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May 04

Couponers – Do we push the envelope?

Couponers - Do we push the envelope?

We are all after a good deal – but do we push the envelope with liberal coupon policies?

I am a typical couponer. I use coupons with the word “any” on trial sizes, I ask the meat department to break packages, and I stack coupons with sales to maximize savings.

Recently, I wonder though, if we go too far. Do we push the envelope with stores to get the deal? Pushing the envelope refers to going beyond boundaries. Recently, Publix has tightened its’ coupon policy, and I wonder if we have brought it upon ourselves, with more to come?

Case in point: Last week there was a coupon in the Publix ad: $3 worth of fruit free on $3 OR MORE when you buy 2 Quaker instant oatmeal. There was a variation of this coupon on a cardboard display, which left out the verbiage $3 OR MORE. The coupon also showed a picture of boxed oatmeal, but did not specify size.

Then it began. Couponers everywhere ran wild to get the deal. 2 boxes of oatmeal and $3 worth of fruit became 2 containers of Medley’s (much cheaper at .99 each) and a banana, stacked with the store coupon and a MQ for the Medley’s, making for a sweet moneymaker. Some used a Target coupon on the Oatmeal in addition to the Publix coupon, claiming the coupon “attached to the fruit only”

I have several issues with this deal:

1. We knew it was meant to be $3 worth of fruit. How? The ad stated it, and the signs in front of the oatmeal and the fruit stated it : $3 OR MORE.

2. In regards to the Target coupon: Publix policy says you can not stack a Target (or any Competitor coupon with a Publix coupon, see official response from Publix here:

I spoke with our Customer Care Specialist and verified that the Publix Coupon Requirements to receive the $3 off Fruit is the purchase of Oatmeal. The Publix coupon attaches itself then to the fruit and to the oatmeal. You could stack a Manufacture Coupon on these items, but not another Publix or Competitor Coupon. We only accept One Manufacture and EITHER one Publix or one competitor coupon per purchase (deal). You are not allowed to stack Publix and Competitor Store coupons on items. You would not be able to use the Publix and Target coupons without additional oatmeal being purchased. I hope this helps clarify

3. The oatmeal Medley’s IMO at the time of this post are not considered instant. If you visit Quaker’s product list you will see the Medley’s listed separately than instant oatmeal. I wrote Quaker to clarify and will update you as an answer becomes available. – Updated to add response from Quaker: “Thanks for reaching out to us about our Quaker Real Medley’s products. The oats are cut up small to reduce cooking time, and are considered instant.”

I am not the Mother Theresa of coupons by any means, nor am I passing judgement on any couponer who partook in this deal. I am just inviting a friendly,respectful conversation.

Some people seemed to see it as free fruit, whoo hoo!  Does this kind of thinking hurt all of us, and the liberal coupon policies we enjoy? Does it  jeopardize the trust and respect from our stores  we seek as couponers?

This is why I chose not to do this deal, because my store’s view of me as a customer, and a couponer was more important the pushing the envelope for some free fruit.

I invite respectful differences of opinion in the comments below.


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  1. Stes

    I agree totally with your post. It was a mad rush for couponers everywhere, but I ethically didn’t even want to attempt passing the whole thing off. It’s one thing to utilize a single coupon that is missing the usual restrictions. But to know that deal was not supposed to happen that way by the signage and ads made me very wary. I love my stores and I don’t want to be known as someone who abuses it.

    It’s one thing to take advantage of a computer glitch on the store’s part where you don’t do anything but provide the “correct” items and the computer does the rest, it’s another thing (to me) to school a store on their misprints. But congrats to those who got the deal, it just wasn’t for me either.
    Stes recently posted…25% CVS Email Q for Some! Check Your Email!My Profile

    1. DanaPots

      Thank you for your comments. I agree with you. My stores know me too, and when a policy is put into place due to certain couponers they will say “no, not you” that makes me feel good.
      DanaPots recently posted…Couponers – Do we push the envelope?My Profile

  2. Shanna Bailes

    I love a good deal but I would not want to take advantage of a deal that wasn’t meant to be.
    Shanna Bailes recently posted…Wordless Wednesday w/LinkyMy Profile

    1. DanaPots

      Agreed. If you know it in your gut…
      DanaPots recently posted…Couponers – Do we push the envelope?My Profile

  3. linda

    I think the oatmeal offer was pushing it, but I have also been very surprised at people asking the meat department to break up packages to use a $2 meat coupon. So I say live and let live and do what you feel is right.

    1. DanaPots

      True. We all have our own moral compass.
      DanaPots recently posted…The Power of Love – when your child says I love youMy Profile

  4. Jazmin

    I totally agree with you. While I don’t coupon anymore, I did for years. I never went after a deal that I felt iffy on because it just made me feel like I was taking advantage of an already good offer.
    Jazmin recently posted…Saving Money on Groceries without CouponsMy Profile

  5. S

    Allow me to give a different perspective. I walked into my store and saw the new (at that time) coupons hanging on pegs. As I always do, I read them a little and took a few of each. I definitely noticed the $3 fruit coupon you’re speaking of. The light went on over my head and I went over to the cereal aisle to look for any small size containers of oatmeal. On the “peg” coupon there were NO size restrictions on the fruit OR on the instant oatmeal. Here I should point out that I very rarely read a Publix weekly ad any more. It’s one more piece of paper I don’t need as I already read the sneak peek online. So I didn’t even know there was another coupon with different wording in the paper ad. So, as you pointed out with the “no size restriction” coupons and using them on trial/travel sizes, I did the same thing. The cantaloupes were $2.50. What was I supposed to do about that? The strawberries were $2.50. Again, what? I could go on an on. By the time I got back online–after shopping–to read about the difference in the two coupons, the sale was over and I’d already done it 6 times at 4 different stores. So crucify me. Publix employs people who apparently know how to design a coupon. Refer to the current Grocery flyer, H&B flyer, Running Out, Run In, Pet Booklet, Baby Booklet. Notice anything? They’ve put SIZE restrictions on them. Look, I’m not gonna do my job AND theirs. Given the same set of circumstances, I’d do the same thing. And, yes, I have worked diligently to “coupon with integrity” and build good relationships with my stores. Just do your best–they will continue to add size restrictions on coupons–we’ll never see this deal again. Just like the Nutri-grain–poof! gone forever.

    1. DanaPots

      I appreciate your perspective. I guess we all have to do what feels right in our gut. For me, I saw the ad, I saw the blog posts, and most importantly I read the signs in front of the oatmeal, that said save $3 on fruit $3 or more. One saving grace for this coupon though: Quaker responded back that the Medley product is considered instant.

      You are right, the new Motrin IB coupon: size restriction, new Publix coupon: one per customer per day. New wording on some coupons: Limit 4 per day per customer.

      Thank you so much for another perspective.
      DanaPots recently posted…Happy Mother’s Day! My Profile

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