Ask the Readers: Is It Fraud?

ask the readers

This week we have an Ask the Readers segment that I think you guys will have a lot to say about. What would you say to a reader who wrote in to ask the following:

My husband works at a grocery store. He had a customer who bought high value razors with coupons, and then tried to return them the next day with no receipt.

She said getting store credit would be okay. He said that he wouldn't give her store credit, but that he would give her the coupons she used back, plus any store credit still owed. She had done this multiple times, and he had footage of her doing it.

My husband's store is trying to come down on couponers in this way, saying that doing this is a form of fraud. I agree that it is certainly unethical, and I would never do this myself, but since the store still gets their money, do you think it should also be considered fraud?

So what do you guys think?

Note from Michelle: I am wondering if we might shop at the same store. Here in my area, we have TWO gals who are WELL known for doing this!!


  1. Lori says

    It’s not fraud on the stores part if they are returning the coupons to the shopper. She’s getting her coupons back, plus the cash she spent (whether its cash or a store credit) so she is not loosing any money and neither is the store.

    • m says

      Lets not forget about the couponer paying the cashier for her…..oh wait publix is paying for the cashiers time not the couponer, not the manufacturer. returning the coupon I can imagine is always possible. they do have to be sent to the manufacturer don’t they? Refunding is how Publix conducts their business. And of course there is fraud but for every 100 fraudulent shoppers I am sure there is 1,000,000 who are not.

  2. Katie says

    If they are giving the coupons back to the lady and giving her a store credit for the rest, all comes out in the wash. If the store gives her a full refund and keeps the coupons, then the store made a profit.
    If the lady is recieving cash value for the coupons from the return and the store is getting extra money from those coupons, I would say both are committing fraud.

    • johne says

      The only extra money that the store is getting would be the 8 cent coupon redemption fee. The store would be paying out any money that it receives from the coupons to the customer if they gave a full refund. Saying that I do believe that this should be considered fraud on the part of the customer.

      • FElicia says

        Well they will be re-selling the items she returned, so yes they ARE getting paid once for the coupons and then the next person that purchases the items she returned. They should give the coupons back and her money back.

        • Paolina says

          No often they can’t and sometimes they simply wont resell an item for fear it may have been tampered with. Once it leaves the store they generally toss most stuff out.

          • Stephanie says

            This is true- anything returned whether unopened or not does NOT get resold at the store. I used to work for Publix and anything that was returned was considered “damaged.” So the store would NOT be able to make a double profit of it.

          • says

            That is NOT true, unopened items and canned goods ARE put back on the shelf, perishable items or items damaged, expired etc. are not. I also worked at Publix, as a manager for 10 years.

    • Marty says

      Ummm… Store sells a razor for $10 dollars. Customer pays $5 and has a $5 coupon. Th next day she give the item back, and gets $10. The store only has $5 from her.

      How is it a double profit? They net 8c for the redemption of the coupon… If they sell it again, sure, they make their profit, but it’s by no means double.

  3. Kate says

    Buying with the INTENT to get store credit back is completely unethical. Not sure about fraud, but certainly not something any store or any couponer should approve of doing.

    However, I think we’ve all bought something with a coupon at some point and returned it (for whatever reason) and ended up with a full credit. I know it happened to me recently when I bought expired food- since the coupons are ambiguous on the receipts, they gave me full credit (even though I told them exactly what Qs were used).

    • Lynn says

      Totally agree, Kate. It’s hard to imagine the gall someone would have to do that. If it happens unintentionally once every few years because you buy something expired or whatever, I don’t think it’s an issue. But to try to rig the system like that . . . the stores will have to put some kind of policy in place. What goes around comes around, and I truly believe money that’s gotten dishonestly like that never stays with a person for long.

    • bern says

      I once bought 2 tide @ publix, i used 2 $3/1 coupon (it was last year i think), i showed the receipt and told them i used $3 for each item. Since the receipt has bunch of other items, the lady said she cannot prove any of those coupons are for the tide i bought since the receipt say “vendor coupon” only. She ended giving me purchase price b4 coupons and tax in a store gift card.

      With this setup, I guess anybody can abuse it. To put a policy to combat this is not easy either. How often is “too often” to consider it fraud? are they going to start tracking each customer returns and keep a record of it?

      This type of actions affect us all couponers in a bad way really.

  4. Becky R says

    It is ABSOLUTELY fraud. The store will most likely NOT get compensated for these coupons, because they get put back into inventory, and they can’t show them to the coupon redemption as sold. My sister works for Walmart and tells me they have people do this all the time, and it’s so frustrating because it is STEALING. :(

  5. Georgia W. says

    Yes I believe it is a form of fraud simply because the store is going to get their money back from the manuf. yes, but they are still losing that money by giving it back to her.

    She bought the items, using coupons. So let’s say there was $10 in coupons. She returns the items and gets all the money back, including the $10 in coupons (which she didn’t spend). So why should the store pay her $10 that she didn’t spend?

    That is like exchanging the coupons for cash and not getting the merchandise. That is fraud and against the rules on the coupon.

    • Maria says

      Of all the comments, I think yours makes the most sense.
      “That is like exchanging the coupons for cash and not getting the merchandise. That is fraud and against the rules on the coupon.”
      It’s fraud.

      • Janet says

        YEs it is fraud……. it is exactly as you stated trying to exchange the coupons for cash…. oh how I wish she would do it when I were there and I were aware.

        • Chad G says

          I think all of us “responsible” couponers maintain very high ethics for the most part and know right from wrong (I hope) – But in all actuality, I don’t consider it fraud and fraud is to intentionally commit loss which the store is incurring NO loss. If the product is returned, they receive credit from the MFG. The store is FULLY reimbursed the face value of the coupon (and the bonus handling – $0.08 lol). The coupon states nothing to the fact about returns and that is up to each store. Most of the Publix managers I have spoken with here in Clearwater, will refund the coupons if it is a same shift / day return and a full refund after that business day. Publix policy states they have the right to refuse returns and if I was the manager, I would politely ask the customer to shop somewhere else. Sorry group – I had to play devil’s advocate lol. Thank you and great job on the site. Chad

          • Sam says

            I guess that’s the big question — will the store get reimbursed? I doubt it because the manufacturer won’t accept several sets of coupons for returned items…

            I mean these people aren’t just occassionally returning an item, they’re doing it all the time to trade their coupon which has no cash value for actual dollar bills without actually taking home an item

          • Janice says

            I disagree, it is fraud. If the store submits the coupon to the mfr. then the mfr is footing the bill for the cash given to someone without having sold that product. It is not just about fraud against the store. If that happens on occasion by error–okay. But she said they had footage of the customer doing this on multiple occasions. The store was being nice to even offer to return coupons since this is a habit for her. They should tell her–no more returns. Most of us try to do the right thing and these people give us a bad name.

  6. melody says

    This woman is intentionally doing this to get additional cash, knowing that she is not entitled to that cash. Her intent is to defraud the store, and it is people like her that cause the rest of us to get a hard time when we bring in a stack of coupons.

