Extreme Couponing for the Kingdom

On Sunday April 24th, 2011, in Business, Food, Ministry, News, Shopping, Technology, TV, Web, by Michael Watson

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I was watching Extreme Couponing the other day on TV. This show explores the addictive nature of coupon clipping and the gratification they get when they go on large shopping sprees or hoard enough items to live on for a year or two.  These people go to the extreme by spending most of their days searching for coupons, going to grocery stores to pre-shop, calculate different coupon deals and making detailed lists of the items that they are going to buy. It is something that is unhealthy as these people strive for the free deal and hoard all of these unneeded supplies for the sake of satisfaction.

The coupon cutters in the show do it so well that they will fill up handfulls of shopping  carts totaling a thousand to several thousand dollars and after they use their coupons, they will only end up paying tens or maybe hundreds of dollars. Some of them will only shop for free coupons which results in the shopper only paying the sales tax that would have been incurred when buying a regular priced item. If they can not find the coupons themselves, shoppers pay a coupon cutting service which cuts out coupons on behalf of couponers and sends the coupons to the shopper for a small fee. This allows shoppers to buy tens or hundreds of items at the same time because these coupon services have the ability to find thousands of coupons.

How does coupon cutting advance His Kingdom? Well this one coupon cutter did something that was almost inspirational. – I say almost because as a business major the idea that people could cut so many coupons and pay close to nothing is astonishing to me. – This coupon cutter saw a sale on cereal and calculated the price on boxes of cereal after a couple complimentary deals. This gentleman got coupons from a coupon cutting service. He alerted the store in advance that they needed to order a thousand boxes of cereal as he was going to buy them all. He bought a thousand boxes of cereal for under one hundred dollars. The great part was after we saw him purchase all of this cereal, he announced that the cereal was going to a local food bank. With coupons he was able to do so much more for the homeless and for God’s kingdom than people who donate money alone.

I think it is awesome that he was able to buy so much food for such a low price. This presents a great opportunity for philanthropists everywhere. However, I wonder if there are other ethical considerations that must be reconciled. For example, is it taking advantage of a company to use coupons in a way that would allow you to get food for close to free? The reason why companies give coupons is for prospective customers to sample, try, or reward their products or services. Coupons were not intended for people to constantly receive free products or services. On the other hand, why would a company allow customers to cut coupons and get a thousand of items for free if they couldn’t support it or indirectly allow it?

Is Extreme Couponing okay? Is it okay for helping the unfortunate?

One Response to Extreme Couponing for the Kingdom

  1. Laura Weed says:

    I think you’ve posed an interesting question here. Cereal and food companies (and almost every other type of manufacturer) already allow for a large portion of their products to go for philanthropy. Is this “forced” donation beyond their intended scope of giving?
    On the other hand we hear lots of requests, especially at holiday time, telling us that only “$5 will feed a family of 4 for a week”. This is a similar example of this type of giving. A box of cereal in the store costs the consumer typically $4-$6. It costs the manufacturer about 20 cents, if that. For the most part, when offering even the most generous coupon, the manufacturer is recovering their cost of goods on each box. This cost includes their labor costs, overhead, etc, so all their employees are still taking home a wage even at this price. They are sacrificing their “profit” margin in order to get a new customer. Each company has to examine its own offerings and discounts and calculate large amounts of response. If they’re not calculating correctly, they’ll quickly find out and change that offer in the future.

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