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The following article is a mirror copy of the one posted at http://jillcataldo.com/node/16258. On 4/8/11, the page was listed at the top of Alexa.com's "What's Hot" page, and the server crashed from the traffic. When it is restored, you'll be able to comment on the article over at the original link.

Links to the original story and other articles on my blog at JillCataldo.com will not be functional until we get the server back online, but here's a copy to read in the meantime...

Was coupon fraud shown on TLC's Extreme Couponing?

To my regular audience, we'll get back to grocery coupon talk very soon. However, this is an issue that cannot be ignored, as it affects the perception of all coupon shoppers who use coupons in an ethical manner. Many readers across multiple, respected coupon sites and blogs contributed to this report, and I will try to acknowledge them all at the end.

Earlier this week, I posted an article about Jaime Kirlew, one of the shoppers featured in TLC's new season of "Extreme Couponing." Jaime made a name for herself last year when she posted YouTube videos showing her shopping at Target and fraudulently using coupons for one product on another (coupons for Crest Whitestrips on Tide, coupons for Olay Body Wash on Secret deodorant, and so on.) When commercials for the new show began airing, many members of well-read messageboards among the couponing community recognized Jaime from her YouTube videos and raised concerns about whether she would use coupons in a fraudulent manner on TLC's Extreme Couponing.

The first clue that something was amiss with Jaime's shopping trip was her grocery list:

This list raised a lot of red flags with seasoned coupon shoppers because there are no products listed on it. Instead, the list consists of manufacturers' names, and in the next column, a list of five-digit family codes -- a portion of a product's UPC bar code. The header row of that column appears to end in a "C" (UPC.)

Why would someone create a shopping list consisting only of product family codes, plus the coupon's dollar value that shares that family code?

Unfortunately, there's really only one logical answer to this question -- to use a coupon for one product on another, knowing that the register will "match" that coupon to a similar product.

Note that I do not teach UPC decoding as a method of matching coupons to sales -- it is not only highly unethical, but using the information obtained via decoding to intentionally then misuse a coupon to buy something other than what is specified is coupon fraud -- a crime. Without explaining exactly how it is done, there is a portion of a coupon's barcode that matches a portion of the product's barcode. This is how the register determines if the product has been purchased. Because of the way that the older barcode on a coupon matched that coupon to a product's family code, coupons for one General Mills product might scan without beeping on a different General Mills product. (And, don't get any "clever" ideas that decoding barcodes to use one coupon on a different item to get a better deal might be "smart shopping" -- it's fraud, plain and simple. This family-code coupon fraud exploit is being eliminated with an industry-wide update to the barcode system this year. Safeway stores' registers have now received the update, as have many others around the country.)

I'm going to post the evidence that many readers found over the past few hours. Please feel free to draw your own conclusions.

Looking at the video of her shopping trip from Wednesday night's premiere of Extreme Couponing on TLC, a reader posted three screen captures of the cereal Jaime purchased and the coupons she used to buy it:

The cereals that Jaime was shown buying in the episode were Honey Nut Cheerios, Lucky Charms, and Kix, which were all part of a good sale the week of February 4th (if Safeway's ads are the same as our Dominick's, which they usually are, those 3 cereals were priced at $1.99 per box that week when Jaime shopped.)

However, the coupons that she appeared to use were for .75 off Fiber One cereal.

As Fiber One is a more expensive cereal, General Mills typically issues higher-value coupons for Fiber One. That .75 coupon doubled to $1.50, netting her .49 cereal. A great deal... IF the Fiber One had also been on sale too. But it wasn't.

For the sake of argument, let's assume that perhaps she also bought Fiber One cereal and it just wasn't shown on television.

In the next set of photos, we see Jaime's box of coupons for her trip. Note the .50 coupons for Pillsbury French Bread and $5-off-2 Nivea Body Lotion:

On the show, we were not shown her buying any Pillsbury French Bread or Nivea Body Lotion. However, she did buy .99 small cans of Pillsbury rolls and bottles of Nivea Body Wash.

