Saturday, December 14, 2013

How Walgreens Lost my Business

This is uncomfortable.  I'm not a person who gripes a lot.  But I've tried to accommodate Walgreens customer card, and it's not working for me.

In the past, perhaps two years ago, I was a happy Walgreens customer.  I liked some of their products, like the cans of nuts, and the stores were very close and handy.  There are three close enough to me to be considered convenient stopping places.  One is very handy.  I particularly liked the fact that they would often have instant discounts -- buy two cans of nuts and the second would be cheaper.

And then they instituted their Balance Rewards card system.  I first ran up against it when the discount on the counter top was rejected at the checkout.  The fine print supposedly said I only got the discount when I had their card.  So...  no discount for me any more.  I didn't like it.  And I didn't feel like signing up for Yet Another Card.

So, I continued to shop at Walgreens, but each and every special I saw under the products left a sour taste in my mouth.  Specials for other people, not for me.  And then at checkout.  "Do you have the card?"  "No."  "Would you like to sign up?"  "No".  Over and over and over again.  Some clerks were particularly insistent and kept giving me the hard sell, even after I said "No."

That lasted a year.  I stopped buying several of the products that I had previously enjoyed.  It was just too distasteful.  And then I discovered that my wife had signed up.  It was a let-down.  My principled resistance meant nothing.  Walgreens still had their hooks into our customer data.

So, I signed up, and added Walgreens to my iPhones passbook so I wouldn't have to deal with a physical card or recite my phone number like everyone else does.

It's not working out.  Checking out is smoother.  I just set my phone down on the counter next to the products and they scan it as well as the goods.  But last week, they printed out a ten dollar discount strip -- I guess the results of my bonus points.  However a closer look showed that there was a time limit -- one week from issue.  This wasn't money back to me, it was just another enticement to spend some money at their store.

So, today, on the last day of the ten dollar discount, I decided I needed a couple of items.  I could go to HEB or a convenience store, but since I had a ten dollar discount, why not Walgreens?

I picked up my three items and went to the checkout.  I set them down with my coupon and my cell phone.  They were scanned, and then the clerk said I wouldn't be able to use the discount, because it required a $30 dollar minimum.   My purchases only came up to $17.

After a moment's hesitation, I said "It's not worth it," and walked off, leaving my products and my absolutely worthless bonus coupon for the clerk to deal with.  I heard her calling for a manager to handle the cancellation as I walked out, but I couldn't deal with it.  Once again, Walgreens had used the 'fine print' to turn a potential pleasurable shopping experience into a resolve to stop doing business with them.

I know that I can't fight it.  The fine print was there, and I have to face up to the decision that I must closely check every potential bonus or sale that Walgreens offers me, or just not deal with them anymore.  In spite of nice people at the store, the company isn't friendly anymore.  I suppose I'll still go there for some drugs and emergency bandages and the like, but it's not on my list as a convenient place to pick up cokes or paper towels.  I guess I need to see what the CVS stores are like.


Bill Crider said...

It's not just them. It's Kroger and CVS and a bunch of others. Fine print and tricksiness everywhere.

Robert Chavarria said...

I do not dilly dally with discount cards unless it's HEB rewards. I enjoy getting 1/12 of my spendings back in the form of free money that only I can spend in their stores. Thankfully, most of the product within their stores are made here in Texas. That means it's easier to produce, manufacture, distribute and keep stocked. Avoiding the national rate on goods is good way to save money and keep our hard earned coins, green and blue holo-stripped backs out of the hands of greedy multinational entities...