Is It Fair For Extreme Couponers To Take All The Mouthwash Just Because They Can?

We’ve all the seen the devastation an extreme couponer can wreak on a display of deodeoants, if not firsthand, then on the TLC show aptly named Extreme Couponing. Sure, it’s awesome for the couponer, but what about the average customer who just wants to buy one shampoo, not 23, and there are none to be found? Stores have been adjusting their policies in certain regions as a result.

The Detroit News (via Time.com) profiles one such extreme couponer, who, in the course of getting 11 cents back for each of 34 cartons of milk after combining coupons, had her goods rung up one at a time as separate transactions, resulting in 34 receipts. For her, that’s a moneymaker. For the sales associate, it’s just plain annoying.

Stores are taking note: at places like Kroger and Wal-Mart, the number of coupons that can be used in one transaction is being limited, and other policies shorten expiration dates. Meijer agrees that empty shelves make shoppers angry, but a spokesman says they’re waiting to see what rules national grocers successfully implement before they do the same.

Kroger went the extra mile to kill double and triple coupons in North Texas stores, and in one case, refused to accept a pile of coupons at a store in Atlanta.

The stores say the point isn’t to do away with coupons altogether so that retailers make the most profit, just to allow customers to enjoy savings without going overboard and ensuring everyone else can have a good shopping experience.

Walmart didn’t comment on the specific changes they’ll be making, but Kroger says they want to enforce the rules to keep shelves from going bare.

“We encourage couponing as a way for our customers to stretch their food dollars,” said Kroger spokesman Dale Hollandsworth. “We want all customers to be able to get the products they want when they are shopping in our stores.”

For anyone grumbling over new policies, take note — only three-tenths of one percent of the 80 percent of consumers who use coupons regularly are considered “extreme.”

Extreme couponers push some retailers to tweak the rules [Detroit News]

Comments

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  1. May contain snark says:

    only three-tenths of one percent of the 80 percent of consumers

    Is that really confusing or do I just fail at math?

    • az123 says:

      0.24% of consumers are extreme in their coupon use

    • kelcema says:

      100% of consumers.

      80% of those use coupons.

      .3% of THOSE are considered extreme.

      So, .24% of all consumers are considered extreme.

    • rookie says:

      eight out of ten consumers regularly use coupons…
      of those eight, only 0.0192 are “extreme” couponers…

      we are looking for the one-armed man…
      that haz no legs…
      or a head…
      or,

      i’ll stop here…

    • TKOtheKDR says:

      (3/10)*(.01)*(.80)* = 0.0024 = 0.24% of all customers

    • GOInsanity says:

      I agree. Why couldn’t they just say 0.24% as everyone is stating below? Or at least phrase it as three-tenths of a percent. Not sure why, but saying a percent instead of one percent there just makes it less confusing for me.

    • Blueskylaw says:

      If there are 1000 shoppers in a store and 80% of them use coupons then there are 800 people out of a thousand who use coupons. Out of the 800 people, three tenths of one percent are extreme couponers which is 800 * .003= 2.4 people out of every thousand are extreme couponers.

      If there were 6,5000 couponers then that would require a higher form of math than I am capable of computing while sober.

      • AcctbyDay says:

        I see what you did there with that number. Kudos to consumerist for never proofreading their articles.

      • jeadly says:

        Or, if there are 206.8 million adult shoppers in the US, that means there are 496,320 of these nutjobs out there clearing off shelves.

  2. msbask says:

    Stores near me double (and sometimes triple) coupons. Most have pretty strict limits such as they will only double 4 of the same coupon, or they will only double two $1 coupons, etc. I’m not sure if any of them limit the number of transactions you can do.

    I guess I just can’t figure out what that extreme couponer’s Walmart made her do them in 34 separate transactions. That’s the crazy part, not buying 34 chocolate milks.

    • Coleoptera Girl says:

      I thought it sounded like she insisted on that many transactions, so that she could use multiple of the same coupon.

    • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

      They need to have a policy of one transaction per customer. Subtotal buttons can help figure the bill when you are buying stuff for more than one person. Or, you can break your handy dandy calculator out.

      • KyBash says:

        Can you make that three transactions per customer?

        What I buy for myself, I put on my personal card.
        What I buy for my work, I put on a business card.
        What I buy and a client will reimburse me for goes on another card.

        To put everything in one purchase is an accounting nightmare.

  3. brinks says:

    Institute quantity limits and hold firm to them. It won’t stop an extreme couponer from coming back later or raiding another store, but it will slow them down and allow some other customers to get what they need.

    • zerogspacecow says:

      But they can just make multiple transactions. The computer can only keep them from using multiple coupons in one transaction. Even if it’s against policy, the shopper could pressure the employee to do multiple transactions.

      • SmokeyBacon says:

        Then it is the stores responsibility to make it more difficult for the extreme couponer to pull the multiple transaction scam. Limit it to a certain number per customer, instead of per transaction. So the customer either has to have 34 friends with them (as in the case of that woman at Walmart – she would have to bring all her friends) or come back 34 times. And they have to follow the same rules for all patrons and not make exceptions.

