Extreme Couponing: What’s Your View?

Extreme Couponing: What's Your View?

I understand folks wanting to save money on groceries. However, while at the grocery store this past Saturday night, I witnessed some hard core couponing. The guy ahead of me in line bought something like 24 cans of Chunky Soup for $1.95 total. That works out to roughly $0.08 per can.

So how did he do it? Apparently the store was running a special of some sort, and he combined that with a bunch of $0.50 coupons that the store doubled to $1. The coupons themselves appeared to have been printed out, so when I got home I did a bit of investigation.

Printable coupons galore

Sure enough, you could get the very same coupons from Campbell’s Kitchen. It’s clear, however, that these coupons weren’t intended to be used twenty (or more) at a time. In fact, Campbell’s uses special coupon printing software that attempts to limit your ability to print extra copies.

Before we go any further, let me just acknowledge this: As far as I know, this guy has 20+ couponing friends, none of whom like Chunky Soup, so these may have all been legit copies. But even so, the coupon clearly state “One coupon per purchase, ” and he was using two dozen.

So why didn’t the clerk challenge him? After the guy left the store, she rolled her eyes and said something to the bag boy. I couldn’t hear the entire conversation, but I did here her say “Well, you can’t challenge them or they’ll freak out.” Interesting.

A trunk full of soup

When I left the store, I passed by this guy loading his haul into his trunk. As I walked past him, I noticed two interesting things. First, his license plate was from a few counties away. Second, he appeared to have several more bags of soup cans from the same grocery chain already in his car.

While I can’t say for certain, it appeared that this guy’s idea of a big Saturday night was hitting numerous grocery stores within a several county radius with a pocket full of printable soup coupons.

Thoughts on “extreme couponing”

Now, my point here isn’t to pass judgement on this guy in particular, but rather to bring up the general topic of what one might call “extreme couponing, ” and to get your thoughts on it.

For starters, there’s the time and money invested. Sure, he got 100 or more cans of soup for less than $10, but he also appeared to have burned a Saturday night and a bunch of gas doing so. Beyond that, there’s the issue of ethics…

It’s pretty clear that this guys was breaking the rules, but the clerk let him get away with it. Her reaction (“they’ll freak out”) was particularly interesting, as it suggests that she has had numerous run-ins with people who have essentially bullied her into letting them break the rules.

My own view is that you should do whatever you can – within reason, and without being dishonest – to stretch a buck or grow your savings. We rarely use coupons, but that’s mostly because we’re lazy and choose to focus our energy elsewhere, not because I think there’s anything wrong with them.

If someone can go out and get a cart of groceries for $3.00, that’s great… As long as they can do it without being dishonest. But to me, life’s too short to compromise my principles over something like cheap groceries.

What do you think? All’s fair in search of a “good deal”? Or is this sort of behavior going over the line? Leave a comment and let us know what you think.

71 Responses to “Extreme Couponing: What’s Your View?”

  1. Anonymous

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  4. Anonymous

    I’ve also read,either on a coupon site, maybe it was Jill Cataldo’s, or a comment made by someone in a newsletter like the Dollar Stretcher perhaps, that manufacturers make money too on this. The coupons, all of them?, have a you, the manufacturer’s will be reimbursed eight cents? for the handling? or whatever… Anyways, I came to the understanding, from reading comments from the site founders, whatever ones they were that I happened to come upon, that there is fair play on both sides. I have also seen on these sites, “frugal” related newsletters, etc.. that there are people who try to get around the “fair play” couponing rules, those mentioned on the coupon. Of course “that” hurts everyone else. But coupons are meant to be used. And it is up to me, the consumer, to decide how much I need and how much I want to save,, not for someone else, another consumer. I have my income and if someone else thinks that I am greedy for stocking up on x amount of items, so be it. It really doesn’t matter to me. As far as I’m concerned, it is the store manager who is responsible for gauging how big a need they’re might be for x item. Just my thoughts.

  5. Anonymous

    Well I would consider “one” purchase as “one” can of Campbell’soup. Interpreting it this way, what on earth did he do wrong??? IF you are “interpreting” it as “one” purchase covering ALL 24 cans or however many he bought, then I understand that he “broke” the rules. He could have done the same thing and saved the same amount of money buying one can at a time. What were the store rules for this. The store couldn’t have stopped him if he had decided to do that. As for greedy people, I think it makes a lot more sense to stock up on things, according to your needs, not those of the other posters on any couponing or financial site, so that, I stress ” so that” you, don’t end up paying full price for the item.

  6. Anonymous

    I am so against extreme couponing. This is NOT what coupons were intended for…and I can’t believe the manufacturers are putting up with these “greedy” people. Why not mark ALL items down and do AWAY with coupons all together??? That way, all the people that BUY your products will get the savings…not the people that HOARD your products! All these coupon freeks are costing US more money at the checkout counter! And “kudos” to Kroger for not allowing their customer to use hundreds of coupons! I’m for you “all the way”!

  7. Anonymous

    I believe coupons were intended to let a person try out a new product, not stock up on it. I think it will lead to more strict usage of coupons in the future and I feel that in order to really save you must learn to use what you buy efficiently and to make things from scratch. There are 3rd world countries and even people in our own country starving for the money you could be using to love your neighbor as yourself. I do not mean show your neighbor how you were able to cheat the system to provide them with a limited time of gratification but to really help them by teaching them the simple steps you take to live within your means and to give them the love and support you would wish upon yourselves.

