Extreme Couponing – 5 Negative Effects

Negative Effects of Extreme Couponing.

Negative Extreme Couponing

You know, when Extreme Couponing first aired on TLC, I was excited. I couldn’t wait to watch episode after episode of other couponers getting stuff for free at the grocery store. And for the first season, I really did watch every episode – and I loved them all. Each one had me excited to go shopping.

Now, many seasons later, I really believe that everyone should avoid watching Extreme Couponing, because the show has created a lot of serious issues for those of us that regularly use coupons (and yes, I know these problems existed before the show aired, but it has definitely become much worse).

It also makes new couponers believe that you can always walk into a store and save 90% or more on your grocery bill, which is simply not true. Extreme couponing can be very good, but it can also be very bad.

Here are the negative effects of extreme couponing:

1. Newspaper Theft

That’s right, people are stealing newspapers to get the coupon inserts inside. They are stealing them from driveways, in stores (the coupons inside, not the paper itself) – anywhere they can get them. I don’t care if it’s just coupons – when you take something that does not belong to you – that’s theft.

2. Tear Pad Theft

Have you ever heard about a great tear pad coupon and went out trying to look for it, only to find all of the stores completely wiped out? This is common, and it is usually due to the fact that instead of taking a few, people are taking entire tear pads full of coupons.

What are they doing with those coupons? Some may be using them themselves, some may use them for coupon trading, but most are actually selling these coupons on eBay for a profit. This, again, is theft in my mind.

Stealing Tear Pad Coupons

3. Store Policy Changes

We have seen a lot of changes to store coupon policies in the last year or two – and not in a good way (for most stores). Look at a store like London Drugs – they used to be one of the best stores to shop at with coupons because they allowed coupon stacking.

Now, they have so many restrictions on what they accept for coupon stacking, that couponers aren’t shopping there as much. This is not just London Drugs, but many other stores in Canada have been changing their coupon policies because of extreme couponers.

4. Manufacturer Coupon Changes

Just like stores are changing their coupon policies, manufacturers themselves are also making changes to the wording on their coupons. P&G is a great example. I remember when I used to get tons of free (or cheap) P&G products because there were no limits on their coupons.

Now, you can’t use P&G coupons on most travel size items or on bonus packages. Also, some of their coupons have restricted the use to only 4 of the same coupon per person.

Free Coupons

5. Shelf Clearing

I’m sure we’ve all experienced this at some point – you walk into a store, planning to pick up a bunch of stuff that is on sale and will be really cheap (or free) with coupons, and you notice that the shelves are completely bare. Not a single item left for you (or anyone else).

Now, this doesn’t mean an extreme couponer cleared the shelf, but if the item was supposed to be free or dirt cheap after coupons, then the odds are likely that a couponer (or multiple couponers) cleared the store out of stock.

Shelf Clearing


Let’s not forget that extreme couponing really can be a good thing, but only if you play by the rules. When people start getting greedy, that’s when things can get ugly and that’s what gives extreme couponers a bad rap (have you ever been to the store with your coupon binder and been asked if you’re “one of those people”?).

Play nice, play fair and we can all win with extreme couponing!

What would you add to this list, if anything?

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  1. B says:

    I am really happy you wrote this article. I definitely enjoy couponing and had my fair share of awesome shopping trips but I am often frustrated by the extreme couponing you speak of. I find it does give couponing a bad rep. Almost every week that a Smartsource or RedPlum insert is supposedly released, the flyers will suddenly not get delivered that week. The same thing happens when Canadian Tire flyers have their scratch cards on them. I’ve also been behind a person in the checkout who I imagined to be an inconsiderate couponer. It took a really long time to checkout. She left all her coupons until the end with the poor cashier having to keep going back to find the items in particular (I know some stores have this policy of putting all the coupons at the end, but not this one). Also, whether innocently or not, a few of the coupons were misused (i.e. the products did not match, or the min requirements weren’t met, and I think some were expired coupons too). Sorry for being so judgmental but I definitely think the behaviours that you wrote about definitely adds to the stigma of couponing.

  2. AllyShh says:

    I am so glad I read this! I am new to price matching and couponing, and I love that this site (and others like it) exist. I don’t think I would ever have started couponing at all without the help I have found online. Too overwhelming!

    With each new week, I learn more and more. This week’s lesson is that I am really naive and maybe too honest! It never occurred to me to take or print more than one (maybe two) coupons for one item at a time. Then I saw some pictures online of what people saved this week and I was shocked to see up to 22 of one particular item among their haul. I love a good deal, but I feel really uncomfortable about the idea of taking that many doupns. Now i understand why I can’t find that particular item in stock anywhere at the moment. Guess I won’t be able to use my two coupons. 🙁

  3. Cathy says:

    I agree, I really get so angry when I see posts for coupons on ebay….you got those coupons for free and are that greedy that you will sell them?? if I have more coupons then I will use, then I share the wealth with family and friends etc for NO CHARGE. Actually I have even see people trying to sell samples they have received on kijiji, often it is baby items. I don’t get it.

