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Los Angeles Times columnist David Lazarus has a piece about an admittedly unscientific survey he ran, in which he asked CVS customers how they felt about the retailer’s loyalty rewards program. Overwhelmingly, Lazarus writes, customers said that they did not want to have to bring in their receipts in order to redeem the “Extra Bucks” that CVS promises them, that is said to give them up to two percent back on their purchases.

Instead, customers told Lazarus, they would just like the rewards automatically stored on their CVS cards.

“Not that CVS cares,” Lazarus writes.

The columnist says that CVS tells him that the small number of people who wrote in to say they like having to redeem their paper receipts proves its point, and that the company believes that the program as-is makes the process more exciting.
KC's View:
I’ve been banging this drum for a long time, and I’m completely in agreement with Lazarus. It has always seemed to me that the CVS loyalty program - like a lot of so-called loyalty programs - is more hat than cattle.

Lazarus has one passage in his column that I think makes the point extremely well:

“Now the company apparently sees greater financial merit in promising a reward but deliberately making it difficult for many people to receive it. In the most recent quarter, CVS Caremark pocketed $816 million in profit. Chief Exec Larry Merlo attributed that in part to ‘solid expense control.’

“Maybe CVS should remember that loyalty programs work both ways. If a company can't (or won't) live up to its part of the bargain, it may find that customers are all too willing to take their loyalty elsewhere.”

Boy, does he have that right. And when CVS defends itself, it sounds to me like a crock.