  7. kelly says

    It IS fraud, but not against the store- against the manufacturer. They have to pay the store – and then her – for the value of the coupon, even though they haven’t sold any products.

    • annoyed by theft says

      Not if they are returning the coupons to her to then around and do it to another store. I agree it is totally fraudulent and seriously unethical, but it is not fraud to the manufacturer, but the store that can’t resell the product, but the equivalent of the coupons when giving her cash or a gift card.

  8. rachel says

    I think it is unethical and they are trying to pull a fast one on the store. I think those couponers are trying to make a quick buck. If the store offers to give her the coupons back then that is not fraud nor is offering a store credit. Either way the store will get reimbursed for the coupons. It does give couponers a bad name and wrap though. So sad.

  9. Michele says

    Anything can be fraudulent if the intent behind the action is knowingly underhanded. If it’s a case where someone decides they don’t want it for whatever reason, then no it isn’t fraudulent if they bring the item back and get cash. If they buy the item knowing full-well they’re going to bring it back in order to get the cash, then absolutely it’s fraudulent. Can you go to jail? No. Will it cause bad coupon karma? Absolutely and so it should!

    • m says

      I see people everyday buy with foodstamps and then straight walk to customer service and get a refund. They wont show a receipt and it still gets refunded. or they will buy steak and lobster or $425 worth of trays from the deli in one day and pay for it with food stamps, really? they must not have needed the food stamps in the first place. not if they can go the rest of the month with out them.. that’s despicable and should be a felony the grocery store should get a cash reward for turning people like that in.

  10. maggie B says

    That is horrible….. I know when I returned an item once, it was a couple of days later and they actually gave me the value of the coupon as cash…I guess they didn’t want to search for it…LOL .. needless to say I was content but I only actually buy what I use for my family. I LOATHE, I will say it again “LOATHE” those couponers that give us ALL a bad name…It is because of people like that, that are making the rest of us deal with attitudes from stores..and the same reason Publix wants to change their policies. I NEVER clear shelves, I take what I actually need, I think there is only a few of us HONEST couponers out there…I don’t coupon because I want to, I coupon because I HAVE TO, to stay alive and feed my family. Phewwww…sorry, seeing that made my blood boil. LOL

    • says

      I definitely agree. It’s one thing to legitimately have to return something once in a blue moon, but to use coupons with the intention of returning things for cash is just wrong. I don’t know if I would even give her store credit without having a receipt if she is known for pulling that stunt. Who’s to say she is not buying things on BOGO and then returning them weeks after the BOGO is finished? Then she is not only getting credit for the free item, but credit for the coupons. It’s all very wrong, wrong, wrong.

  11. Sherri says

    I would say yes if its intentionally done, because the manufacturer is losing money. The product being returned means the store does need to order XX amount of product from the Manufacturer to replace what was purchased. Yet the Manufacturer is reimbursing the store for the coupon $$ amount plus 8 cents more. I hope I explained that correctly LOL

  12. kristin says

    I would say that what the woman is doing is wrong; but, how in the world is the store supposed to keep up with what each coupon is for? At my store, the coupons are just listed as Manufacturer’s coupon and the value.

  13. Carly says

    It would not be right because the stores would Cashanne on the coupons for items that they did not necessarily sell. I know there are several stores to tell customers that they cannot return coupons one they’ve been used. I know I bought the wrong flavor of several boxes of Kashi and I went to the store to exchange them for the flavor I actually wanted. They told me I could not do an even exchange and they had to issue a store credit so I could repurchase the kind I wanted, and they made a big deal about it telling me that I was trying to get the money back. All I wanted was a flavor that didn’t make me gag. I wasn’t trying to cheat them out of their money or commit fraud. Purchasing an item with a high-value coupon and returning that item for store credit to purchase different items is fraud because you’re using the manufacturers money to buy products they did not intend for you to purchase. I’m pretty sure that’s why target receipt print out differently now. They show what coupons were applied to each item. Makes the moneymaker rebates not moneymakers anymore. :(

  14. Kristin says

    Fraud – call the police! Essentially stealing store credit in a purchase and return scam. The coupon manufacurers would also agree – they are not interested in giving the store credit for coupons when the item was not purchased (i.e. returned).

  15. Rachel says

    This is causing difficulty for returning items as well. Walmart gave me a hard time about wanting to return diapers without a receipt (baby shower gift). I just wanted to swap them for a different size but they said they don’t take back diapers without a receipt.

    • Jim Russell says

      Walmart tracks customer returns. If a customer returns items more than twice w/o a receipt they will not accept return unless a recent receipt is shown. At least that is the way my local Walmart works.

      • Jennifer M says

        My walmart does three no receipt returns per quarter per person. I found this out when I was exchanging baby gifts and diapers too as it was over a few weeks that I revieced stuff. Just required a manager’s approval though. It was diapers, so they didn’t mind. Unopened only though.

  16. says

    I say this is definitely fraud. Yes, the store is getting it’s money from the manufacturer but the manufacturer is losing money. I have returned items I’d bought with coupons but never on purpose!!! This is unethical and like many have mentioned, it hurts all couponers- even the honest ones. I wish people would display more morale.

  17. Jim Russell says

    Fraud – YES!! The store has not yet gotten their $$ back and that refund depends upon verified purchases within the period of the coupon validity. So the store is out cash NOW for the prospect of getting a reimbursement.

    Use of a coupon is NOT cash, it is a promotional piece that is for the express purpose of a customer trying a product they may not normally purchase. Returning a product purchased with coupon for full cash price, particularly if it is regular thing, is fraudulent.

    The store is kinda between a rock and a hard place on this. IF they continue to give refunds they will attract other fraudulent purchasers and diminish the value of their store to others. IF they make a big deal and say NO then the person who attempts – OBVIOUSLY having no moral compass – will cause PR problems for the store WHEN they speak loudly and possibly file suit (and don’t think there are nolawyers willing to take such a silly suit!).

    I am reminded of the time I was a a buffet. I watched a girl get her 3 containers for salad and proceed to fill them with only VERY expensive items – pickled baby corn, bell peppers and other horsdourve things and then take a FULL BOTTLE of dressing. I asked the manager what gives (he came over to inspect the damage) and he said she did it EVERY DAY!! She was a college student and came across the street from a sorority house. He was in the same dilemma as the store manager dealing with the theiving customer.

    • bern says

      i agree with you.

      if they keep accepting this kind of returns, it will hurt them.
      if they deny this kind of returns, it will hurt them eventually too.

  18. Kelly says

    My sons are CS managers and this happens all the time. Customers also do this with food stamp cards. Purchase items with it then return without a reciept to get the cash or store creadit so they can purchase booze, cigerettes, and other items.

