CVS, STOP WASTING OUR TIME WITH UNUSABLE COUPONS! CVS’s best coupons require that the customer go to the store to print them at a dedicated coupon-printing device, but THE STORE COUPON PRINTERS SELDOM WORK, REMOVING THE OFFER FROM THE CUSTOMER’S EXTRACARE ACCOUNT WITHOUT PRINTING A COUPON. Thus, again (after many similar problems), I took the time to go to my local CVS and scan my ExtraCare card to print a coupon but LOST THE DISCOUNT PROMISED IN THE E-MAIL THAT INSISTED THE COUPON COULD ONLY BE PRINTED AT THE STORE. From my own experience and an informal poll of friends and family, THIS IS THE USUAL OUTCOME. The error message on the coupon machine was generic. I found out that the coupons can be printed at the cash register, but they become unavalable after scanning the ExtraCare card at a non-printing coupon machine. By the way, CVS’s coupons can’t be used for an additional discount on sale items, so they aren’t that great anyway. The prices are high, and I only shop there for their buy-one-get-one free vitamins (which are excluded from coupon discounts) or when I need medical supplies and don’t have time to shop elsewhere (as in this case, with my husband coming home from the hospital). Normally, I just pick up prescriptions and leave. Even so, between prescriptions and the type of shopping listed above, I and my family have dropped several thousands of dollars per year in CVS’s coffers. The store manager couldn’t help (although he gave me a $2 coupon which he said was “more than 30%” — don’t they require that store managers understand basic math?). When I returned to my office, I called CVS ExtraCare customer service at 800-746-7287, where I had to escalate to a supervisor to get actual help. After a lengthy wait and much repetition, the supervisor finally put the offer back on my account, except that THE COUPON WON’T BE AVAILABLE FOR 48 HOURS AND STILL MUST BE PRINTED AT THE STORE. I am extremely busy with family in the hospital and a crushing workload; I asked the supervisor to e-mail a coupon that I could print at home, but he said “the system” wouldn’t allow that. I had planned to spend the next day’s lunch hour picking up over $100 worth of supplies and prescriptions at CVS to be ready for my husband’s hospital discharge. 48 hours later will be too late for me. This is elementary programming: Allow customer-supervisors to over-ride the 48-hour wait time and build in an error-check that leaves the offer on the customer’s account if the coupon doesn’t print successfully. I would customize the error message to say that the the cashier can print the coupon at the register. I shared this with the CVS supervisor. He seemed amazed that I: a) couldn’t wait 48 hours for a coupon that was supposed to have been available for several days; b) anyone would complain about repeated inability to get or use coupons that were promised in writing; and c) that a programmer could include error-checking for the coupon printers. Now I see why I am the only person among my friends and family who still patronizes CVS. We count on our CVS pharmacist, who is competent and dedicated. Unfortunately for me (and CVS), the idiots who put together the marketing strategy requiring that coupons be printed on unreliable store machines didn’t folow through to make sure the printing process actually works (or at least doesn’t prevent the customer using the promised coupon by printing at the register). Instead, they are driving customers away by breaking promises, wasting customers’ time, and looking generally inept. Not qualities that I want associated with a company that handles my family’s presription rmedication. CVS’s ridiculous requirement that customers use the store’s flimsy coupon printers is putting the company at risk of legal action. I have reported this to the Better Business Bureau and the FTC: bbb.org/consumer-complaint/file-a-complaint/get-started (might have to set your location for BBB complaint) and www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov Here is some free advice to all retailers from a long-time sales professional: Concentrate on competitive pricing and high-quality customer service instead of unworkable and irritating promotions that eat customers’ time and make them angry. If you can’t control the outcome for the customer, don’t adopt the promotion. I’ve spent hours that I will never get back trying to use CVS coupons and to warn other busy people about CVS’s silly promitions, but I want them held accountable in public for making false promises and repeatedly wasting my time. My bad: I should have learned from my experiences long ago and moved our prescriptions to a different pharmacy located in a competently managed retail store. .
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