Where it All Started
The TLC Show made it look like couponers can save a great deal of money when shopping as portrayed in their “Extreme Couponing” show. But with what has been going on with the proliferation of coupons that are not worth much and supermarket policies that are tougher, saving huge on shopping through coupons doesn’t look as inviting as it used to.
To rate a coupon as a good deal, it has to be on products that you are most likely purchasing and big enough to worth the time you spent clipping them. But from reports, consumers are no longer getting such coupons. In fact, a study at some point showed a 17% decline in coupon redemption. The major reason for this development according to them was that the coupons they found were not for the things they were interested in buying. And even when found, the value of the coupon isn’t much to write home about.
Removal of Double Couponing
There was a time a prominent shopping line, Kroger, reduced the price of thousands of goods they offer to the public with the hope that such development will be welcomed with huge applause from consumers. But this was not so as consumers instead noted that the move will see them moving to Walmart and dollar stores. When we looked deeply into this, we saw that Kroger’s price drop which prevented consumers from enjoying double couponing was mainly to be blamed.
The same Kroger had removed the double coupons in California and Texas so that shoppers won’t be able to turn a 30 cent coupon to a 60 cent. But this does not look like what shoppers are happy about since they went ahead and created a Facebook Page that clamors for the return of double couponing.
Why the Removal?
But Kroger’s move cannot be regarded as extreme since they didn’t ban all couponing as JC Penney did. Kroger CFO when responding to this issue stated that the reason for the practice was to cater to more consumers than a selected few. According to him, “not many consumers get involved in double couponing. It is only fair that we spread the savings across a broader set of products for more consumers to benefit from.”
While it may seem like Kroger may be wrong in their decision, the shopping line isn’t the only one involved in this practice. Walmart is also guilty of this as their managers have been said to frustrate extreme couponers by only allowing them use their coupons one at a time instead of using it for a single transaction.
But are we to blame these supermarkets for making changes to double couponing? People like Jill Cataldo, a coupon enthusiast does not blame the supermarkets. Instead, Cataldo blames shows like Extreme Couponing by TLC for depicting a scenario where shoppers bought merchandise worth hundreds of dollars with their coupon strategies. Cataldo also pointed out that the moment the show started airing, the value of coupons declined where manufacturers now gave coupons that were ordinarily meant for one purchase for two purchases instead. Grocery stores were not left out as they too introduced stricter restrictions on how consumers can make use of their coupons.
Are Extreme Couponers to be Blamed?
“Some store clerks also support this move against extreme couponing pointing out that retailers had to clamp down desperate moves made by these extreme couponers where they try using every possible means, whether legal or illegal to cut down on their shopping bills. Such moves by these extreme couponers include attempting to use different coupons for an item or cutting out the coupon’s expiry date in order to deceive the store attendants,”says Christine Jones,co-founder of a shopping assistant website which leverages coupons for influencer marketing.
In a situation where a coupon ring was created to create fake coupons that were sold on eBay as well as other outlets for lesser value is not in the best interest of manufacturers and supermarket owners. Thankfully, the face behind the $40 million fake coupon ring, Robin Ramirez was later arrested and made to make restitution of $5 million with 2 years imprisonment.
Seeing that the $5 million restitution is a far cry from the actual $40 million already lost, we can understand why manufacturers and supermarket owners are reluctant to give out coupons as they initially did. And even when they do, the coupons have lesser face value.
Looking at the situation from both angles, supermarkets are not to be totally blamed. And while there are genuine shoppers who would love to use their coupon to reduce their grocery bills, we can’t help but notice that there are some people who engage in fraudulent practices to deceive shop attendants into cutting them a deal.
Extreme couponing so far hasn’t been a great idea for the manufacturer and retailers, but in order not to kill the whole idea of couponing, there may be a need for the manufacturers and retailers to come up with a deal that the consumers can accept to be fair enough.