With the small Pillsbury cans on sale for .99, the .50 Pillsbury French Bread coupons applied to them would double to $1, making them free. The Nivea Body Lotion that the coupon is for typically sells for over $6/bottle. However, that week the Nivea Body Wash was much cheaper - $2.99 (again, if our Dominick's ad from that week is the same as Safeway's.) Using the $5-off-2 coupon made the body wash .49.

Great deals... IF the coupons had been for the right products.

But again, for the sake of argument, let's assume that somewhere, she also bought Pillsbury French Bread and Nivea Body Lotion, even though we never saw those products purchased on the show.

In this photo, we see Jaime has a paper clip full of coupons for .50 off 4-packs of Yoplait Yo-Plus yogurt:

On the show, we were not shown Jaime buying any 4-packs of Yoplait Yo-Plus Yogurt. But she did buy quite a few single cups of Yoplait Yogurt, which typically sell for around .33 per cup:

With a .50 Yo-Plus 4-pack coupon being applied to a .33 single cup of Yoplait, each cup is free with possible overage. But again... it's coupon fraud to use the 4-pack coupon for an entirely different variety of Yoplait on the single cups.

So, again, for the sake of argument, let's assume she also bought Yoplait Yo-Plus 4-packs, which viewers weren't shown in the segment.

In this photo, we see lots of packages of Buddig Original lunchmeats in her cart:

These 2-ounce packages of Buddig Original meats were on sale for .89 per package. On Jaime's spreadsheet shown at the top of this post, she notes that she will be buying 63 packages of Buddig, and she notes that she has $1 coupons for each of them with the UPC family code 77400.

Looking at a coupon database, there were two current Buddig coupons in the inserts available during her February 4th, 2011 shopping trip. One coupon was a $1-off-4 2-ounce Buddig Original meats (again, the kind priced at .89 during this sale.)

The same coupon insert also contained a $1-off-1 Buddig Deli Cuts coupon. Buddig Deli Cuts is a more expensive variety of lunchmeat that comes in a larger, 12-to-16-ounce package.

Again, back to the spreadsheet. She planned to buy 63 Buddig lunchmeats priced at .89 each with 63 $1 coupons.

If she was using the $1-off-4 2-ounce packages of Buddig coupon (the correct coupon for this size product) she would have had to buy those lunchmeats in quantities of 4, again, as it is a $1-off-4 coupon. Couponers are notoriously good at math when it comes to figuring out trips!

It would make no sense to buy 63 of something that you needed to buy in quantities of 4, (you'd buy 64, an even number) unless...

She intended to use the $1-off-1 12-to-16-ounce Buddig Deli Cuts coupon on the Buddig Original 2-ounce variety that were on sale for .89. With a $1 coupon, they'd be free... but that would be fraud.

Which coupon did she appear to use for the Buddig Original 2-ounce lunchmeats?

The $1 coupons for Buddig Deli Cuts, 12-to-16-ounces.

Here is a photograph of the coupon, oriented the correct way so that the size and product can be read:

Because this coupon shared the same family code as the smaller packages, it scanned -- but the coupon is not for this product. It's for a different kind of Buddig that is also a larger size.

Why is this a big deal?

If the correct products were not purchased with the coupons used, it's coupon fraud. Coupon fraud is a crime.

The terms of a coupon state "CONSUMER: Redeem ONLY by purchasing the brand, size(s) and quantities indicated. ANY other use constitutes fraud."

  • Using a Fiber One cereal on Cheerios is a crime.
  • Using a Pillsbury French Bread coupon on Pillsbury rolls is a crime.
  • Using a Nivea lotion coupon on Nivea Body Wash is a crime.
  • Using a Buddig Deli Cuts coupon on Buddig Originals is a crime.

However, without seeing her receipt, and without seeing the entire contents of her trip on television, we do not know what else she may have purchased in this trip.

Unfortunately, there may be a few novice or non-coupon shoppers who, even when confronted with this, may think, "So what? She got great deals!"

And, they're out there. When this story started to break yesterday, a fan on Jaime's Facebook wall wrote,

"Gabby Paige - I don't even get why people are bothered by this??!! It does NOT affect YOU or any one else for that matter it doesn't take money or food out of any ones pocket whooooo carrrreessssss everything is so dam n expensive these days any way!"

