Tuesday, September 17, 2013

CVS ExtraCare Rewards Must Die

CVS is a national pharmacy that has a big presence in Boston. It has decent staff, self-checkout kiosks, and a good selection of everyday products ranging from shampoo to cookies.

Alas, it also has a “rewards” program that I suspect is secretly a means to drive customers insane so that we go to the pharmacy and buy concoctions that numb us to the pain and fury.

Now, I define a reward as something nice that I receive because I have been good. Petco, for example, will take five dollars off any purchase after I’ve spent a certain amount at their store. I get the coupon by email, print it out, and present it to the register after I’ve loaded up on kitty snacks. For added convenience, I can just show the cashier the coupon on my phone, and s/he will manually enter the barcode number into the machine. (I meant my convenience, obviously, not the cashier’s.)

By contrast, the ExtraCare program at CVS seems to have been designed by a cohort of the criminally insane. It barely makes sense, and you want to expel it from society at the earliest opportunity.
The entire process begins innocently enough, and then spirals into a maddening redefinition of the meaning of “reward.” First, you shop and then scan your ExtraCare card to get any listed discounts. After you pay, the machine prints out a receipt roughly the same length as an NBA player. The receipt contains the pièce de résistance of CVS’ tireless efforts to assail your sense of all that is right in the world. It makes extravagant promises of “X dollars off for…” and, here, here, is where it all goes down the toilet. For example:

$1 off the next $10 purchase of bar soap! …I don’t buy bar soap.

$2 off any L’Oreal Age-Defying Moisturizer! …I just hit my thirties, but thank you for reminding me about society’s obsession with youth and/or looking young.

$1 off any $5,000 purchase of pain medication! …I presume this is based on that one tiny bottle of Advil I bought one time. 

The worst part is that you need to bring the receipt, with its easily-fading ink, to collect said “rewards,” and you usually only have a week to do so. Sure, I understand that CVS wants repeat customers, but does it really think that promising discounts for stuff I usually don’t get will make me come back and buy them? “Oh boy, a dollar off a razor for butt hairs! Better hustle to the nearest CVS! ...Wait a minute.

Also, why can't they put the rewards on my card? I carry that around everywhere.

In short, as far as incentives go, the ExtraCare Rewards program is a pile of stinky poop trying to look like a cupcake. I shall never touch it. I would say to it, in my Inigo Montoya voice: "You keep using this word, 'rewards.' I do not think it means what you think it means." For shame, CVS. 

This post brought to you by sheer mental exhaustion, as if you couldn't tell.