  4. Jaclyn says:

    I subscribe to three different newspapers so that I can recieve 3 sets of coupons and on each delivery day I get very stressed as if I am not awake in time my papers get stolen! It is absolutely absurd that someone can walk right onto your front porch and take your newspaper for what, coupons? honestly! I have had to install cameras as well as put in requests that my newspapers be hidden and its no joke just how ridiculous it is that I have to call to report my newspaper was stolen ONLY on the days when the coupons are in the paper. Sad, very sad…

  5. Anita says:

    Until recently I worked at our local Wal Mart, I was there for 10 years. In that time my store had umpteen assistant managers and 3 store managers. I can tell you from what I have seen and heard, management does not care if couponers or a shopper who uses an occasional coupon gets an item cheap or free. I have never heard of anyone in management complain about couponing. The reason for this is simple: When any of us redeems a coupon, the store gets reimbursed for it; not only do they get reimbursed for it, the also get the cost of mailing coupons back to the manufacture reimbursed. So they are not out anything by accepting coupons. When we use a coupon, it is considered a sale. which means you chose to shop at Wal Mart over another retailer. They like that very much.
    As for pulling items off the shelf for a sale, I have never seen that. They want to sell what they have on sale, it is all profit for them. The space in the stock room is very limited and merchandise is put out asap. Trucks come in all day long and usually there are a couple in the evening, the stuff that comes in in the evening is put out by overnight associates. Outs, blank spots on shelves are scanned everyday, and if there is merchandise to fill it, its added to a pick list, and put out right away. the goal of being a sales associate is not to deter people from using coupons, but to keep everything as stocked as possible at all times and keep the store clean and safe for shoppers to enjoy when they are shopping.
    There have been so many times over the years that a sale item has sold out quickly, it happens, sometime the demand is too great, not enough was ordered, or when filling orders the manufacture didn’t have enough product to send all store huge quantities, shelf clearing shoppers are not the only reason a store might not have what you are looking for. for the times when you want a sale item and its not available for whatever reason rain checks are available from customer service, and they do not expire. Sometimes, I’d rather get a rain check instead of an item I went in for, like near the end of the winter the big yellow bags of safety salt for the driveway was on sale, I wanted two for out house and two for my in-laws, they were sold out, so I got a rain check at customer service, and next winter when they are full price I can get my first couple on the sale price.

    sorry for the long post but I felt the need for me to defend at least the store I worked hard for, for so long.

  6. Sadie says:

    I tink trading is okay, but what makes me SICK is when people offer stacks of “All new tearpads” for Free Product or High Value coupons. To me, this is the same as stealing the tear pads to sell on Ebay. You steal ALL the coupons from the store… so the only way we can get one or two is to give YOU our GOOD coupons that we obtained from research and honesty. Sick. Coupon trading groups should NOT allow “Envelope of tear pads in return for FPC or High Value coupon”

  7. Sully girl says:

    I became really discouraged and actually stopped using coupons for almost a full year because a couponing website was started by folks living in the city nearest to the small village where I live. I go into that city to shop because our small town only has one expensive grocery store which does not price match and is very restrictive about the coupons they accept. I am not sure if it is the actual couple whom started the website that does it or just their local following (the website has become quite popular nation wide)- but as it became more popular the shelves in all the grocery stores and Walmart etc in the city were often stripped clear whenever the great deals came along – especially if it entailed a free or pennies on the dollar deal. The most frustrating thing was logging on to that site and seeing photos they had posted of their stacks and stacks of deals scored – after wasting my time and expensive gas driving the 20min to town (and back again) only to find empty shelves and no product/deals left for me. Don’t get me wrong Cassie I LOVE the advice and tips that I get from your site and indeed the very site that I was referring to; it just seems that as the ‘couponing movement’ grows it draws negative as well as positive attention to itself. (exacerbated by that show on TLC but I wouldn’t feed my family pot noodles full of sodium for the next 10 years anyway which is what most of those shoppers seem to achieve their 98% savings buying. Not regular healthy groceries like you purchase) Add poor ‘sportsmanship’ to the mix with shelf clearing,coupon hoarding and the various forms of theft you noted and it just became a hassle and not worth the effort financially or emotionally. What I admire about you Cassie is that you seem to really only get what your family needs and can use and are over the whole ‘get 1000 tubes of face cream free simply because I can’ thing that a lot of new couponers go through. Why have a giant stock pile of an item that it will take you a lifetime to ever hope of using when loads of other folks are left unable to get even 1 of the item at a bargain for their family? I really respect your honesty and your willingness to address the ‘ugly’ side of couponing that others choose to ignore and your articles that discuss how this has been a learning process for you and that you share those pitfalls with your fans to help us avoid or shorten our time spent on the low point of the learning curve. I have recently returned to couponing and am slowly building a stockpile of products that we use and that are healthy to consume/use and I find that Price Matching has become a bigger savings creator than even coupons are.

  8. Cherry says:

    I get really frustrated with deal websites that post “brags” where people purchase 20 of an item. Unless you contacted the store and they specifically ordered those items in for you, then you are depriving other customers of the ability to purchase those items. I get especially angry when those brags feature items that I went to the store to buy only to lose out because the shelves were empty. I put some of the blame on retailers–they should be limiting customer purchases to what is reasonable for an individual/family–but it seems like there are many people who use coupons and like to brag about their deals who buy far more than what is necessary. 20 bottles of toilet bowl cleaner? Really?

  9. shayna says:

    One of the worst offenders I can think of right now is Shuriken (Mr. Couponer).

  10. Robin says:

    Hi Cassie,

    I’ve been to this site a few times and have found some very useful coupons as a result. Thanks! As for the show Extreme Couponing I have mixed feelings about it. It was the show that got me to see you really could save with coupons. Before that I thought it was a lot of work for a few pennies – not so!

    I run a site turned blog called Recipes for Natural Health and I reviewed the show Extreme Couponing from a natural health slant. I would be interested in knowing what you and your visitors think of it.


  11. Stick War says:

    Thanks for sharing something really worthy which may help in saving life.

  12. Cassie Howard says:

    Please believe that I was not trying to speak badly of London Drugs. I know that they are still a fantastic store for couponers to shop at.

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