Actually, this DOES affect all of us.

It affects the store because if the manufacturer wishes to audit the store for this transaction, and the manufacturer determines that the products that the correct products were not purchased with these coupons, the manufacturer can refuse to reimburse the store for them. Then, Safeway will "eat" the cost of this shopping trip, because the terms of the coupon were not followed -- the specified items were not purchased, so they don't have to pay.

It affects new coupon shoppers whose interest is piqued by what they see on the show. Seeing something on television validates it as "truth" for many people. If they see a "reality celebrity" using coupons in an "off-label" manner, for products that are similar but not, as the manufacturer puts it, "ONLY ..the brand, size(s) and quantities indicated," they will assume this is acceptable -- or else, why would it be shown on television? People assume that surely, the show must have an expert or professional on hand overseeing the kinds of trips that these shoppers are planning for the cameras, because thousands of viewers will want to duplicate what they see. Their other shows (My Strange Addiction, Hoarding) have a psychiatrist or therapist on board to protect and guide the people being depicted on the show, don't they?

This situation also affects anyone who isn't an "extreme couponer" but simply wishes to use coupons during a shopping trip. What kind of scrutiny are people like you and me going to face at the register, when cashiers assume "those darn coupon shoppers" are trying to put one over on the store?

One bright spot in this story is something I touched on earlier -- as the industry transitions away from the old bar code to the new GS1 Databar (the "funny-looking" barcode on the right side of your coupons) it will eliminate this kind of fraud, as the new barcode is much more specific to the type of product that it can be used on. The new barcode system upgrade is in place at most stores now and has been rolling out around the country since this episode was filmed. DO NOT try to defraud the system by decoding barcodes.

The evidence is the video is difficult to refute. It looks like coupon fraud was committed on television, in prime time, as a ratings-grabber. Coupon fraud IS a crime.

If the manufacturers refuse to reimburse Safeway for these coupons, Safeway will take a loss somewhere in the range of $1,800. Jaime's pre-coupon total was over $1,900 on the show, which she couponed down to about the $100 mark. How is that any different than shoplifting $1,800 worth of groceries from Safeway?

The answer: It isn't.

And "Extreme Shoplifting" isn't what this show should be about.

Readers from SlickDeals.com, AFullCup.com, The C.W. Night Owls, TelevisionWithoutPity.com, New Jersey Couponers and of course, this blog, contributed to this story. I sincerely appreciate everyone's input, observations, and screen captures. This is not a story written by one person -- it was written by many (especially considering that I don't have cable.) Special thanks to Alanisrox69, Timmsa, Debate, Holamelitta, with another round of thanks to the passionate crew at The C.W. Night Owls, and anyone else I am forgetting. Full size screenshots of all of these images are in the comments for the original story.

If you've arrived here while searching for information on "Extreme Couponing," it might interest you to know that the TLC coupon show was originally supposed to be "America's Coupon Masters," an instructional show intended to teach people the correct ways to use coupons.

If you're seeking information on how to learn to save 50-70% on your grocery bill each week without spending more than an hour a week, or filling your house with a crazy amount of groceries, Super-Couponing is for you.

Not to defend her but...

I have to take issue with the Fiber One cereal coupons. If you notice all of the small print under the 75 cents line, it lists all of the cereals the coupon can be used on. I have tons of 75 cent coupons that can be used on Honey Nut Cheerios, and these coupons often have one cereal pictured but can be used on a dozen or so cereals. So, I cannot rule out the possibility that the coupon included Honey Nut Cheerios.

That is not to say that if she did indeed use these correctly, it minimizes the other incorrect uses. But if an accusation is made that is unfounded, it then can cast the others into a questionable light. I have coupons that have Cheerios and FiberOne both listed on them. Can we guarantee these did not also?



I am in the middle of lunch, but I can scan the coupon afterward. It states "General Mills Fiber One Original, Fiber One Honey Clusters, Fiber One Raisin Bran Clusters or Fiber One Carmel Delight Cereal or Fiber One Frosted Shredded Wheat Cereal Cereal."