    Apostle Amber

  8. Anonymous

    I just started to coupon because I recently lost my job. Seeing how much money I was throwing away kills me now. I have saved close to $1000 and have enough personal products non parishable goods to last me and my husband a least a year. The way I look at it is coupons are FREE MONEY. The manufacturers are giving them to you for FREE to try their product. All you have to do is take a little time to clip them. I will never shop without them again. You should try it sometime. Then you would understand what we, who use coupons, already know. You should’t judge anyone until you know the facts.

  9. Anonymous

    Well I am an extreme couponer!!!!!!!!!!!
    I Use coupons for Everything! I saved 60 Bucks today and I compare prices at many many stores to get the best deal,Today I got 3 Boxes of 100 count packets of Splenda for 99 cents,I got 10 dish soaps for 3.90 and 4 Old Spice 3 in one Body wash for 3.97 and I could keep going! I Also Sell coupons and Coupon orgainizers on Ebay! Check me out at 88rednecks,I have Great deals and feel free to message me!

  10. Anonymous

    this couponing trend is great and I want to join in my problem is i live in california and there is NO stores here that run double coupon days

  11. Anonymous

    Sometimes just stocking up on non-perishable items & freezer foods when they are on sale, as opposed to clipping coupons, you can still see huge savings. Cuckoo for Coupon Deals website lists all grocery store deals that she recommends stocking up on each week, and lot’s of deals don’t require coupons.

  12. Anonymous

    to add to my previous comment I know the store gets reimbursed for coupons used, but they do get sent back making us short changed because of the excess amount of them in a single group or ones that come back because the people that go through the coupons could tell they were copies. and most of the time we can tell when it’s a copy and very rarely do I override them regardless of how rude someone gets. you guys have no idea how many times I have been called racist by both blacks and whites over something as stupid as coupons.

  13. Anonymous

    I am an office assistant/cashier at a local grocery store in nc and I have had several customers ask me about this kind of stuff and the stupid show extreme couponing. when it says “one per purchase” it DOES mean the entire transaction that you are currently going through, not how somebody previously stated about you needing to learn the difference between the two words. even if you have two or more coupons for one item but with different prices off that item you can’t use Them both, you can’t use coupons to the point of getting money back on most of the items which people on that show are doing. they may be paying a couple bucks, but that money is probably for stuff like meat or milk or something they dont have coupons for but the fact that they have so many coupons it’s also taking money off towards the meat and stuff too. the registers in our company’s stores will actually kick coupons back either because you have used to many or you don’t qualify for the coupon; ex. not having enough items to use the coupon or having to have very specific items from a certain brand. what these people on the tlc show are doing is called coupon fraud. even though they are mostly legit coupons (there are many many coupons off the internet that are fake and our stores have a list of these) they still aren’t allowed to use that many. the stores that are allowing these people to do this are just stupid for basically paying for these peoples groceries because of the extreme use of coupons. and I do not agree that you are being judgmental. I myself use coupons but FOLLOW THE RULES with them. you were right to question what he was doing. and like the cashier that you overheard we do the same thing if someone starts to get an attitude with us. just to avoid the customer complaint if someone starts to be rude to me I’ll override the coupon even though I know they shouldn’t be using it.

  14. Anonymous

    I figured out how to print multiple campbells soup coupons with the same computer. After you print your limit of 2 coupons you must do a reinstall of your computer’s operatiing system (OS) and then it will let you print more. I have windows7 and with my current hardware it takes me about 20 min to reinstall windows then I can print 2 more. This is the only way I have found that works.

  15. Anonymous

    How dare you judge someone like that! I agree with all of these posters but I just had to get my two cents in because you are the type of person who is standing behind me looking down your nose at me BECAUSE I am using coupons and taking up YOUR precious time because I am trying to do what’s best for MY family.

    It really makes me mad that you are offended by this man’s ability to save money. Perhaps you ought to try it yourself before you judge someone. If you don’t have to well good for you, but mind your own business about the people that have to so they can afford to feed their families! You don’t know what their situation is. Shame on you!

  16. Anonymous

    i find it interesting that a person that has never had the need to be frugal with coupons would stand in judgment of another without knowing the situation. I am an avid couponer and would not be able to support my family of 5 without it. I save more money in a week’s time using coupons than some people make in a week at their job. I tell people that couponing is my part time job because I do work a full-time job to pay the bills. It is work and does take time to match coupons to sales getting the best possible price but to me it’s like making $40-50/hour so it’s worth it to me. Shame on you “nickel.”

  17. Anonymous

    I realize this is an old article but it rubbed me the wrong way. It was extremely judgmental without knowing anything about that man. Most of my thoughts have already been addressed but there are two things I would like to add. For one, how do you know he was wasting gas and wasn’t already traveling that way? Maybe he has had to take a job in a different county. My mom lives 2 1/2 hours away from where she works and commutes on weekends. Second, to the person who stated “this is why my grandma can’t use her coupons” you also don’t know anything about this man. I am a mom of seven whose husband became disabled five years ago. (And before anyone comments about overpopulating the planet, four of them are adopted.) Do you have any idea what it takes to feed a family of nine?! You have no idea how many people that man, or anyone else who stocks up, might be feeding and they don’t deserve to eat any less than your grandma does!