  19. coupons090 says

    it it is fraud,the stores do not loose money,but,the company’s will.i am so thankful i dont have to earn money that’s clear that that is what they are doing.buying something that they have no intention of keeping,only to profit form it at the companys expense .
    i bought the wrong thing once with coupons and then had to return it .manager said he had to give me the full value back on them so it wouldnt mess up their totals.i didnt feel good about it so when i went back and purchased the right ones i didnt use my coupons.
    i enjoy couponing. i dont want the companys to continue to loose tons of money this way and just say forget it.
    mabe the people who do these kind of things are desperate.idk. i have to thank the good lord for my familys health.with his blessing, couponing,and spending money wisely hopefully we will never know.

  20. Sandra says

    So I work for Publix, In Customer Service, So Glad this came up… Happens more than you would think! Especially in FL where true BOGO are in place, people buy expensive things such as Olive Oil on BOGO and then return it about three weeks later to get Full Price, and How about if they buy things on EBT and return it for for A gift Card on anything in the store including Beer & Cigarettes and sometimes, there’s no way to track it unless you know for sure who they are and watch them check out and then go and return the items. Yes we can track Item Movements but were a 1+million dollar store and don’t have time to watch every person. Its Ridiculous but honestly unless you check the person out, save the receipt and watch for them every time, you can’t really prove anything.

  21. Dick Dastardly says

    The first mistake was returning the items to the store she bought them from. She should have gone to another location and returned them, thats what we always do. No one loses money on this… the store gets to redeem the coupons for cash and gets the item back to resell. The customer has found a way to exchange high value coupons for cash, not illegal at all. Next time this lady needs to wise up and plan her returns more carefully.

    • Lori says

      In criminal law, a fraud is an intentional deception made for personal gain or to damage another individual; the related adjective is fraudulent. The specific legal definition varies by legal jurisdiction. Fraud is a crime, and also a civil law violation. Defrauding people or entities of money or valuables is a common purpose of fraud, but there have also been fraudulent “discoveries”, e.g., in science, to gain prestige rather than immediate monetary gain.

      It is fraud! Just because you can rationalize it doesn’t make it right. Judging from some of the comments since this is involving a corporate entity there is no fraud . Would you feel the same if this were a store owned by an individual? Is it okay as long as it isn’t a mom and pop store?

    • jim russell says

      REALLY???!! So its not wrong if you simply return product to a different store so you deception is not noticed. I do believe this post is an example of “no morals”. So I suppose it is also “OK” to get an old lady to give you cash in the old scam about found money. Its only money, right? Nobody hurt except the greedy and evil grocer and manufacturer. This attitude sickens me.

    • LS says

      Doesn’t the manufacturer take the hit since they are reimbursing the store for the coupon value? So the manufacturer is paying the store for a product the store didn’t sell to the customer. Somebody is paying for it.

    • Kathy says

      Dick Dastardly your an idiot!!!!!! It’s fraud regardless of where you return the product and who pays WE ALL DO!!!!! The manufacture they jack up thier prices to cover this activity and then the stores that accept them and the guess what the consumer!!!!!! I can’t wait for the day when they crack down on coupons! If they would just run price breaks on an item for a period of time just like a sales ad we all win…well except for the dishonest ones cause they have to be MADE to be honest!!!!

    • tampatwinmom says

      hope you are kidding and trying to cause stir. SHADY buisness- fraud or not SHADY and will come back to you (and everyone this is yet another reason Publix is so particular with couponer now!!) shame on you shame on you shame

  22. jess long says

    This is a practice I am very familiar with. It is very bad in the land of true bogo where we get lots of stuff free and then the next day there are people at the next publix over returning the free items. I swear to you I saw a woman return a bag full of eaten and rotten food and get back the entire cost paid with out a reciept. She basicly returned her left overs…where will it end? Yes the manufacture does pay out the oupon amount but so few coupons are redeemed they are not suffering a great loss. The stores may be taking a hit but I doubt it. Really this is causing an undisernable loss for the store but very real speculation about couponer fraud. It is only bad for us

    • Kathy says

      George Jenkins would roll over in his grave if he knew the way his “Satisfaction Guranteed” policty was abused today!!!!! My husband had someone try and return milk which was another stores brand and swear she bought it there……The things people will do to take advantage of a company that strives to please thier customers or the woman who returned a sheet cake with the crumbs on it that “didn’t taste good”…really then where is it?? Don’t even get me started the stories they go on and on!!!!

      • Nicole S. says

        I have been hearing stories about these types of customers for years. My brother is a meat dept manager and my Dad does the Aprons demonstrations at Publix. My brother has told me that there are customers that have the gall to return the BONES from a steak and say “I didn’t like it!” and get their money back! And they had one lady who was bringing in the fruit from her grapefruit tree and avocado trees and “returning” them for cash! I think that’s why Publix now only gives money back on a gc instead of cash, because of people like this! It is sickening!

  23. Jennifer says

    I don’t think it’s fraud since the store will be reimbursed for the coupons, but I think it takes away from the meaning and the value of coupons and in the end it hurts us all when manufacturers and stores raise prices and put out less coupons. I’ve been couponing many years and have seen a drastic decrease in “good” coupons and especially in rebates, and deals are harder to come by (although they are still plentiful enough to not have to cheat the system). I wish everyone could just be balanced and then there would be plenty for all and stores wouldn’t give us such a hard time with our coupons. Greedy people ruin it for everyone else :(

  24. Rebecca says

    I would say it’s fraud to do it intentionally; she knows what she’s doing if she’s trying to return the items without a receipt. It’s a bummer that people like that give honest couponers a bad name.

  25. Brittany says

    It is NOT “fraud” but it is definitely dishonest/unethical if they are buying things with coupons with the intent to return for full-price later.

    If this does indeed happen a lot at that store, the store should change their return policy to needing to have a receipt to return (or most registers now can look up a purchase via the credit card used).

    Desperate times call for desperate measures, I suppose. Maybe a new president can turn our economy around and people will stop stooping so low (okay, dishonest people will always be out there, but it’s a nice thought).

    • Gentlemsn Jim says

      It certainly is fraud, and some people get a rush out if beating the system. I doubt that she “needed” to cheat the store to survive. And I really don’t see the need to inject your politics into the discussion.

  26. says

    What is going to happen is the store policy will change to prevent this. All the stores have to do is change their refund policy to exclude refunds where a coupon was used and go to a receipt as Target has done. That will stop it once and for all. They can say that the merchandise was purchased as a reduced item and they do not have to refund on them.

  27. Kayla says

    I would definitely say this is quite unethical, and for sure fraudulent on the shopper’s part. What many couponers don’t know (and what I recently read), is that the store can keep the coupon and give her full credit (cash or store), the store will NOT “lose” the money. They will still be reimbursed for the coupon value as long as the store has sold either the same amount or more of X product than the number of Y coupons.

    Here’s a quick (fake) example. Let’s say STORE A sold 1,000 jars of sauce. They can redeem up to 1,000 coupons ($/1 coupon of course). We all know that the amount of product sold is always more than the number of coupons used for said product, so realistically, 1,000 jars of sauce sold but only 300 coupons used. Redemption of all coupons are not specified by each receipt but more of a store in general. Therefore, 700 coupons for jars of sauce could be “snuck” into their bag of coupons as long as it was scanned and shipped.

