New supermarket policy curbs 'extreme' couponing

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INDIANAPOLIS - That "ping" sound from the supermarket register can be an irritation... or the sound of savings. For Cherie Lowe, a professional coupon clipper, it's the sound of accomplishment.

"I think coupons need to be a practical, everyday sort of experience, not something that you spend an exorbitant amount of time on," says Lowe.

Lowe teaches classes on how to save money with coupons. Her own coupon habit, which includes organization in a three-ring binder, has helped her cut more than $111,000 in personal debt. She knows how the in's and out's of coupon rules of most every grocery store, and she helped Eyewitness News navigate Kroger's new coupon policy.

Until recently, Kroger has allowed "extreme couponing", which meant that some people were getting items for free. With a recent policy change, Kroger will now allow no more than one Internet-printed coupon per item, and they'll allow only two such coupons per customer per day.

And if the coupon is blurred or doesn't scan, Kroger will not accept it.

"What we are trying to do with the coupon policy is allow customers to save money but deter some extreme behavior," said John Elliott, a Kroger spokesman. 

The bottom line for the company is that giving away merchandise is not a good business practice, and that continuing the previous policy would eventually cause prices to rise.

Back to Lowe, she also teaches in her class that taking "extreme advantage" of coupons hurts everyone. "When consumers clear out a shelf or they limit the amount of product that is available, that begins to get on my nerves," said Lowe. She says hoarding items, or buying just because it is a good deal, is not the best way to save money.