Why TLC’s Extreme Couponing is Ruining it for Couponers!

Last week, I shared a post about why I will be boycotting this season of Extreme Couponing on TLC.    The post sparked a lot of great discussion and comments!  Although I admit that I was intrigued with the show at first, since the show began airing regularly in April 2011, I have seen a negative impact on couponing in general.

Here are four reasons why I believe TLC’s Extreme Couponing is Ruining it for Couponers:

Many stores changed their coupon policies after Extreme Couponing began airing – Shortly after the first season of Extreme Couponing aired, stores such as Kroger, Publix, Safeway, CVS, Target, and Rite Aid made significant changes to their coupon policies.  These changes, in my opinion, were detrimental to coupons.

Here are some of the most noteable changes I’ve seen in store coupon policies since Extreme Couponing began airing:

-No more doubling and tripling of coupons at many stores

-Limits on the number of coupons that can be used per transaction (including the number of “like” coupons that can be used in one transaction).  In addition, some stores like Target limited the number of “like” store coupons that could be used per transaction.

-No more “stacking” of coupons.  For some stores this meant no more stacking of store coupons and manufacturer’s coupons.  In other cases, this meant no more stacking of digital coupons and paper manufacturer’s coupons.

-No more overage.  Many stores used to allow for “overage” when the face value of a coupon exceeded the amount of the item being purchased.  This meant that you could either apply the “overage” toward other items you were purchasing or the store would actually issue cash back.  In my area, Walmart is the only store that still allows for overage.

-Limits on the use of BOGO free coupons or BOGO free store promotions.  In the past, if a store was having a BOGO free promotion and you used a BOGO free coupon, you could get two items for free.  In addition, if a store was having a BOGO free promotion, you could use a coupon for each item you were “purchasing” (including the “free” item) for additional savings.  Many stores have changed their coupon policies to prohibit this.

Increased scrutiny for those using coupons – I remember when I first started using coupons eight years ago, cashiers would congratulate me on my savings.  Now, I get the “evil eye” as soon as a cashier notices that I will be using coupons.  Many times, managers are called over to “approve” transactions and my trip to the store turns into a nightmare as my coupons are scrutinized and matched up with individual items.  The people in line behind me are never thrilled with this, either.  What should have been a quick shopping trip can easily turn into an hour spent at the register.

Coupons are no longer as “good” as they used to be – Over the past year, I have seen significant decreases in the value of coupons.  For example, the insert coupons used to regularly include coupons for $1 off Colgate or Crest coupons.  For the past several months, the Crest coupons have a face value of $.25 off.  I remember when $4 off Gillette razor coupons used to appear monthly and I was able to get razors for free when I combined these coupons with store promotions.  It has been several months since any high dollar razor coupons have been available.  Now, many razor coupons stipulate the purchase of the razor and cartridges together which is more expensive, even if you’re using a coupon.

Coupon fraud has increased – Coupon fraud has been shown on TLC’s Extreme Couponing multiple times.  This has included the use of fraudulent coupons or using coupons inappropriately (for example, purchasing items that are not included within the terms of the coupon).  After seeing this on TV, people think it’s OK and coupon fraud has increased.  I believe an increase in coupon fraud has also led to tightened store coupon policies, increased scrutiny, and changes in coupon values.  When people commit coupon fraud, the manufacturers and retailers lose money and that expense is passed on to the consumers.

Last week, when I posted my reasons for boycotting Extreme Couponing, this was one of the comments I received:

This show isn’t ruining anything. The show is getting people out there to realize there is a way in this economy to help your family survive.

What do you think? Is Extreme Couponing ruining it for couponers? If you’ve been using coupons for awhile, what changes have you noticed since the show began airing?

If you missed it, you can check out last week’s post here–> Five reasons why I will be boycotting this season of Extreme Couponing 

*This post may contain affiliate links. Please refer to my disclosure policy for more information


  1. Melissa D. says:

    Melissa, I agree with you 100% – on every single one of your comments! I too do not watch the show and know that the “grocery store hoarders” ruined it for all of us who were just trying to stretch a dollar and get some good buys here and there.
    And anyone watching the show in Houston, there is NO WAY you could do what those highlighted on the show are doing!