    I read this on another reputable website, and this information is not intended to be used crookedly. In my, personal, opinion, this woman will have a lot coming to her. I do, however, believe that there are many honest couponers.

    Also, please remember to stop by customer service if you have an extremely nice employee who has helped you or did not give you attitude. It helps the store to be better as a whole, and they will be more welcoming to couponers. They REALLY appreciate it if you remember their names.

  28. Ruth says

    I think in life that when a person does something underhanded or unethical it always comes back at them–maybe not today–and maybe in a different way–but the scales of life balance out.

  29. Christine says

    It’s theft. I worked in retail loss prevention and we would have people do this quite often. These types of cases are difficult to prosecute, but I would still turn over the video tape and store receipt to the police.
    If she is doing it at this store, she is definitely doing it somewhere else.

  30. Laurie D says

    There is always someone out to defraud the system. Sad. First off, it may be helpful to have no receipt-no return policy. And the receipts COULD be tracked with the coupons, that’s how it is at Target. But personally I HATE their receipts, I like to look at my savings and when you redeem a coupon, it prints it under the item (most times) and then below, it says “return value $x.xx”, so they don’t refund your coupon if you return the item. As far as buying things on EBT, returning for giftcard and then buying alcohol & cigarettes, that is DOUBLE fraud and should absolutely reported. Again, if they had no returns without a receipt, you could see it was purchased on EBT and should be returned to the payment source (put back on their EBT card). Eventually they’re just going to stop allowing coupons all together if people don’t stop being GREEDY.

  31. Chandra says

    It is not fraud but is wrong. This is nothing new. I used to work in a grocery store and people would do the same with items bought with wic and food stamps or items they stole. Of course those are illegal. So this is just a new twist on an old game.

  32. Anna says

    I do not do it intentionally – buy things with coupons and then intend to return it the following day for cash or store credit. But there are instances where I do purchase items using a coupon and for a reason either I didn’t end up liking it, needed to exchange it, or simply didn’t end up needing it, I have returned it and usually they will give me the full purchase price back. They don’t offer to give back coupons (they can plainly see I used them); they just return it as the purchase price shown on the receipt. But I always take back my receipt with me, as long as I still have it, to prove I purchased it and at what price. Places such as Target will show coupons subtracted and only return that price. But if you return something for a pure reason and they give you full credit, knowing that you used coupons, I do not think it’s fraud. They do get the money back from the manufacturers. I think this is a loophole that the manufacturer/stores need to hone in on for those people who do intentionally use the system to make money. They need to figure out a way to handle honest returns for products that were purchased with coupons. I think customers need to ethically purchase and I don’t think should feel guilty if they do return something honestly with a receipt and end up getting a full refund. It’s the store’s system to do so and if it’s not working then they need to come up with a way to prevent it.

  33. Hannah F says

    I agree with Anna. There have been times at Publix, Winndixie, and Walmart that I’ve bought with a coupon, and then had to return. They’ve always given me full money back. I don’t EVER buy with the express reason of returning. That’s at best dishonest. It’s wrong.

  34. lynn says

    this is so WRONG! she has found an unethical way converting coupons into cash. that is stealing in my opinion. she is getting money from these companies that put out these coupons and using the money for something other than the product from the company that she is benfiting from. this hurts everyone not just couponers. it hurts the company in the long run which caused higher prices and hurts the stores by the products not being sold and hurts couponers because it makes all of us look greedy, manipulative and always trying to “get one over” on someone. because we all know that there are a lot of people out that have very negative opinions of couponers. i think if you need to return something for a valid reason, i.e. spoiled, broken, etc. that is fine but it sounds like she is using this as means of income, like a part-time job even. wrong, wrong, worng, wrong! this story makes me ill!!!!!!!!!!

  35. saida A says

    Whatever Store it is has to change it’s Policy to ” No receipt no returns or exchange accepted” Thats the only way to stop this behavior and save everyone a headache. I have returned items for different reasons but always with the original receipt so that the store knows how much they can reimburse me back and most of the time to avoid the headache I request store credit. This lady is a Habitual abuser of this stores generosity. She is committing fraud for getting more money than she originally paid for. She will not stop without an intervention So she should be reported or forewarned. Personally if Im working the customer service register I will always ask for a manager or fellow employee as a witness and start documenting everything and get the prevention loss committee involved or police. As well as notify other chain stores in the same county.

  36. Erika says defines fraud as “deceit” or “trickery”…”to gain an unfair or dishonest advantage”- so yes! Her actions are definitely fraudulent!

  37. Jen says

    Wow, I think this situation of returning the items purposefully just to get money back is so wrong. Then reading through these comments with what people have seen is just mind-boggling to me. Returning items you bought BOGO and getting full price back, buying things on ebt and then getting money back? I guess I’m just one of those people who assumes most everyone else is an honest person too, I have never even thought of people doing any of those kinds of things! That’s sad.

  38. Silk says

    I don’t believe it is fraud. It would be a hard sell, but I suppose a case could be made that the customer knowingly misrepresented her intentions and received an otherwide unintended (by the manufacturer) monetary gain. I’m just not sure it would pass muster.

    I do find it highly unethical and despicable.

  39. Kelly says

    I recently returned a box of Quaker granola bars that I had bought a couple of weeks before when they were BOGO, but realized the box had expired in Feb. So, I exchanged it for a new box the weekend Quaker was 50% off and the cashier handed me back $1.50 because they were 50% off. I told her I had only paid 1.50 initially for the box since I had gotten it BOGO so I didn’t need the change. But, she insisted b/c that is how it rung up – and I felt bad for taking that $1.50!!! America needs a morality check!
    I think it is fraud when you do something intentionally to ‘beat the system’.

    • Michelle says

      “Morality check” is right. Everyone has a conscience. Whether they listen to it anymore is the key. If we all acted as if we are ultimately accountable to God, which we really are, occurrences like this would be more rare. Kelly, keep shopping ethically like you do. God will honor you for it.

  40. Sarah says

    Wow thats pretty bad and gives couponers a bad name. I don’t return items that often anywhere, but if I didnt have the reciept and knew I used a coupon on an item I’d say tell them upfront. The store can then decide what they would like to do with the situation.

  41. says

    That’s funny that I just returned some products WITH a receipt, but was refused the cash that I orginally paid.
    The items were on sale @ .99 cents off the original price. I was not asking for the original price, just what I spent. These products NEVER have coupons available to the public.
    Anyway, as I said I HAD my receipt, but the store refused to return my money. They did however give me a gift card.
    What I returned, was a product that I used to sell online. I do not sell online anylonger and I do not use ‘said’ product, so I decided to return them WITH a receipt.
    I was made to feel like I was a a thief and that I was trying to pull a flim-flam.
    Look, I LOVE Publix and will stand firm that they have the best prices than any store and that includes Walmart!
    But, I will also add, that I am extremely unhappy with the customer service at this particular Publix. It’s not worth it to stomp my feet and argue or cause a scene. I didn’t need the products and I expected my money back, as I had my receipt to prove. I wasn’t asking for the full price of the product and it also showed on my receipt that these were on sale.
    I would never lie about it, even if I didn’t have the receipt.