        And speaking of making exceptions, couldn’t some extreme couponer who is turned away use previoius allowances (like the special ones that are made for that TV show) as a way to get the same treatment for themselves – pretty much just negating any policy anyway?

  4. yellowdog says:

    Extreme couponing – another manifestation of OCD, with elements of hoarding thrown in, to boot. But hey, enjoy those cases of mouthwash.

    • rugman11 says:

      I don’t know why people don’t make a bigger deal out of this. There are clear signs of OCD here and we celebrate it.

      • BorkBorkBork says:

        We celebrate/glamorize a lot of unhealthy things on American media.

        What’s worse is that people eat it up.

        • tooluser says:

          Yup. Please vote for someone else next time.

          • FixdaFernback says:

            Wait, you don’t really think that who you vote for will determine anything even tangentially related to whether channels like TLC have reality shows which celebrate unhealthy traits, do you?

            • SmokeyBacon says:

              Maybe he means vote with your program choice (that is my only guess for that one). Like don’t watch it, give it bad ratings, and then have it be cancelled.

            • jeadly says:

              Have you NOT been voting for TLC and Discovery channel program director? Dammit! This why we can’t have nice things!

    • Mrs. w/1 child says:

      Yes, the people that stock pile cases of shampoo in their crammed to the ceiling house are a bit hoarder/OCD. However, many extreme couponers in Chicago take their almost free stuff and sell it to the little corner markets (bodegas if you live in NY) to make money. If the case of shampoo only cost 11 cents per bottle and they can sell it to the corner store for a dollar a bottle they can make a profit on quantities. I say it is capitalism in a pure form.

      The corner market then sells the bottles for $4 each – way over what a Target or grocery store charges because they are a 24 hour store, not a discount store. Lather rinse repeat.

      If stores want to limit quantities or transactions that is fine too. I have seen displays wiped out by college students all shopping for back to school just as I have seen displays wiped out by couponers.

      • noahproblem1 says:

        At my store, the “little corner market” owners have already cut out that middle man – they’re the extreme couponers (and the ones who fight us over every price to boot and do the multi-transaction game to get and use immediately the extra dollar coupons and free gift cards for buying certain items, not to mention using multiple store cards to get even more sale prices and coupons).

    • econobiker says:

      Actually alot of the extreme couponers use the items as donations to get a tax write off. Get the stuff for free and then donate it to charity at full retail value and take tax write off on full value donation.

  5. castlecraver says:

    If they simply said, “one transaction with paper coupons per person per day (hour?)” the problem might be solved. It seems to me so much of the problem stems from retailers complying with the couponers’ requests to separate transactions strategically to get around the stated limits already in place.

    • Justin D. Morgan says:

      I think “one transaction with coupons, per person, per visit” might do it. How many extreme couponers would want to have to leave and come back multiple times?

      Then again, I’ve not watched Extreme Couponing, so I don’t know how crazy some might be…

      • RandomHookup says:

        Really depends on the nature of the store. Most stores don’t limit coupons that aren’t identical and don’t double.

      • Southern says:

        I watched it once.

        That was enough for me.

        Those people are nucking-fut crazy.

        The show I watched, some lady bought something like $800 worth of supplies for a WEDDING for like $50. It took her over 2 *HOURS* to check out, breaking everything into like 25+ transactions. She watched every item like a HAWK, and if any item was off by a single PENNY, she was bitching to the cashier about it, making them void the transaction and starting all over.

        Was it worth it? Sure, to her – she saved like $750. Worth it to the STORE? No way.

        I think some other commenters here have the right idea Рone discount per item per customer (without prior approval from a manager for certain exceptions). If you want to buy 30 shampoos for 10¢ each, go through the line 30 times, or pay full price. Many stores already limit certain sale items to one per customer anyway, just make coupons an extension of that.

    • Bodger says:

      Well, that would certainly piss me off. I shop primarily on Wednesday (Kroger’s senior discount day — yes, I’m an old coot) and might have as many as four or five coupons on the exceptional week. If they tried to tell me that I couldn’t use them then I guess I’d be looking for a different store.

      • Fafaflunkie Plays His World's Smallest Violin For You says:

        I think the commenter you replied to should have phrased it a bit more clearly. I would have said “one coupon per like item per customer per day/hour. This way, you could use your five coupons for five different items, not clear a shelf of one particular item.

  6. Bionic Data Drop says:

    “Meijer agrees that empty shelves make shoppers angry, but a spokesman says they’re waiting to see what rules national grocers successfully implement before they do the same.”

    So, they know there is a problem, but refuse to do anything until someone else goes first? Is their ownership French by any chance?

  7. Cat says:

    No.

  8. az123 says:

    I never get why stores try to make these people happy anyway. Coupons and adds are for the most part either loss leaders or are cutting the profit margins to unsustainable levels for a given product. Sure they help people save money but the store also counts on you coming in and buying other stuff to make a decent profit overall.

    When you have someone who really is just turned this into a sport and wants to just buy mass qty of stuff that the store is probably making nothing on, who cares if you irritate them and loose them as a customer, you would be better off without loosing the money. I appreciate stores taking an effort to ensure the rest of us can 1) get the products we want without spending a fortune on gas. and 2) allowing the general population to enjoy the savings on products, rather than some select few

    • Press1forDialTone says:

      “who cares if you irritate them and loose them as a customer, you would be better off without loosing the money”

      The correct spelling is “losing” not “loosing”.

