With the questioning of my masculinity on the line, I will admit to watching a marathon of “Extreme Couponing” on TLC. With my recent job status going from permanently-shaky to temporarily-turbulent, I have more attention to coupons sent in the mail. The ability to save 20% of items you already planned to buy is beautiful.
My first thought was that this is impossible. Well, aside from the clearly psychotic behavior being exhibited by these people and the enabling family members that idly stand by and coax them. As they detail the tactics they use, I thought these were strategies that no grocery stores allow.
The cat is kind of out of the bag on this, but from what I can find, it seems contained to one episode (EW; SmartMoney: 1, 2; LVRJ). The logic is if the same thing happens on each episode over and over again, and one episode proves to be total bullshit, then _______________. (How you finish that sentence will determine your ability to problem solve)
It seems like one of the unspoken strategies is to use a coupon for an item that is not on the coupon. I guess there are many bar code numbers that match up. Apparently, real couponing bloggers have been all over this. (11) This was a well-written article (JC) showing exactly how much fraud goes on during the show. Not only does it point out the specifics of the bar code bait-and-switch, but it always shows that the coupon doubling is pretty much manufactured by TLC. The sad part is that these are small-businesses to mid-market grocery stores and it will hurt their bottom line.
I could handle 3 episodes of the show, and documented the total amounts of 7 shoppers. There is no way on Earth that 7 people can spend $12,772.19 on groceries and walk out paying $273.26, with two of them walking out with a gift card. (For that matter, $187 of the $273 came from one shopper, who apparently is an amateur at 94% savings).
I’ll probably try to coupon more, while still valuing my time. I bill myself out at a quite expensive rate. It’s why I don’t bother to do much, since no else can afford me, and I prefer to “eat” the profit loss by sitting around doing nothing.