    I am very disapponted & distaught to be treated like I was doing something wrong!! I needed the refund for gas, but I am sure that I can find a good sale to use my gift card on.
    I do not or never have had WIC or EBT — plus these were a non-food products.
    So what gives?

  42. Natalie says

    I went to the dictionary on this one. It sounds like “fraud” to me. With the intent of deceit, returning items for the purpose of personal gain in an unfair/dishonest advantage is fraud. The coupons were used for the purpose of trickery and deceitful pretenses.

    Please note these definitions are from (that is my best attempt at a reference!)
    1. deceit, trickery, sharp practice, or breach of confidence, perpetrated for profit or to gain some unfair or dishonest advantage.

    2. a particular instance of such deceit or trickery: mail fraud; election frauds.

    3. any deception, trickery, or humbug

    4. a person who makes deceitful pretenses; sham; poseur

  43. serena says

    Best way a store can combat this fraudulent practice is to always require a receipt, as Target does. Publix is such a wonderful company, going out of their way to make the customer happy, this is bound to happen now and then. There are always people who want to take advantage of a situation.
    I return things now and then and always try to show my receipt… sometimes I can’t but I have returned one of a B1G1 item and informed them that I only want half the amount refunded because I was not happy with the product. I have also returned items where the coupon amount was subtracted from my refund, as it should be… even though they will still get the money back from the manufacturer. I have also returned items where i was given the full refund even if coupon is used. I never take advantage of my stores… sometimes it’s just impossible to tell if a coupon is used :/ but I am a loyal shopper and would never take advantage.
    Those who purposely use these loopholes are committing fraud … they are stealing!!

  44. vic says

    I guess if the stores and manufacturers are worried about this then maybe they should lower their prices and people won’t be tempted to do that. People buy clothes, wear them and then return them that is fraud too but you don’t see anyone bringing that up. Heck that’s worse cuz they actually used the item before returning it.

  45. Sheila W says

    I too agree that this is not a practice that will help us couponers. But, I do not know this person adn should think who am I too judge until I walk in there shoes. It does not make it right but, what if she has a baby at home that is hungry and this is the way she feeds this baby? What if her house is falling apart and this is the only she can get money to fix it? What if she is being beaten by her husband and she is doing this to save money to get away? Or maybe there is no money for school supplies and she returns the razors to use the money for her childs school supplies? The what if’s coul;d be endless.
    Do I think it is right? No, but I don’t judge till I know the whole situation.

    • Melinda says

      It is not about judging. She may be in a horrible situation, but it is wrong. There are other avenues this person can take.

      • Niki Moore says

        After the last 3 years I have been laid off twice. My husband works but does not make enough to carry the load solely on his income. But because he has an income there are no options out there for us, which is fine and why I coupon. There have been times that I have counted my change just to buy a loaf of bread, but we made it through. I agree that she may be in a situation where it is required for her to live. I have not done this before, but would if it came down to kids having food in their mouth instead of my shaved legs. Morally I would have a hard time doing it and I have not done it, but it seems like a lot of people on here have done it, intentionally or unintentionally. What I find more of an issue are the people that clear the shelfs, remember some of us depend on coupons to get by and those free items are our saviors. Thankfully we are now back on track and I am working. Maybe the Manager should talk to her more and try to find out if there is such an issue maybe they could help her with.

        • anna says


    • Erin says

      In our small town of LaGrange, GA we have 3 different homes set up for homeless women and children, women in abusive situations and just general help. I also know many ladies who are on government assistance. I would think you would exhaust all of those options before you “steal” from stores.

  46. says

    I don’t know about everyone else, but myself I have 4 kids and my husband is the only one who works due to our youngest being disabled, and I have to coupon to save on what we need to survive. I have been getting treated like crap at all the stores I normally shop at lately, and it’s due to people like this, and shelf swipers. I am so sick of all the people who come in and take every last item on the shelf and leave none for the rest of us. I am also tired of all the people who take ALL the coupon booklets when they are out. Please stop this so we can all enjoy our couponing freedoms before all the stores just stop taking them completely!

    • vic says

      I somewhat agree, I have been a shelf swiper I suppose, once I purchase 10 cans of something and they were the last 10 cans and I wanted 20, it was vegetables, but the store will not give a rain check if there is still product so even if I didn’t want to take the last 10 you are forced to becuase of the rain check policies.

  47. Hronn says

    I believe the reason so many manufacturer are giving low value coupons these days is because of people scamming with their coupons like this.
    P & G as an example is giving out such low value coupons these days and really when it comes down to the numbers companies have to make decisions to stay in profit. I know there are many people that do this on a regular basis and I do not agree with it as I know the rest of us that are honest with our coupons will be the ones that feel it the most. It’s unethical and I think it will all come back to them one way or the other. It’s a shame though that the honest people have to be punished along with the scammers…
    I can sleep well at night though knowing I saved 70-90% by doing it the right and legal way!!!

  48. melinda m says

    I work for Publix (Customer service) And like the girl up top there said, People buy stuff that is BOGO and then return one of the items a few weeks later for the full price. So not only did they get 1 for free but they’re getting their money back which is wrong in soooo many ways. Same with couponers. Items they get for FREE like the SUndown vitamins or Shampoo they return to get the full price back.

    • Jodie says

      I have had to return things that are BOGO – and rarely have my receipt. I don’t always have time to return them while that sale is still going on. Sometimes it is a frozen item that tastes gross, and I can’t get out of the house with 2 kids after working all day to get it back to Publix. I don’t do this on purpose! Oh, and I’ll have a stack of stuff I have to return and I walk out of the house without it – like 3 weeks in a row! GRRRR! I don’t want that stuff sitting around on my kitchen table! I can’t remember anything sometimes! I will even tell CS I bought something on BOGO – and they say they have to give me the price it is currently selling at. SO – I try!

      • Honest Couponer says

        Umm…it’s not Publixs’ fault you didn’t like your food. Why return it? If you don’t like it you suck it up and not buy that product again. You’re making Publix suffer because you didn’t like something. And you said you have a stack of stuff to return? Why do you continuously buy things you don’t like?

  49. Christine Marie says

    WOW interesting comments. I have to admit my pubix was great with coupons and now after being featured on the local news showcasing a little coupon clipper super kid — My publix in (plantation, fl) changed thier policies and now give you the 3rd degree if you use printed black & white coupons. The other day they refused my target coupons saying “oh they must be copies”. Good lord. I havent had problems with any returns but I return so few items and I always have a reciept with me.

    PAM said it best
    “Look, I LOVE Publix and will stand firm that they have the best prices than any store and that includes Walmart!
    But, I will also add, that I am extremely unhappy with the customer service at this particular Publix. It’s not worth it to stomp my feet and argue or cause a scene.”

    • hali says

      lol, i love that store (if u mean jacaranda) but the one on las o’las i have stopped shopping there even thou they are the closest to me.

