Welcome back everyone! Hope that the holidays went well and that 2017 will be a less painful retail year. Today I want to talk a bit about coupons. Specifically, this story is going to be of more interest to CVS coupon shoppers.
When I worked for CVS I was known from a few select customers as being a “Coupon Nazi”. In retrospect, I can see why I was called that, but I wanted to address CVS’s actual coupon policy as well as what happens behind the scenes. While the policy shown today is directly from the company, there were also select policies that each region and the districts can choose to apply.
I will be separating the story into four main parts today. One thing to note is that this policy is still current and effective as of December 2016 despite a few references to tobacco in the policy. The CVS Coupon policy has not been updated since 2014. Feel free to share this story, or the photos to any social media platform. All of the pages of the policy are at the bottom in order without any highlighting. I recommend printing them out and taking them with you when you coupon at CVS.
Part 1: CVS Official Coupon Policy
Part 2: District or Regional Policies
Part 3: How District and Regional Policies Impacted Service and Employees
Part 4: My Tips for All CVS Coupon Shoppers
Part 1: CVS Official Coupon Policy
So the main takeaways from the first page of the CVS Coupon policy are below highlighted in the image as well as outlined in the text below the image.
CVS/Pharmacy does not accept expired coupons.
This is because even if they are expired by a day when sent the to be reimbursed they have access to see when the coupon was scanned. If the coupon was expired then the store is not reimbursed, thus the store takes the loss.
Coupons cannot be exchanged for cash or gift cards.
This one tripped up a ton of customers in our district for a very simple reason.If a customer came in and purchased something for $100 then used a $20 coupon the most the customer could return the item for was now $80. Since CVS does not have a way to do “exchanges” this meant that even if you were coming in to get the same item, you would not be allowed to reuse the value of that coupon. This caused a ton of customer service and would result in complaints. Despite the the policy is firm.
CVS/Pharmacy only accepts ExtraBucks Rewards applicable to the ExtraCare card offered at the time of purchase.
This should be pretty self-explanatory, but it means that if you are one of those shoppers that have multiple cards we cannot use coupons from one card if you are using another ExtraCare card. All CVS coupons will tell you the last four numbers of the card at the bottom of the receipt. Check that all your coupons match with the last four numbers of the card you are using before you go to make your purchase. Once we have everything scanned, chances are we will not go back and start over. Especially if there is a line or you are being demanding. I know it seems harsh but for a more in-depth explanation read section three.
Manufacture & Store coupons may be subject to tax.
There was no real rhyme or reason to the taxes when you used coupons in our district. Just be ready to pay tax on all the merchandise before the coupons are factored in.
Any coupon not covered in these guidelines may be accepted at the discretion of CVS Management.
The best way to go about this is to not immediately demand a manager, be polite and ask if you can get a manager to verify the coupon. However, from personal experience, I can tell you that there is usually only about a 50% chance of your coupon being valid. Another thing to note is to not abuse this. If you are always in and even if you are polite if you are the type of customer who constantly demands a manager to verify a coupon, eventually your success rate will plummet.
The first page of the CVS Coupon Policy is the most critical page; this is usually the stuff you find online or the information most cashiers will know off the top of their head. Some other key things to note about the policy is under the Sale Items category towards the bottom of the page. If you are a couponer then this part of the policy is essential for you.
CVS/Pharmacy will accept manufacturer coupons for an item that is on sale.
CVS/Pharmacy will not accept percent off coupons for any item that is currently on sale.
If the value of the coupon is more than the price of the item, the coupon will be changed to fit the value of the item. (essentially, in short, this means no overages)
On the next page of the CVS coupon policy, we see a few different categories. First, we see Multiple Coupons, which goes on to explain how a customer can use multiple coupons on the same item. In short this policy really only states a few things.
You can use one Store coupon and one Manufacture coupon per item.
The exception to this would be using a store coupon for $2.00 off and a manufacturer coupon for $1.00 off while also using a 20% off coupon for the total. The only requirements for this are that the item is not on sale. (Even if an item is on sale for “buy one get one free” or “buy one get one 50% off” and you only buy one the item is still considered on sale and thus a percent off coupon would not be able to be applied)
CVS will accept multiple identical coupons for identical items.
However, if there is no limit assigned CVS management has the right to set one on your purchase to ensure sufficient stock for other customers.
CVS Employees can (and will) scan the coupons in any order they want.
The end result is the same and really comes down to preference. I liked having all the coupons at the end while other employees wanted the coupons for every item to be with the items. Just ask the cashier before they start how they prefer to take coupons.
The middle of the page then goes on to explain the policy regarding Buy One Get one Free Coupon. The only really confusing part of this policy is that even if you use a CVS coupon to get one free, and a manufacturer coupon to get the other one free you are still going to pay tax on both of them.
The last part of the policy that is important to customers is the Internet/Print at Home Coupon section at the bottom of page two.