      Do not pass go, go directly to elementary school.

      No recess for you today.

      • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

        -1 for being the internet spelling police. Go find something worthwhile and constructive to do.

        • Unclaoshi says:

          +1

          • SilentAgenger says:

            + another 1…mainly because I’ve see “lose” spelled as “loose” so many times that I’d wager it to be the most commonly misspelled word on the internet (it has to be in the top 3 at least).

        • NeverLetMeDown says:

          Pointing out to someone that the way they express themselves has implications for how their arguments are received is not only appropriate, but a fundamentally generous thing to do. If someone makes this error (confusing loose and lose) in a forum like this, it’s possible he could make the same error something like a cover letter or resume, which would be like putting a large red sign on the resume saying “I’m either ignorant or sloppy.”

      • tbax929 says:

        You should have used a semicolon after “do not pass go”, not a comma.

    • Stella says:

      Coupons are NOT loss leaders for (grocery) stores–the manufacturers reimburse them the face value of the discount plus some kind of handling fee.

      • Fafaflunkie Plays His World's Smallest Violin For You says:

        …unless the retailer is doubling or even tripling coupon values. The manufacturer isn’t paying for that! I understand the reasoning for retailers to do this — to get you, the consumer, into their store and not the competition’s — but there should also be limits, clearly spelt out, that discourage the extreme couponers from emptying the shelf of a particular item, keeping casual shoppers from buying them. Or worse–holding up a checkout for more than an hour ringing up all these coupons and demanding 59 separate transactions so their coupons go through. Imagine being the person behind that inconsiderate (expletive) in line.

  9. Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ゜-゜ノ) says:

    Extreme Couponers are awesome in their own right, but, really, let’s give them their own lane so I don’t suddenly have the time to relearn all my yo-yo tricks trying to buy a pack of gum.

    The other day I was behind a couple that bought maybe a million boxes of Aleve (well, I’ve never seen a million of anything before so I might be off) and they handed a stack of identical coupons to the cashier. Now, I’m pretty sure they put a dollar in a newspaper vending machine and stole the whole stack to gather that many.

    • drjayphd says:

      Or they may not have even had to do that. The local free alt-weekly includes the same inserts as their corporate overlords, and every week, I have to dig down to the bottom of the pile to find copies with coupons. Just a couple of years ago, people would leave the coupon inserts (in one case, neatly stacked on top of the papers) in the honor boxes, but not so much nowadays.

    • FixdaFernback says:

      Yes, it’s incredibly AWESOME of them to steal coupons from newspapers which other people might be expecting to receive coupons. It’s awesome that they buy out the entire stock of multiple items so that they can make money off of shopping, instead of actually working for income. It’s just SO awesome that they aren’t even in the slightest worried about inconveniencing anyone or even trying to be courteous to others in their quest to save/make a few pennies here and there (really, 11 cents per carton at 34 cartons, on 34 receipts? So, what, a good 15-20 minutes at least to obtain all the cartons, organize the purchases with a coupon per receipt, and pay each total out? So, congrats, you’re working for about $9 an hour, give or take a little! Not only that, but out of your desire to make such beaucoup bucks you’re also screwing over other consumers). SO AWESOME!

  10. Mighty914 says:

    Can’t blame someone for knowing how to hustle the game.

    But I reserve the right to scowl and get pissy at the couponer if s/he’s in front of me on line.

    • jacobs cows says:

      Amen to that.I experienced this for the first time yesterday and it took forever to get out of that store.These people are down and out rude knuckleheads.

  11. Hoss says:

    The bigger problem is that some stores (like CVS) put only a small number of certain items on the shelf. So when there’s a good deal on a high priced item there’s none on the shelf. Should I need to ask someone to stop what their doing so I can save two dollars on Dove soap?

    • Charmander says:

      I don’t understand why extremem couponers would want to buy dozens of one item anyways. Are they planning to use them before the expiration date? Or do they just pile up in their house?

      • blueneon says:

        Some of them say they donate to charities (or at least say they do)

        • blueneon says:

          ugh forgot to preview .. should have said — “Some of them donate to charities (or at least say they do)

      • Mrs. w/1 child says:

        They can also sell the free or almost free items to make money. The least elegant way is the guy standing in front of the store or train stop selling deodorant out of cases of deodorant for a $1 each. More elegant ways include craigslist and corner stores.

      • bee8boo8bop8 says:

        I am a couponer, though not an extreme one. When I buy a lot of something, it’s usually because:

        1. I’m supplying someone other than myself. I keep my parents in toiletries and cat food as well as my own family.

        2. It’s free or profitable to buy and I won’t use it, so it goes to, depending on the item, a domestic violence shelter or a food bank.

        3. It’s very inexpensive to buy, so I’ll buy a slew of them and then not buy it again for months.

        4. It’s something we use a LOT of, so it’s worth buying in bulk. My husband is legitimately OCD, and we go through cleaning products like crazy. I choose to not worry about this and just buy them cheaply. Yes, it sounds nuts to buy 30 bottles of dish soap, but they were free, and my husband goes through 2 bottles a week, so it’s only a 4 month supply.