  50. claudia says

    I believe INTENTION is the criteria here. Returning items is inevitable …..doing it to make money is fraud and makes it difficult on the rest of us. I too am tired of shelf clearing and booklet takers. I only take 2 of everything……2 people, 2 sale items, 2 booklets. Doing otherwise jeopardizes couponing for all of us. If you are one of those people, please stop. Its unfair, not nice and selfish.

  51. sherry says

    How greedy some people are. Seems to me you very well that when you are purchasing the product you have in your mind to bring it back. Premeditated.
    So it is wrong, but here’s the thing, Morals are gone, Common respect for people are gone, I wouldnt think that these people think twice about doing this, they probably have a club where they gather to figure out who they are going to scam this week. What is the World Coming to I ask. You should to.

  52. dexter says

    This to me is fraud. A couple of years ago I patiently waited for Target to have their big 75% off sale after Christmas. Well, when I walked into the toy area there were two women putting all of the games and expensive dolls and toys in their baskets. They had like three baskets each. I was bummed because they were not that friendly, they had the legos that I had been waiting for! Well, was able to get a few things. The next day I went into our local Toys R Us and there were the two women turning in the toys they purchased at Target for store credit! I couldn’t believe it! Well, I think people like that are the reason why now we have to have a reciept with our returns or a gift reciept. Those women made a killing on profit and I still didn’t get my Legos!

  53. Carrie says

    I haven’t read all the comments so maybe this was said but something to remember is if she used any store coupons, the store doesn’t get any compensation for store or competitor coupons.

  54. Beth Fuller says

    I’m all for the store treating it as fraud. If the stores crack down on this type of fraud it might stop some of this bad (and illegal!!!!) behavior!! These types of people give all couponers a bad name and make shopping more difficult for everyone!

  55. Kate says

    That has fraud written all over it.

    I knew a couple who used to do that same exact thing. The wife would coupon and get things with coupons from not just the grocery store but drug stores too and return them at Publix. They took turns returning it and going to different stores. But the wife is too busy and doesn’t have patience anymore to do it so as far as I know it has stopped. I cut contact with them so not 100%.

    She also bragged about buying groceries and when Publix didn’t have the item in-stock she used the coupons anyways even though she never bought it.

    When she told me this kind of stuff I didn’t say much at the time but defantly lost all my respect for her. Also, what goes around comes time her husband went to return stuff @ publix and they asked to see his identification and it was the 1st time they had done that.

    In the end, this unethical practice people do with returning and getting credit/cash back could make stores ban coupons or companies to not give out coupons anymore and that would be tragic.

  56. George says

    I enjoy couponing. Of course I buy items I can use. However, I buy a lot of items for the pantry at our church. Couponing is like a game, seeking the “treasure” getting the great deal.. Any way, I was at a walmart and watched a couple of ladies returning three bags of items which I recognized as being recent items on sale with coupons.They were getting cash, telling the customer service clerk, their husband “bought” the wrong stuff and they didn’t need it. I would bet they go around to churches as needy and receive food items. I called the manager over and told him what I thought they were doing and he said if we sell that brand we have to take the item back and refund the cash. They do not restock these items because they have no idea where it has been. A total write off for the company. Now that to me if fraud.

  57. Sheri says

    Who are we to pass judgement on these people? Couponers are basically frugal people. Admit it, you wouldn’t purchase Ocean Spray if on sale for BOGO without a coupon…am I right? Non Couponers think we are greedy, shelf clearer and take so much time at the cash register. Couponers look for ways to save and maximise $$ even creative loopholes as long as it is technically legal. Unless there are written policies in place to stop these practices there will always be people looking for ways to save a buck. Sadly this is the current world and economy we live in. But rest assure there will always be justice at the end. Think about this, if you know what your doing is wrong and it feels wrong yet you do it anyway, remember The Great “I AM” upstairs is watching so be careful on judgement day.

  58. Melissa says

    Its just as bad as clearing a shelf to sell the stuff you got for free or really really cheap at your yard sale for twice the price . . .

  59. Judy Ann says

    I have not real the previous posts..but I will. The people doing this are what I call “sneaky fraud”. They think it is perfectly ok, but I say it is not better than stealing an item and trying to take it back to the store with tage/price on it.(That happens a lot) A crook is crook is a crook and someone who should be arrested for it.I pay highter prices bedause of theft and I just do NOT think any store should do that at all! Now I will go read the posts and see what our fellow couponers think.

  60. Linda Burgoyne says

    This story just leaves me with a very bad taste in my mouth. I don’t think that it matters if it was an item that was a dime or a dollar, if you used a coupon to buy it, you got your discount already. Sometimes an item cannot be put back on the shelf. If the store cannot turn it back into the manufacturer, they are indeed losing money. If you return an item, a receipt should be required as proof of your purchase. The problem is knowing what coupon was used if it doesn’t reflect it on the receipt. It would be hard to tell someone that your not going to give them their money back or store credit without knowing for certain the value of the coupon that was used toward the purchase of the item. The store should require I.D. and keep a file on returns in order to document those who are habitual abusers of the system. Maybe that would help to discourage those who are only trying to make money or get credit from the stores.

  61. Renda says

    Since the definition of fraud is “intentional deception made for personal gain or to damage another individual,” then it does sound like fraud. It sounds as if the customer (since it is happening repeatedly and is not a one-time incident), is trying to make quick cash by returning items that she used high-value coupons on.
    My question is also about the coupons. Were they legitimate coupons or counterfeit? Personally, if it were me, I’d rather have the coupons back so that I could use them some other time.
    The store doesn’t sound like it’s being fraudulent by giving her back the coupons and a store credit for the difference since there’s no personal gain involved.

  62. Karen O says

    I saw a few people say the store is getting theirs and it is not fraud – but the manufacturer is giving money for product that wasn’t actually sold! So, yes – absolutely fraud!! Besides, I have worked in Publix and the federal regulations are such that they have to take as a loss pretty much anything returned to the store due to the risk of tampering. Maybe they don’t with razors but they avbsolutely do with anything consumable

  63. jill pena says

    I don’t agree with it. It is wrong. I was actually shocked when the store gave me back the coupon money one time. I didn’t expect it, but appreciated it. I can see how easily it can be abused. By returning two razors, you can make $8 plus in a few minutes. That is higher than minimum wage. So, what is the answer. There isn’t one. It is a shame that she is doing that.

    But, worrying about the stores stopping coupons? Think again. JC Penney is getting a big dose of that. I think they lost like 50 million in sales. It sure stopped me from shopping there.

    The store isn’t losing any money though and if it isn’t a major problem, I think they will just have to get over it. It is very unfortunate. I don’t agree with it, but you can’t go around returning coupons. It’s too much work and a mess. It really isn’t their job to police the coupons unless the coupons themselves are fraudulent.