  18. Anonymous


    I don’t think I am seeing all of the comments you have received,so I don’t know if this has been addressed, but I just wanted to clarify the word “purchase” for you as it applies to couponing. I use to confuse the term “purchase” with “transaction” and I think that may be what you are doing as well. A “purchase” is one item of something. A transaction is when it is all totaled and you are checking out. So “one per purchase” means that you can only use 1 coupon for each of the item you are getting, not that you can only use one coupon each time you shop. So if you have ten coupons for soup, you can get 10 cans of soup. The “one per purchase ” limits you to 1 coupon per item, not per shopping trip.

  19. Anonymous

    you seem to make some rather harsh judgments when you don’t even understand the definitions/wording of the coupon.
    Several people already have explained them to you.
    As long as this guy did not copy any of those printable coupons he did not commit any crime.
    24 cans is pretty unlikely to empty a supermarket and by hitting several markets he is not emptying out any one.
    You are clearly just assuming the worst of this person.
    If you can afford to shop without coupons good for you.

  20. Anonymous

    Did you know you can get all coupons doubled at Kmart this week? A $2 off coupon scans at $4 off! I saw the full list of deals on Cuckoo for Coupon Deals

  21. Anonymous

    I sometimes use more than 1 coupon for the same items in the same transaction. Iam looking at a coupon right now and it says 1 coupon per perchase not 1 coupon per person. I translate that to mean that if I buy two cans of soup I can use two coupons. If I can learn to shop his way maybe I can stretch my $10,000 annual salary. Maybe you just don’t understand people who need to feed their families. I wonder if you have ever gone hungry.

  22. Anonymous

    “One coupon per purchase” is the same as “one per item”. They don’t say “item” because many coupons require you to buy two or more items for the amount off. It’s amazing how many cashiers don’t understand this and start raising a fuss because they haven’t been properly trained to do their job. And it’s why coupon users are driven to having temper flares after dealing with so much of this ignorance.

  23. Anonymous

    Make sure you ask someone reliable at your supermarket about their policy. I didn’t use coupons for years, then one day I used one & they doubled it. My cashier casually remarked, “Oh, we automatically double any coupon under 1$ (unless it says do not double)”. I always assumed they would advertise it if they doubled anything. I’m in Long Island, New York, outside of New York City, and doubling coupons seemed to have dissappeared years ago. Always ask!

  24. Anonymous

    Please check your facts before writing and spreading misinformation … “one coupon per purchase” means one coupon per item purchased. If you buy 3 bottles of juice, which is 3 items purchased, you can absolutely use 3 coupons. Coupons that limit your use of a specific coupon to only one in an entire transaction — transaction being your entire order — are labeled “one coupon per CUSTOMER.” I ran into this exact problem at the dollar store today. An elderly woman at the register tried to insist that I could only use 1 coupon ‘per purchase.’ I smiled and kindly explained to her the difference between “per purchase” and “per customer.” She waved her hand in the air and said, “well, we’ll see” and scanned my 2nd item and my 2nd coupon and I could see the enlightenment on her face when she saw the computer ACCEPTED the transaction. Store computers recognize invalid coupons when they’re scanned.

  25. Anonymous

    One coupon per purchase is one coupon per item. So if he has 2 cans of chili, he can use 2 coupons, one for each item. He did nothing morally or legally wrong. If a coupon says one per transaction, he could have only used 1 coupon.

  26. Anonymous

    I am a avid couponer,What he did ws NOT wrong or dishonest.I compare prices at a bunch of store and I do mean a bunch and write down there sales prices and then I cut out coupons from the sunday papers and print them off of line.I have went to krogers and they owed me money! I went to Jc penny’s last month and by bill came 278.00 and I only ended up paying 61.00 How I had a 10.00 coupon off of a 10.00 purchase so I had the cashier ring up every item sepertaly!!! I have always clipped coupons but really have gottin into over the past 33 yrs,I have lost my job twice.I am working now but that does NOT mean I will Stop saving my coupons or Money!

  27. Anonymous

    I see no problem in couponing at all. I even use to be against hoarding food items, but in 2007 my husband temporarily lost his sight and could not work for 4 weeks. We could not get disability pay, food stamps, or unemployment. I could no longer afford couponing, but the stash I hoarded from the year earlier held us over till he was able to go back to work. We barely made it with food, period.

    I can no longer do extreme couponing, I no longer have the space, as we now live with someone. I no longer judge those who hoard food for the “just in case” thi happens. I totally understand, now.

    Go soup dude!!!!

  28. Anonymous

    So this is why my 85 year old mother usually can’t use her coupons. She lives on a very limited fixed income and the shelves are usually empty of the items she is shopping for and now I know why. We’ve even been in line behind someone buying 20 of one of the items she wants that are on sale and she has a coupon for. Do these people ever feel bad that they have deprived others that have spent time clipping coupons for their own personal use while others are hoarding?

  29. Anonymous

    “One coupon per purchase” is just that — one coupon per item. It means you cannot stack two coupons together on one item.

    Now, if it had said “One coupon per transaction,” then yes that particular man would be in the wrong.