  2. I totally agree with you that Extreme Couponing has ruined it for couponers. Due to the negative responses that I received from Cashiers as well as others shoppers, I have had to totally change the way that I use coupons. I actually dread going to the store because of the comments that I know I will have to endure. The value of the coupons has decreased. I used to get excited, a natural high about the good deals and the amount of money that I saved using coupons. I don’t get this anymore.

    • Debbie – I can totally relate! I send my husband sometimes because people don’t give him as hard of a time when he uses coupons. It’s awful, especially when we’re just buying things for our families!!

  3. Nancy Young says:

    I agree that TLC’s Extreme Couponing is ruining it for us! I felt that way since the first time I saw the show. It is just too sad, because we are just trying to save a little money and get by. I am very discouraged about couponing now because I cannot save near the money that I did when I first started. I blame all this on Extreme Couponing.

  4. I agree with you completely! I have been couponing for the past couple of years to help our very tight budget. I occasionally could stock up on somethings, but never just stockpiled for the sake of stockpiling. It seemed once the show started I could not even get one or two items on a really good deal. It has been extremely disappointing…no more double/triple coupons, low value coupons and utter disgust from some cashiers. As far as the comment about the show helping people realize there is a way to save-coupons have been around forever it is not a new thing they are everywhere! The show has highlighted extremes which gives people an adrenaline rush which in return scares the heck out of stores! No store wants to “lose” money! So yes I think the show has changed the coupon world and would go as far as to say it has ruined it! Thanks for all your hard work in find us the deals you do!

  5. Cinnamen says:

    I believe that the show definitely has a detrimental effect on TRUE couponers like myself. I agree with all four of your reasons as well. In Southern California, we have only 1 store that will double 1 like coupon (VONS), and each store seems to have different policies as to the number of coupons that they will actually accept. As far as the comment left by someone stating that the show is not ruining things, it is because it’s showcasing UNREALISTIC savings, and promotes shelf clearing, which is a definite NO-NO!!! The show is not based simply on surviving in this tough economy, as the commenter believes. Some people really believe that stores will allow you have all those transactions, when that’s clearly not the case.

  6. i really liked this show the first couple episodes,. now after seeing the changes stores have made because of unrealistic trips that are highlighted on this show, I HATE IT! 🙁
    i hate the extra time spent in the checkout, so the cashier can look closely at every.single.coupon.
    but most of all, i hate shelf-cleaners. seriously, you needed 30 bottles of mustard?? i just wanted 1. maybe 2.

  7. Michelle says:

    I too dislike this show and all the “wrongs” it teaches. Most of the stores in my area do not double and if they do it is .50 and no more than 3 of the same coupon. I used to enjoy my couponing and now it seems it almost isn’t worth it. I too get the rolling eyes of the cashier, and even had one cashier tell me to go through “all” of my coupons and show her each item, it was very frustrating! My local Walmart is the worst about coupons, I am always harassed and told I can’t use them!

  8. I also agree woth you!
    As I dont have a stockplie…I use coupons to do my every week grocery shopping and I still get the bad looks and comments…I look and ask “why you looking at me like that ,,Its not like I have 50 of one product…”…..I live week to week ..pay check to pay check….sorry if you have a problem with me trying to save some money……

  9. Melissa,

    I also do not like the show. I am not a big coupon user but I do use them if I find an awesome deal. The biggest thing that annoys me about the show, and no offense to anyone out there, is the amount of items that they have in storage, that they will never be able to use up in a lifetime (like 30 bottles of laundry detergent) or some of these item will end up going bad and they will have to throw it away. I congratulate those who donate extra items to local shelters and food banks, but they are few and far between. Imagine how many people can be helped if these extreme coupon’ers donate what they will never end up using.

  10. I stopped watching this after the first few episodes, Im hoping if enough of us stop watchingit the ratings will go down and they will cancel.

  11. I totally, completely, 100% agree with you Melissa. I have no problem with people wanting to save, and even stockpiling, as long as it’s within reason. The folks on EC however seem more like hoarders to me. Like someone else mentioned, what’s the point in buying 10, 20 or 100 of an item with a short shelf life? Unless you plan on donating a LARGE portion of it, it’s nonsense. I really hope (and I hope this doesn’t seem mean-spirited) stores do impose limits on purchases, so that the shelf-clearing by some will finally stop.

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