There were several questions posted in response to yesterday's post on my deals at CVS. Here are my thoughts on these things ~
"I'm a CVS/Walgreens shopper too, as are most of my friends. We're actually having a debate though about the ethics of "double dipping," which is where you open multiple accounts under different names, ostensibly in the same household, so you can take advantage of a good deal more than once.
I know one argument for it is that “all’s fair in love and frugal shopping,” and if you can come up with a way to further extend a store-offered deal, more power to you. The stores in question encourage combining coupons, sales, and rebates, so to partake is just using the system set up to gain customers. To use the system to its fullest is just the advantage of taking more time and effort on the shopping.
But the other side of the coin says that the CVS/Walgreens deals are marked as per household, (as in “one deal per household”) so to have multiple accounts under different names for the same house, even if it’s like a work address and a home address, it’s basically resorting to fraud to take advantage of a deal, and is thus unethical (one friend insists it’s no different than theft by fraud). The other argument I hear is that it’s not fair to other shoppers to open multiple accounts and take more than your allotted share of a bargain, and thus possibly denying their family the opportunity to reap some of the same good fortune from a sale… Especially a problem on items that are “needs” items for families on fixed incomes who may depend on a sale for certain items.
I’d love to hear your take on the subject, on why it’s OK or not OK to have or not have multiple accounts for the same household."
Opal, I think this is a great topic to address. I have not had a second CVS card until just a few weeks ago - and when I got it I asked the cashier/manager if I could open a second account in my husband's name. She said, "sure" and gave me the card and helped me get him signed up. I can assure you that if I thought this was fraud or was instructed in this way - I would absolutely not be doing it.
I was actually VERY hesitant about getting a second card. I mean, how many tubes of toothpaste can one family really use?! And, is it fair to jeopardize the supply of free items by going in and getting ten of something free and then there aren't any for the next person? Those were my doubts.
Here is what has happened though. I take out what our family will use and then keep a box in my closet of extras. I have had opportunities to share these items with those who really do need them or can't afford them. And, I have seen God offer me more and more opportunities of using these items as blessings in the lives of others.
I sent a message to the Customer Service e-mail at cvs.com to ask about their policy on this. Here is the response I received,
"Thank you for contacting CVS.com regarding our ExtraCare program.
In response to your email, it is fine that you have ExtraCare accounts in both names. However please be aware that when you receive coupons in store, you can only use the card that the coupon specifies. In other words, you can't use your card with a coupon in your husband's name."
I was already aware of this policy that the number or name on the card must match the card that you are using at the time of check out. I hope this response helps clarify for someone.
Now, I do not ever send in Walgreens or Rite Aid rebates under two addresses. I only use our home address to do these. I don't know that I'd go so far as to say it is fraud or theft to submit one under one address and one under the other - but it is something I've never really even considered and don't think I would be comfortable with as it does not seem honest.
Personally, on the topic of a store being out of something - I have observed that often there is a good supply of the sale items and even if I go later in the week they often still have plenty. Either people are not taking advantage of the reward deals or CVS is doing a good job keeping their stock filled on these items. Walgreens is notoriously out of things on sale - but I haven't had much trouble with their rebate items. Maybe it is just where we live that dictates this.
Other thoughts on this?
Lynn Marie wrote,
"I would love a lesson in how you get the great deals at CVS. I don't understand how you can hand over a coupon and get money back! I guess I'm just lost when it comes to that. "
Start out by reading this article over at Money Saving Mom ~ CVS 101 or Q&A Making CVS work for you.
Now, I will share that I used to not "get" how to use coupons either. And, I struggled with the ethics of combining coupons and rebates for extra deals. Read more on this here.
However, in my Grandma's living room, my Mom and Aunt, Grandma and I were all discussing this. These are the ladies who taught me the joys of being frugal and thrifty. They helped me understand that coupons are like cash - when you spend them, the store gets their money back plus a handling fee. They want you to combine their offers because they put a coupon and a rebate out at the same time. Manufacturer's are not dumb - they know that a coupon is out and what the sales are.
Also, it is not like CVS opens their register and gives me several dollars cash - when I say that I earn money there - it means that I came out with more Extra Bucks than I spent that day. It is still earning me spendable dollars, but it is not in the form of cash.
Katy wrote, "I would love to find similar great deals....it just seems to good to be true. I get confused on how you use a coupon and actually earn money on something?"
I agree that sometimes it does seem too good to be true. I often say to David that I just don't know how these places can afford to give so much free stuff away. One thing this tells me is that tons of people are probably not taking advantage of the offers or never send in their rebates. Or, possibly they are buying lots of high priced non-sale itmes while they are in the store.
There is a learning curve to all these rebates. My best thought on this is to start small. If you start huge, there is a bigger chance of getting burned and have it end up costing you more money in the long run. Understanding the sales, coupons and rebates is key to making it work.
So, pick a store to start with and then do one or maybe two deals the first week. The next week take your rebate dollars in (if CVS) and roll them into one or two more deals, etc... When you feel good about this, add in a little more and a little more. Eventually you can add a second card or another store if you want to.
But, I would not suggest starting all the stores with the deals at once, it will be so overwhelming and confusing to learn everything about it all at once. I did Walgreens only for years before I'd ever even heard of CVS. And, even when I did live near a CVS I was skeptical on how it could really be beneficial. I did not yet understand their system. Now that I do - CVS is my favorite place for good deals.
Another thing to remember is that these drug stores are generally quite expensive in regular prices. So, be very careful about sticking to your list and not impulse buying when you are in there. And, even some of their sale prices may not be good deals. Just learn what is a good deal and stick to it!
Ok, now - if you are a seasoned CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid shopper - what would you share with someone just starting? And, if you are a new shopper, what do you wish you would have known?