CVS to Shorten Receipts Amid Social Firestorm

Discussion
Aug 29, 2013

In response to an explosion of social media mockery, CVS revealed plans to shorten the length of its in-store receipts tied to its ExtraCare loyalty program by about 25 percent. None of cash-back rewards typically offered will be eliminated.

Customers have complained about the lengthy receipts for years with a 2009 article in the Wall Street Journal documenting the increasing size of receipts at CVS, Duane Reade and Kmart.

A 2011 Los Angeles Times article indicated that CVS had been planning to switch to putting cash-back rewards on customer’s ExtraCare cards amid the complaints. But it then decided to keep the "Extra Bucks" offers on the receipts because it said members liked to "feel the reward."

Last week, the complaints went viral. An @CVS_Receipt parody account created on Twitter had over 950 followers as of last night as well as postings on Instagram that ridiculed the lengthy receipts. Many pictures showed shocked adults and kids standing next to receipts longer than themselves. Some indicated they had only bought one item, and many added sarcastic comments, such as, "The favorite part of my CVS receipt is the sports section," and, "Tonight I’m just going to stay in, relax and curl up with a good CVS receipt."

Coverage in Huffington Post and Fast Company spread the story. On the Today show last Wednesday, Matt Lauer joked, "I understand the need for coupons, but we’re supposed to try to move to a paperless society.’

After initialliy defending itself by stating that ExtraCare rewards redemptions were at an all time high, CVS switched course last Friday. In a post on Facebook, Rob Price, chief marketing officer, CVS/pharmacy, joked that CVS had indeed gone "LONG on savings" to bring more value to ExtraCare members. Referencing the social media parodies, he also remarked that CVS had noticed the "very creative uses" of its receipts.

But he noted that with members asking "for ALL the savings and LESS paper," CVS found a way to reduce the size of the ExtraCare portion of their receipts by 25 percent while still providing all the coupons and rewards. The smaller receipts will start printing in coming weeks.

In addition, next year CVS will allow ExtraCare members to receive all rewards and savings directly to their card. Currently only select offers can be stored paperlessly on ExtraCare cards.

Mr. Price concluded, "We hope you will continue to redeem each of your personalized offers but for the ones you don’t use, please don’t forget to recycle! Thanks for the feedback."

Some bloggers following the CVS response felt 25 percent wasn’t long enough.

How would you rate CVS’s handling of the social uproar over their lengthy receipts? Is a 25 percent reduction enough? Is some acknowledgment of rewards savings on receipts a benefit to shoppers?

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17 Comments on "CVS to Shorten Receipts Amid Social Firestorm"


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Liz Crawford
Guest
5 years 5 months ago

Laugh and the world laughs with you. The best answer to this kind of social media buzz is to join in the fun, while making an effort to correct the situation.

Ian Percy
Guest
5 years 5 months ago

CVS seems to be handling it okay, just far too late. Did no one connected to the store have the same reaction customers did? Were they afraid to say anything? On the other hand, this is all attention CVS wouldn’t have received if this hadn’t happened.

Frankly even the post office, restaurants and many retail stores have unnecessarily long receipts. One of us needs to do a space analysis on exactly what information is taking up what space. If a warranty is spelled out on it, maybe that’s worth the space. If it’s nonsense about ‘how much we care for you’ then it’s not.

And really why is a receipt needed at all in so many incidences? The cashier may ask if you want it but even if you don’t, they print it anyway and throw it out. Surely it can work like gas station machines that have a choice of print or not.

Max Goldberg
Guest
5 years 5 months ago

It’s good to see that CVS finally got the message, but only a 25% reduction? They have a great opportunity to garner some positive publicity and do something good for the environment, while saving money, by dramatically shortening their receipts. Let’s hope that they take the critical comments to heart and move their loyalty program into the 21st century.

David Livingston
Guest
5 years 5 months ago

It doesn’t matter if CVS shortens their receipts or not. What’s important is that it’s press, and all press is GOOD press. If the long receipts improve sales then by all means keep it up. The bonus is the you get more press when people make fun of it online. If the stores were losing sales because of this, then CVS should change their approach. But for now they they have this quirky long receipt thing going for them to draw attention for free.

Cathy Hotka
Guest
5 years 5 months ago

What a buzzkill. Now we’ll have to find another retailer to mock!