    I don’t blame a man for buying soup he likes at a spectacular price.

  30. Anonymous

    I love couponing but I don’t use printables. I get my Sunday paper delivered and look through the coupons. If I see a few that look like a great deal along with that week’s store ads, I’ll purchase more papers or get them from friends who don’t coupon. The fine print “one coupon per purchase” is so you don’t use 2 coupons on the same item. Otherwise, it would say “one coupon per transaction” or “one coupon per customer”. I have 2 grocery stores within 5 miles on the same street just different towns. I have 5 CVS stores within 8 miles of my home and work. You can really save a lot of money at CVS by using their Extra Care Bucks program. I make it easy by using a popular couponing website that I probably wouldn’t be able to mention here. It tells me what’s on sale at my stores and whether it’s in Smartsource or Redplum. Saves lots of time and money!

  31. Anonymous

    There is no way my sister could feed her two growing boys without extreme couponing. Her husband’s industry (timber) is dead until housing starts go up again. He’s been out of work for two years now. She and several friends swap coupons. That way the diaper coupons go to the one who has a baby, etc. She simply drives between the two grocery stores down the street from each other, none of that multiple same store stuff. In fact, she shared with all of us last Christmas and they donated items to one of the shoebox ministries. It takes time to cut coupons, print them and search websites and store ads, but she’s doing her part to keep her family off the public dole. What’s wrong with that?

  32. Anonymous

    I just had to come reply one more time to KIND’s comment:

    “Consequences of coupon clipping is not going to affect the neighbor’s life or lively-hood.”

    Actually, the consequences of coupon clipping can have a huge impact on everyone’s lives. While I mentioned previously saving $6,500 (and I spent a total of $4,100 that year for our family of 5 with one using formula and in diapers, my post is here), the reason I even started to coupon was to help pay for our son’s surgery.

    With that reason alone, it had an impact on the economy. We paid our hospital bill (which most people choose to ignore), it helped keep a doctor and hospital getting paid thus allowing us both to pay taxes. This helped fuel the economy in some way and maybe impacted my neighbor’s livelihood because they could have have some association with that hospital. I know there are thousands (or more) out there that can spend more now and fuel the economy (and also give to others) because of the savings they can achieve by using coupons.

  33. Anonymous

    I don’t think this particular guy did anything wrong per say, but I’m not sure I would go through the trouble, either.

    Now, to be fair, the guy may have just “wasted a Saturday night” by purchasing what could very well be his entire winter food needs. Perhaps he’s unemployed and found a way to stretch his dollar further. Who knows.

    But did he “waste” his Saturday night? In what way? He could have easily spent $30 at the movie theater; to others, THAT would be a waste.

    It’s probably annoying to have to be behind him in line (thus, the advent of the self-checkout lines), but you can’t fault a guy for going through the work (and hassle) to get an $.08 can of soup.

    Interesting topic, though.

  34. Anonymous

    “One per purchase” does not mean “one per transaction”, but like other said means “one per each item purchased”. It is to prevent applying multiple manufacture coupons on to one sole item. The only rule that this guy may have broken was photocopying the coupon, but for all you know he could work in a computer lab and jumps from PC to PC printing out coupons, lol.

    To answer you question, I am all for extreme couponing as I guess I could be considered one myself. The only issue I have is when one person wipes an entire supply of a product off the shelves. But in this case 24 cans is hardly a dent in a grocery stores stock of soup. I say, buy what you need and what you can use, but don’t take all sale items just because you can.

  35. Anonymous

    No, actually I’m far from it. Although I might have taken your comment as “aimed” – my mistake. With our present political scheme, unemployment crisis and government intervention – I guess I’m a bit absorbed by anything or anyone who attempts to intrude in the lives of people they don’t know or know anything about.
    All power to those who can walk, run or stumble through life as it is and still stay within the fine line of morality. People with content of character rarely judge. Consequences of coupon clipping is not going to affect the neighbor’s life or lively-hood.
    Godspeed to anyone who can improve their situation or anyone else’s and stay more honest than congress.

  36. Anonymous

    Casey, which part were you asking “why do you care?” It’s an open comment forum. Comments I made were not demeaning to anyone.
    I asked basic questions and wondered myself why anyone would care if you / me / anyone else saves money by using coupons or any other legit method.
    Coveting is not in arsenal of qualities but it does cause me to stop and think when someone says they save $6,500 a year on groceries. I wonder what the total bill is, even after the savings.
    Anyone – no matter their situation – however, should not be put-down if they are able to legally get great deals by coupons or other moral means. The person who obtained Chunky Soup at .08 cents a can must have really bothered you in a major way. Didn’t bother me; just gave me ideas.
    If I’m off on that then you must be the one violating state laws by taking advantage of a border state with no food taxes. Don’t worry. It’s not like anyone but you will ever know.
    Feeling real guilty then stop doing it.
    As for coupons and multiple uses, the manufacturers are well aware and they don’t complain.
    So next month I’ll spend my same $100 and get $300 in groceries. And that, Casey, is My Own Business; which I’m minding very well.

