Sunday, September 15, 2013

Cut It By Half

Generally, once a month, I head over to CVS Pharmacy for prescription refills. Everything's on automatic refill so I don't even have to call the doctor when I'm due for her authorization. It's all handled automatically.

Lately, you might have heard about CVS agreeing to reduce the length of their receipts. If you don't have a CVS near you or you  never go there, you might not have any idea of the length of these strips of paper. Because I bought additional items when I picked up one prescription and one of the scripts fell at an odd time and could not be filled on the same day as the others, I had 3 receipts over a week's period.

Here's what typical CVS receipts look like.

That's a yard stick in there. The top and bottom receipts are 38 inches long. The middle one is 33 inches. A yard long, a whole yard. The first foot is the actual receipt. That's the part I save for medical files. The rest is coupons. The top and bottom receipts are for my medications. The middle receipt is for 2 bottles of conditioner I purchased because they were a great deal.

I understand the reason for printing the coupon on the receipt. It's immediate. The clerk looked over the just printed receipt for a coupon for hair products. No luck, but it's happened to me in the past that there is a coupon for something I'm buying printed on the medication receipt. Other than the cost of the paper and toner, it doesn't cost CVS much. I'm sure the ratio of received to redeemed coupons is very low. Indeed, I rarely use the coupons on the receipt. Sometimes, it's a simple cost factor. I know, for instance, what VO5 shampoo and conditioner cost at Dominicks. Even with a coupon at CVS, it's usually more. The purchase here was a chance encounter. Sometimes, it's because the product on the coupon is not something I'll use. Most of the time, it's because I'm getting a coupon on the 6th of September with an expiration date of the 8th. I know they are trying to get people back into the store, but that's not the way to do it. Yet, it doesn't cost them much to hand you 3 feet of receipt.

So, I went in on the 6th. I got 25% off your purchase which expired on the 8th. I had to come back for another medication which was not ready. It had to be authorized by insurance so it wouldn't be ready until the 10th. Expiring today are coupons for:  body wash, deodorant, milk, antacid, pain reliever or sleep aid, vitamins, hand and body lotion, self-tanning product, batteries, and snacks. I could also buy 3 greeting cards and get 1 free. Expiring on the 19th are coupons for nasal spray, 2 bottles of hand and body lotion, school or office supplies, and two coupons for snacks. I don't need any of this.

To me and to a lot of people, this is a hugely wasteful use of paper. I don't know of any other retail establishment with a receipt this long unless you actually buy that many items. Even when I spend $150+ at the grocery, the itemized list is not anywhere this long. Last month, CVS responded to this hew and cry by saying they will reduce their receipt length by 25%. That's still too long, in my opinion. I can recycle my receipts but not everyone can. This is a lot of bleached, waxed paper being chucked into the garbage.

Even employees, who have to stand and wait while the print spits out a yard of paper don't look happy about it. Those extra seconds add up and could be used to, oh, I don't know, actually help someone in line.

Beverage:  Dr Pepper


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