  64. Ann Y. says

    I agree that it’s definitely fraud. This woman knows what she is doing and I’m sure plans it ahead of time. Who knows how many stores she might be doing this to and in the end, ruining it for us ethical couponers, i.e. when the stores start cracking down and changing their coupon policies in response to the actions of people like her.

    I’m sure there are many people out there who are like this and want to scam the system, but there are many more ethical people who do things the right way and who end up paying for it in one way or another.

  65. Katie says

    It is disgusting. It is a kindness to accept a return without a receipt, and the store shouldn’t have to do so.

  66. Cindy says

    Fraud for sure! Why would any store with video documentation allow this to continue Knowing her intent? She should be banned from shopping at the store and told if she tries it again they’ll take appropriate action against her. Then she should be escorted from the property. This is why there soon will be a ‘store card’ for every store which every shopper will be required to obtain. I don’t follow the thinking that that store doesn’t lose any money. If a razor is priced $12.00, a customer purchases it with a $5 coupon, the customer pays $7.00 out of pocket. The customer then returns the razor, gets her $7.00 back and her coupon, thus allowing her to try her devious scheme elsewhere. The store put man hours in and got nothing, but frustration. They should not, nor are they obligated to give her the coupon back. Giving her the coupon back is perpetuating this fraud.

  67. Alexis Marie says

    I work for Publix. If you know for a FACT the customer used coupons, you can nicely ask them if they purchase the item with the coupons. If they are honest you can give them the cash for ONLY what was paid out of pocket.

  68. hali says

    I think what the lady is doing is fraud, but STUPID, because even if she ussed a coupon most stores will still give you a store credit for the full price of the item so it was pointless for her to be sooo shady about her dealings.

  69. Nichell says

    This is kind off the subject, but I was in Pubix a few months ago when they had the coupons that give back $5 gift cards. I purchased the items required to get the gift cards. I used two coupons in separate transactions. I realized I forgot a bag of salad I needed. So I got back in line with the same cashier, the person in front of me was the cashier’s friend, I know this because the were pretty chatty. The lady had the same items I had in first 2 transactions, the cashier asked her if she had these coupons and took the coupons I had just used out of her coupon bag and gave them to her friend so she could get 2 $5 gift cards. Then sent the bag boy to get the gift cards. IS THAT FRAUD? I think so because they were coupons that i had already used. She looked at me with a look of guilt. I told that was not right what you just did. But I didn’t want her to lose her job so I didn’t tell the manager. I should have!

  70. Tom says

    Yes it is fraud and unethical. Where I shop at Publix in South Florida, there is a bigger problem with some people, what they do is get the BOGO items use coupons on them, and them return one of them at a later date for full price. The Store knows who these people are and know what they are doing, but can’t prove it, so they refund the money.

  71. MrCoupon says

    It ABSOLUTELY is fraud and it gives those of us who use coupons a bad name – just as those who buy on 15-20 of things makes couponers look “greedy” as well as depriving subsistance-level couponers of deals by clearing the shelves and not allowing “regular folks” to save a few bucks on their groceries. I mean really who NEEDS 25 deodorants? (If so, your problems are greater than Right Guard can fix).
    But to get back to the question – yes, it is fraud, and he should have his couponing privledges suspended.

  72. maggie says

    I believe intention is what sets this scenario apart. I have had one instance-razors no less, where I have returned the item and gotten the coupon money back. I bought the wrong kind and the store didn’t have the kind i wanted. I received the full refund (the store didn’t want to sort through coupons to find mine)and went to another store and bought the item. I fully intended to used the original item and the store submitted the coupons for reimbursement.

    This woman buys items with the intention of returning them-very different than what most of us do.

  73. RN1 says

    Most definitely it is fraud! And while I have read some of you say it is not hurting the store because they get reimbursed and get to sell the product again, that is not the point. It is actually hurting the manufacturer of the product. They are paying out a coupon on a purchase that the store is reselling, which another coupon may be used on, quite possibly by the same crooked person. While I most definitely worry about store coupon policies changing, I really worry about the manufacturers changing their coupon redemption policies and values of coupons. Just in the two+ years I have been couponing, values and limits have changed drastically. The sales at stores have changed also. It is still possible to combine sales and coupons and get some really good deals, occas freebies, but definitely not like it was a couple of years ago. With continued misuse and abuse, we are all going to suffer. What is really sad is that Target had to update their coupon policy to address this issue due to the widespread problems they were having with the exact same issue.

  74. Cami1 says

    When discussing fraud, it’s necessary to consider the intent of those involved. In this case it appears the woman’s intent is to deceive the store and to receive an unlawful gain; therefore, I believe she is conducting a fraudulent act.

  75. Tammy says

    Yes, I think it is fraud. Based on the posts that I have read, I think we are all trying to determine wether or not Publix is getting cheated and if this is a “fair” transaction. That’s not really the point. Fraud is wrongful or criminal deception intended to result in financial or personal gain. It seems that this practice by the couponer is just that. Regardless of where the money ends up for Publix, this woman is wrongfully using coupons for financial gain and that is NOT the intended use for couponing. Couponing is for purchasing an item you intend to use and getting it at a discount as designed by the store and manufacturer. I think it would be in Publix’s best interest to take down that customer’s name and start to document her returns. Many retailers do that as a part of normal business and some are beginning to deny returns based on neglect. It would be extra work for Publix, but it might start to deter abuser’s. If she had taken an exchange on her item, that would be a different scenario.

  76. Terri says

    This is similar to something my husband was involved in, and yes, it is fraud. I’ll change the names of everything to make my point.

    In the late 80’s, Danny worked at Macy’s. He would purchase expensive bedding when it went on sale for 50% off. With his employee discount, he would get a $500 item for $100 at Macy’s He would take off the Dept store tag and then a few days later return it to Neiman-Marcus and get his Visa/Mc charged back the full price of $500. He would wait a few weeks and purchase another one from Macy’s and return it to Barney’s and get another $500 credit to his credit card. He then got the idea to pull women’s bridal registry and when he returned an item, he would mention that it was on Ms. Jane Doe’s registry if they needed proof it was purchased at the competing store. This went on for months and he always had a huge credit on his Visa. He would take extravagant trips and vacations, using his credit to cover his costs.

    Eventually, someone he worked with at Macy’s left and got a job at a competing store, and when he went through training, security presented a seminar and mentioned a ‘criminal’ that was doing this and they were close to catching him. He told this to Danny and he abruptly stopped doing it.

    So, yeah, it’s WRONG

  77. Katie says

    Yes, it is fraud. The store might get their money, but all that means is that this woman is defrauding the manufacturer instead of Publix. And I think there are one or two of these people at every store. Makes me want to take them down in the parking lot LOL

  78. Debbie says

    Although I would NEVER attempt to do this, I do not pass judgement on her. Maybe she is trying to feed her family. I am out of work, have two kids to feed and do not qualify for any assistance because I own my own home. Maybe she is just try to scrap by. We don’t know her situation, and we are all accountable for our own actions. An average person would not go through this to profit a few dollars.

