That’s right, I actually just paid 36.00 for almost $800.00 dollars worth of P&G products.
I’ve watched TLC‘s “Extreme Couponing” religiously for the last few years, and I’ve been making my best attempt to emulate the show’s couponers for some time, but I’ve never even come close to the 95%-100% savings that most of the show‘s couponers have enjoyed. I’d take my coupon binder to Wal-Mart full of coupons. I’d ad match items for the lowest possible price. Yet, despite all my efforts, I’d pay some portion for everything I bought. Sure, I’d save a $40.00 or $50.00 dollars with the coupons alone, but free items were few and far between.
So how do TLC’s extreme couponers do it?
I can’t speak for all the show’s couponers, but one couponer in particular, Jamie Kirlew, was filmed using coupon family codes. For those unfamiliar with coupon family codes, these are the bar codes on the coupons that correlate with one or more product’s bar code. So the “family code” means that often multiple products will have the same bar code; for example, Crest White Strips, a Proctor & Gamble product that cost anywhere from $18.00 to $40.00 has the same bar code as Dawn dishwashing liquid, a Proctor & Gamble product that may cost anywhere from .99 cents to a few dollars. So, a coupon for the higher costing strips is commonly a $7.00 – $10.00 and a lower valued Dawn coupon is commonly no more than .50 cents.
However, as Jamie discovered, the register at some stores only ensures that a product with the coupon’s code has been purchased, not whether or not the product specified on the coupon has been bought.
Jamie decoded the UPC’s on various products and used higher valued coupons for cheaper products with the same barcode. An example was seen when she purchased .99 cent Pillsbury dinner rolls using .50 cent Pillsbury French Bread coupons that doubled to a dollar, making the much cheaper dinner rolls free. Whereas, a typical coupon for Pillsbury dinner rolls would be .25 to .40 cents off two or three packages. Jamie continued the same coupon family strategy for individual Yoplait yogurts verses a multi-pack box of Yoplait, General Mills cereal, lunch meat, and so on.
Again, I’m not making an allegation that all the show’s couponers use this strategy, but film documentation proves this is how extreme couponer Jamie was able to get her groceries for near nothing. Many have called this fraud, as it clearly indicates on most coupons that the specified product, in the specified amount and size, must be purchased for the coupon to be valid.
This brings me to my savings.
I noticed that shoppers at my local Winn Dixie grocery store had buggy loads of expensive Bounty paper towels, Charmin toilet paper, Oil of Olay soap, Cascade dishwashing supplies, and so on. When I say buggy loads, I’m talking about cases… to the point some people were pushing a second and third buggy! I’m an avid couponer, but even with the rare 2.00 off Bounty coupon, each package would have still cost 11.99 each.
After a little probing, I discovered that the store was knowingly and willingly allowing customers to use any Proctor and Gamble (P&G) coupon on any item so long as the barcodes from the coupon corresponded with the product being purchased. In other words, a coupon with a 3700 barcode for $10.00 off a box of $45.00 Align could be used on any other product with a 3700 barcode – Bounty (13.99), Cascade (5.99), Downey ($4.99), Bounce ($4.99) Febreeze Air Effects (2.99), Febreeze candles ($5.99), Charmin, Oil of Olay soap ($5.99), and so on. Using the higher value coupon for products like Align and Crest White Strips allowed the shoppers to not only get the item free, but make an overage to apply toward other products.
Published in: Homemaking