This just states that CVS accepts coupons printed from online sources such as coupons.com The big thing to realize is that CVS will not accept any reproductions. Every cashier is trained and drilled on how to recognize fraudulent or reproduced online coupons. One thing to realize with online coupons is that you cannot scan them and print out more. This is actually a form of fraud. When a customer does this it comes back on the person who checked them out. Below is an example of fraudulent coupons. All of the unique codes match, and in most CVS stores not only would you be unable to get the product but we would have to take them away and call the police. All CVS employees are trained to look for this unique number, and if a coupon does not have a verification code likelihood is it will not be accepted even if printed from a legitimate source.
Part Two: District or Regional policies
Now that the official company-wide CVS policy is out of the way I should mention all the little “unofficial” policies I experienced while working for the company. These “policies” all came from our district manager or our regional loss prevention manager.
If an employee suspects a customer’s coupons to be fraudulent then you were required to use your smartphone to go to http://www.couponsinc.com and enter the VERI-FI code found on the coupon.
This code would allow us to see when the coupon was printed, the item the coupon was supposed to be for, as well as if the coupon had already been redeemed elsewhere. (meaning it was a duplicate)
If a customer had duplicate coupons (meaning the unique identification numbers were the same) we would have to confiscate them, as well as take a copy of the CCTV footage of the individual and spread it to all the other stores in the area via an app called GroupMe. They would also be heavily scrutinized long after their initial visit not just at CVS but other stores that participated in the app.
Not really policy, but just to show you how bad it got. We had a few customers who would come in and clear out the store with coupons. They would do this by having multiple ExtraCare cards (this was before we would refuse to use more card than the number of people present) Our Loss prevention manager got so fed up with them coming into our stores that she actually started creating fake Facebook accounts to join the coupon groups in the area. She would also look on craigslist for their post where they would sell their hoards out of their garages. She ended up reporting three different women to the city for having not only an unpermitted garage sale but also for running a business without a license. The loss prevention manager is still with the company.
We were told to make it especially difficult for certain customers to use coupons. If their coupons were slightly damaged (meaning maybe a tiny bit of the corner was cut but still scanned) we would have to refuse to use them.
When a customer uses a fraudulent coupon and you check them out it would come back on you. This would result in either a coaching, write-up or termination depending on the frequency.
Part 3: How District and Regional Policies Impacted Service and Employees.
The district and regional policies would always vary from week to week. One week it could be cannon to the company policy, while other weeks it could be the strictest policy I have in my years of retail. This impacted our customers as well as employees. Because of the frequent changes many employees would not be notified and would get wrote up for something had no idea about. A in our area were even fired!
Unfortunately, the customers did not have it any easier because of the frequent changes. Often times a customer would plan their shopping trip around a few sales and coupons to only find out that the policy had changed since their last visit. We lost out in sales, handled numerous complaints, and generally, we all were quite unhappy with the lack of consistency. Often times we would get customers who would simply go to another CVS because that store had not adapted to the current week’s policy.
Part 4: My Tips for All CVS Coupon Shoppers
The reason I am writing this and providing the actual current CVS coupon policy is not to be vindictive or hurt the company, my only intentions to actually help the customers. Although I wrongfully terminated from the company by a few individuals I do not hold ill feelings towards the company as a whole. I enjoy many of the customers and in a way miss many of my regulars. That is why I also want to give you a few tips on how to have the best possible experience in CVS stores when couponing.
Keep in mind that individual stores may vary, and some employees even those in management positions may not be fully or familiar with the official CVS policy.
Print out the complete policy found at the very bottom of this page and take it with you when you shop. Having the official policy will prove beneficial when you have an argumentive employee or manager. If an employee it is fake tell them they can print it out via logging into Radar(F5) Store Resources Coupons This will take them on their company provided computers to the same policy.
Be polite but firm. I cannot stress this more. Always be polite, but at the same time do not easily back down. If you are with a cashier then politely escalate to a manager. If the manager still refuses to cooperate then ask them to void the transaction and step aside from the registers and call the company corporate relations phone number 1-800-746-7287 (1-800-SHOP-CVS)
The important thing with this is to be polite and do it while in the store. This shows that you are serious. The only thing they really cannot help you with is if you are trying to add coupons after the transaction is already totaled.
Inform the cashier when you come in that you will be using coupons ahead of time. This may not be but can help prevent frustration when you go to check out. This also allows the cashier the opportunity to call for an additional cashier as soon as you come to the line. This is more or less a sign or equal respect and is often seen as a polite courtesy to the employees and other customers.
You will really be surprised by the jump in customer service if as you come in you greet the employee back in a smile and “thank you” after they welcome you to the store. I have experienced this myself, as well as seeing it at other CVS stores. This shows the employee that you are listening and appreciate their effort. Far too often when we greet a customer they just pretend that they did not hear us and keep walking.
Interact and have fun with the employees! We love many of our customers and sometimes having a quick conversation about anything is what makes our days! We work with people all day, and yet sometimes we can still get lonely. So talk with us, strike up a help us get through the day!
Happy 2017 Everyone! I appreciate all of your support and really hope that this guide helped you out. Feel free to share this guide to any of your friends or family that are currently or wanting to start couponing at CVS! As always thanks for reading and have a great week!
CVS Corporate Relations Phone Number: 1-800-746-7287
CVS Online Version of Policy: Click Here
Here is the full policy in correct order minus the cashier instructions. I had to omit those pages as they are company confidential information.