For years, retail stores have used coupons as a mostly successful means of attracting customers to their stores. Usually, additional purchases will offset any possible loss, and it works out for the best. This was simply not the case, however, for the Kroger stores that were recently shopped by Madeline Huffman, an extreme couponer from Cinco Ranch, Texas. Jack Destin, Kroger’s Regional Manager, estimates that Ms. Huffman has cost the store upwards of a half million dollars in the past year.
“Coupons are designed to lose money. That’s just how they work,” said Destin in a phone interview. “Normally the cost is offset. People come in, buy things using coupons, but they buy lots of other things, too, and no customer walks out actually costing us money. But Ms. Huffman is different. She was finding every coupon she could get her hands on, doubling them up, bringing in price matches, getting the maximum allotment of every item that she could. She was using the coupons in a way that allowed her to buy from our stores for less than our cost for those items. She then created a resale market both locally, and on the internet. She found a loophole in the system, and she used it to strangle our profits. People like her are a bane on the free market. Needless to say, we will drastically changing our coupon policy here at Kroger. And you all have Ms. Huffman to blame.”
Madeline Huffman isn’t concerned. “Kroger is just one fish in the pond. He didn’t have to be so rude though,” She said in response to Mr. Destin’s comments. “You see, I don’t feel bad at all. These big chains put these deals out there thinking that society is too fast paced or too stupid for someone to take advantage. This time they got burned. But it was them that started the fire. Kroger actually threatened a lawsuit against me. I laughed and told them to go ahead, so I could take some more of their money. You can’t stick your dinghy in a light socket and sue the electric company when you get electrocuted.” She chuckled. “Sounds like they won’t be putting it in the light socket anymore.”