The Dark Side of Extreme Couponing
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The Dark Side of Extreme Couponing

Posted on Tuesday, March 29th, 2011 at 6:12 am
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Can clipping coupons have a bad side. Oh yea. Here is how to avoid stepping over to the dark side.
Watching the Extreme Couponing shows scares me a little. Some of these people will stop at nothing to get a good deal, or actually, lots of good deals. They spend up to six hours a day working on their coupons to make sure that they can provide groceries for their families for free or nearly for free.

This can be an amazingly great thing. Clipping coupons and matching deals takes some work, and the rewards are all of these free or low cost products. Extreme couponers should reap the rewards. I’m not anti-coupon. Using coupons is a necessity in my household. It keeps our grocery bill within budget, gives us the opportunity to try new products and more. And I admire the folks who dedicate their time, energy and talents to getting the best deals.

The thing that scares me is the “stop at nothing” part. At some point the extreme couponing can become an obsession, an addiction. When someone has a hoard of more toilet paper than will ever get used in their lifetime or even their grandchildren’s lifetimes, does that make sense? Is it affecting their family life?

Getting these deals can be a thrill. Unfortunately, bad choices can be made in the quest for getting everything for free, even unethical choices. Many extreme couponing techniques can be seen as downright illegal.

A friend of mine who works as a cashier has seen it all. Shoppers who knowingly clip the expiration dates off of coupons in order to defraud the store. Shoppers who alter or create their own Internet coupons in order to get free products (fraud again). Shoppers who get free full size product samples and then “return” them to the store for cash (yup, fraud). This is shoplifting. It is stealing.

Then there are shoppers who may not be acting illegally, but practice other unsavory acts. scream or threaten cashiers when they can’t or won’t take 50 of the same coupon, in accordance to the store policy. And of course this is done at peak shopping times when the line snakes down to the aisles. There are also the shoppers who arrive as soon as the sale starts, ready to snatch away every product and leave the shelves bare, whether they need 75 cans of soup or not.

All of these things give us coupon clippers a bad name.

The sad thing is that you can get great deals without going over to the dark side. Practice honest, respectful and courteous use of your coupons. Take advantage of deals but don’t resort to illegal or unethical behavior.

I don’t want to blame extreme couponers. There are plenty of extreme couponers out there who do it the right way. They even use their extra items and savings to bless others.

So how can you tell when the line has been crossed? It is a matter of being self aware. When you start feeling compelled to get every deal out there, even if it doesn’t make sense for your family or it compromises your conscience, be wary. If you hope the cashier won’t catch something that is against the rules, beware. The dark side is approaching.

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