        I’m actually taking a couponing break at the moment because we have all the toiletries and paper products I’m going to need for a couple months, and I’m trying to destress my life, so we’re just buying groceries at ALDI and the local Chinese grocery.

      • Anna Kossua says:

        Step 1: Buy enough to build a food bunker and have it featured on “Extreme Couponing.”

        Step 2: Get same bunker featured on “Doomsday Preppers.”

        Step 3: ???

        Step 4: Profit!
        (or at least look like loon on national television)

  12. Press1forDialTone says:

    Yo, MayContainSnark, this time you fail at math:

    1) First, get the number of couponers (not extreme) from the total number
    of shoppers; this is the number shoppers who at least use *1* coupon.

    2) Now, whatever that number is, find .3% of that number

    No recess for you today.

  13. redskull says:

    The Detroit News (via Time.com) profiles one such extreme couponer, who, in the course of getting 11 cents back for each of 34 cartons of milk after combining coupons, had her goods rung up one at a time as separate transactions, resulting in 34 receipts. For her, that’s a moneymaker. For the sales associate, it’s just plain annoying.

    Not just annoying for the sales associate– annoying for everyone in line behind the tool with the coupons.

    Just FYI to couponer out there who gets in line in front of me and wants 34 separate transactions: I WILL Hulk out on you.

    • moyawyvern says:

      I work in retail, which is a bit different that grocery, and we get extreme couponers as well. The people who bring a stack of coupons and ring everything up separately are not only annoying to the customers and the employee, but hurt my store’s numbers, which is what is keeping me working. We are measured by an average dollar sale, and that person just flushed mine down the toilet. We have started being much more to the letter of the small print in coupons, just for this reason. 1 coupon per day per person.

      • BorkBorkBork says:

        When I worked retail, we’d have people “gaming the system” and having multiple checkouts for one person.

        I honestly didn’t mind if there was nobody else in line. I wasn’t paid enough to care. BUT…it did bother me when they do this with a long line behind them. It’s inconvenient to the other customers, who then get pissed and take it out on me.

        Being considerate to others…what a concept!

        • Dallas_shopper says:

          On the occasions that I ‘coupon stack’ and use multiple transactions, I try to go at a time that isn’t busy for this very reason. I’m not trying to piss off a whole store. I’m just trying to get a good discount. :-D

          I’m not an extreme couponer. I go through a stacking/multiple transaction situation maybe once a month.

    • Platypi {Redacted} says:

      And “MONEYMAKER”? 11 cents back, 34 times is $3.74. And 34 cartons of milk she now must find a use for. If you are supplying a shelter, or food bank, I can see it. But you can’t really store that milk for long in normal situations, so are you just going to waste it to earn a few dollars? Really?

      • Cosmo_Kramer says:

        Probably donating and then writing off the full value for a tax refund.

        Actually, someone who is willing insist 34 separate transactions for cartons of milk to make less than $4 probably doesn’t make enough money to pay taxes.

        • msbask says:

          Why does everyone keep saying that? The very first line of the linked article says”… she didn’t expect the manager would make her ring up each carton in 34 separate transactions”.

          She didn’t want them separated, the manager did.

      • Billl says:

        Freezing…invented at least as far back as the Ice Age…

  14. Black Knight Rebel says:

    Maybe it’s just something that happens in the middle of no where, but I live in Philadelphia PA (a major US city) and I’ve never seen extreme couponers or their aftermath.

    • mbz32190 says:

      Typically, you tend to see “couponers” more in the suburbs where there is more grocery competition, and the space to store things. I forget the study but I think it said that well-off people use coupons more than those that really need to save the most. I live in the suburbs of Philly and have seen it now and then, (browsing and my brief stint working for a huge grocery store)…

  15. dangermike says:

    Fair? Yes. Moral? No.

    As long as they’re not breaking any rules, there’s no grounds to stop it from happening. However, the whole extreme couponing thing is rather gluttonous and uncouth.

    • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

      Grounds? Stores are privately owned and can do whatever they want. They don’t even have to take coupons if they don’t want to.

      • dangermike says:

        Maybe, maybe not. I’ll be the first to say they *should* be able to do whatever they want but it is important to realize that grocery stores exist in a highly competitive sector of business. Rejecting coupons outright could be a poor business decision and placing limits on them that are not listed in the fine print could open up expensive liabilities should anyone be so petty as to press the matter. What I think it would take is for stores to come together with the vendors that offer coupons and insist upon the incorporation of sensible quantity limits. And I should probably qualify my earlier statement as being in reference to currently printed coupons that have no stated limits. And also add that I do believe they should be limited in terms of quanitity per customer (from a logistical angle, this would have to be implemented by the parties who print the coupons which is the vendor rather than the store in most cases)

    • longfeltwant says:

      Are you mistaking ‘fair’ for ‘legal’? Too many people do that. This is not fair behavior, nor moral, nor ethical; but it is legal.

