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November 9, 2020

CVS’s Seemingly Generous Coupon Acceptance Policy

Filed under: Food/Groceries,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:51 am

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Last month, we pointed out a nasty coupon acceptance policy at Walgreens whereby if you e-clipped both a $1 and an $8 coupon for the same product, their system would only accept the LOWER valued one. (They promised a fix.)

It isn’t often you find a retailer (no less CVS) that interprets its coupon acceptance policy in a pro-consumer manner, but it looked like CVS was doing just that.

For example, in many stores if an item is on sale “buy one, get one free” and you have two $1 off coupons, the store will only let you use only one arguing that you can’t get a dollar off on the second item because it is free. Such is the case at Rite Aid in their official policy.

CVS’s written policy currently is different, however.


Can I use multiple coupons on sale items?
Yes, for certain coupons and certain sale items.

• Suave shampoo is on sale for $2.00 Buy One, Get One Free (BOGO) and the customer purchases two shampoos; the customer may use two coupons for $1.00 each and pay the applicable tax.

This CVS policy is very generous, at least on paper. In practice, however, the CVS checkout system two weeks ago denied MrConsumer’s second $2 off manufacturer’s coupon on a buy one, get one free vitamin sale.

We contacted the PR folks at CVS to raise this issue, and their spokesperson responded:

Our coupons policy states: “Only one manufacturer’s coupon may be used per qualifying item unless otherwise stated by coupon. We honor manufacturer limitations.” Qualifying items for manufacturers coupons are those with a purchase price greater than zero. So while you’d still be able to use multiple coupons in this example, only one may be a manufacturers coupon. We intend to amend the FAQ for clarity. -CVS spokesperson

What this really seems to be saying is that henceforth, CVS will only accept ONE manufacturer’s coupon on buy one, get one free items — a complete retreat from their very generous policy as currently worded.

Incidentally, Stop & Shop’s previous policy also explicitly allowed two manufacturer’s coupons on buy one, get one free sale items.

All is not lost, however. Here’s a different example of CVS’s pro-consumer coupon policy which we did not test, and hope is implemented as represented:

Let’s say you have two store coupons each good for $3 off a $15 or higher purchase, but you want to buy $30+ worth of stuff. Some savvy shoppers would split the order in two $15 orders, so you can use one coupon on each transaction. CVS’s policy says don’t bother splitting the order because their computer will recognize and accept both coupons in a single order.


Can I use multiple coupons on sale items?
Yes, as long as all of the coupons meet their qualifications.

• Two $3 off $15 coupons for purchases that are $30.00 or higher.

So, at least sometimes, CVS seems to be on the consumer’s side when it comes to coupon acceptance.

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  1. Big Lots apparently does still have a generous coupon policy, at least online (haven’t tested in store yet.) A couple of months ago I was purchasing roughly $350 in items. At checkout, after my coupon code scanner (browser add-on) did it’s magic, accepting 3 codes, I ended up paying just over $200!

    Comment by Lana Gramlich — November 9, 2020 @ 9:51 am
  2. I agree with CVS’s policy. If it is buy one & get one free, only one coupon should be accepted. If the 2nd item is free, it does not qualify for a coupon. That’s common sense.

    Comment by Teri McDevitt — November 9, 2020 @ 10:32 am
  3. The reason CVS won’t accept 2 coupons for a Buy 1 Get 1 free sale anymore is because they stopped ringing each item up at half price like they used to do. Now they ring up 1 item at full price and the other at $0 just like Walgreens and Rite Aid do for those items.

    Comment by Jen Goodman — November 9, 2020 @ 11:05 pm
  4. I’m not sure why they would care about the second manufacturer coupon. They submit those for reimbursement.

    Comment by MarcK1024 — November 18, 2020 @ 10:11 pm

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