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October 19, 2020

Walgreens Shortchanges Customers on Some Coupons

Filed under: Computers,Health,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:44 am

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Edgar Dworsky For 25 years, Consumer World, the creator of Mouse Print*, has served readers with the latest consumer news, money-saving tips, and independent investigations. It is your generosity (and not advertising nor corporate contributions) that keeps Mouse Print* and Consumer World available as free consumer resources. So MrConsumer turns to you and humbly asks for your support again this year. Your gift will be most appreciated.

MrConsumer became a victim of a sneaky practice by Walgreens a few weeks ago. He spotted a great deal on Crest 3D White toothpaste, and even promoted it to readers as a “Bargain of the Week” in Consumer World.

Walgreens Crest offer

In this offer, if you bought four tubes of Crest, one of them would be free, plus there was an additional $1 electronic coupon and also an $8 one. Conceivably you could snare all four tubes for only $1.77. It was unclear if one of these coupons was a store coupon and one a manufacturers coupon, so I e-clipped both. I thought if the $1 coupon could not be used in combination with the $8 coupon, obviously I would just use the $8 one.

At the store, the cashier scanned my loyalty card and the four tubes. The total on the screen said $9.77 (before tax) rather than the $1.77 or $2.77 that I expected. This happened because it only took off the $1 coupon. I told her something was wrong because I had also e-clipped an $8 coupon. What she said next floored me.


“The system only takes off the LOWEST value coupon.”

Say what? She said that she could not manually remove the $1 coupon, that I would have to do it in my e-wallet, and then the system would accept the $8 one. I showed the cashier that I didn’t see any apparent way to remove a coupon at the Walgreens website on my cellphone. She said that can only be done in the Walgreens app, which I did not have.

So I left the four tubes at the checkout and headed home to install the Walgreens app and try to remove the $1 coupon. That part of this saga was successful, so I drove back to the store. A different cashier found my four tubes of Crest behind the counter and rang up the order. This time the system took off the $8 coupon properly, which I pointed out to the cashier. She too reiterated that Walgreens’ checkouts only deduct the lowest value coupon applicable to the order.

I couldn’t believe that any company would deliberately create a system to deny customers the use of a legitimate high-value coupon that was properly clipped particularly since the company was getting reimbursed in full for it by the manufacturer.

So we asked Walgreens why they had such an anti-consumer policy. A PR spokesperson for the company replied:

“Thanks for bringing this to our attention. Our current POS [point-of-sale] system is not able to logically determine the best offer at the customer transaction level. Our system applies digital coupons based on the order that the customer activated them along with corresponding expiration dates. We are working with our CPG partners as well as our digital coupon provider to develop remedies outside of our POS. In addition, we are developing a capability for our team members at POS to be able to add and remove coupons at the time of checkout on behalf of the customer. We will follow-up with you as we have more information to share.”

A number of shoppers have posted complaints online including saying that the Walgreens policy noted just above was changed toward the end of 2019 to a lowest value first one.

While we are pleased to have prompted Walgreens to work on a variety of solutions, this never should have happened. A simple highest value first policy would benefit shoppers the most, just like the one used by supermarket chain Hy-Vee:


“If more than one digital coupon is loaded for the same product, the best value will be redeemed at checkout.”

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  1. Walgreens doesn’t even advertise,here in So California.I think they just rely on customers randomly shopping there when they pass by.CVS is the opposite,probably with too much newspaper and online ads.

    Comment by jrj90620 — October 19, 2020 @ 1:42 pm
  2. My husband and I went to Walgreens on Saturday 10/17 for flu shots which we got without a problem and were handed the paperwork which I did not look at until I got home. We were supposed to get a $5 coupon for a $20 purchase for each of us which was not included in the paperwork. I called the pharmacy the next day . The pharmacist, and then the manager, seemed not to know anything about this offer but said a note would be left so I could get this the next time I shopped there. A little later, the pharmacist called me and made me a better offer – 10,000 points to my Walgreens card worth $10 so I don’t have to spend $20 to get the discount.
    It pays to nicely complain!

    Comment by Gail FIne — October 19, 2020 @ 8:27 pm
  3. Checked out their prices on their website…when I went to the store they’re about 10% higher! Jerks. Stay away.

    Comment by local 157 — October 19, 2020 @ 10:41 pm
  4. Walgreens sale price is Walmart’s regular price. I dislike shopping here unless I really have to.

    Comment by Gerry Pong — October 20, 2020 @ 6:46 pm
  5. I’m confused. The offer I see here says buy two, get the third free. Why did you have to buy four?

    Edgar replies: Alan, the $8 coupon required the purchase of four tubes.

    Comment by Alan — October 20, 2020 @ 8:00 pm
  6. Neil Armstrong walked on the moon over 50 years ago, but Walgreens can’t figure out how to process coupons so its customers get the best deal. Remarkable!

    Comment by HMC — October 21, 2020 @ 8:13 am
  7. A few years ago I was a Walgreens superfan. Their rewards program was generous, prices were okay, stores were bright and attractive, and flyers were great. Apparently the rewards program was deemed to be too generous since they made a new rule limiting redemptions to $5 per purchase making it very difficult to actually spend earned rewards. They got a lot of push-back and eventually relented but many customers (including me) bolted. RIP Walgreens.

    Comment by Kevin Hisel — October 22, 2020 @ 12:50 pm
  8. I went to take advantage of the &8.00 coupon and my store does not sell the correct size of toothpaste so I was not able to use the coupon at all.

    Comment by barbara sherman — October 26, 2020 @ 9:15 am

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