      Secondly, of course stores have grounds to stop it. Stores aren’t in business for tiny fractions of their customers, they are in business for all of their customers. If a tiny fraction of customers are ruining the shopping experience for the rest, then the store not only has grounds but has a commercial obligation to take care of the problem.

      My suggestion is limits on the number of coupons which can be used per day. And if a coupon user wants to have multiple transactions, then they obviously should get at the back of the line for each one.

      • dangermike says:

        I am not mistaking anything. I am interpreting fair as meaning “in strict compliance with the rules.” Generally discount offers are on a limited supply, first-come, first-serve basis. If there is no stated limit on the amount one is allowed the purchase, it is not unfair for a boorish individual to buy out the entire supply. The implied avarice of such behavior is the source of my morality call. While it is fair to do so, it is not fair and correct.

  16. TasteyCat says:

    I’ve seen non-extreme couponers take everything just using the discount from a store card. Give people what they consider a good deal and no quantity limit, and they’ll take advantage at the expense of everybody else. If the store isn’t going to stop them, nobody else will.

    • cromartie says:

      I like a particular brand of protein bar that is rather difficult to find in my area, it is carried only sporadically by my area groceries.

      When I see them in stock, I buy them out. I don’t really feel guilty about it. My particular rationale is, if I buy it in a large enough quantity, an automated inventory system should encourage the store to carry more of the item. When I do find it in stock at my nearest grocery, I notice that there’s one more vend box than their used to be, so it seems to be working.

      • AstroPig7 says:

        That’s acceptable because you aren’t gaming the system to get a good deal. You actually want all of those protein bars.

      • Southern says:

        And here’s a hint – if you talk to the store manager, he or she could probably order a case *just for you*. My local store does this for a brand of cigarettes that I smoke that I can’t find hardly anywhere (Djarum Black).

        • drjayphd says:

          I’ve heard of ethical extreme couponers doing that, actually. If they know they’re going to load up on an item, they’ll call ahead and ask if the store can get more of that item so they get what they need, but don’t completely clear the shelves.

        • Dallas_shopper says:

          There are certain products I order by the case for this very reason. Not only do I get a discount for ordering a case, I don’t clear the shelves and piss off the other shoppers. It can be a total ballache making sure the stores actually ORDER THE CASE, though. With Whole Foods, I pretty much have to pester them every day.

  17. who? says:

    My mother was an extreme couponer in the early days, long before the TV show. She would never have bought so much stuff that she cleared off store shelves though, and she never bought anything that she wouldn’t use within a reasonable amount of time. But when she died, she had a 2-3 year supply of nearly everything they used or ate that wasn’t perishable, all perfectly organized in the pantry. Dad barely had to buy anything except for milk and hamburger for a year after she died.

  18. halo969 says:

    I personally don’t understand the need to buy mass quantities of stuff you’re never going to use or even need just because it’s a good deal. Time is money too and I couldn’t see myself wasting it on extreme couponing. In fact I’ve tried to cut back on the stockpiling I tend to do when something is on sale after cans of soup in my pantry actually expired. That’s just a waste of money; not saving.

  19. NumberSix says:

    Is it fair; yes. Is it nice; no.

  20. JMH says:

    As a starting point, make that lady get in line 34 separate times if she wants 34 separate transactions.

  21. pinkbunnyslippers says:

    I’m a couponer and I get seriously irked at shelve clearers. I went into my local Harris Teeter the other day to get some Nivea lipbalm that was on sale and it was GONE. The manager always asks if I found everything I needed and I said “Frankly, no. You’re out of what I needed.” She walked me back to a 2nd location that they’d essentially ‘hidden’ these lipbalms, and they were there too. She told me their store’s limited the amount of like items w/coupon to 4 per day/per shoppers club card, but she said that’s apparently not curtailing the shenanigans. It sucks because there are people that genuinely need more than 4 things, but…it ruins it for us all.

  22. Gardius says:

    While they’re at it, can they PLEASE start enforcing the maximums in the “12 Items or Less” lanes? So many times I have gone into my local grocery store to pick up a few items for supper that night, proceeded to the “Express” Lane, and been held up by someone with 40+ items in their cart. I’m sure its an issue that’s much more prevalent than Extreme Couponers, and easily just as irritating.

    • Trance says:

      The Fairway near my apartment has a “no shopping cart in the express line” rule. The rule works like a charm.

      • Gardius says:

        That is a PERFECT solution! I wish my store would implement it…

      • Cat says:

        Basket, yes; cart, no. Brilliant.

        It would also help to narrow the lane just enough so you can’t get a cart down it.

      • LMA says:

        Nice idea, but it’s clearly discriminatory against the elderly and anyone with any joint issues, etc. There have been quite a number of times when I’ve literally been unable to hold onto a half-gallon of milk because of an arthritis flare. I could pick it up and put it in the top of a cart, but couldn’t have checked out without the use of a cart.

        • PunditGuy says:

          “Discriminatory” is a stretch. You can get checked out in any of the other lines. There’s no law that says you have to have access to fast checkout — there’s just a rule that you have to be checked out. The store meets its obligation by having lines you can use with a cart to check out.

