Extreme Coupon Show Backlash as Stores Change Policies: Learn Coupon Do’s & Don’ts

A recent article on The Consumerist found the TLC show, Extreme Couponing, has sparked a trend of out-of-control couponers who ransack stores with little regard for fellow shoppers. Merchants have taken notice and many major retailers are starting to change their policies. Here are some of the big ones.

The biggest change at Target comes to their buy one, get one (BOGO) policy. They now only allow one BOGO coupon per purchase. Previously, customers could “stack” Target printable coupons, combining store and manufacturer BOGO coupons to get both items for free.

Rite Aid
Rite Aid has taken the same steps as Target to crack down on shoppers looking to exploit BOGO coupon offers. The drug store chain has also made other changes including limiting the number of coupons per item to four. If inventory is running low, managers may limit the numbers further.

Many high tech shoppers have even started to crack coupon barcodes, allowing them to use coupons on products they’re not intended for. Walgreens is working to combat this fraud by adopting a new type of barcode. New barcodes will be able to hold more data and can better make sure Walgreens coupons are used for the right product.

At Publix stores throughout the country they’re also limiting the number of coupons that can be used on one product. Their new policy limits couponers to one manufacturers coupon and one store coupon per item.

Shopping with coupons is certainly a smart way to save, but there are right and wrong ways to do it. Here are some basic do’s and dont’s to help you coupon with class.

DO play by the rules. Couponing isn’t too complicated and common sense should get you by in most cases. Rules vary store to store, so if you’re planning to use a large amount of coupons, it helps to brush up on coupon policies before you shop. This includes making sure you’re buying the item the coupon is intended for and checking to see if they’ll accept expired coupons or not.

DON’T clear the shelf. In the eyes of casual shoppers, clearing entire shelves of popular sale items crosses the line between couponing and hoarding. If you really want to stock up on certain products, try making multiple trips or call ahead and ask a manager if they’ll set aside an order for you.

DO be organized before you check out. It’s a nightmare for cashiers and people waiting in line when you hand over a haphazard pile of miscellaneous coupons. It’ll be much appreciated if you clip them before hand and make sure they’re all facing the same direction. Also, remember to remove coupons for products you didn’t end up buying. If you are using mobile coupons, have them ready on your smartphone for the cashier to scan.

DON’T shop during the busiest times. The stress level of those waiting in line during peak times is high enough. Using dozens of coupons takes time and will only irritate other shoppers. Instead, go shopping when business is slow. It takes the pressure off to complete the transaction as quickly as possible for both you and the cashier.

DO be polite to the cashier and fellow customers. Sure, you might have some knowledge other customers and even clerks don’t, but it’s no excuse to treat others like they’re beneath you. If a cashier isn’t familiar with coupon policies, stay calm and ask to speak with a supervisor. They’re much more helpful if you don’t lose your cool. When your cart is overflowing, give those behind you a heads up that you’ll be using coupons. If someone is waiting with just a loaf of bread and gallon of milk, let them cut ahead.

DON’T steal coupons! A growing trend turning the tide against couponers is theft. Newspapers and newspaper subscribers are increasingly finding coupon inserts stolen. This is a big no-no and can get you into some serious trouble. Many people will willingly part with their unused inserts if you ask nicely.

Consumer Savings Expert, Andrea Woroch, is available to share “Extreme Coupon Show Backlash as Stores Change Policies: Learn Coupon Do’s & Don’ts” with your audience for an in-studio, satellite or skype interview. Andrea has been featured as a media expert source on The Today Show, NBC Nightly News, FOX & Friends, ABC News NOW, MSNBC, Kiplinger Personal Finance, Smart Money and many more. To view recent interviews or for more savings tips visit AndreaWoroch.com.

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About Kimberly

Kimberly Vetrano resides in the suburbs of New York City with her family and "mini zoo" consisting of five cats, a dog and a Goldfish. Kimberly is a teacher's assistant for a Kindergarten class. When she is not working or blogging, Kimberly enjoys taking photos of nature and hanging out with family and friends.


  1. Thanks for sharing this. I did notice at Target that they changed their policies. Also thanks for listing the advice about being prepared at checkout. I love that people try to get discounts and save money but I don’t like standing in line for an hour behind someone that has no clue how to organize their coupons and be prepared.

    Nice Post.

  2. I wish more people and companies spoke openly about this. It seems more are intrigued by how much they can “save” and collect. Stores only have a certain # of people they hire to stock shelves. I get so mad when I go to a store and the shelves are empty and sale items are gone.

  3. We can’t complain about this, it’s for the public’s good. We all want a good deal now and then, not just the”couponers”. It really bugs me when I go to Walgreens on a Sunday morn. at 9:30 A.M and find the specials gone. It’s not just that they don’t stock many but the “couponers” have been there and taken all these items. People should be fair. Look out for some of these “people”, they’ll come in groups with their “notebooks” and off they go with carts blocking the aisles.
    Sorry, this has been a pet peeve of mine.

  4. ShellieAndBrutus says:

    It’s sad that a few greedy people have ruined it for the rest of us.

  5. I think we can look forward to some changes in the way sweeps are run.

    A new TV program is under development that details lives of sweepers. The producers talked to me about being on the show. I guess they were looking more for the “Go crazy locked in a house with a bunch of bizarre people down the Jersey Shore.” I am just a guy sitting in coffee shop, drinking caffeine free latte’s and staring at my MacBook Pro. Not much drama in that.

    You can pretty much count on the same type of people on the sweepers show that you got on “Extreme Couponing” – a person who is consumed by sweeping and neglects themselves and their families; one person who is entering giveaways under multiple names: IP address spoofing to gain more entries; and someone doing something down right illegal; etc.

  6. Thank you for posting this. As someone who uses coupons,
    but isn’t a hoarder or “extreme” it is nice to see someone
    post about coupon edicate. The careless are the ones who
    ruin it for the rest of us. A little respect goes a long way
    with couponing, thank you for reminding us all about
    that. 🙂

  7. I started couponing not long ago, and we live in a small area, but I swear we have a greedy person, or a lot of couponers, because almost everything was cleared. I dislike a shelf clearer.

  8. I have watched those shows in amazement and wanted to try the couponing in high gear, but I also think the greed is ridiculous. Like WHO needs 200 sticks of deodorant at one time? I think that STINKS! And yes, the greed has ruined it for all consumers now. I never connected empty stores with greedy couponers…I always thought it was lack of organized ordering/stocking with stores. NOW I get it!

  9. momznite says:

    Behaving in an “extreme” way is often a poor choice. Too bad this small subgroup and the show is reflecting badly on many reasonable couponers. I would hate to see a similar thing happen with giveaways.

  10. Melissa says:

    I am glad that coupon policies are getting somewhat stricter. It’s really disappointing when I think I can go to a store and score a few free or very cheap items, only to find that someone has cleared out the entire stock of that item. People really should not be able to “stockpile” stuff. Who needs 1,000 toothpastes? Even toothpaste has an expiration date!