A blog about keeping yourself and your expenses lean in Oakland County, Michigan.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

CVS Looking to "Enhance" their ExtraCare Bucks Program

Monroe on a Budget pointed out a new change coming to the Extracare Bucks Program.  CVS is in the process of changing how they handle the Extra Care Bucks rewards program.

Right now, when you purchase an item at CVS that will result in a rebate in the form of Extra Care Bucks, you wave your shopper card at the cash register and your rebate coupon will be at the bottom of your receipt. Bring in that coupon on a future shopping trip, and you get the discount on a future purchase.  It is almost as good as cash with a few exclusions and can be stacked with Manufacturer AND store coupons.
Once you learn how to work the system and build up enough extracare bucks you can walk in the store playing $1-$3 and getting $25-$50 worth of stuff all the time.  They also help us reduce or expense on need items and non-prescription pharmacy supplies for my diabetic husband.  (Last night in fact which will be posted in my upcoming grocery store roll call I got $30 worth of items for $2.10 including Lighter Fluid that I did not have a coupon for.)

So why the change?  The article When a reward isn't really a reward gets into the details of the change.  Here are some objections David Lazarus raises to the program directly from his article: "customers are expected to schlep the yard-long receipt around with them and to apply the Extra Bucks themselves.

Moreover, you can't spend a few Extra Bucks here and a few there. If you have $10 worth of Extra Bucks and apply them to a $5 purchase, the rest are forfeited.
As if all that didn't stack the deck enough in CVS' favor, the company also places a limit of up to 60 days on its Extra Bucks. Use 'em or lose 'em."

Reading the article I can sympathize.  I really did think CVS was out to get me before I knew how to properly use the system.  But I just didn't give them in brand loyalty when the system wasn't working for me.  And the points raised to me are the exact same points used of why people don't use ANY coupon. 
I'm not sure of what yet to think of this change but I'm anxious to see more details.  Maybe it will be a highly sophisticated system for the better.  If on the checkout machine where I put my debit card it just gives me a new option credit debit or extracare rewards and then I can chose the quantity I want to use when then that would be good.  If I'm forced to use them all I won't like that.  Sometimes I chose to leverage my Flexible Spending account dollars and not use extracare bucks save them for something else. 
So we shall see.  What do you think of this change?

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