From social media to late night television, the "epic" receipts from CVS are generating a lot of attention.
The drugstore chain’s lengthy receipts have triggered more than 8,000 twitter posts, dozens of YouTube rants and a lot of consumer frustration.
"I think it’s a waste. I never use them," said one customer as he exited a CVS in Studio City.
"They’re just too long," another customer complained.
In fact, the store cash registers often print out receipts that are several feet long, thanks to attached coupons that automatically print out every time a customer shops at CVS. In many cases, they’re too bulky to fit inside the average wallet.
The receipts have become a social media sensation, with their own twitter account. Dozens of people have posted YouTube rants on the topic, and TV comedians including Ellen DeGeneris and Jimmy Kimmel have poked fun at the unwieldy receipts on their talk shows.
The I-Team reached out to CVS, which said it is working to address complaints.
Erin Pensa, director of Public Relations for the Rhode Island-based chain, said in a statement that CVS has "reduced the ExtraCare portion of receipts by 25 percent by redesigning them and we are indeed working on other ways to shorten the receipts."
Pensa added that the recently updated CVS mobile app now allows customers to request that coupons be delivered directly to their loyalty cards.
"If customers choose to take advantage of these digital deliveries," Pensa explained, "those same coupons and rewards don’t print again at the ExtraCare Coupon Center kiosks in-store or at the register."
Despite the consumer complaints, some retail experts say the drugstore chain’s receipts may actually serve as a potent tool to get you to spend more money at their stores.
"Whether it’s coupons on the back of that receipt or the likelihood that you’re going to look at the back of the receipt and say, ‘What is this?’ it’s kind of a forced brand exposure," Lisa Cavanaugh, an assistant professor of marketing at USC Marshall School of Business, told the I-Team.
Cavanaugh, who specializes in the field of consumer psychology, believes that because of the receipt’s unusual appearance, a consumer’s attention "is actually voluntarily directed toward that receipt, rather than all the different kind of messages and advertisements that we receive just driving in our cars and walking down the street, which we may have often missed."
According to CVS spokesman Pensa, company research suggests the receipts aren’t a turnoff for everyone.
"In fact, nearly 50 percent of our customers do still prefer to print their offers and rewards and the coupons printed on receipts are showing all-time high redemption rates. So we are really looking to continue to strike a balance moving forward, by listening to those customers who want less paper but also keeping the aspects of the program that so many of our members still love."
CVS offered step-by-step instructions for customers who do not want those coupons printed:
- Download the CVS Mobile App.
- Shoppers must be signed up with a CVS/pharmacy online account; you can do it through the Mobile App or via CVS.com.
- Once signed in, shoppers can go to "Link Your Card" to get their ExtraCare card linked through the app; to do this, they can scan the back of their ExtraCare card or enter the number manually.
- Once linked, scroll down to "My Deals and Rewards" to see all coupons and ExtraBucks rewards.
- Shoppers will be able to see all available deals, and from there, they will be given the option to send some of the deals directly to their card; just click on the "Send to Card" button to do this.
- Once available deals are sent to card, consumers can shop and the cashiers will help prompt what deals they have available to them during that shopping trip so they can redeem them.
Full statement from CVS:
"We have made it very easy for our customers to redeem savings offers and rewards that arrive via email. Today customers can digitally send those offers directly to their ExtraCare cards. Members can also choose to send savings and rewards that are available on CVS.com and in the CVS/pharmacy Mobile App directly to their cards instead of printing them.
"In fact, this month we made some changes to the CVS Mobile app to simplify this experience. Now users can just open the app in their smartphones, look at what offers and rewards are available, and with one tap send the ones they want to use right to their ExtraCare cards. If customers choose to take advantage of these digital deliveries, those same coupons and rewards don’t print again at the ExtraCare Coupon Center kiosks in-store or at the register.
"However, while many of our customers love this digital functionality, many still prefer the printed coupons and offers on our receipts. In fact, nearly 50% of our customers do still prefer to print their offers and rewards and the coupons printed on receipts are showing all-time high redemption rates. So we are really looking to continue to strike a balance moving forward, by listening to those customers who want less paper but also keeping the aspects of the program that so many of our members still love.
"Last year, we reduced the ExtraCare portion of receipts by 25% by redesigning them and we are indeed working on other ways to shorten the receipts and introduce even more digital options. Ultimately, we want to provide a choice to our customers and continue to offer them personalized offers, savings and value through our popular ExtraCare program."