Store Coupon Policy Changes: Direct Effect from Extreme Couponing Show?

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I was just over at Mojo Savings and saw a post about Publix changing their Coupon Policy.   This is happening more and more all over the US, so I felt it was time to post about what I’ve been witnessing all over the web.

I don’t live near a Publix, so I was unfamiliar with their coupon policy until reading the press release.  “Publix has had a relatively lenient coupon policy, instructing cashiers to honor coupons from a range of competitors”.  The final policy changes have not been decided upon, but it appears Publix shoppers will find local stores to be less coupon friendly in the near future. 

Kroger stores in Houston recently stopped doubling coupons.  After April 13th, Kroger’s in Houston are only accepting coupons at face value!   This is unfortunate for Houston residents, and I hope the trend doesn’t continue into other states.  How the coupon policy affects sales in Houston, will probably determine if other Kroger locations follow suit. 

All Kroger shoppers are noticing more difficulty in the way of digital coupons.  The policy has been to not allow digital and paper manufacture coupons to be stacked.  However, now the register will not allow the paper coupon if you have a digital coupon on your card.  The problem?  Once a Cellfire coupon is loaded onto your shoppers card it can’t be removed.  If the cashier can’t override the digital coupon so you can use a higher value paper coupon, a trip up to customer service will be in order.  Personally, I have not found my local Kroger to be especially friendly to coupon users as it is.

Even more Kroger news: I read somewhere that Kroger is no longer allowing coupons on “Managers Special” items!  That kind of defeats the purpose of me buying a “managers special” item!  The store wants to get rid of the item before it expires, and I want a great deal by stacking my coupon with a managers special.  I see it as a win-win situation!

Harris Teeter
To add to this, Harris Teeter has tightened their coupon policy.   How the coupon policy is enforced is determined by local stores, but they are not making it any easier on coupon shoppers.  Please note that I am grateful that they have been continuing with Super Double Events!

I’m fearful more stores will become unfriendly to coupons as an (almost) direct result of the Extreme Couponing show.  The obvious coupon fraud is just the tip of the iceberg.  Even the donating aspect of couponing has been whittled down to focus on hoarding, shelf clearing, and unethical couponing behavior.

Has anyone else noticed there seems to be an increase in fraudulent coupons as well?

I’m saddened and outraged that my family may not be able to continue to save money on necessities as the result of a few bad apples.  Let’s make sure manufacturers and stores know that most of the couponing world respects their policies and guidelines, and that we appreciate the chance to save our families money while practicing ethical couponing!

Have you noticed coupon policy changes at your local store?



  1. jill says

    I’m an active couponer so figured I would like the show. Wrong! I can’t stand it and find it almost sickening. It makes couponers look greedy.
    I am lucky in that the area I live seems to be considered a competitive grocery market, so I have many options and almost all of them double, and even have super doubles sometimes (Harris Teeter, Bloom, Safeway, Giant , Shoppers Food, etc.)
    But, for the first time ever this week at HT, I was questioned at checkout how many coupons I had. (And it was only 16…not the 20 limit ;-))
    My problems using coupons tend to more often come randomly at the drugstores, from cashiers who don’t understand coupons, or their own store policy…and from cash registers/coupons combo that seem to not scan when they should, or “beep” when they shouldn’t!

  2. Lucy Esq says

    I’m so sad about Kroger not doubling in the Houston area. I live in Deer Park a suburb of Houston and they stopped this week. I just recently started couponing and was not even able to take advantage of it! To all who live in the rest of the country…please, please, please take advantage of what we in Houston no longer have.

  3. says

    I had actually had someone tell me this week that a manager at Farm Fresh said to her that the policy of how they handle coupons had changed specifically because of the show. It will be interesting to see how all of this plays out. Good post!

  4. Carol_R says

    I believe that there is a lot more flagrant coupon fraud happening and some of it due to the Extreme Couponing Show which to me promotes coupon fraud – since there’s no way I don’t believe that they don’t know that some of those they’re featuring are doing it.

    Yesterday, when I used a coupon that I got from Facebook for PetSmart ($5 off a $25 purchase) there was a manager there checking the coupon. Mine was legit since it had my name printed on it but I was told that there was a rash of people using fraudulent coupons. Someone had apparently uploaded one to the web and people were downloading it. The fraudulent ones; however, didn’t have your name on them.

    In order to preserve couponing for those of us who aren’t trying to pass off fraudulent coupons and make it miserable for other couponers, the stores need to start prosecuting people for coupon fraud where it is occuring in large amounts as portrayed on the show.

