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Couponer felt 'attacked' after she says Dollar General cashier called cops

UPDATE: 'Coupon Ken' fired after calling cops on extreme couponer at Dollar General

It's not uncommon for a savvy customer to understand a store's couponing policy better than its own employees, but it's not every day an employee calls the police on said savvy shopper.

Perhaps that's why video has gone viral of an incident allegedly showing the manager of a Buffalo Dollar General store calling police on a customer he said was "trying to take advantage of the system."

Or perhaps it's because it's the latest in a long string of highly publicized incidents where white people have called police on black people for doing noncriminal things.

Madonna Wilburn, a special education and social studies teacher in the Buffalo Public Schools, was shopping at the Dollar General store on Genesee Street last week. To maximize her savings, she was using digital store coupons from the Dollar General app, which she held out on her smartphone for the manager to scan.

The manager, who later identified himself on video as Ken Dudek, began telling Wilburn that the coupons were for the wrong items, so she tried explaining the particulars of the deal. He is heard on camera saying, "I don't have to do it if I don't want to."

"You’ve already gotten $15 off of these products, and you’re trying to play games with the digital coupons and it’s not going to work," he said in the video.

Wilburn picked up the camera because the man was getting angry and she "didn't know where the situation was going to go," particularly because he had said, "I hate people like you," she said.

"That attacked so many different parts of me because I'm a female, I'm a black female, I'm a couponer," she said. "So, what do you hate?"

He also told her to "shut up" before the camera started rolling, she said.

"It's embarrassing, people are looking at you as if you're scheming, like you're some type of thief or something," she said.

Police arrived, but no charges were filed. Wilburn said they seemed annoyed to be responding for a non-issue and told her to contact Dollar General’s headquarters. Buffalo police didn’t have a record of the incident.

 

Wilburn later posted a screenshot of what looked like a private Facebook message from Dudek, telling her he would contact his attorney if she didn't remove the video, which had already gone viral by that time.

Representatives at Dollar General's Tennessee headquarters declined to answer questions, but said they "encourage customers to utilize both digital and manufacturer coupons to help them save money."

"Additionally, we always strive to deliver the best possible customer service and we are disappointed when this does not occur. We take matters like this very seriously and are fully investigating the incident," spokesperson Crystal Ghassemi wrote in an email.

Dudek could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

The local incident is just the latest of many viral videos showing white people calling police on black people for doing innocuous things the callers don't approve of, such as a Yale University graduate student who fell asleep while studying, a little girl who was selling bottled water from her porch and men who were barbecuing with a charcoal grill in an Oakland park.

In fact, just days before Wilburn posted her experience, another post was shared more than a thousand times depicting a CVS employee in Chicago calling police on a black woman trying to use coupons there. No charges were filed against the customer in that case, either, but the employees involved were terminated.

'Coupon Ken' fired after calling cops on extreme couponer at Dollar General

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