Coupon Ethics: A Few Interesting Reads

First, let me say that I don’t even begin to know all the exact rules on ethical coupon usage, however I do try to always use coupons in a way to save my family oodles of money, without ever sacrificing my integrity.  Last night as I was scanning the internet for deals, I came across a few posts on ethical coupon usage that you may find interesting.  (What else do you have to do on a Friday night?)


I’ve received many emails from readers lately asking if the deals are going to continue as so many new folks are getting into the “coupon game”.  Honestly?  I don’t know.  I can tell that many of the deals I grabbed easily five years ago when I first began using coupons aren’t always as simple to find these days.


But, as many of you all have pointed out, clipping coupons takes time, energy, organization, and a strong desire to save money. So, do I think that the jillions of folks who’ve jumped on to the coupon train will still be around in a year or two?  Probably not.  I do however think couponing and frugal living in general will continue to grow, so it’s important that we all use coupons ethically to continue to get the very best deals.


Okay, enough of me rambling . . . check out these posts and feel free to (kindly!) share your opinions in the comment section below.


Gang Cut Coupons Hurt Stores, Manufacturers & Consumers

Arrested for Stealing Coupon Inserts

Dumpster Diving:  The Manufacturer’s Weigh In



What do you think?  I did recently start “gang-cutting” my whopping three newspaper inserts (when I finally learned how convenient that was . . .), however I may give that one up. (I’m not sure if it really matters or not, but since I’m only cutting three it shouldn’t take me too much longer to clip!)  I’d love to hear your thoughts on these topics!


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  1. I just read the one on “gang-cutting” I had never heard the term. Now I feel bad because I sat down and cut 5 sets of coupons (because my MIL gave me her 2 sets also) this past weekend all at once. I would never do something to make my local store loose money. Then I get to the bottom of her article and it says comments are closed because of personal attacks toward members. Wow! Really?

    • I was pretty shocked by it to Janell! I have no idea if manufacturers are really not allowing reimbursement on those or not (I wish I knew more), but for my few inserts it’s not that big a deal to clip separately. I do think people get pretty feisty about their coupons, and I guess her comments got out of control! I never heard the term either – I guess we learn something new everyday!

  2. Ok.. When I started I will say that I thought the more coupons I have the more I save.. I was a newby what did I know but as I went on I learned that was not true.. So I decided that no matter what the coupon inserts where I would only get 10 papers a week.. I found that to be a fair number considering at times we are a family of four and two of that is boys (we all know how they eat)… I cut my coupons out every week by hand sheet by sheet… I am always kind to people in line, I share what I have learned if people ask, I share my coupons with the cashiers and sometimes with people in line.. On my once a month shopping trip which is large, I ask the manager when I am ready to check out if she would not mind closing the checkout lane until I am done because its going to take some time (even though its only one transaction) to get this done, because they know me they normal do with no problems.. I have I guess you can say given myself a good name the cashier and managers know I am fair and honest.. I personal can’t stand the people that our out there trying to fraud the system and take advantage of the stores and coupon system because in the end they only hurt the good ones who are doing it right.. So I ask that every good coupon person out there keep it honest and keep it fair because if us good couponers stay united we just might out weigh the bad.. And one last thing I want to thank all my coupons sites that have helped me and taught me the right way to do things.. Thank you and so far in month 4 this has been my biggest savings month yet! Sorry about the long comment!

    • It sounds like you’ve done great Holly! And I do think ten is reasonable for a family of six – I think what’s hard for me to understand are the people grabbing 20-30 (or more!) of an item. Thanks for sharing and I agree that it’s important for us never to coupon unethically but rather to always be honest. I’m just amazed at the lengths people will go to get a deal, and I really do think the deals are pretty fantastic for me without doing anything questionable.

      Thanks for your long comment . . . I love hearing what people think! 😉

  3. Don’t you think it’s unethical to buy coupons from Coupon Hunters?

    • You know, I have so struggled with that one Tammy. I recently asked a blogger who’s opinion I whole-heartedly trust, and she has stopped promoting coupon clipping services for quite awhile now because she’s concerned with the ethics behind it. I still do have a link in the sidebar (as you can see!) to My Coupon Hunter, and I’ve been struggling with that because it does seem like something manufacturers are going to have to crack down on. My biggest struggle is for those people who are in less affluent areas who are often not getting the coupons that those in more affluent areas are getting (which is unbelievable to me!)

      Ughhh. . . definitely a gray area of couponing.

      • I really am against purchasing coupons online, especially ebay. have you ever typed “Publix coupons” on ebay. It is quite interesting. I have seen multiple Publix store coupons, even Save A Lot coupons for sale. Store coupons for sale means someone most likely took way more than they should have and have taken away other people’s chances of finding them in the store. Ebay also has lots of peelies and tear pad coupons. Where do they get that many to sell, I would guess they stole entire tearpads? As far as buying inserts, It is one thing to buy 5 or 6 of something, but when people are buying 30 boxes of dog treats (I really saw this) with coupons that had been purchased online (I know this because the coupon value was different than what we got in our area) I like to read Jill Cataldo’s site. She is an excellent source of information. She is actually, if I am not mistaken, the person that brought to light the coupon fraud of some certain person on the TLC show. Laurie, I enjoy reading your blog. You do an awesome job.

        • I think Jill’s site was the one that called out the TLC coupon usage, Mary! I definitely agree about selling coupons on ebay – I’m amazed that stores (specifically Publix) aren’t really trying to crack down on that as well. It’ll be interesting to see how much longer Ebay is allowed to continue “selling” coupons – but it definitely is frustrating to see those that should be in the store sold instead of available for people to pick up (a few!)