    • scoosdad says:

      It wouldn’t be so bad if the person with 40 items had just two or three different items and the rest were just duplicates. But I’ve noticed a trend at the checkout in the last couple of years that slows things way down. Instead of the checker eyeballing a stack of the same item and asking the buyer, “are they all the same”, then just scanning one and entering the total quantity as a multiplier, lately they scan every single item one at a time. And it’s usually something with a barcode on a flexible or shiny label that is torture to watch them try to scan.

      I don’t know if it’s because the stores have done away with the “@” key on the registers, or if they’ve made it policy to have to manually scan each item, but it really slows down the whole process, compared to the way it used to be done.

      • Powerlurker says:

        They do it because a lot of items that look very similar can have different UPCs.

      • noahproblem1 says:

        At our store we can only scan a multiple quantity if there are 8 or more of the same item – otherwise we must scan once for each item (we don’t have to scan each individual piece though – we can scan one piece of the set multiple times).

        The other issue is that two different items can look similar – for inventory purposes we have to check and make sure we’re scanning the right number of each different UPC.

    • RayanneGraff says:

      When I was cashiering at Walmart way back in 99, I would turn those people away whenever I was stationed at an express lane. Without fail I had shopper after shopper coming to my 10 items or less lane with carts absolutely OVERFLOWING with stuff. Like literally hundreds of items. I’d point to my tiny little checkstand & say “Sorry, this is the express lane, I’m not equipped to help anyone with more than 10 things.” Then I’d flip them off behind their backs as they grudgingly shuffled over to a regular lane, cause fuck those people.

    • caradrake says:

      A week ago we were in Target. We had about 30 items, got in a normal checkout lane. Waited around 5 minutes, and the cashier in the lane to our left (10 items or under) called us over. We said that we had 30 items, she said that was okay, there was no line.

      As soon as we had finished unloading our stuff, someone got in line behind us and (fairly loudly) complained to the person they were with about us having over the limit.

      I made sure to thank the cashier at the end, saying it was very nice of her to call us over even though we had extra items, and wished her a great day. It truly was awesome of her to let us get checked out rather than waiting longer. She didn’t have to – she could have stood there and waited for another customer.

    • Mrs. w/1 child says:

      Or grocery stores could grow a brain cell and use one large line like banks and Joanne Fabrics does. That way is fair and keeps everyone moving. It also eliminates the checkout line scramble.

    • Dave Barnes says:

      They can start by changing the signs to “12 items or fewer”.

    • Jawaka says:

      Well to be fair sometimes its the store’s fault.

      I was in a Stop & Shop once in a non express line and the cashier in the next line (the express lane) signaled for me to come to her line because she was empty. So I did.. and proceeded to get dirty looks from other who got into line behind me.

  23. pot_roast says:

    “had her goods rung up one at a time as separate transactions, resulting in 34 receipts. “

    I have seen people start doing this, and I have no problem telling them just what I think of their selfish, asinine behavior. And it isn’t flattering. So sick of these coupon zealots.

  24. superml says:

    This is pretty much how it’s always been here in Canada.
    Always been limits on coupons.
    Get with the times, USA.

    • Gardius says:

      Absolutely. The coupons I use have INSANE terms and conditions. The one I used the other day (Buy 1 Box of Red Rose Tea Bags, Get 1 Free) had the following list: “1 coupon per person, per family, per visit. First box must be bought at full price. Coupon has a maximum value of $4.59, and with its use, the Customer agrees to cover any difference in price.” This solves A LOT of potential problems.

  25. sirwired says:

    Good for the stores. You’d have to be an idiot to not know this was coming. When somebody comes in and buys fifty boxes of X for $1.73, the stores lose, other shoppers lose, the cereal maker loses… everybody but the rude schmuck with fifty copies of the Sunday circular that was fished out of the dumpster.

  26. lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

    There should be limits. My local CVS has some great deals sometimes, and it’s nice not to have to pay full price for deoderant, shampoo, toothpaste, and things like that. That’s when you can get the item! I usually want 1 or 2 of a certain item, only to arrive a few hours after the sale starts on Sunday to find the shelves cleared. Restocking day is Thursday, but if I stop after work, shelves are usually empty again by the time I get there. I get rainchecks and hope the shelf clearing stops before my coupons expire.

  27. BennieHannah says:

    I have a feeling that extreme couponers are in particular need of mouthwash, and all other dental products.

  28. RayanneGraff says:

    NO. F*ck these selfish assholes.

  29. ancientone567 says:

    I know a lot of people that donate their extras to food banks and that is a good cause. When you can give 3 cases of toothpaste to the needy and make money doing it! Well your a genius!

  30. Jules Noctambule says:

    Mama always taught us that a greedy, selfish person is a lonely person when it’s all said and done. Even when I’m couponing for shelter items, I never take it all; maybe the person who comes after me will need that product but won’t be able to afford it without the coupon.

  31. empkae says:

    how about no coupon cash lanes? or at least only permit bulk coupons at one lane only?

    • RiverStyX says:

      Won’t work. Those express lanes of 10 items or less are the reason why, people ignore them and just get in line no matter what they’re carrying..And nobody wants to say anything about it either. I’ve wasted more time in express lanes then simply using a regular one, its nonsense.

