Extreme Couponing: When Charity Goes Too Far
TLC’s Extreme Couponing is back tonight.
Last week we talked about one of the greatest aspects of Extreme Couponing: Giving back!
Then we got the following email from a reader that we felt needed to be addressed. A fruGAL set out at a local Walgreens Thanksgiving morning to take advantage of the amazing sales they were having. She encountered a group of women shopping and addressed her email to them:
“I saw the ad just like you did. I knew I had great coupons that would give me free products. I too, was excited. I arrived at the store 5 minutes before it opened, because I know that if I don’t take advantage of a good deal early, it disappears…
My list was simple, 3-6 Gillette, rubber bands, Secret Deodorant spray (depending on stock), the candy that was on sale and a few miscellaneous gifts that were deeply discounted. When the door opened, I saw you [ladies] push your way in and grab your carts and sprint off. I walked in and push [my cart] to the candy and by the time I got to the Secret display, it was wiped out (five minutes or less). You [each] had shopping carts… full to the brim with items that Walgreens had on sale. One [of you] was a new coupon lady. The other was teaching you. I felt sad for you, because this is not the way to coupon.
I’m not sure how many bottles of Secret Deodorant spray you each had…. All I know is I saw many, many bottles in each of your carts. I saw a different woman looking for the Gillette, which was also wiped out, she had came in specifically for a couple bottles. I gave her two of my five out of my cart – because it was the right thing to do. I overheard one of you say that you have tons of product already stockpiled and you would be donating what you got today to the homeless shelter….that comment irritated me. This is why:
The sales were awesome, amazing deals and EVERYONE should have the opportunity to take advantage of them. Why should a homeless shelter get 30 bottles of Secret Deodorant Spray, when another person who could be teetering on foreclosure, who might be out of work, who might have limited funds, who simply wants to take advantage of a good deal to get her daughters some nice smelling spray for Christmas (me), can’t because YOU wiped out the shelf in all of three minutes.”
She brings up a great point that I know is a sensitive subject for many. Often in our haste to give back and donate to others, we forget that there are those who are in desperate need of a single item. They aren’t trying to build their stockpiles or amass a garage full of product. They are simply trying to get a good deal on ONE item, or they may go without. They are often attempting to use their couponing skills to keep from ending up in the very shelter those shoppers were trying to support.
I see that the intentions of her fellow shoppers were good. They were trying to do a great thing. But they were inadvertently doing more harm then good. They were clearing shelves in the name of charity. But at the end of the day, clearing a shelf is clearing a shelf, regardless of the motivating factor.
So while we implore you to give back when you are able, we also ask that you do so while being considerate to others. If a truckload full of deodorant is what you are looking to donate, call the store ahead of time and see if they would be willing to place an order. If that is not possible, be respectful of those shopping around you. If your game plan was to donate 100 razors and you get to the store and find only 100 razors total on the shelf, adjust your game plan. Know that any homeless shelter will be grateful for ANY donation, be it 1 or 100 or anywhere in between.
I will now step off my soapbox and allow you guys to chime in.
Do you feel that charitable shopping in any manner is to be commended, regardless of the negative impact it has? Or do you feel there is an appropriate way to give back?