  4. I love these articles. I am trying to be a stay at home mom and have started couponing to help that effort. In response to the second article that stated a way to honestly coupon was the check the newspaper. I was going to buy a newspaper but opened it up to make sure that the inserts were in there. I did this on the belt infront of the cashier. I told her what I was doing. I then got chewed out by the manager.
    My question… Is it ok for me to open the newspaper to make sure the inserts are in there? It humilated me and made me cry in front of a long line behind me. I was glad I checked because the coupons were gone but I am too embarassed to go in that store now.

    • Carla – I’m so sorry that happened! I have MANY times gone through the paper to make sure the coupons were there as so frequently it seems like they’re taken. I hate that you went though that! Usually when I buy mine at Publix I double check it, and the managers are curious too because they want to know if any of the inserts have been taken.

      I’m so sorry – don’t give up, maybe just pick a different store to purchase your newspaper from (or get it delivered . . . )

    • So sorry they were rude to you, so they have now chased off a customer-they lose in the end. It is perfectly acceptable to check for inserts but probably before you get in line! Good luck with couponing!

    • Jennifer says:

      I need to interject…

      I recently spoke to someone at the Huntsville Times (our local paper) and they mentioned that they don’t usually get enough coupon inserts to put them in every paper that they publish so the ones that go out to the news stands or stores usually get the shaft so that their subscribers alwasy get what they subscribe for. So, it may not be nasty couponers stealing papers – they may not have had them in the first place!

      • That’s a great point Jennifer – I would love to know why they don’t get more – it just seems like they should be included in all the papers 🙁

  5. Glad the site is back up. Great reads! I think it is wrong and lazy of the manufacturers not to reimburse coupons for gang cutting. You cannot prove that they were illegally purchased. Instead of punishing the people who are selling their product they ought to be going after ebay or the ebay sellers. I hardly coupon at all anymore but if I paid for 20 coupons I ought to be able to redeem them without wondering if my cutting was acceptable. It just seems ridiculous to me. They are hurting the people who are selling their product and the people who are buying their product. Why would they want to do that?

    • I’m really curious if they are limiting the number of “gang cut” coupons. I was actually thinking that if I did choose to cut mine that way, I could just make a few extra cuts to make them different 🙂

      And I’m really surprised they haven’t cracked down more on e-bay – it would seem like the easiest place to start!

  6. Very interesting. I cut right on the lines of my coupons. I don’t stack and cut the coupons but they all look exact. I hope the store I shop at gets reimbursed.

  7. Joy Weide says:

    Enjoyed these articles. Thank you for posting them. I also wonder about the ethics of printing a coupon under a zip code which isn’t your own. Is that not taking away from someone who actually lives in that zipcode? He/she comes late to print only to find the print limit has been exceeded.

    • I have struggled with that one too Joy! The only thought that I have considered is that if the manufacturers felt strongly about it, I would think there would be a way to set up so that it wouldn’t be allowed? But I definitely go back and forth on that one, I just hate it for everyone not to get a high value coupon! Thanks for the reminder to think again on that though. . .

      • I never thought of that. I fell bad now that you mention it. The people in that area get those high value coupons for a reason, and the manufactures only allow X amount to be printed. I don’t need to save an extra $1 or 2 per transaction and feel as if I’m doing something against my morals. Same with buying coupons. Void if sold, copied, or transferred, altered… Feels like stealing,which is a sin.

  8. Heh, guess I’m safe. My 8 and 3-year-old help me clip….there’s not a straight sided coupon to be had in our house!

    • LOL Beth! I had that exact thought as I was reading that article – no problem here because I have such fabulous help 😉

  9. i’ve never even heard of this gang clipping. as a person with a small family of 3 i actually have always been pro putting limits on the deals. I work and so often deals run out before I can ever get to the store. i do feel bad for people with larger families but it’s unfair to everyone when people clear the shelves.

    • I think there’s a way to be considerate of other people’s needs and still shop for a large family, although I know it’s obviously harder when you’re shopping for a crowd!

      A very wise friend of mine (aka Nancy @ Real Food Allergy Free), once told me that she figured since there are six family members at her house, it’s reasonable for her to get six of a deal. Pretty good advice, and pretty much what we live by these days! I think it’s got to be much harder to find the items if you’re working, and while rainchecks are fabulous, I know I’d rather have the deal available when I get there.

  10. Great articles! thanks for sharing. During the recent BOGO Morningstar Frozen product sale at Publix, there were several people whom I know personally that printed coupons from online and copied HUNDREDS to use for themselves and distribute to others at work or church. They told me that each one of them scanned and worked fine for all 200-300 products and I was just so offended. Here I was trying to do things honestly with my grand total of 18 legit coupons and they were copying these coupons and distributing them to any and everyone. It’s not right and a friend of mine who received on of the copies asked me if it was ok to use and I told her my opinion and thankfully, she agreed, but the others just shrugged it off and said that the stores and manufacturers get over on us all the time so just this once its ok. I say it’s messing it up for the future of honest couponers and causing the stores and manufacturers to lose money. Just my 2 cents!

    • UGHHHHH! That just makes me frustrated. . . it sounds like your friends already know this, but please remind them that they are hurting themselves. As you probably know, each printable coupon has a different code (not the bar code on the bottom, but the one across the top right hand side of the page.) If these are found to be duplicates, the manufacturer can decide not to reimburse the store for the amount of the coupon which means that ultimately the stores may decide to no longer accept printable coupons (which would be horrible!!!)

      Thanks for the reminder for everyone, and hopefully they’ll recognize that not only what they’re doing is just plain wrong, it can also really hurt themselves! I hate that…

  11. Wow–I’d never even heard of “gang cutting” before! Thanks for the links–very informative stuff.

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