown on TLC’s Extreme Couponing? [Jill Cataldo]
Too extreme couponing? Interview with Coupon Information Corp. [Frugalista]