  32. Almighty Peanut says:

    extreme couponing is just organized hoarding.

  33. gman863 says:

    The rule should be:

    “We accept only one coupon per visit for a specific product, regardless of the number purchased.”

    This would speed up checkout lines (especially since the UPC scan codes on coupons aren’t always tied to the specific product in the store’s POS database) and cut down on the number of extreme couponers cleaning off store shelves.

    If an extreme couponer is hell bent on redeeming more than one coupon, they can always use one of the following tricks:

    * Have your spouse/kids/friends checkout in a seperate transaction (still one coupon per product, regardless of the # of items purchased).

    * Take the shit you bought out to the car, come back in, buy another one and wait in line again. Given the time involved, I suspect most extreme couponers will give up after two or three trips through the line.

    • drjayphd says:

      Do that and you’ll have riots from non-extreme couponers. Why make them suffer because some other people are gaming the system (in an entirely permissible way, of course)?

  34. emax4 says:

    I can see the high points and low points of this. When a consumer goes to the supermarket and that mouthwash is THE mouthwash the person wants, only to see it all gone, he or she has the option to either get a different mouthwash or go to another location. In either case, it’s not a positive feeling. When you go to a place to get a specific item, you expect it to be there. Not many of us have a backup plan. For those who take this the wrong way, those people may simply go to a competitor, and that may be the demographic that the supermarkets are concerned about. How DO you please everyone and keep them happy?

    I’m assuming that when an extreme coupon is finished shopping, that they don’t return the next day or the next week (proof?). The person in need of that mouthwash can return the next day or week hoping the stocks will be filled then, but not everyone requests a rain check when the product is out or calls the store for info as to when the product will be back in stock. Because of this, I feel it is necessary for the supermarkets to put limits on quantity of a product purchased. When these extreme couponers realize they have limits imposed on them, they shouldn’t be upset, but rather satisfied that they can still purchase a larger-than-normal quantity of the item.

  35. debjwhe says:

    I just don’t understand why anyone but a practicing dentist needs 40 bottles of mouthwash on the shelf. These extreme shoppers have really messed up things for a normal shopper.

    • ancientone567 says:

      I would not blame the shopper. I go through 1.5 liters that’s a large bottle of Listerine a month. My father is a dentist so this is a normal amount to keep one’s teeth healthy. Each 1.5L is about 5 dollars. A years supply would be 5 x 12 = 60. If a store is having a buy 2 get one free and you get a 1.50 off coupon the year supply is now = 21. You save 39- on something you already need. Who would not do that?

  36. dwasifar says:

    These people are going to ruin it for everyone.

  37. hmburgers says:

    What happened to the 34 cartons of milk?

  38. Corinthos says:

    I want them to come down on them. I was behind one in a grocery store who held up the line while arguing with a manager about two weeks ago. She was so distracted she didn’t realize a friend and I were removing items from her cart. I hope we screwed up whatever scheme she was running we probably got 15 random things out of her cart before they were rung.

    • drjayphd says:

      Please tell me you’re commenting from a hospital bed after she (rightfully) beat the crap out of you. Someone inconveniencing you isn’t a reason to be an asshole to them.

      • Corinthos says:

        Wish she would have tried I would have filed a report just to get her name so I could fuck her up later.

  39. tehbob says:

    It should not be possible to get money back using a coupon to apply to other goods the coupon was not for.

  40. RiverStyX says:

    Its a free market, if stores don’t like coupons then they shouldn’t make them or be in business to accept them. They can either stock more inventory or casual shoppers can simply go elsewhere, you and I all have that choice.

  41. baquwards says:

    It just dawned on me, I see people at the flea market selling health and beauty care items and household cleaners and I always thought that was strange, now I realize that they must be extreme couponers looking to turn a profit! I always wondered why people would buy that stuff there when it is readily available at other, more convenient places.

    • emax4 says:

      Good idea, but I can see that backfiring. When someone buys some item from a flea market vendor instead of the same item in a grocery store, then the person who buys the item gets sick or sees the item expiration is bad, that person may be out of luck in getting a refund or return from that flea market vendor. Hopefully the flea market shoppers are smart enough to realize this.

  42. zibby says:

    If a couple of empty displays are the cost of knowing that people live their lives as “Extreme Couponers”, no problem for me.

  43. tanyaandkarl says:

    Sure it is. Just like any loss leader, they’re probably going to be out of it the day you saunter in to get one at regular price.

    Some venues play hardball and your “cheating” is somebody else’s “playing to win”. If you can’t take a hit, get off the ice. There’s places where they don’t play games. Aldi. Maybe some of the “membership” places; I don’t know.

    No, I’m not an “extreme couponer” (there’s a prejudicial term for you); just sick of the whining.

  44. Zydia says:

    Yes, they should be allowed. What better way for stores to find out what loopholes they need to address?