  37. Anonymous

    What’s the big deal? “One coupon per purchase” usually means “one coupon per item”. One coupon per transaction seems kind of stupid b/c then you could just make the cashier ring up each item separately. Where I live, store coupons generally have a limit as to the # of items you can purchase per coupon and per household, so there’s no confusion. Regarding manufacturer coupons, the manufacturer WANTS us to use them b/c they’re hoping we’ll try a new product. They can’t stop people from using them to purchase products they’re already familiar with. For example, Reach is constantly putting out $1 coupons for floss or toothbrushes on coupons.com. I’m sure they’re hoping we’ll use it to purchase one of their new $4 dental floss products, but they can’t stop me from using it on their basic $1 floss. So, I’m getting free floss, but I’m sure there are other people using the coupon to buy the new fancy floss. Coupons are a marketing tool and if grocery stores don’t want to accept them and play the game, perhaps they shouldn’t be in the grocery business.

  38. Anonymous

    Can’t believe I took the time to read the article – and then I caved and read the comments. I could have spent that time cutting and printing coupons. A person saved $6,500 in one year; wish I could spend that much on groceries in two years. I’ve noticed people who use Food Stamps seldom clip coupons to stretch the State’s budget – they just have another child.
    What about those who live on a State border? … the state they live in has 7% sales tax … the neighbor state, only 6 miles to the first store, has no sales tax on groceries? Should they drive 12 to the nearest grocer in their state of residence?
    If you save gas by driving to the closer store just across (let’s say) the Florida state line – must I show state ID to buy my groceries? Should I use coupons, double coupons, help the environment by using less gas?
    Perhaps you’re not on Food Stamps and you may not be wealthy. I see this guy (in the mirror) daily, who is retired and has $100 a month for all grocery items, including food, paper products, soap, deodorant — you get the idea. I buy Chunky Soup. It’s usually over $2 a can at Bi-Lo or Ingles but drive to Walmart and it’s $1.25 every day and $97 when it’s on sale.
    No, I don’t cut coupons – but if I had the patience, time and health to do it – I’d wouldn’t hesitate to buy 25 cans of Underwood Chicken for $2 instead of only buying one for $1.67. But without coupons I still have a popsicle for the neighborhood children when they stop by. Each poster, including myself, should be happy with any break they get. What about a lady who pays for her groceries with a bad check or shoplifts? Please help her learn the “coupon ropes.” Take a few dollars saved with the coupons and donate to your state’s food bank once a year.

  39. Anonymous

    The guy didn’t do anything wrong. I live by a grocery store that doubles coupons and I frequently get things nearly for free when I combine coupons with sales. But those usually only account for a small amount of my shopping. It takes a lot of time and effort to go to that extreme so it has to be worth it to you. Some people get addicted to it as well.

    I don’t know why cashiers hate coupons so much and I’d be curious to find out. For years I’ve used coupons with no hassle but lately I get glares from the cashiers even when i only have one or two coupons. I’ve even had to go to managers recently when they’ve tried to refuse legitimate coupons.

  40. Anonymous

    I say GO DUDE!!! If the manufacturer forgot the weasel-word clauses at the bottom of the coupon, it’s his loss, and he’ll learn for next time they put out a coupon.

    On a personal note, Chunky Soup has enough sodium in it to kill you inside a month, so I hope he doesn’t plan on living on it. For all we know, he MAY BE planning to donate it to somebody or hand it out to homeless street people.

    To avoid having to go through the same lengths he did just to save money, I stay home and make my own soup.

  41. Anonymous

    “If what they really meant was one coupon per item, why would they go to all this trouble to prevent you from getting multiples?”

    I think others have made it clear that it is typically considered 1 coupon per item, but to address this directly, the reason is so that (to my understanding) each coupon available online is limited to X total prints. They want X to be spread out amongst as close to X consumers as possible in hopes of getting them hooked on it enough to buy it in the future even without a coupon. If Bob prints out 1,000 coupons for soup, it is less effective for the company because he is only going to buy the same number of cans of soup in his life than if he had no coupon.

    I recently bought 70 jars of Stage 2 Beechnut baby food for $7.25 (or 10.3 cents a jar). It is normally 55 cents a jar but it was buy 1 get 1 free and then I had 5 copies of a coupon that gave $2 off 12 which we received from an acquaintance who has a connection at the newspaper and gets piles of the ads. I also had a $2 off 10 coupon we got some other way I don’t recall.

    My wife does most of the couponing, but I help her a bit. The only thing we do not really do is photocopy print outs as we have heard that sometimes stores do not get reimbursed for those (if too many have the same special redemption barcode). Pretty much anything else is fair game.

  42. Anonymous

    There is nothing unethical about using a million coupons if you can get your hands on them.

    However, if you are deliberately subverting the manufacturer’s coupon printing software to do so, that crosses the line. “They should have written it better” is not a defense.

    For me personally, most coupons are not worth the effort. The manufacturers and/or stores have successfully price targeted me. Good for them.

  43. Anonymous

    While it often does means that you can only use one coupon for item, and each item thus qualifies for a coupon, some stores limit the number of the same item that you can buy with a coupon. I know that this is true of Stop and Shop but I don’t know about other grocery chains. Who knows, maybe this store had a similar policy.

    Personally, when I am using a coupon, I shop at stores that double and then I coupons for a bunch of different item, so my one shopping trip might have 5 or 6 coupons. I might do that once a month so that I’m only frustrating the clerk one time. 🙂

    This guy might be living off this stuff, donating to soup kitchens, or reselling them. Limitation policies are usually made to limit those who would resell the items.

