CVS Pharmacies Not All Created Equal – Some Give New Meaning to the CVS Acronym

When CVS Pharmacy first opened in metro Chicago, I was impressed with the selection and prices. They were certainly competitive with Walgreens and Jewel-Osco, but in the last few years this chain has slid downhill at a rapid pace. Of course some locations are better than others – I went to the Palatine store today and it is vast and well stocked compared to the locations I normally frequent. Unfortunately the two closest to my home should be renamed CVS: Consumer Valueless Shops. But in general, not only are some of CVS prices out of sight compared to other discount stores, but the selection is meager. And even worse, the clerks are often incompetent and rude. That old adage I used in my recent Deals blog, when a deal is not a deal – certainly rings true here.

I guess I get roped in by the ExtraCare Bucks offers that I receive via email. But even with the 20-30 percent off coupons applicable to regular-priced merchandise only, the items at CVS are often higher than the regular prices at Mariano’s and Walmart – and the sale prices at Jewel-Osco, Meijer, Walgreens, and even Dominick’s. There are a few exceptions – I received a one-day coupon for a large bag of any M&Ms for $1.88 at CVS – and that is what seduced me to visit the Mount Prospect CVS last week.

In addition to the M&Ms, I found a handful of items – an 18-ounce container of Gold Emblem CVS Label California Raisins. The shelf price was $3.79 – not bad with an additional 30 percent off, or so I thought; Pampers Sensitive wipes for $3.49 – a bit steep compared to other stores, but competitive with the coupon; and Carefree pantiliners – about 30 cents overpriced at $1.57. Not really worth the trip for four measly items, but everything else I was considering was too pricey.

When I got to the check-out counter, the line was very long and there was just one cashier. Finally she called somebody else up to the counter to help her – I was next in line. The second cashier asked the next person in line to step up and some ignorant clod behind me cloaked in a nicotine-drenched cloud beat me to the punch. The person in my line took five bloody minutes to move away from the counter after her sale was completed and the clod was already out of the store.

Out in the parking lot I checked my receipt and to my dismay, the raisins had rung up at $5.89 and the Pampers wipes at $3.69. I went back into the store and complained about the price discrepancy – especially on the raisins. I immediately got attitude from the chick who rung me up – she argued that the register prices were correct without even checking the shelves. The other cashier told me that I was probably mistaken, but she reluctantly agreed to walk over to the shelves and check with me. She was like a dog with its tail between its legs when she discovered that I was right. Whatever happened to the famous line in customer service, The customer is always right.? In any case, it took 10 minutes for cashier number 2 to figure out how to refund the difference. In the meantime the line was getting longer and longer, and once again, there was just one cashier and she had to call someone up to the counter.

This was not an isolated incident – one out of every two visits to CVS ends in frustration due to some of these same issues. The cashiers are often rude and or very slow, the customers can be pushy and uncouth, and I cannot find what I am looking for at a decent price. I think the next time I receive an email from CVS I will delete it immediately.

Price comparisons – regular priced, non-sale items

  • Carefree pantiliners: CVS: $1.57, Jewel: $1.29
  • Gillette Mach3 Disposables, Sensitive 3 ct: CVS: $11.99, Jewel: $9.49, Mariano’s: $7.79
  • Dr. Scholl’s Massaging Gel Sport Insoles: CVS: $16.99, Jewel: $11.99, Mariano’s: $11.99
  • Kleenex 184-ct. tissue: CVS: $1.99, Mariano’s: $1.57
  • ACT Total Care, 18 Fl. ounces: CVS: $5.99, Mariano’s: $4.99, Jewel: $3.99
  • Biotene Oral Rinse, 16 fl. ounces: CVS: $9.29, Jewel: $7.99, Mariano’s: $6.49
  • Cottonelle Wipes: CVS: $3.69, Walgreens: $3.00, Jewel: $2.79, Mariano’s: $2.29
  • Miralax 30 dose size: CVS: $22.99, Mariano’s: $20.49, Walgreens: $18.99
  • Claritan 24 hour tablets 30 ct.: CVS: $24.49, Jewel: $18.99, Mariano’s:$18.98
  • WD-40 Lubricant 8 ounces: CVS: $7.49, Ace: $3.99, True Value: $3.69
  • Krazy Glue .07 ounce tube: CVS: $4.99 , Ace: $2.99, Amazon: $2.67, Jewel: $1.99

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