CVS's notoriously-long receipts have been turned into memes, made into Halloween costumes, and lampooned on national TV -- but employees say loyal customers still love them

Jimmy Kimmel LiveThis is no laughing matter.
  • CVS is so notorious for its comically-long receipts that they have appeared everywhere from Jimmy Kimmel Live to internet memes and Halloween costumes.
  • As a result, CVS gave customers the option to opt out of coupon-heavy paper receipts in 2016.
  • But when Business Insider talked to CVS employees from around the country to see if anyone still uses the comically-long receipts, they said that many loyal customers still love and use them.

It’s hard to tell whether CVS’s notoriously long receipts are the butt of the joke or if CVS is in on it.

But after speaking with several CVS employees, it’s clear that for every detractor of the comically long receipts there are out there, there are far more fans.

“People really do use them,” Michael Tang, who has been a clerk and pharmacy technician trainee in Arlington, Texas, since January, told Business Insider. “Coupons from the receipt are usually based on what the consumer buys. Hence, it is a little incentive to help them stock up.”

The receipts are commonly lampooned online for their absurd length.

They have also become a talk show fixture. The lengthy papers made an appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and became a running joke on Jimmy Kimmel Live!. The comedian even invited then-President Barack Obama on the show to ask about the coupons.

“It seems to me to be excessive,” Kimmel said in the 2015 episode. “Now there’s the Snickers bar up there and the rest are just coupons and junk. Can you do something about this?”

As the receipt memes piled up, marketing experts saw that CVS could transform this meme into a powerful brand moment.

“When patrons launch grassroots memes at the expense of brands, companies ought to leverage the lolz, be confident enough to poke fun at themselves, and transform digital mockery into serious brand loyalty,” wrote Katie Manderfield, senior editor at Group SJR and editor of Unfiltered Quarterly, in Fast Company. “With a few smart moves and a little bit of humour, CVS Pharmacy could be at the forefront of a very impressive – and better yet, successful – marketing movement.”

The next year, the pharmacy did just that. Then-CVS president Helena Foulkes, as a surprise guest, announced to Kimmel’s audience that customers would be able to receive their receipts digitally instead.

“We knew that our customers were very concerned about the length of our receipts,” Foulkes said in the 2016 episode. “CVS is moving our receipts to be digital.”

“They were too long!” Foulkes added.

CVS Helena Foulkes Jimmy Kimmel‘Jimmy Kimmel Live’/ABCCVS’s then-President Helena Foulkes went on Jimmy Kimmel Live in 2016 to announce that customers would have the opportunity to opt-out of receiving paper receipts.

Two years later, the long receipts live on.

Customers have the option of enrolling in CVS ExtraCare Rewards program and receiving a digital receipt via email, according to CVS. But it turns out not many people are choosing the paper-free program, said Rachel Blanchard, a CVS shift supervisor in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

“We have an app and we do digital receipts and coupons, but I don’t think a lot of people know about them,” Blanchard said.

According to five current CVS employees from around the country, around five or six out of ten customers use the receipts’ coupons.

“Some people just toss them, but the people who do use them use them very frequently,” Caity Wysocki, who has worked in different CVS locations around Southeastern Michigan since 2016, told Business Insider.

CVS ExtraBucks, which give you a discount on your entire order, are the most commonly used, according to employees.

Of course, some employees pointed out that plenty of customers still find the paper receipts to be a hassle. Melissa Halliday, who has worked as a CVS cashier in New York City since February, said some hours go by without a single shopper using a receipt.

“Sometimes I have seen customers come in and only purchase a pack of gum,” Halliday told Business Insider. “Then, when they enter their CVS card, that’s when a whole lot of receipts comes out with a lot of coupons that ends up going to the garbage.”

But despite the endless memes and some frustrations, there’s still a lot of love for the mile-long coupons.

“I have witnessed many customers come in with loads and loads of products, and they save quite a bit, like maybe a hundred dollars or maybe a couple of dollars,” Tang said. “At times, we have seen customers not having to spend out of their pocket, but with just coupons.”

Are you a CVS employee with a story about working there? Email the author at [email protected].

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