Tuesday, December 1, 2009

CVS is by far best after Giant Eagle change in policy

Giant Eagle has just changed from accepting an unlimited number of competitor coupons to only accepting ONE (1) every SIX (6) months. (They will still take an unlimited number of their own coupons -- but those are becoming much harder to find and usually have just ONE valid location printed on them -- lately, the Blacklick store only in the Columbus area. There's are usually the ones that let you earn $1 in FuelPerks with new/transferred Rx.)

To show Giant Eagle how displeased you are with this change, I encourage you to take all your Rx business away from Giant Eagle and to CVS where they will not only accept an unlimited number of their own coupons and competitor coupons when it's NEW or TRANSFERRED but, at least in Central Ohio, they also have a program where they will let you use a coupon WITHOUT transferring it.

Just bring a coupon with you (theirs or a competitor's) when you need to get a refill.

So, to clarify, here are my new rankings for BEST and WORST (in terms of accepting coupons from competitors):


(1) CVS
(2) Kmart

POOR (ridiculously limited terms):

(3) Giant Eagle
(4) Kroger

WORST/(don't take any competitor coupons ever):

(5) Target
(6) Walmart
(7) Walgreen's

NOTE: There are regional differences and the ratings above are based on my experiences recently in Central Ohio. I'm told that the Giant Eagle change will be in effect at all Giant Eagles nationally by the end of this week.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

New #1 place to take competitors' coupons: Giant Eagle (CVS drops from 1st to 3rd)

UPDATE (Dec. 7, 2009):
See more recent posting that puts Giant Eagle much further down the list (and below CVS) in terms of accepting competitor coupons after they started a new policy in December 2009 that allows only ONE per SIX (6) MONTHS. They're still a great place to go grocery shopping. And they are still very cool about taking their OWN coupons (no limits there) as is Target.

Contrary to my earlier posting in March 2009 that put CVS in first place above Giant Eagle when it came to accepting competitor's coupons (because of their willingness to take them WITHOUT requiring you to transfer them back and forth), my recent experiences with CVS have led me to drop them to 3rd place.

So Giant Eagle moves to first place, Kmart moves up a notch and CVS drops to third:

(1) Giant Eagle

(2) Kmart

(3) CVS

The reasons for this change is two-fold:

* Giant Eagle is no longer limiting the number of competitor coupons that can be redeemed (as mentioned earlier). They do not even impose some of the restrictions listed by the competitor (such as "one per customer" ... which Walgreen's implements as one per six months; and does not force Kmart "fine print" about gift card value won't exceed retail value of prescription purchase).

* CVS is imposing ever-increasing hassles, limitations, and other ways they are not meeting the spirit of the sign they have hung in Columbus area stores about "Never Need To Transfer ... Redeem Your Competitor's Coupons Here." [See below.]

For example, when you take them a Walgreen's $25 Rx coupon, they may tell you that you can only use ONE "per transaction" (offering no clarification if that's one per day, per month, per year, or whatever) or may say they'll only take ONE of those per 6 months as Walgreen's does. Yesterday, when I took this week's Kmart Rx Coupon for up to $100 gift card for 4 transfers, they told me they could only give $50 maximum. The rationale? They said that fine print on the ad said it offered up to $25 only if the retail value of the drug was $25 or more (it did NOT specify if that was co-pay amount or total cost -- health plan's payment of usually about 70% plus your co-pay for the other 30% or so). Apparently, it did not matter that my co-pays on 4 of the 6 items I was picking up totaled $100 as Kmart would have required. So I used Giant Eagle coupons that are worth $30 at Kroger and some other pharmacies. CVS stores mostly offer $20 to $25 for these. Rationale? Most cars don't hold more than 20 gallons and they don't sell gas. OK, fine. But then they only wanted to accept 1 of these for my 6 prescriptions. After calling a manager, they were convinced to take 6. But a clerk at the pharmacy did not even lower her conversational voice when she said, "That's 6 times $25 ... that's $150. That's ridiculous." Nice way to make you want to keep doing business with them, eh?

REMINDER: For a list of which pharmacies take which competitors' coupons and with most/least hassles, see http://matrix.Rx4Less.net (this will need to be updated for the issues mentioned above that I have encountered with CVS after I confirm this is indeed their new policy ... and not just misunderstandings by various pharmacists, pharmacy staff, and managers; often pharmacists and pharmacy managers just really hate dealing with these coupons at all ... in contradiction to what their marketing divisions are trying to achieve).

p.s.: You may want to look at some concerns about CVS that are being raised by a group called "Cure CVS." An ad on Facebook pointed me to their website -- http://CureCVSnow.com. They raise what appear to be some genuine and valid concerns (I'm NOT saying I believe ... or am yet convinced ... that ALL of them are). As a former retail store manager, I can understand the need for theft-protection measures that vary by location based on many criteria (that can be misinterpreted as some "profiling" or demographic issues ... but has more to do with simply how much stuff gets stolen at THIS store and WHAT gets stolen). However, about their concern on sales of expired prescriptions (and other items), I have been sold, on more than one occasion, some items by a CVS pharmacy in the past year that had either expired already or were about to expire that month. So perhaps there is something to this and the other gripes expressed on that site. Similar glucose strips I bought at their competitors (that they had expired ... all of them in stock were expired in fact one day) had more than a year left on their expiration dates. So perhaps CVS gets a big discount for taking "stale" merchandise off the hands of some of their distributors. Maybe that's how they pay for all those Rx coupon gift cards ... and finance the building of their awesome CVS.com website where you can keep track of your prescriptions and orders (better than any other I've seen thus far). ;-) On the "Cure CVS" blog, there's an interesting recent TV news story from Houston about findings of expired items (3 months old to 3 years old) at CVS stores there.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Best pharmacies for gladly accepting their own Rx coupons (with no hassle, limitations)

UPDATE (Dec. 7, 2009):
This is one list that has endured all the changes in company policy in 2009. Unfortunately, the store rated as #1 only accepts their own coupons now and those are only $10.

