Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Couponer Part I.

Part I.

Couponer (noun): A person who obsessively spends an inordinate amount of time using sale items in conjunction with coupons in order to gain the largest return on every dollar. Similar to a stock broker, but works in monetary units of less than a dollar at a time.

In my many years in retail, I think perhaps the most profound lesson that I have learned is that people are ridiculous. I have many unanswered questions that keep piling up. Why do you need 10 Dove body washes? What would recipe calls for 49 cans of stuffed olives? How much hair gel do you use on a daily basis? Are you preparing for the zombie apocalypse? Does a bug out bag need Venus razors that have 2 extra moisture bars? 

Now, in all honesty, I have used coupons before and I am aware of the show that only highlights the madness of coupons. Actually, there are probably several at this point, but I don't care to watch them. My acute awareness of the phenomenon is enough. It has come to my immediate attention that people are crazy. I have tried to possibly keep myself in denial, for I technically fall into the evolutionary category of homosapien, which includes the social category of 'people'. Due to this stage one denial, I have not realized how insane the whole BUSINESS of coupons has become. In short, it's intense. Let's do a brief review of the coupon storm.

The economy was ok, now it's not. Coupons have always invaded our mailbox and were regularly disposed of, unless you were the 5% of the population who actually skimmed through them and the 1% that redeemed them. These once annoying pieces of papers cluttering our mailboxes are now in sealed plastic in retail stores. Why? Because people STEAL coupons. Can you picture it? Two people outside a retail store, huddled together by the Red Box machine, hatching a plan to boost not product (although I have many funny stories about those who have tried and failed) but coupons. Bad economy means less value to your dollar, yen, euro, pick one, and thus an attempt to stretch that dollar, yen, euro, etc. This leads to what we call a code 75, a customer meltdown. I have done refunds for 25 cents. Was your time and gas money to come back into the store worth it? Well, ok, here's your quarter. Off you go. Thank you, come again.

They come in book form, newspaper form, single form, as well as now electronic form, like your phone and email. They also come in fraudulent form, but that's another discussion. They can be combined with other sales as well as in store coupons. Ideally, it saves you money and time. Realistically, it saves YOU time, but the poor cashier who is scanning these damn things are spending five minutes to a transaction when it should only be less than a minute per transaction. I say less than a minute if you are in a drug store, which is where my experience derives from. I won't even calculate the time that is spent on the bookkeeping of these coupons.

 My job is retail, their job is couponing. I have learned that there are coupon groups that teach couponing best practices. There are people who spend 40 hous a week plus, clipping, sorting, researching, shopping, and stocking up on these sale items. What happened to scrapbooking and knitting?

Tell me, how much money do you save if you spend $100 when you only need $5 worth of the product. Sure, you have it stockpiled, but unless your family is as large as the Duggar family, you don't honestly need 50 bars of deodorant. Do you? I'm asking. I'm truly curious. 

Dear Extreme Couponers, you are on the wrong show. You should be on Hoarders. The attempt to obsessively save money is apparently addictive. Similarly, the attempt to never spend money created the category of people known as moochers. 

Anyways, in case you were interested, there is a book that mentions the idea of spending thrift and the misconception of that idea. The book is entitled Against Thrift by James Livingston, Basic Books 2011.