You’ve been granted free access to this subscribers only article.
Extreme couponing: What you don’t see on reality TV
The TLC show, “Extreme Couponing,” is back for another season. And when the show starts up, the emails pour in.
Dear Jill, Have you seen “Extreme Couponing?” It can’t be real, can it? I’ve never seen so many coupons for free food in my life. On the last episode, two shoppers had more than 700 coupons for free pizza. This is what you should be writing about in your column! -- Fascinated Watcher
Dear Watcher, Yes, I have seen the show. And despite the “reality” label, much of what happens on “Extreme Couponing” is not real.
When “Extreme Coupon-ing” premiered on TLC in 2010, coupon shoppers around the country hit the Web to voice their concern about the rampant coupon misuse and fraud depicted on the show. Some of the show’s shoppers were using coupons for products they didn’t buy, which they later admitted to the media, and some stores agreed to double coupons for the show, but not for other shoppers.
One supermarket chain blew the whistle on the show’s rule-bending, policy-lifting and staging. Lowes Foods released a statement expressing its regret for participating in the show, and admitted that a member of the show’s production crew posed as a customer on camera. Lowes acknowledged waiving part of its policy for the benefit of TV cameras and apologized to its regular customer base.
Another episode featured a 16-year-old boy who bought 34 packages of toilet paper with 34 free-product coupons. After the register beeped and showed an error, the cashier manually pushed the free coupons through, right in front of the cameras.
What happened next wasn’t shown on TV. When the supermarket sent the free toilet paper coupons in for redemption, the manufacturer refused to reimburse the store because all of the coupons were counterfeit. The teen’s mother later paid the store $400 for the value of the fake coupons that her son used.
During the “All-Stars” season of “Extreme Couponing,” shoppers were pitted against each other in a game-show-style competition to see who could save the most with coupons. The winner of the challenge used 200 free-product coupons for laundry detergent, which looked impressive on camera. But about a month after the “All-Stars” finale aired, the manufacturer of the detergent released a statement that said all 200 coupons the shopper used were counterfeit.
Dustin Smith, vice president of communications for Discovery Communi-cations (parent company of TLC) declined to comment. The show’s production company did, however, decide to continue promoting the teenager with the toilet paper counterfeits by taking him on a second shopping trip. TLC featured the teen and his new shopping trip on a subsequent episode of “Extreme Couponing,” but never acknowledged his counterfeit coupon usage.
I think it’s unfortunate that cutting a grocery bill in half isn’t exciting enough for the TV cameras. Some shoppers have resorted to criminal activity to achieve over-the-top “Extreme Couponing”-style shopping trips. To date, none of the shoppers who used counterfeit coupons on the show have come forward to say why. However, Coupon Information Corporation, the coupon industry’s watchdog group, has urged retailers not to participate in future tapings of the show.
If you’re trying to achieve the extreme savings depicted on the show, please understand that some of these dramatic trips won’t be possible unless you break the law! Unfortunately, with the network, the shoppers and, in some cases, the stores all turning a blind eye to the rules, it gives uninformed shoppers the impression that everything on this “reality” show is real.
Jill Cataldo, a coupon workshop instructor, writer and mother of three, never passes up a good deal. Learn more about couponing at her website, www.jillcataldo.com. Email your own couponing victories and questions to email@example.com.
© CTW Features
Your Opinions and Comments
Be the first to comment on this story!
You must be logged in to post a comment.
South Texas Living Archives
(NOT May 30!) Let your imagination take shape June 30 (May 25, 2016)
Canine care helps heal community’s most vulnerable (May 25, 2016)
Divine healing training June 2-4 (May 25, 2016)
Future collectibles (May 25, 2016)
Getting past a stroke (May 25, 2016)
Musical Club tours Helmke home (May 25, 2016)
Ousley fund-raiser May 28 (May 25, 2016)
Picnic and memorial service (May 25, 2016)
Save the date for June 2 Opry Jam (May 25, 2016)
Small town, big hearts (May 25, 2016)
The stuff of which sausage is made (May 25, 2016)
Unwind, de-stress with coffee and crayons (May 25, 2016)
What you can do to prevent asthma (May 25, 2016)
Witness live wrestling at Retama Park (May 25, 2016)
Attend the 38th annual Bluebonnet Fest Parade May 21 (May 18, 2016)
Baptist church plans Men’s, Women’s Day (May 18, 2016)
Cocktail dress (May 18, 2016)
Desperate search for old photo reveals city’s lack of memorabilia (May 18, 2016)
Learn about gardening practices (May 18, 2016)
Play golf for Peanut Festival (May 18, 2016)
Setting forth in search of froth (May 18, 2016)
Sign up for Summer Reading! (May 18, 2016)
Sutherland Springs bank bandits sentenced (May 18, 2016)
Tickets on sale for June 21 Taste of Seguin (May 18, 2016)
Boldtville Church Yard Sale is May 14 (May 11, 2016)
Create interactive games, stories with Scratch (May 11, 2016)
Enter 2017 Fiesta Poster Contest (May 11, 2016)
Extraordinary minds teaching our kids (May 11, 2016)
Healing ADD without medication (May 11, 2016)
Luffa vase (May 11, 2016)
May means dancing in Geronimo (May 11, 2016)
Meet the Miss La Vernia contestants (May 11, 2016)
Resurrection UMC plans Fun Fest (May 11, 2016)
Spring comes to Blue Bonnet Club (May 11, 2016)
Swing dance in Seguin (May 11, 2016)
Tracking down a little history in Hobson (May 11, 2016)
Union Valley meeting set (May 11, 2016)
Basketball tournament May 14 (May 4, 2016)
Boy Scout celebration stirs up memories (May 4, 2016)
British Royals (May 4, 2016)
Celebrating decades of memories and music with the‘Texas Top Hands’ (May 4, 2016)
Create a yard with bird appeal (May 4, 2016)
Cruise into Floresville for Lions Car Show (May 4, 2016)
Find cheap books at Sidewalk Sale (May 4, 2016)
Hear six pianos in one room May 7 (May 4, 2016)
Hermann Sons Casino Night to benefit CASA (May 4, 2016)
Road Runners plan May group runs (May 4, 2016)
‘Battle for Texas’ now open in SA (May 4, 2016)
‘Lily pads’ for kids (May 4, 2016)