When it comes to the pharmacies that are most friendly and hassle-free about accepting THEIR OWN Rx coupons -- as many new/transferred prescriptions (and an Rx coupon to redeem with each), here is where you'll have your best experiences (at least based on my experiences over the past two years in central Ohio):

(1) Target

(2) Giant Eagle

(3) CVS

--> In THAT order (when it comes to focusing on how cool they are about taking their OWN coupons ... and multiple ones at once).

--> In terms of BEST SERVICE? I'd reverse that order putting CVS first, then Giant Eagle, and then Target ... although there are some exceptional locations such as the Giant Eagle in Powell, Ohio (when Jill is there ;-). And Target (on Sawmill) had been on top when it came to service before Jill left there to go to Giant Eagle. She's on maternity leave now with her daughter, Meghan.

Best pharmacies for using Rx coupons (from competitors)

*** This is an old entry (updated a few times). For more current information about best pharmacies for using Rx coupons from competitors, see the July 14, 2009 entry. *** In other words, it's "stale" -- kind of like some of CVS' prescription drugs/items they sell as you can read about at http://CureCVSnow.com . ;-)

UPDATE Friday, March 13

CVS has really raised the bar in Columbus, Ohio, when it comes to competing for pharmacy business -- and KEEPING customers from transferring to a competitor because of an Rx coupon ... or doing Rx Ping-Pong out of necessity to save money or help cover cost of co-pays.

As mentioned at RxCoupons.Blogspot.com today, CVS now accepts at some locations competitor coupons even when your prescription is already at CVS. You don't have to TRANSFER a prescription away from them and then BACK to them to use a competitor's coupon. They will let you redeem the coupon just to keep you from leaving.

Thus, I have no choice but to give them FIRST place in this regard:

(1) CVS

(2) Giant Eagle

(3) Kmart

p.s.: Kroger would be tied for 3rd place but I have been told by former employees of theirs that they have banned customers from ever using coupons at their pharmacies again after a certain number. Also, I know that they have banned at least one customer from ever shopping at any Kroger again "because of an impasse" over that customer's use of "multiple coupons" at their pharmacies. How whacked is that? Go to CVS or Giant Eagle or Kmart. Or if you're tired of doing Rx Ping-Pong (I know I am), take all your business (or most of it) to CVS and stay there. After all, they have some 24-hour locations too that can be handy when you realize belatedly you are totally out of something.

UPDATE Saturday, Feb. 28

I'm updating this post today (Saturday, Feb. 28) after learning from a friendly pharmacy clerk at Giant Eagle that the district manager of pharmacies in Central Ohio has decided to be more customer friendly about Rx coupons.

They will no longer limit you to using just ONE competitor coupon per "offer period" (say 1 Target coupon during the 2 weeks and 1 day its good ... until the next one is published). And when a competitor puts an especially restrictive limit on a coupon (as Walgreen's recently started doing -- saying ONE per 6 months), they're OK with honoring multiple ones of these. As long as you are transferring 3 prescriptions and have 3 coupons from a competitor (or from Giant Eagle), you can use all 3 in one day.

As a result, I'm modifying my original ranking for this category:

(1) Giant Eagle

(2) CVS

(3) Kmart

Thanks to all three of these! Again, this is based on my experiences at locations in central Ohio -- mostly at locations along Henderson, Bethel, Sawmill, and Powell roads or in Dublin/Worthington/Westerville/Columbus.


As you can see at the "Which pharmacies accept competitors Rx coupons?" list, it's very complicated and changes often and can vary from location to location and pharmacist to pharmacist on duty when you stop by.

But at this time I can say the best places to utilize competitors coupons are:

(1) CVS

(2) Kmart

(3) Giant Eagle

See posting below about the WORST places to try to use competitors coupons ... and list of those that no longer take them or never did.

* [See update made on Feb. 28 above as edit to this original entry.]

The worst pharmacies to use for competitor coupons

This is based on experiences at various central Ohio pharmacies over the past two years ... but updated with the latest information I have about their newest policies.

WORST pharmacies for using competitor coupons at (even though they claim they accept them):

(1) Kroger (they were the only one that advertised in newspapers, flyers, and signs in their pharmacies that "We Gladly Accept All Competitors Coupons" and yet some pharmacists insisted that only one per day could be used ... or even fewer ... despite a pharmacy zone manager saying there was no limit; and then the regional pharmacy merchandise manager deciding to limit it and even ban a customer from going to Kroger over an "impasse" over use of coupons at their pharmacies). The last copy of the policy they finally created after pressured by a consumer complaint to the Better Business Bureau, they claimed that it's only an "introductory offer" and customers should choose a pharmacy to settle down with and quit expecting to have these granted within 3 to 4 visits. I've heard from a former Kroger pharmacy employee that many customers who were using a lot of coupons (those of Kroger or competitors) were banned from ever being able to use another Rx coupon to earn Rx Rewards. Some reward for doing business there, eh?

(2) Meijer is reportedly becoming very picky about taking these. No first-hand experience myself there recently. I couldn't stand how picky about coupons and how bad their service was 2 years ago.

These others just don't even accept competitors' coupons:

* Target (used to)

* Walgreen's

* WalMart (used to until Jan. 19, 2009)