No they do not

If you look at a larger screen capture of the coupons shown, you'll see that they indicate various varieties of FIBER ONE cereals. FIBER ONE Honey Crunch. Raisin Cluster FIBER ONE. NOT Honey Nut Cheerios or anything she purchased. The accusation is not unfounded.

Extreme Shoplifters

I find it funny that the screenshot has an "Extreme Hoarders" ad in the corner - how relevant.

Once Again...Fabulous!

Thank you for a very well-written follow up.

Although it seems to me that everyone could have saved a LOT of time if you just chose to highlight the item(s) that Jaime used a coupon on correctly. Although that would have put her in the "10 Items or Less" lane. And THAT's being generous.


1. If my legit, even insert (non internet), coupons get a 1 minute read each at Dominicks to see if they are ok to use, how can a wrong one be accepted? Maybe the store did it on purpose to do a favor to the show?

2. Now that it is in the light, does TLC have a liability? I guess they can add language at the end/beginning of the show but it is fishy to me.

3. Now what? Does that lady get in legal trouble or goes on showing fraud on TV?

Typically, stuff happens when it hits the written press or tv news, like Dominicks' and Target's problems. I wonder if this is going that way too.


I started couponing last summer and am thrilled to have cut my shopping bills in a little more than half. I watched this show and when she was getting 72 bottles of mustard, and said "clear the shelf" to her husband--I got sick to my stomach. Now, to see that she may have used coupons fraudulantly based on the codes--ugh. My question is, can she be investigated and/or prosecuted based on this shopping trip? I realize that the entire contents of her carts weren't shown, but surely, TLC has footage of everything being scanned. Based on her previous Target youtube footage, she is aware that her couponing techniques have been questioned. I'm not sure why she would go on this show and do this type of couponing again, with everything being taped so there would be evidence she is commiting coupon fraud. I just don't get it. Could she be prosecuted or would Safeway have to file charges against her?

Well...there's a term for that

Media ...hound? No...it's a very impolite word and I won't use it here.
Anyhow, I think she enjoys the attention. Come one "I won't go anywhere unless I put on my make up". She likes being seen, she likes being looked at. Fine, nothing wrong with being pretty, but I think she needs an intervention, reality check, and possibly some therapy. I feel bad for her, and for those who may think they way she does.

This kind of fraud is being taught...

I'm a new couponer - learning of a class that was being held in my area (by J'aime) got my interest. These ladies who had taken this class recently were talking about, among other things, using coupons from P&G with family code upc's that work toward other products. I saw one of their coupon binders, I saw their receipts (from Target) and was shocked at how much came off of their bill from using those Swiffer and Crest Strips coupons for other P&G products. They outright told me this is what they had done, and what was being taught.

They told me it was legit and that this lady was a paralegal and had researched it...it sounded a bit funny to me. But I wanted to go to a class for myself..and they were telling me that there was one nearby the next weekend (for $30 per person). Unfortunately I was unable to go, but it got me to do internet research and learn couponing myself. And I happened upon this site (among others). And I started hearing about the new Extreme Couponing show, etc...I have learned a LOT just doing online research and now know that my suspicions were correct, that there was something not right about that practice. I'm just glad I didn't waste $30 on the class...

Even if she is denying it, she has been recently teaching these methods you describe to other people (and charging them for it), and that makes me mad. I know that one of these people mentioned above has a list of UPC codes specifically to use with her couponing, and had put a LOT of work into it. She is under the assumption (from talking with her) that she is doing nothing wrong. Many of these poor people who have taken her class may not know they are doing wrong, I just hope they learn that it's wrong before it's too late. So your posting this does help, I hope that all the right people read this...and I sure hope that she doesn't ruin couponing for everyone else who wants to do it the right way.

What about sales tax?