    I only saw one episodes of the TLC show but it’s so unrealistic. You can save money using coupons and being a smart shopper – but I don’t believe anyone is able to buy $2000 worth of groceries for $50. Most stores aren’t going to allow you to come in and buy 200 or 1000 of the same item (they don’t have that much stocked on the shelves) and use 200 coupons on them and then double that amount. The store loses money on those type of customers and it makes other customers mad since there is no stock left for them to purchase.

    The whole point of coupons is to get people to try a product. And from the store’s perspective it brings them into the store and they hope that they’ll purchase other items that aren’t on sale without coupons and they’ll make up the difference. Also, by offering coupons people will think that they’re getting a deal when in reality many products still aren’t a good buy even with a coupon or the customer gets the store and realizes that they accidentally left their coupons at home but ends up buying the item anyway without the coupon.

  5. Alan says

    Everyone knows that stores get paid back for the coupons plus like 8 cent each right? Not the double part but the coupon itself. So if toothpaste normally sells for like $3.00 the store probably pays like .75 with a profit of 2.25 if they put it on sale for $2 and you have a $1 coupon and they double it you only pay tax so it’s free right? well the store still gets 1.08 so they still make money. thats .33 each. so if they sell 1000 items for “free” they make $330. the “loser” is not the store but the manufacturer who only get 1 new person to try their toothpaste instead of the other 999. so new rules like only 20 coupons and only 2 like coupons are fine with me i don’t ever buy more than 4 of anything and that’s 2 coupons for me and 2 for my wife. and its per day so if you want more go back the next day. and if they stop doubling I’ll stop going and when enough people stop going they will start doubling again.

    Also, Walmart seems to be relaxing their rules. Why? people are not going there cause of the show and going to places that double coupons instead. So as one tightens another relaxes, they all just want more customers. I think what we will see is more companies making coupons and that will be great for us all.

    • Carol_R says

      Alan, that’s only for maybe regularly priced items and not sale items which is what extremely couponing is advocating – which is only buying the item when it’s on sale and you also have coupons for it. The store may not be making any money on the item sold and that’s before they double the coupon. At that point they’re taking a loss.

      Stores typically have what they call lost leaders, which are items that they take a loss on or just break even to get people into their stores with the hope (and expectation) that they will buy other things that will compensate for their loss on the lost leader product item.

      Decades ago (in the early 70s), it was reported that McDonalds (who only sold the small burgers back then, fries, milk shakes, and sodas did not make any profit at all on their hamburgers but made 10cents profit on the cheese if the customer ordered a cheeseburger rather than a hamburger. Since most customers also ordered a drink and fries, they made money there – particularly on the sodas. Now if everyone coming into McDonalds back then had only ordered the hamburger, then they’d either have to dramatically raise their prices or go out of business.

      The deals that are shown on TLC’s extreme couponing are where they’re buying large quantities (in one case 1000 boxes of cereal) using multiple coupons for sale items that have been substantially reduced and not on regularly priced merchandise. Also, the “extreme couponers” on that show are not buying any other items so the store is losing tons of money every time they come into it and shop. In addition, when they clear the shelves, regular store customers are unable to buy the product and get mad. Heck, I’ve gotten really ticked off myself when I’ve gone to the store for a particular item not even knowing that it was on sale intending to pay the regular full price and the entire shelf has been cleared out. That means that either I have to go to another store or go without the item. And making the regular store customers who don’t just buy multiple numbers of the sale items with coupons irate does not bode well for businesses.

      Also, manufacturers may quit offering coupons or offering them in the numbers that they currently do if too many people redeem them. They only expect a small percentage of people to utilize the coupon (similar to only a small number of people actually applying for a rebate on an item). The issue is not with people using small number of coupons or even small multiples of the same coupon. The issue is with the “extreme couponer/nutjob” that is not using coupons to save money for their family but is running it like a business by buying up massive quantities of items for free or almost free and them reselling them and pocketing the money.

      Manufacturers don’t like stores doubling or tripling coupons or stacking of coupons since that causes more customers to use the coupons since they may be able to get items for free or close to free. Store will only continue doubling and tripling coupons if enough of their customers buy items that aren’t on sale so that they can make up for the loss they take when they double/triple them.

      The current limits that Harris Teeter has imposed I don’t think are unreasonable. It seems to me that giving coupons out on Facebook has the effect of limiting the amount printed since the number given out are tied to the Facebook account.

      They haven’t shut down buying and selling coupons on eBay yet but I believe that may be coming probably because of people selling large numbers of identical coupons.

