CVS Taking Heat for Length of Store Receipts
As retail "controversies’ go, longer sales receipts is probably not one of the bigger ones. It also isn’t an issue about a single retailer as we discovered in a 2009 RetailWire article and poll, which found that only 13 percent were positive about longer receipts while 59 percent saw them as being extremely wasteful.
All that being said, CVS has been receiving some negative press and social media commentary over the length of its paper receipts.
Take this posting from the Facebook page "One Million Strong Against Unnecessarily Long CVS Receipts" as an example: "My last CVS receipt for $3.34 was 25.5 inches long. And that’s too (expletive) long. I don’t care that they use my CVS card to track me across the planet, I just want a receipt that isn’t 1/3rd my height."
David Lazarus of the Los Angeles Times has been dogged in his pursuit of CVS on the company’s receipt policy. Mr. Lazarus’ basic contention with the drugstore chain is that its Extra Bucks reward system could (should) apply discounts directly to the consumer’s ExtraCare loyalty card rather than to a long, tree-killing (our emphasis) receipt that consumers by-and-large neither like nor want. CVS offers two percent off purchases if card holders present receipts at its stores.
CVS has added to issue, according to Mr. Lazarus, by suggesting that it would be moving to shorter receipts and then reversing course. Specifically, Mr. Lazarus claimed that CVS chief marketing officer Rob Price had told him that "the receipt won’t be the currency going forward" and "the goal is to have the reward stored in the customer’s card."
It should be noted that CVS does have a system in place for customers to shorten the length of receipts. All they need to do is go online and register for ExtraCare emails. Special offers are then emailed to consumers rather than going on receipt slips. The only problem with that, according to a blog on The Atlantic site, is "Customers who want to avoid receipts and still use their coupons will have to read each coupon email and decide whether to send it to their printer or to their CVS card. Which is annoying, almost as annoying as receiving a 25-inch receipt after purchasing a quart of milk."
Back to Mr. Lazarus. He asked readers of the LA Times to let him know how they felt about the receipt issue. He reported that he stopped counting the number that came in once it reached 400 and that the vast majority were for shorter emails and rewards being placed directly on their ExtraCare cards.
One person who wrote in, Ann McCann, said, "I love your store, but never benefit from the extra bucks because my super-long receipt is a) at home, b) in my purse, expired, or c) accidentally gone forever in the garbage."
A CVS spokesperson told Mr. Lazarus that the small sample of objections he presented to the drugstore chain did not represent the universe of card holders and those in favor of the current system "actually proves the point we were trying to make, which is that there are still customers that want that choice."
- The Incredible, Growing Sales Receipt – RetailWire
- Ridiculously Long CVS Receipts Will Remain Ridiculously Long – The Atlantic
- One Million Strong Against Unnecessarily Long CVS Receipts – Facebook
- Wake up and hear the rewards clamor, CVS – Los Angeles Times
- CVS backs off from a more customer-friendly rewards practice – Los Angeles Times
- When a reward isn’t really a reward – Los Angeles Times
Discussion Questions: Where do you come down on long receipt issue? Are there legitimate business reasons for tying offers to receipts rather than placing then directly on a loyalty card?