  79. Danielle says

    Not sure if it is fraud or not but it is just wrong. Customers used to do a similar thing at Target with the Crest white strips, use a $10 target coupon and a $10 manufacturer coupon, a return without the receipt gets them $20 they did not spend and they were purchasing the item with the intention of returning it. Target started refusing refunds on the product and I can’t blame them. The stores can not redeem the manufacturer coupon if they can not prove the sale and their $10 coupon was a loss. Maybe it is not fraud but IMHO it is theft. The $3 Nivea coupons from last year had customers doing the same thing which cause alot of stores to clear the shelf and stay out of stock until the coupon expired.

  80. Linda says

    Target keeps track of customers who return products without a receipt. There is a limit of a certain $$ amount within a year. Maybe all stores need to do that to protect themselves from this type of bad couponing. There are couponers who give the rest of us a bad name.

  81. Monica M says

    Sadly this goes on in many ways with or without coupons. When I worked at Food Lion, we would have women return formula that they purchased using WIC for a store credit. After we caught on, we reported it to the WIC department and they were kicked off. It is fraud in ever way regardless of the reason why someone does it.

  82. Carrie says

    I think this is definitely fraud. I feel like this kind of thing makes stores (and the people who work the checkout lines) look at couponers in a negative way. I still use my coupons but it seems to me like they have a real negative attitude when I do. I stopped shopping at one Publix because I thought the attitude I was getting was completely unacceptable! I’m lucky there is another nice Publix with nice employees nearby. I’m not saving huge amounts of money each week with my coupons but I do it to save a little bit on a grocery bill that has to feed a family of 7. It sure would be nice if the stores would not promote this type of attitude amongst their employees.

  83. Bryan says

    Yes, it is fraud. Some of you have suggested that the store would be reimbursed for the coupon anyway. However, that only happens if the store has actually bought enough of the item from the manufacturer to equal the number of coupons submitted for redemption.

    I like saving money as much as anyone, and couponing is actually fun for me. There are enough legitimate opportunities to coupon and eat for less that cheating isn’t necessary.

  84. Debmom says

    This is definitely fraud. I have a story to share with you. I went to Target a few months back. I needed to exchange an item I bought. In front o me in the customer service line is a couple with 2 carts overflowing with items they are returning. They have receipts. All of the items in the cart are items that had high dollar coupons associated with them. (Olay $5/1, Dove $2/1) Since I knew the coupons I was able to glance through their cart while I was waiting and tell they all had dollar or more coupons associated with them. Well this couple HAD used coupons and was getting the full purchase price back – to the tune of hundreds of dollars extra back from returning items with coupons. I found out from the employee when it was my turn that they do this every week. Thus couponing and returning is a money making scam for them. I was so outraged that I called corporate but it did no good – they could not undrstand what I was talking about.

  85. Jan says

    Maybe not “Fraud” in the legal sense, but this definately creates a very negative image for couponers and it puts us all on the defensive. The stores do not want to promote using coupons to “make money” by returning items after for a full refund. It defeats the purpose for manufactuers to issue coupons when they want you to “try” their product.We all will suffer if they decide that couponing is not working to their advantage. :(

  86. Lynn says

    It was lying and fraud (whether legally so or not I do not know) and absolutely wrong. If she wanted a refund, she should have used the receipt. She is perpetrating a fraud on the store and wasting their time and resources to make money by lying and using the coupons in a way they are not meant to be used, thereby defrauding the issuer of a sale.

    People like that will ruin it for the rest of us. They will cause stores to have to enact policies that hurt us all and discourage companies from issuing good coupons. They are a bane to us all.

    I am sorry hard times are on us and it is tempting to try to take advantage of the system. I get that. We have been without work in our home for well over a year and a half with no unemployment benefits, so I get it. But thievery is not the answer. I am grateful for the coupons. I got 4 12 oz packages of coffee for the price of 2 yesterday and am so thankful.

  87. samantha says

    I agree that it is playing the system. Its a problem that so many honest people who use coupons to survive get mean looks and remarks for using coupons in line because of people like this! I get that the store gets the money from the manufacturer but its still wrong.

  88. says defines fraud as the following (among others):

    >>1. deceit, trickery, sharp practice, or breach of confidence, perpetrated for profit or to gain some unfair or dishonest advantage.
    2. a particular instance of such deceit or trickery: mail fraud; election frauds.<<

    What this woman is trying to do is fraud (and ridiculously unethical). She is basically buying the razors and then asking the store to buy them back from her for more than she paid for them. The store manager has made a good decision, not giving her back full price for the razors, especially since he knows that she did not pay full price for them originally.

    Maybe he could also remind her that if she just would save her receipt, she would save herself (and him) a little hassle when she tries to "return" things like that.

  89. TClipper says

    These MULTIMILLIONAIRE Companies rip us off everyday for things they know that “We need” so you know what GOOD for you!! Using a coupon and getting a refund isn’t fraud! Maybe repeatedly on camera. But, there are much bigger fish to fry than the little old lady using a coupon ang getting a refund. Come on folks!! REALLY!! Lol, they make pleanty of money off us!! It feels good to get over once in a while!! Stick it to the man!! LOl

  90. nancy says

    i returned something that had a $2 off coupon stuck to the package & when i returned it i made ot completely aware but they still gave me full price, but i figure whatever only $2 :-/

  91. Jmuse says

    From a manager’s perspective: I know I’m a little late to the party, but in the case of products that are okay to restock on to shelves (I.e. razors, sealed health and beauty products, etc) think about the amount of payroll a store has to waste to pay the employee to restock all that merch.

    Now many of you may think its just a razor or two. What’s the harm right? In actuality, the amount these people return can fill half a shopping cart. Its a time consuming and irritating task putting all this back on the shelf.

    In the case of medicine, vitamins, perishables, or any other products that are REQUIRED to be defected out, those are a complete loss for the store. Anything returned to a store will show up as sales lost, not gained. For example, if a store makes $100,000 and processed $10,000 in returns, at the end of the day the store actually only made $90k. With the stuff restocked on to shelves, we can potentially make back a portion (factoring out the payroll required to restock). But all the stuff that has to get tossed is complete money lost, with the exception of the redemption amount offered b the coupon, which still isn’t a lot.

    Say an item is $10. You use an MQ valued at $5. Throw on a store coupon for another $5. You get it for free. Store only gets $5.08 from that one item. Stores don’t get reimbursed for their own coupon. Return the item for full value, even though it can’t be restocked. Store loses a total of $4.96 for that one item. Now multiply that to the true amount that people try return. Store can potentially lose more than $200 from ONE person. I personally have seen someone almost getting away with $400.

    Depending on you point of view, it may not be fraud. But from the perspective of a store manager, its a combination of a monetary loss, a waste of payroll, and a major headache. And you may think its ok to screw over corporations, which is fine if that’s your prerogative. But just think about the employee, who at the end of the day, is the one who ultimately gets screwed.

    • Jmuse says

      And just to be clear, I’m not talking about people who genuinely got the wrong kind of razor or toothpaste. This was directed towards people who intentionally tweak the couponing system to make money off of it.

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