Extreme Couponing: Is it legit?

Using coupons to get products for free isn't necessarily fraudulent activity.

One Time reporter thinks not, citing an episode of TLC’s “Extreme Couponing” show last season in which a 16-year-old boy presented fraudulent coupons to receive some of his haul for free. Here is the article: http://moneyland.time.com/2012/02/20/are-the-money-saving-strategies-on-extreme-couponing-bogus.

Using this one example of poor behavior, he calls into question whether it’s truly possible to legitimately get items for free with coupons. I’m here to say that it is. Maybe not everything for free every time you shop, but with patience, you can match up great sales with great coupons and be able to buy items for little or no money. I can cite several examples from my own experience to try and make the point.

A couple of years ago, there was a Chef Michael’s coupon worth $3 off bags of dog food. A store in our area put the bags of dog food on sale for $2.99. Did I gather more than 25 coupons to be able to stock up for my pet? You bet I did. Were the coupons or my actions fraudulent? Absolutely not. And yet I was able to get more than 25 bags of dog food for free.

Or take a more recent example. Last week there were Got2B coupons in the Sunday newspaper flyers worth $3 off a hair styling product. Walgreens had Got2B products at Buy One, Get one Free for $5.99. Walgreens allows you to use a coupon on both products, thereby making two containers of the hair styling product free when you presented two coupons.

In most cases, if you’re buying a week’s worth of groceries, you won’t be able to walk out of the store with a shopping cart full of free items. Milk producers, for example, rarely issue coupons. The same for produce. So unless you shop at Walmart, where they will credit you the difference between a coupon and the value of a product (called overage), it will be difficult to reduce your spending in those categories.

Does that mean that people who present dozens of money-saving coupons are doing anything wrong? No, it does not, unless the store has a stated limit on how many coupons can be used in one trip. They are savvy shoppers.

The use of fraudulent coupons must stop. It costs manufacturers money, which is then passed along to us in the form of higher prices. But if companies issue coupons to encourage shoppers to buy their products, I don’t see anything wrong with using them, even if the product ends up being free.

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