Returning Items For The Sake Of Making Money

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I have now received 2 separate emails from fellow shoppers and heard from 2 store employees about a new problem that has been occurring in the couponing world.  I never really thought I needed a separate post about this, but I keep hearing about different issues.  I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but you may want to read my previous posts on Ethicial Couponing, Courteous Couponing and Illegal & Inconsiderate Couponing.

The “new” problem?  Returning products for the sake of making money.

Let me first say that I don’t think you should not be able to return a product for something you purchased using a coupon.  Maybe you purchased the wrong item, realized you didn’t need/like the item or have any other legitimate reason for returning something.  I’m talking about when you make a purchase with the intent of returning the item to get back more than you paid.

A couple of examples:

  • You go to the store and purchase a Swiffer Duster and refill.  You use a buy a duster, get a free refill coupon.  You go back and return the duster just because you wanted to get the refill free.
  • You head to Walgreens and purchase a bottle of Baby Magic Body Wash advertised as “free after Register Reward”.  You later return the baby wash and keep the Register Reward because you only wanted the RR.

Again, I’m talking about when you go to the store and purchase the item just to be able to keep the Register Reward or to get free swiffer dusters.

Please remember that stores DO notice when people are doing this.  Yes, the store is still getting reimbursed for the value of the coupon by the manufacturer.  However, verification may be made against the number of coupons redeemed and the quantity of an item the store purchased*.   Further, we don’t want stores to view coupon users as seeking to take advantage of coupon policy.  We want need stores to continue to be coupon friendly.

Additionally, we don’t want stores to start making shoppers jump over hurdles to return an item.  Yes, we have already seen changes in many store coupon policies as a direct effect of a certain coupon show.    Let’s not add to more negative changes.

*Read more about the Life Cycle of a Coupon

Please remember to use your “big girl words” for any comments whether you agree or disagree with this post.


  1. says

    I TOTALLY agree! Just the other week when I bought some things that I was later having buyer’s remorse over… I was wondering how it would work if I returned these things that I had used a coupon on.
    But it never occurred to me that people would actually purposely do this! I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by the world we live in!
    I enjoy using coupons correctly! They save me an incredible amount of money when I use the “system” correctly! So I really don’t understand why people would then waste more of their time to abuse the system just to save a FEW CENTS more! Greed really can consume people, I guess.

  2. Judi says

    Sadly I heard about this problem from a friend of mine who works at a local CVS. She told me that when the $3 off 2 Pantene coupon came out they had Pantene returns everyday to put back from people who had used the coupon and received ECB for the purchase. It really is sad how greedy people are, I hope they don’t waste it for the rest of us who coupon correctly. :)

  3. LaVern says

    Really sad. If the person doing this would just stop and think… much money did you lose burning gasoline to get into the car and take this stuff back? How ridiculous. Waste of time and effort…for you and the store and factor in the gasoline and realize that you really did not save anything.

  4. says

    That is just another form of stealing . I coupon to be able to donate and it really upsets me when people can’t go by the rules. It could very well cause more store policy changes.

  5. Colby says

    How is it in anyway a form of stealing if the store gets reimburst for the $ lost coupon does not get voided they still get the money from the manufacturer.

  6. Matthew says

    I work retail LP and people make lots of money buying stuff with manufacturer coupons and returning them later. A few make a living doing this, it seems. You buy three boxes of Crest whitestrips with manufacturer coupons for $10 off, you return the items later with the receipt and get back what you paid plus the coupons value – you made an easy $30! Now imagine what people get back when they buy several boxes of whitestrips, plus other things like shavers and cleaning items with coupons. The thing is, the store is reimbursed for the value of the coupon. The manufacturer coupon counts as cash. It’s just people exploiting a coupon policy to their own advantage without actually hurting the store. I would call it a victimless crime, only there’s nothing illegal about it. Stores can inconvenience the people who do these returns by limiting the number of coupons per transaction or refunding the coupon value as a store gift card, but at no time will the person find themselves charged with a crime.

    • Dana says

      I agree, it isn’t a crime. Stores do get reimbursed for the coupons but it’s more of an ethical issue to me. Plus, if people are purchasing these items only to return, then they are taking away from people that actually need/use these items and aren’t trying to make a quick buck off the manufacture.

  7. Kady says

    i did this the other day actually. i bought some stuff at the store and i had a little bit of buyers remorse i really didn’t want to spent that much. i hadn’t left the parking lot yet so i went back in to return a few items. i got more than i paid for ( i was surprised) but the next time i went in the store super got in my face and told me that if he wanted to he could call the cops and i would go to jail he called it coupon fraud.

  8. Teresa says

    How can these people be stopped from doing this? I have seen $$$ made from people returning high dollar items that that have 5 or 10 dollar coupons.

  9. Jenna says

    I work in a retail store. We have one woman who uses approximately $100 in coupons every sunday. We open a register just to accommodate her since it takes so long. After the purchase, she walks directly to our service desk and returns everything she used a coupon for. Weekly $100 profit for her. Those days, no loss for us except the 1-1/2 hours of our emotes time. The problem is when she does the return after leaving the store for a while. Certain pharmacy or health items cannot be resold of they leave the building. So those items ARE a loss to the store. Plus that’s not the intent of couponing, to make a profit. This will cause retailers to restrict or change their coupon policy, that will have an effect on everyone using them.

    • Dana Zeliff says

      I am pretty much at a lose for words and just think “wow”! It’s unfortunate for someone to try to take advantage of the system like that.

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