Coupons are like free money in a way. Tiny private sales delivered to you in your paper every Sunday, and sometimes on Wednesday. They offer savings on top of sales at your favorite discount or grocery store on the things we need most. But are coupons actually costing us money? Find out about the hidden cost of couponing.
The extreme couponing fad reached a fever frenzy around 2009 with TLC producing first a TV special and then a series about extreme couponing. People who had never considered clipping coupons were suddenly desperate to figure out how they, too, could get a month’s worth of groceries for a pocket change. Long since debunked, the damage of the extreme couponing show continues to spread through our grocery stores and our wallets.
Many manufacturers have reduced the value of coupons they offer or stopped offering coupons at all after coupon fraud led to them losing a money.
To combat individuals taking all of one product off of store shelves, stores have instituted new restrictions on how many of a sale item a person can purchase. In some cases, down to one or two items. Stores have also reduced the number of competitor coupons they accept and others have ended double coupon days. Some stores have simply stopped taking coupons at all. This drastically reduces the ability of a family to stock up on non-perishable deals.
There are actually counterfeit coupons being produced on a large-scale, and by individuals on a smaller scale. These bogus coupons led to restrictions on coupons printed from home by many stores. These restrictions are only now beginning to lessen as stronger security measures are implemented by reputable coupon companies online. Coupons are created from scratch or altered to appear to be worth more than they are or that they are for a different product.
Selling coupons is also a Federal crime now. Coupons are more and more being regulated as cash. Coupon “clipping” services try to skirt the law by claiming they are charging labor for cutting the coupons, not selling the coupons themselves. Coupon sales have also led to dangerous dumpster diving and runs on newspapers to fill orders for coupon resales.
Because of the coupon sales mentioned above, there were runs on newspapers Sunday mornings. Especially at “everything is a dollar” stores where Sunday papers are cheaper, there are lines outside the stores up to an hour before they open. These stores have instituted limits on how many papers a person can buy. For most stores this is 5 papers. In addition, customers must get their papers as they check out because people were taking papers to the back of the store, out of sight, and stealing the coupons from many papers.