This is my first time ever posting so first of all THANK YOU SO MUCH for getting me into couponing and being so thorough on EVERYTHING you do! I watched Extreme Couponing out of curiosity like everyone else. The more I watched the more I shook my head and sighed. I will admit when I first started couponing I was so excited by the free to almost free stuff that I fell into the trap of getting items I neither needed or would use just for the thrill. I also fell into the trap of 'stockpiling' way too much stuff that all too quickly expired and had to be thrown away. So since it is just my husband and I, I am an extreme couponer in modest amounts---two or three of something is fine with us! BUT I have a few questions...

Even if you have a large family, who needs 63 bottles of mustard? (I didn't hear anything said about donating)

If you are a family of 2 why do you need the large stock pile the one couple did?

I have heard about double coupon values at some stores, but am I ignorant to any in the suburbs of Chicago?

How were these people getting $500 worth of groceries for only $5? Again, I may be ignorant on this, but don't you still need to pay the tax on the pre-coupon amount?

Fianlly, who would ever think of using something like Fiber One coupons for Honey Nut Cheerios (I realize that is the point of this post!) but the thought has never even occurred to me!

Not much coupon doubling in Chicagoland

Safeway/Dominick's stores in Chicagoland typically don't double coupons though there have been some short-term doubling deals at Kmart and Dominick's.

FAQ: http://jillcataldo.com/node/3336

Some states don't have sales tax on food.

If hers is one of them, she would only pay tax on the non-food products.

This is what I posted. I really hope someone called the police!

This is what I posted on her site!

"Everyone who doesn't think this affects you are you WRONG! I hope you get arrested. IF someone stole $1800 worth of merchandise from a store they would be arrested on a Class II Felony and everyone supporting you would agree, do the crime, pay the time. You did just that and aired it to the WHOLE world. It is people like you who ruin it for EVERYONE. You are the reason that some cashiers give us dirty looks. You are part of the reason the deals have been so terrible over the last year. The manufactures will stop putting out coupons and catalinas if they are loosing tons of money because they are being used incorrectly. You are immoral, a criminal and I hope you have to pay for your crime like everyone else"

This is just another IDIOTIC thing Safeway did! Allowing fruad on national TV. Real Smart!

Extreme Couponing show at Safeway

That's what I was wondering. Why did Safeway allow these people to commit fraud at their store?

Why bother?

Honestly, I wouldn't post to her blog or anything. It's out there now and her rep is a mess. We know better. Let's work on keeping our board positive and Let the sun shine on Jill and all of us here.


The reason her reputation is a mess is because people have been posting about this. While it's not necessary to harp on this topic for weeks I do believe people should be informed.

It was deleted in SECONDS!

I will post again and again!

What a disgrace!

I am brand new to couponing (just took Jill's class at the Darien Library back in February) and I was intrigued by TLC's show and watched it the other night. I definitely thought to myself for her to be getting such deals like that, she HAD to be doing something fradulent! I am ecstatic with the fact that I have brought my grocery bills to under $100/week and I look forward to improving upon that! I think she is being greedy and hope she gets punished in someway for this.

She was even sickening to watch and if I had to watch her put her shiny lipgloss on one more time, I thought I would puke!

Also, thanks SOOOOO much to Jill for sharing he talent and knowledge! It's nice to know I can save a lot of money, honestly!! Her class was a life-changing event for me. Even my kids ask me if I have any coupons for their favorite snacks because I have not been buying any of those types of products without coupons!! :)

I Never Realized...

I am a BIG fan of this show...it is the reason I started couponing, and I have saved a tremendous amount of money since the special aired in December. My boyfriend and I are saving for a house, and I cannot even begin to tell you how much of a safety net my 'stockpile' is becoming. I have also helped my family and friends realize what they are capable of saving. BUT, and this is a VERY BIG but...I never realized there was such a thing as 'coupon fraud'. I just figured that if the register/cashier didnt accept the coupon I must have messed up my transaction somehow (usually it was expired. lol!). I never imagined that people would try to purposefully 'scam' a store. After I showed my boyfriend the documentary I thought he would be so excited at how much the people were saving, but his reaction was the COMPLETE opposite of mine. He thought that companies would see what people were capable of saving with coupons and it would ultimately change what we were able to save. I thought he was crazy for thinking that; however, after reading this article I may just go home and apologize for doubting him. I have saved way too much money the 'right' way to let people like this mess it up for me, my family and friends. I REALLY hope there are consequences for what this woman has done. Make HER pay, NOT the rest of us...