  6. Raff says

    Yes, the show is ruining coupon policy’s and I just started. I called Kroger bout 3 weeks ago. A lady said yes they do take e-coupons and a manufacture coupon , but then i called back 1 week later.I had forgot to ask another question about coupons and they said “no they no longer accept e-coupons and manufactures and that they change there computers . These shows are ruining it for the people who use coupons for the good. I guess our food banks are going to be filling up with people huh.
    A friend of ours I showed her how to use coupons because she had only 6 dollars left and with coupons that was heaven for her. I pray for the families who live off coupons who have kids. Nobody should go without groceries. I knew when I saw this show this would happen.
    These people are crazy look what they are doing for 15 minutes of fame. How many people will they hurt by this.

  7. karen says

    First let me say, I am a Harris Teeter shopper and love them! My family uses a lot of Splenda and I had 6 – $3 coupons that expired yesterday and there is a catalina deal (buy 3, get $4 back). So I decided to go to a Kroger since they have a mega event this week, buy 10 items from a list of products save $5 at checkout. And note, I read this catalina email carefully, hoping to get everything correct. (And Kroger was listed as a participating vendor.) So I spent a lot of time shopping for 20 items, planning to do 2 transactions to maximize my catalina deal. Sobe drinks are on the list and I have Sobe coupons. Lunchables is on the list and I have coupons for that AND that’s another Catalina deal so now I’m excited. And lastly Freschesta (sp?) pizza is on the mega list AND I have coupons for that! So I go to check out with transaction #1, the cashier scans my first 10 items and when I go to give her my 10 coupons she tells me that the store just changed their coupon policy and that you can only use 2 coupons per transaction! I was so surprised and thought how sad for this store and community that they had to do this. So she voids out my purchase and I ask her to just ring up two Splenda, that way I’d get about $2 back in a catalina q – she does it and no catalina! Turns out, this is a value Kroger store and no catalinas printers are in the store! So I politely asked for a full refund and to return my coupons as well. Left the 20 items, went to another Kroger, asked 1st about their coupon policy (lesson learned), quickly grabbed the the same 20 items, checked out in two transactions and got my 5 catalina coupons. Lots of lessons learned and yes, these policy changes are directly related to that show!

    • Dana says

      WOW! I didn’t even know there was value Kroger store! I’m sorry you had so much trouble doing what should have been such a simple transaction. I’m so glad you were able to go to the other kroger and have your transactions work out as planned!

  8. heather says

    I tried to buy a newspaper at Walmart and a few 7-11s because my newspaper was swiped from my driveway. They were either bought up or had the coupon inserts missing. I was cutting through some aisles at Walmart and low and behold there was a stack of newspapers sitting in a laundry basket with all the coupons taken out. Someone had taken a stack from the front of the store and went and hid in the store and removed them. So thank you Greedy TV show. I told the store also. We will see.

    • Dana says

      I am rather speechless and don’t really know what to respond back with. I just am so disheartened that people are now stealing coupons. I just can’t believe all the fraud and illegal activities occurring lately. It’s bad enough to buy every single paper in stock, but to steal all the inserts. I’m deeply saddened by the behavior of some shoppers lately.

  9. Melissa says

    Latecomer to this discussion, but have been couponing for years. BUT I’m in the Chicago area, where we have high sales tax (and food is included!) plus no stores that double. What worries me about The Show is that new couponers in this area think they can get the same deal and then start a fuss at the store when it doesn’t work for them the same way. Don’t get me wrong, we still are able to score good deals, just not $1000 for $.50. And it takes several months to a year to get to that point of feeling like you’re really saving.

    • Dawn says

      I whole heartily agree. I am able to score good deals on a regular basis but not anywhere near the extreme savings the people on The Show get. I’m averaging a 50-60% percent savings on the things I buy with coupons and I only purchase things I would normally buy. It’s helped but I’m not going to be able to buy a new car with cash or pay off my mortgage anytime soon.

      My beef with the Extreme Couponers is empty shelves. I never take more than 4 of anything (even if it’s free). I believe everyone should have the chance at the deal. I have recently discovered that there is a woman in my neighborhood that is wiping shelves and then holding garages sales to sell the items. I’m all for someone making a buck (or saving a buck) but it’s people like her that ruin it for people like me.

      • Dana says

        Yes, you don’t need to take ALL the products from the shelf. I can’t believe someone is buying all the products then selling them at a yard sale! Well, I can believe it but I’d rather not. It’s not worth it and it’s hurting people that need those products to put food on the table.

    • Dana says

      Exactly Melissa. My stores have a 20 coupon limit, so you won’t see me saving $1000 per trip either. People just don’t understand that from watching the show


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