Paula Rosenblum
Guest
5 years 5 months ago

There’s something fundamentally bizarre about thinking it’s “great” to put the rewards on the receipts in the first place.

There are a few other retailers who do the same. Unless you’re a “coupon clipper,” all these little pieces of paper have zero value. I just throw them away..because the last time I tried to save one it took too long to do something with it.

At least the Bed Bath & Beyond 20% off cards are too big to lose, and can be stored in the trunk of my car (I’ve got a couple in each). Can’t figure out why retailers (and their customers, I guess) are so locked in the last century.

Kenneth Leung
Guest
5 years 5 months ago

I think CVS handled it the best way they could. At the end of the day, a little humor earlier would probably be better. Personally I think it would be great if they used this as an opportunity to announce an email receipt option for Extra Care reward members, and encourage new members to sign up.

John Boccuzzi, Jr.
Guest
John Boccuzzi, Jr.
5 years 5 months ago

The printing of rewards today favors the retailer far more than the consumer. Direct to card rewards/coupons is the best option for shoppers. It shortens receipts and guarantees the shopper receives the savings (Breakage is part of the retail model. They expect some consumers not to remember the paper coupon.).

They handled the social media blitz fine. The “Long on Savings” was a nice way for Rob Price to have a bit of fun with a problem they plan to address. But a 25% reduction is not enough.

Ed Dunn
Guest
5 years 5 months ago

Thermal receipt printing is pretty expensive, so it would benefit both the environment and bottom line to keep any form of paper printing to a minimum.

Marie haines
Guest
5 years 5 months ago

Hysterical, I stopped at CVS this morning to pick up an item that cost 50 cents and got 20″ of receipt!

My biggest complaint with the CVS Rewards is that you often get a coupon for an item you just bought and it often expires before you can use it. Why can’t you scan your card at the Rewards kiosk, review the list of coupons available then select and print or load just the ones you need? That alone will go a long way toward eliminating paper waste.

And give me any reward when I check out. Don’t wave a $1 off coupon at me as an incentive to get me back in the store. I am a rewards member, I will be back. Besides, I will probably lose the coupon anyway!

Lee Kent
Guest
5 years 5 months ago

And another thing…not only do I despise the CVS receipts, I also despise the coupons! Why, you say? Most of the coupons, printed on said receipts, carry expiration dates within the next 2 weeks. Since I generally only venture into CVS to pick up prescriptions, MONTHLY, the coupons are worthless!!! ‘Nuf said!

James Tenser
Guest
5 years 5 months ago

Mile-long CVS receipts are funny because the experience at checkout is so awkward—for both the shopper and the cashier. I personally think the practice discriminates against slow readers.

As an amateur conspiracy theorist, I feel compelled to query: Is CVS deliberately attempting to cause a paper cut epidemic, thus boosting its first aid sales?

Tina Lahti
Guest
Tina Lahti
5 years 5 months ago

For the most part I think it’s time for retailers like CVS to delete the receipt. They track us by our loyalty and credit cards. There is really no need for a piece of paper. I love it when I sign for purchases at Macy’s and my receipt is instantly e-mailed to me. Cashiers always ask if I want I printed copy; maybe someday I’ll feel nostalgic and say yes.

Zel Bianco
Guest
5 years 5 months ago

The joking is all in good fun, but CVS should have a way to reduce coupons without giving customers a laundry list. 25 percent doesn’t sound like a lot, especially when you realize we’re talking about receipts, not reams of paper.

The move to allow ExtraCare members to receive all rewards on their cards should be a top priority and should definitely be the biggest headline in this story.

Craig Sundstrom
Guest
5 years 5 months ago

950 followers? The thresholds for “uproar” and “firestorm” must be low…very low, indeed. Anyway, I’m 101% with David on the “any news is good news” interpretation for this one. I’m wondering if they didn’t start the Twitter account themselves.

Karen S. Herman
Guest
5 years 5 months ago

I’m wondering about the elderly and other customers who frequent CVS and still have the mindset where they like to collect these coupons or “personalized offers.”

CVS should use this uproar to its advantage and instead of poking fun at the critics, they should educate customers and the public on what they are doing to become more eco-friendly.

Vahe Katros
Guest
Vahe Katros
5 years 5 months ago

They finally fired Tolstoy!

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