From J'aime...

Due to a coordinated effort by Jill Cataldo http://jillcataldo.com/ (and her couponing fan base) to attack me and my FB page I am going to turn off comments for the time being. My REAL friends and fans want to read what I have to say without all the noise. I will be addressing concerns in a blog post... and that will be the end of it.



You ladies have a nice day!

Bigger Issues

I'm curious what effort she thinks is coordinated? Regardless, it'll be interesting to see what "coordination" she experiences between company lawyers from Safeway, Budig Meats and General Mills and those from the IRS. Her "About" page suggests she started because her husband become unemployed which suggests she may have had food stamps(barcoded as well) or that her income would have been considered in compensation but even more interesting on the "income" that she's cited on her blog and on the show is if they're found to be "earned" from coupon fraud for which the misdemeanor charge is relatively minor but if the "income" can be linked to that coupon fraud it's a huge difference because it could result in a hugely significant tax evasion charge, it's how they put Al Capone in jail...by the way, not everybody around here is a lady...and remove her links to her site, she's earning points in every search providers algorithm by being linked to from your site.

She's clueless

This isn't an attack on people featured on the show. Nobody is going after the other two EC ladies. She is delusional!

If anything is being attacked here it's coupon fraud being shown to millions as the right way to use coupons. On television. From someone who's still out there teaching coupon fraud to people for $35. Can't wait to see her "address our concerns" today.

Jill posted her receipt when she was on Nightline. Jamie posted her receipt from her big fraud Target trip on Youtube. So Jamie, let's see your receipt from THIS trip. It's the only thing that will clear your name. Show us where you bought that Fiber One, Yo Plus French bread and big packages of Buddig meat.

PROVE US WRONG. Should be simple!

I saw the show... and felt sick to my stomach

I am sooo glad this "conversation" is going on. I saw the program last night for the first time and after the first 10 minutes I had to stop. I felt sick to my stomach, irritated.... I waited 30 minutes in order to be able to finish watching the episode. The show despicts all the reasons of why couponers like you and me get bad looks at the store. And then the shopper on the episode complaints getting bad looks from the other cashiers, I wonder why?

I do not think the show should be call Extreme Couponing, it should be Extreme Hoarders. There is so much need out there. Kids in this country go to bed at night without food, that is not right. Only one of the 4 people showcased last night, donated food (Mr. Coupon with over 1,000 boxes of cereal!). The lady from the east coast (forgot her name) helped fellow shoppers at the store, so she is good on my book. But really, do the other 2 people need all of that food in their houses. Yes, let's say they did everything by the letter, they still had to pay for the coupon clipping service and the coupon matching website... They never took those amounts into account when detailing the total savings, did they?

I think it is WRONG. It is wrong to go to the store and buy 100 boxes of pasta. I think the stores should have know they were filming, because the shelves were really stacked up. When there is a good sale in Chicago land, we all know we have to rush; otherwise they will be nothing left of the shelves or we will have to go from store to store.

There is also something call Couponers etiquette. Up to this point, when I go to do deals, I always leave items on the shelf or tell empoyees that the shelf is empty. Why, because that's the RIGHT thing to do. I might be stocking up, but the people behind me might be needing the item regardles if they have a coupon or not.

Thanks for Posting this and Making it Known what it really is

I don't know about many of you, but I can't get through a register without the cashier looking at every coupon that beeps and trying to match it to my products. I believe they should take this off the air because it is IMPOSSIBLE to get that much stuff for pennies. You would have to have dozens of free coupons, rewards, at a doubleing store to get even close. I may be wrong, but that's my opinion.

Jaime & Coupon Fraud

Think anyone is going to report her to Bud at the CIC? It's people like this that ruin it for us honest coupon users. Been couponing for almost 30 years, seen many changes through the years, and people that abuse the system really upset me.