  45. Red_Eye says:

    My wife is a real couponer, most of those extreme couponer you see on TV are *gasp* fake. They Buy their coupons, they misuse them (like for items they arent supposed to be used on but the cash register is too stupid and the checker doesnt read the coupon), and in some cases they clean out whole newspaper racks after paying for only a single paper. I buy my wife 4 papers every sunday for about $8, she turns that around into an average of 33-60% off her grocery tab. Anything she saves out of the grocery budget is hers to keep as her ‘mad’ money so she has incentive to save. I have no problem with stores protecting themselves from these extreme jerks. One of the reasons we shop our local publix is they do not allow shelf clearing. Dont get me wrong when someone runs a coupon for a free item we could easily cost justify buying papers and clearing shelves. That is rude and selfish though so we only consume what we need. Yes we have a pantry and its well stocked but we do not have more than 4 of any one item.

    • bee8boo8bop8 says:

      I often buy papers off the newsstand if it’s a particularly coupon heavy week and I want more than my subscription. It drives me nuts, because I have to check every single paper on the newsstand to find two that haven’t had the inserts stolen from them. Drives me nuts.

      Your wife should check to see if newsstand papers in your area have the coupons on Saturday. Ours do, and it’s cheaper than the Sunday paper.

  46. u1itn0w2day says:

    The stores should set the limits because if they don’t sooner or later the customer will not comeback to the store because they never find what they want. I doubt these stores could stay open based on the business extreme couponers give them.

    I’ve never had luck with couponing because of fine print limits & restrictions so where the heck do these couponers operate?

    • bee8boo8bop8 says:

      It’s regional. When I was in Connecticut, beyond maybe CVS, it didn’t make much sense to coupon. There was no doubling, and almost no grocery store competition. In upstate New York, everywhere doubles, stores release their own in-house coupons and there’s a lot more competition, so it becomes viable.

  47. Tacojelly says:

    Maybe there are ways to offer exclusive deals and drive up business that don’t involve coupons.

    Crazy customers clearing out shelves is just one of the annoyances I like to avoid by not doing any retail shopping.

  48. reallyascreenname says:

    Don’t assume couponers are stealing coupons out of newspaper machines. There are sites that sale coupons in bulk. I use coupons, not to the exteme, and it takes time to match coupons with sales. I don’t clear the shelves, but I will buy enough to stock up.

  49. ducktownhusker says:

    Can’t they just hire TSA screeners to stop extreme couponers from entering stores?

    They shouldn’t be too hard to spot, what with their 15 cats and Winnie the Pooh sweatshirts.

  50. 132_and_bush says:

    I was at Target yesterday trying to buy a simple gift card. The lady in front of me suddenly whips out this stack of coupons for the same item and eyes the clerk making sure she scanned each and every one. The item? Mouthwash. What the hell this chick needed with so much mouthwash is beyond me. I’m going to assume that she’s an alcoholic and her husband has had her banned from all liquor stores and she’s drinking it in desperation.

    • TexasMama37 says:

      As to why someone would need to much mouthwash — I have a family of 7. We go through toothpaste and mouthwash very quickly so I stock up when it’s on sale, especially if I have coupons.

  51. oxygen momma says:

    Walmart is not limiting the amount of coupons you are using. That one woman assumed because one manager made her split up the transactions. I had a manager do that to me one time, and then I called corp on her..and ya..got an apology 2 days later. Even though I think she is stupid for buying all that milk…she’s an idiot if she actually thinks that walmart has changed their coupon policy.

    Here is their policy..does it look like they are limiting coupons to you???
    *The following are guidelines and limitations:

    We only accepts coupons for merchandise that we sell.
    Coupons must be presented at the time of purchase.
    Only one coupon per item.
    Item purchased must be identical to the coupon (size, quantity, brand, flavor, color, etc).
    There is no limit on the number of coupons per transaction.
    Coupons must have an expiration date and be redeemed prior to expiration.
    If coupon value exceeds the price of the item, the excess may be given to the customer as cash or applied toward the basket purchase.
    SNAP items purchased in a SNAP transaction are ineligible for cash back.
    WIC items purchased in a WIC transaction are applied to the basket purchase and may not be eligible for cash back. Refer to state-specific WIC guidelines.
    Great Value, Marketside, Equate, Parents Choice, and World Table coupons have no cash value and are ineligible for cash back or application to the basket purchase.
    The system will prompt for supervisor verification for:
    40 coupons per transaction.
    A coupon of $20 or greater on one item.
    $50 or more in coupons in one transaction.

  52. Sad Sam says:

    I’ve never really understood the point of the extreme coupon crazies. Why do you want a whole shelf of mouthwash or a garage filled with toothpaste which will take 40 years to go through? Won’t the product be past its expiration date by the time you get to the point of using that toothpaste that you got for free 30 years ago.

    If you have a ginormous family and you will use all the stuff you are getting, I don’t really have a problem with that. But much of it just seems like hoarding.

  53. fibrowitch says:

    In Massachusetts stores do not offer to double or triple coupons. I don’t use a lot of coupons myself because I am not in the habit of eating the over processed food most coupons are for. I don’t see the value in having multiple tubes of toothpaste or a years worth of soap.

  54. skloon says:

    Easy to solve, coat coupons in some sort of radioactive material, if you have too many of them they hit critical mass and Voila, no more coupons or couponer

  55. Kamaria says:

    Fair. The companies issuing the coupons need to set limits if it’s a problem. It’s not any consumers’ fault if they’ve found a way to use the system to their advantage.