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.