I have been couponing for

I have been couponing for about a year, and every blog I follow always cautions against misuse of coupons. I am so disappointed by this woman's actions. I usually save 30 - 50% on my bill and think that's just fine. My son is going to a birthday party where the parents requested donations to the food bank in lieu of presents. I used all my B1G1 coupons and gave all the items I got for free to the party. But I still spent $79 for what I kept for my family. And I didn't donate 62 bottles of mustard,either. I hope this show is not renewed.


First thank you Jill for always showing your readers the honest way of couponing. I don't understand why this is so difficult for some people? Play by the rules and you'll benefit from the coupon. Simple. When I plan a shopping trip and the store has all the items it works out great and that is the objective. I have been following your site for a year now and have not only saved a lot of money but had a lot of fun doing it! When a really super deal comes along many times I have been asked by a cashier or the next person in line how I did that. I always write down your site name and tell them to follow what you say and they too can save money. Thank You!!


Even my husband noticed that every. single. coupon. beeped at the register. Do you really think that the poor cashier, somehow chosen by the manager to appear on national television, would stop the transaction on camera and question the coupons? Of course not. I think Safeway was just trying to get good press being on TV.

I had a thought on that...

... and this is truly speculation at this point, but IF all Safeway stores switched over to reading that new bar code on February 3rd, which was the day Dominick's switched for us in Chicagoland, it would explain the beeping. IF the registers all of a sudden started reading the other code, the register would know that these coupons were not for the right products, and they would beep.

We noticed this here at Dominick's (literally, in ONE day - it changed overnight once the register update was in place on 2/3.) One of the ways I knew it had happened was that a reader had gotten an early edition of the weekend's paper (coupons for 2/6.) She tried to use one at Dominick's and the register displayed a message that the coupon wasn't valid yet.

In addition to lots of other information, the new bar code has the ability to contain both a start date for the offer and an expiration date. The register would not have displayed that message if it were still reading the old bar code, which doesn't contain that information.

So - if all Safeway stores switched to reading the new bar code on 2/3, and she shopped on 2/4, everything would beep for a product mismatch - as it should. (We know the date she shopped as it was shown on the register screen and on the receipt.)

Good Point

If I remember correctly, they explained away the "beepage" by saying the register had locked up because of the size of the order but perhaps that wasn't the case at all.

Just sick!

As an avid couponer, this makes me sick... I am a Husband and a parent to 5 kids. I also run a Non-Profit Food Pantry. I use coupons to buy items for my household and to donate. You can always save money like this if you do it correctly and ethically. I have recorded the show, but yet to watch it. In fear that I may throw my remote at the TV. When this show originally aired last year I thought it was awful. It depicted people hoarding things. Since then, those people have defended themselves by saying that they donated, etc. I am not sure I truly believe it. Regardless, this show is not moving more people to using coupons, it is going to get the stores to stop accepting them, let alone double them. Point blank, TLC should remove this series immediately as it does an injustice to those of us who find coupons beneficial and use them the right way. Good to know that this gal is a Paralegal as she most likely will need the assistance. I apologize to anyone that uses the same grocery chain as they will most likely make everyone suffer for this.



Has there been any response from TLC?

I was

wondering the same thing.

TLC's Facebook is quiet

But hey, here's J'a'mie offering to teach you couponing for $35 in this new video just released this morning! LOL



How did the cashier not notice this, no fiber one cereal, no 1 lb package of lunch meat? She could have had it on JFU pricing for .55 like I do, unless JFU is only at Dominick's stores.

It is already hard to try an explain to some cashiers the legitimate use of 2 coupons( one B1G1F and a $$ off coupon) when purchasing 2 products......

thanks for teaching us the right way....

B1G1 and $ off

Hi ... :) I have always wondered this... here is an example... herbal essence B1G1 free Q and save a $1 on 2 Q... can I buy 2 and use both q? I thought I could only use the b1g1 free? please help ... cuz I have a teenage daughter with alot of hair and I could be saving even more lol....especially with the spend 30 get 10 back going on this week @ cvs...
I was going to buy 12.... that puts me @ roughly $32.... but only pay for 6 cuz of the b1g1 q.. so now Im at $16 oop... but if I use 6 save $1 of 2... I pay roughly 10 and get the 10in ecb...so I thought free is good.. but I wasnt sure if it was proper use.