  44. Anonymous

    I do not use coupons very often. The other day I was at safeway buying groceries. My husband asked me to get this certain kind of tea he likes. I had a grocery list which I left in the car. Anyhow I was at the self check out. I paid for my groceries, the machine spit out my receipt and some coupons. On one of the coupons was a discount for my husbands tea that I FORGOT to BUY! I went back and got the tea and used the coupon. So that day the coupon saved me a little more than just money.

  45. Anonymous

    My first reaction was that the man and cashier were both in the wrong. But on further examination I think both parties did nothing wrong.

    I visited the Campbells page and printed a coupon then hit my back button and printed another. It worked fine and did nothing to stop me and there were no warnings about multiple printouts being invalid. Each coupon has a unique serial number on it and theres nothing on the coupon itself about multiple print outs being invalid. So as far as I can tell the guy did nothing wrong by printing out multiple copies and if the special software is supposed to stop it then it didn’t. (maybe it only allows a few copies then cuts you off?)

    As others have pointed out “1 coupon per purchase” is generally defined as one coupon per item. If he was allowed to use ONLY 1 coupon period then it would say “1 coupon per household”. But its really up to the grocery store to setup and enforce their own coupon policy. They don’t have to take any coupons if they don’t want to. Or they can be more generous and take any coupon at all.

  46. Anonymous

    Say what you will, I do use coupons and stack with store deals, and my grocery budget has gone down by half in the two years I have been doing so.

    It would be nice to just work more, but not everyone chooses the number of hours they work, therefore they aren’t dictating their own incomes.

    Also, the online coupon printing sites limit the number of coupons that can be printed in toto. In other words, they may issue, say, four thousand of one coupon online. Coupons are limited two per computer in order to allow more people to access the limited number of coupons. Popular online printable coupons will disappear quickly when word gets out about them. The hardcore couponers sometimes take more than their fair share, but mostly are pretty thoughtful.

  47. Anonymous

    one coupon per purchse means one coupon per item

    one coupon per customer means what you said

    one coupon per transaction is another way to limit sales but since the coupon didn’t say this the guy was perfectly legal

    some stores have limits as to how many coupons you can redeem on any particular item, but it seems this store didn’t have that in place, perhaps they’ll reconsider

  48. Anonymous

    You can buy coupons on eBay. There are people that collect Sunday papers, organize the good coupons, and then sell them off in lots. The manufacturers have a legal department… lawyers are trained to write contracts. If the manufacturer’s want to set different terms, that’s up to them. As long as the “couponer” is playing within the set rules, it is fair game. Change the rules if you don’t like how people operate within the parameters.

  49. Anonymous

    I’d rather work an extra hour than spend half a day driving all over the place, across different counties to different stores to take advantage of a sweet coupon deal. You’d end up with more money in your pocket just by working that extra hour.

  50. Anonymous

    Interesting debate, although my personal view is that this is a tempest in a teapot. Assuming the coupons are issued by the manufacturer, the store gets paid by the manufacturer. If they’re store coupons, then the store already made the decision to offer the discount. Either way, the manufacturer gets to sell a unit, the store gets paid, and the consumer gets a “deal”. So everybody wins.

    Why did I put “deal” in quotes before? Let’s not kid ourselves – the manufacturer marked up the product before it shipped, and the store marked it up again when it put the product on its shelves. Most (if not all) of the savings from the coupons come out of the markup anyway. Basic economics/business principles tells us that if the manufacturer and/or the store started losing money, there would be no more coupons.

  51. Anonymous

    I can’t speak for your grocery store, but both Walgreens and my local grocery store have coupon policies that define “one coupon per purchase” as “one coupon per item.” As for why they limit coupon printing if it’s per item, that’s exactly why–the intent is so that people will be less likely to have a dozen coupons for a dozen cans of soup. That’s why coupons will sometimes say “One coupon per purchase; limit X number of coupons per transaction.”

    As for whether the extreme couponing is ethical, it all depends on the store’s coupon policy and how the guy got his coupons. If it wasn’t a violation of the store’s policy and he got all of his coupons ethically, I don’t see a problem with it. Maybe he was stocking up for some group and had a bunch of people print out coupons for him. Some friends of mine used to make a “coupon pile” at their house–if anyone saw a good coupon, they would print it and toss it in the pile, so sometimes the person doing the shopping would have more coupons than one computer would let you print. That seems reasonable to me. Manipulating the software to get extra coupons doesn’t.

  52. Anonymous

    For many of the stores I shop, that language is interpreted as one coupon for one item purchase. So, using multiple coupons in that manner is completely ethical and I think the shopper was in line with policies that are standard at most stores.

    I always suggest people to simply ask the stores what their coupon redemption policy is before you redeem any coupons. If the manufacturer wants to put language on a coupon to limit it truly to one coupon for each purchase, they know how to modify the bar coding from their end to do that which will prevent multiple coupons to be used. Many manufacturers already do this.

    Now to get to your point on extreme couponing, I will say that I have done what some consider “extreme” couponing in my day. However, now I take a more focused shopping approach to save as much as possible and replenish our stockpile rather than try to feed third world countries (which we do as well, just not with our stockpile and grocery purchases).