No, you can't.

A $1-off-2 rings off TWO products, taking .50 off each bottle. You can't then apply another manufacturer discount to the same item, which already at that point has one manufacturer discount attached to it.

You can always, only, ever have one manufacturer discount per item. Think of your $1-off-2 as two .50 coupons -- once you have used a "coupon" on each bottle, you cannot then also use a B1G1F on one of the bottles. Go with or the other, but not both.

Wouldn't 3 of the $1 off 2

Wouldn't 3 of the $1 off 2 products be allowed?
If purchasing 12 shampoos conditioners with the BOGO,really paying for 6 of them,then taking $3 off the ones that are being paid for. I think that's not wrong.


If for example she was going to buy 12 products can she use 6 B1G1F coupons and 3 $1-off-2? Would that be a correct usage of coupons?

LOL Susie...didn't see this

LOL Susie...didn't see this when I wrote the same response.
I think that it is possible to do that and not be cheating.

Umm, the cashier was excited

Umm, the cashier was excited to be on TV!

nice job

nice job Jill and helpers. excellent report

A good comment

Leslie over at Mashup Mom had a great comment: I agree with Jill that there should be some sort of coupon professional that consulted with the show. It would be like having a medical show… and no medical staff to validate that the terms are being used correctly… It just doesn’t make sense. Wouldn’t it make sense that part of having a show would be having some type of consultant to ensure that you are portraying things accurately and competently. I would think so.

TLC you're not really just taking these people at their word that what they're doing is legal and correct are you?

Wait I guess you did. How's that working out for you?

Product "family" couponing

I have been couponing for a little over a year now, and consider myself still a rookie, I had never thought about this product family couponing as anything legitimate. It has happened to me a couple of times, very innocently where I have purchased a Kraft dairy product, such as the new Philly Cooking Creme, during the same transaction, I purchased Kraft's Breakstone sour cream. The coupon I had for the Philly matched with the sour cream, not the Philly cream. The cashier noted that but, it still went through and I was not trying to do anything wrong. It was a $1.50 coupon and was not doubled at the store- my store only doubles to $.50. It sounds as if this problem will go away once the barcodes are updated.

I watched the Extreme Couponing episode with real interest but it did seem almost too good to be true to me, and it appears based upon your research that it is very possible we were witnesses to some coupon fraud.

Family codes work well, but

Family codes work well, but they are definately lacking. I know how to decode coupons, but do not use it for this type of deception. I just wanted to know what everything meant, so I studied it. Still should not use it to steal!

TLC should be ashamed

In their quest to show "reality" they instead are showing something totally unachievable.

I followed this story all night long over different sites and Facebook and you know how many websites have new coupon shoppers saying stuff like "I thought I was doing pretty good but how can I get that kind of great savings I saw on TV???"

The answer is........you can't. Unless you cheat.

Great job TLC. What happened to being the Learning Channel?" People aren't learning anything but fraud.

Disappointed in TLC

I guess I always thought TLC was a bit more legitimate in their developing of TV shows. Now, it seems they are only out for the ratings and to hook viewers. I hope sensationalizing the topic without regard for legal/illegal is not a trend in their programming.

Many thanks Jill-

For taking extra time to compile such a well-composed article - you (and the others) did a fabulous job here.


It's amazing that people don't think this affects everyone - fraud causes us all to suffer as manufacturers and stores raise their prices. Jill, thanks so much for teaching ethical coupon practices!

One thing I'm curious about - had she not had 4 carts and almost $2000 retail to purchase, would a cashier have noticed if they didn't buy the same product? I've NEVER had a coupon work for an item I didn't intend, and I've had cashiers point out if I've accidentally had one in my stack that wasn't for the appropriate item. Our cashiers in Chicagoland seem to be pretty helpful and observant, so I'm wondering if the large purchase makes it difficult for the cashier to do their job.

Thanks again for everything you do!!


I can't believe she would show herself doing this on TV. Does she think she is above the law?












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