    I’ve shared this a bit on my site, but my general dislike of extreme couponing isn’t even what you have mentioned. I have talked to, and educated, thousands of people who see someone getting paid “$XYZ” to take home a gazillion boxes of Jell-O, for example. Seeing this type of extreme couponing does NOT inspire someone to want to even attempt to coupon to legitimately save money and help their budget. SO, my issue is that behaviors that are so extreme are not really showing people the reality that couponing can save you.

    We personally saved $6,500 in one year’s time (I tracked it all because, well, I’m an Excel Nerd like that). This savings was not by doing extreme couponing either. I planned my purchases to align the stockpiling shopping that went best with store sales, promotions and Catalinas (which do pay you to shop sometimes). I 100% in a simple approach that is focused and helps you get what you need rather than just accumulating stuff for the sake of it being free.

    With that philosophy, I was able to (and still do) shop for our personal needs and even some blessings for others. It’s not extreme by any means though. I *hope* that by allowing people to see that saving in this way is possible. And it doesn’t require having a garage full of stuff either. Saving with a focused plan can save you more time and money in the long run. And keep your home less cluttered (which I’m also a fan of, but need help with that in other areas which have nothing to do with my grocery stockpile or habits :-).

    And, seriously, why does someone need a gazillion boxes of Jell-O, anyway??!!

    {P.S., visiting from a link on Wisebread}

  53. Anonymous

    I was couponing to the hilt a few years ago. It feels like shoplifting – but, I don’t believe I was breaking any rules. I still have Dawn dish soap that worked out to be free so I got a dozen bottles. What I discovered was it is hard to draw lines on a ‘good deal’ – so I would invest a lot of time and energy into getting those good deals, then we would end up with things that we didn’t necessarily need. I started to feel like I was working for the big jack pot and it was insatitable. Then when I got home and had to unload everything and find places for it, then consume it . . . I started to think that I would rather spend my time and energy on just what we needed. (We constantly gave the stuff away which made others happy and is ok – but I can still give my time to others, and most of the time the person wasn’t asking or even had a need for the items they were given.)
    I probably spend the same amount of money now and don’t feel compelled to consume packaged goods before they date out, and don’t have my cupboards buldging with things we don’t normally eat. You really have to invest a lot of time and effort in the big search matching coupons to stores and sales. I decided I didn’t want to be driven by that. I beleive it could be an addiction – in the form of greed. The issue you raised about dishonesty is a whole other thing. When the need for greed trumps ethics, you do have a problem.

  54. Anonymous

    The website has coupons for $0.50 off for 1 can, a $1 off for 2 cans, a $1.50 off for 3 cans, and a $2 off for four cans of “Chunky Soup”.

    All of this basically means $0.50 per can. Let’s say you print all 4 of these coupons, and you do it twice like the software allows.

    You should be able to purchase 20 cans of Campbells Soup with the $0.50 discount per can, from a single computer. If the grocery store is doing “double coupon day” then you get all 20 cans for basically free — just like this guy did.

  55. Anonymous

    #11 LesInk) Then they should write on the coupon “One per Customer”.

    I don’t think it is ‘cheating’ if you use a coupon for it’s intended purpose. If Campbell Soup makes 1 million units of a product, and also generates 1 million coupons, what do you care if each unit is sold with a matching coupon? Their software is OBVIOUSLY tracking how many coupons are printed, and they will pull the coupon when a limit is reached (if ever).

    Maybe this is Campbell Soups’ business plan, and for any units sold without a coupon it is just “Chunky Gravy” for them.

  56. Anonymous

    Although I certainly don’t have a problem with coupon use, doing it against the rules of the coupon is plainly lying and stealing.

    If there are enough people who “freak out” at the cashier, then it becomes intimidation/harassment.

    And then there is the spirit of the law and the written law. Because the companies are trying to limit the number of printings on the same computer, it is intentionally being done to limit the number that can be used accidentally (as well as on purpose due to the above reasons). If people go around that, they are intentionally trying to circumvent the system to their gain (i.e., cheat).

    All in all, I find it dishonest for people to use a promotional against the manufacturer. The manufacturer only intends to provide a discount to encourage the sales, not give away the farm.

  57. Anonymous

    Well as a novice extremem couponer myself, I’ll share some thoughts. From what I understand it is generally frowned upon to go into a store and clean them out of any 1 item. Also, yes the software prevents you from printing more than 2 coupons per computer. However, I routinely print out coupons at home, at work, and if its a really good one have a couple coworkers print them too.
    As for store policy, unless it says one coupon per transaction it is understood to mean one per item. It’s not as if you’re short changing the grocery store. They get reimbursed the value of the coupon plus $.08. For whatever reason, its not uncommon to find cranky cashiers for whatever reason complain about you using coupons and try to thwart your efforts. I have never personally abused a deal by buying 100 of something, but I have no problem buying 10 of the same thing with 10 coupons. The whole idea is to buy things when they are on sale and to combine that with a manufacturers coupon and possibly a store coupon to get the absolute best deal possible and stock up. So instead of buying TP every 2 weeks and paying out the a$$, wait for a sale a good coupon and buy enough to last 3 months.
    Anyway, I’m still very new to it and it is a rush that some people abuse, but its cut my monthly grocery and household items bill by more than 50% each month.

  58. Anonymous

    Interestingly enough my local Kroger has a sale for Chunky Soup @ $0.99/can if you by ten cans. There are four coupons that I can print out which can be used when purchasing X number of cans per coupon. This tells me that the store has aligned with the coupons as using all four coupons makes me buy 10 cans of soup making the total cost of $0.50/can which is a good deal (not $0.08/can good). It also let me, from the same computer, print a second set of the coupons in a 10 minute time frame.

    There is also a lot of confusion out there in general. Such as the coupons that print at checkout with the store’s logos. These are manufacturers coupons and can be used anywhere (verified by calling the appropriate companies) but stores don’t often honor them. You can cut the store logo off and they are accepted w/o issue which I think is fine since they should be but cashiers just don’t know that. I see nothing wrong with this given they are manufacture coupons and not store coupons.

  59. Anonymous

    It’s 1 coupon per purchase/item unless it states only valid 1 per household or something similar, as you could just go back inside and make the same purchase multiple times with the only difference being that you’d then be wasting your time and more of the grocery store’s money in credit card processing fees.

    The 1 per purchase is to keep people from using 2 coupons on the same item. The store isn’t out any money for honoring 10 of them because they’ll be reimbursed by the company (and they are willing to get the extra business by offering the doubling themselves).

    I wouldn’t personally travel, but if it’s convenient, then I’d take advantage of similar offers. In fact, once I did.

    I bought a newspaper, found a coupon for more than the price of the newspaper off of a relatively expensive item I used regularly that was also on sale right now, so I went back in, bought 3/4 of the remaining newspapers at the store and clipped that coupon from each, went back in and loaded up on enough of the item to last about 6 months, and paid less than I would for the store brand that didn’t taste as good.

    I then amused myself by hiking around the city trying to give away a dozen newspapers to strangers which is surprisingly difficult. Nobody could wrap their heads around the fact that I didn’t want to sell them anything, that I just didn’t want to waste the newspapers.

    Note that I was already at the grocery store so other than the extra couple trips inside and the time to clip the coupon I didn’t use any extra gas. I forget how much it was for, I think it was a $1.50 or $2 coupon, the newspapers were on sale for $0.40, and I wound up saving a little over $2 on each purchase of something that’s normally $3.50 each and that I wouldn’t have stocked up on w/o the additional incentive.

  60. Anonymous

    Extreme couponing like extreme anything else can become addicting. Some couponers give some of their extra food & personal items to food pantries, so that is a good thing. Also many of the extreme couponers have multiple computers that they use to print the coupons from. Most of the time (from what I’ve seen), the coupon sites will allow only TWO coupons to be printed from one computer. So if you have 10 computers you are using just for coupons, you could have 20 legitimate coupons for the same item. I consider that to be fairly extreme. I have two laptops that I use to print coupons.

  61. Anonymous

    Just google it — everyone seems to have the same misunderstanding. You can probably call Campbell’s 1-800 number and ask them too.

    My grocery store told me that the wording is to limit people from using 2 manufacturer coupons to buy one item. Like using two 50c coupons to purchase a single can of $1 soup for free.

    But, you are allowed to combine a manufacturer coupon, and a store coupon together (2 coupons) for a single item, and do that for every item.

    I can see how there are some really smart people out there who are probably eating for near free — good for them!

  62. Interesting. I hadn’t heard that interpretation. That being said, I went back and looked at the coupon. Like I said before, they go to great pains to stop you from printing multiples, including requiring you to use special software to print it (fortunately it’s a quick download) which doesn’t display the coupon on the screen (so no screenshots) and doesn’t allow you to print to pdf (so no re-printing).

    Looking closer, it also appears to have a unique barcode to enforce the “single use,” though perhaps that’s simply to avoid tampering with the expiration date.

    Anyway, after all of this it says “One coupon per purchase.” If what they really meant was one coupon per item, why would they go to all this trouble to prevent you from getting multiples?

    While CouponMom lists those definitions, she doesn’t provide any sort of backup. She just says it. It’s great that you store interprets the term this way, and her definitions do make sense, but it would surprise if the majority of stores took this view.

  63. Anonymous

    Check this out:


    I checked with my grocery store and they confirmed this. “One coupon per purchase” means “1 coupon per item”. If you have 10 items, and 10 coupons then that is ok.

    They don’t do the double or triple stuff though. Since you have a grocery store that doubles coupons, you are throwing money away if you aren’t using them.

  64. BG: I’m faulting him for trying. Your logic is a very slippery slope.

    Are you saying that it’s only wrong to speed if I get caught? And if a cop pulls me over, but I manage to get out of the situation without a ticket, then he’s in the wrong, not me?

    In case you want to draw a distinction on laws vs. rules, here’s another one… How about cheating on a test in college? Are you saying that it’s not the student’s job to honor the fine print on the syllabus and do their own work? Or is it up to the professor to catch them?

    While I see your point (but only to a point), your logic sounds dangerously close to “it’s only wrong if you get caught.”

  65. Anonymous

    Only person here who broke the rules (if any) would be the cashier. It is not the customers job to honor the fine-print on the coupons, but the cashiers job to enforce it.

    This guy “made an offer” to the store-clerk, and they accepted. Are you faulting him for trying? Or faulting him for succeeding?

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