Tuesday, December 14, 2010

What to do When Your Weekly Shopping Scenario Doesn't Work Out at CVS

A Simply CVS reader asked what to do when you head out for the weekly CVS deals with a scenario in hand and when you arrive at the store they are out of stock.  How do you regroup?  This is a hard one, but one that happens all too often in this wonderful world of CVSing.

Sarah and I have been talking this over and trying to come up with a way
to give some help in this area and we are finding it hard to communicate thru the written word in a one sided conversation thru a blog post.  But I will try and share the little we have come up with.

First I need to instill the fact that CVS shopping takes a while to become proficient at if you want to go beyond the Casual CVSer stage.  A shopper needs to slowly build both a supply of extra bucks and rain checks to have an easy time at rolling extra bucks from one week to the next and saving the most out of pocket cash.  And even then there can be the Thrill of Victory and the Agony of Defeat in CVS shopping.

There are three options that come immediately to mind:
  • Pass on shopping this week.  
    • If worse comes to worse just ask for rain checks on what they don't have and pass on any deals you were going to roll those extra bucks onto if you really don't want or can't put  more out of pocket money into it.  
    • You can also visit the store later in the week to see if they ran out of the other items and get rain checks for those.
  • Leave that store and try another one.  
    • That is not an option, I know, for many because of distance and time, but it is an option.  
    • You can also get what one store has and check another for the other items on your list.
  • Shop on a different day.  
    • If you are shopping at the beginning of the week and they are out of items, ask what day the truck comes in and at what time the shelves should be stocked with it.  Then you can go back that day and see if they got the items in.  
    • In any case, remember to ask for rain checks in case you never find them.  
    • I know this too can be a hardship for time, but it is an option for some.
I actually came to the point that I expected to have to regroup when I arrived at CVS and so I no longer make a personal shopping scenario.  I just list the items I want to get, their cost, the extra bucks I will receive and what coupons I have.  As I walk thru the store and put things in my cart I make notes on my list of what I got and circle what I did not get so I remember to ask for a rain check (like I've mentioned before, though, my store has been amazing the last few months with almost always having stock).  Then when I am at the bottom of my list I do my figuring.  If I am able to keep enough extra bucks I can check out just once, but lately I have had to check out twice a couple of times.  So I would suggest the following steps:
  • Write a list of items you wish to purchase.  Include name of item, number you will purchase, price, coupons you have, out of pocket cost and extra bucks you'll receive 
    • (EXAMPLE:  Colgate Toothpaste; two;  $2.99;  $.75 manu. q, $.50 CVS q; $1.74 [$3.48 total] ; $1.50 [$3 total]).  Leave a space after each in case you need to make any notes.
  • Shop with your list putting a check mark by the ones you find and circle the ones you do not find so they are easy to find when asking for rain checks.  If you planned to get two and they only have one you will need to make special notes on those.
  • Here is where rain checks come into play (I explain a little more in depth below).
    • If you have a supply of rain checks ready you can pull out ones to fill in the spots where one of the items on your scenario list was out of stock.
  • At this point you can make an informed decision and choose one of the three options mentioned above or decide to purchase the items you did find.
  • To decide what order to check out in you need to:  
    • Figure out how many times you are willing to check out and/or how much cash you want to spend.  
    • Find the least expensive out of pocket items first that give extra bucks back.  
    • Check them, or some of them, out and then use the extra bucks earned to buy a few of the next on your list and repeat until you have purchased all of the extra buck items.  
    • If you have an extra buck for a little more than the next items you put together in one of the transactions you can throw in an item or two off your other non-extra buck list to use it up or scan the ad for inexpensive items to add.  
    • After buying all of your extra buck items use the last extra bucks you have earned to purchase your non-extra buck items.
  • Next put into a separate basket what you want to buy first including the coupons and extra bucks you will be using.  Check out with what is in the basket and repeat this process for each transaction you want to do adding in the extra bucks you just earned onto the next order.  It is possible to figure all of your transactions and check out one right after the other tearing off the extra bucks from your receipt while the cashier is ringing up the order.  But I like to step away and get it organized because I find I make less mistakes and I also don't like to hold up the line.  But if the orders are very small and the store is empty I'll often just stay at the register and do it (I just separate the items in the basket and cart laying the coupons under one of the products--I am a very hands on person and this helps me keep things in order, but visual people may find their list easier to follow).
  • The last time you check out ask for the rain checks for the items you were not able to get.  These are vital to helping when scenarios go awry in the future (I'll explain below).  
    • I have read once in a while a store will tell customers to come back after truck day and if they are still out they will issue the rain check.  This is not CVS policy as the advertised deal must be honored on the day the ad advertises it. If you run into this call 800shopcvs and talk with customer service.
Rain checks really help out in CVS shopping in many ways.  I'll share in this post how they can enhance your weekly shopping when your scenario doesn't work out.

I used to ask for rain checks and was anxious for them to re-stock so I could use them, but not anymore.  After years of CVS shopping I have a nice stockpile and very rarely need to buy basic health and beauty items because of this so I have the luxury of waiting to use my rain checks.  By being able to wait I can collect a nice stash of them so I can wait use them when a good coupon comes out or as we are discussing here, when the current weekly deals I planned on getting are not in stock.

If a shopper begins to collect up rain checks over a few weeks then when they shop and one of the items in their scenario is out of stock they can look thru the rain checks in their file and pull out one that is nearest to the dollar amount needed in their scenario and proceed on.  Here are some tips you can do to make better use of your rain checks fitting into your scenarios:
  • File them in order of amount--least to highest out of pocket first, then within each amount from least to highest extra bucks back.
  • Keep current coupons attached them.  
    • You may want to use them before the coupon expires if it is a new product with a high value coupon.  
    • If it is a regular value coupon it will probably come around again so you can choose to get it before it expires or not.
  • Look thru them each week before you shop to be familiar with what you have.  This is good for a couple of reasons.  
    • If you get a scanner coupon for one of the products you will remember you have the rain check.  
    • Also you may want to check for current coupons before you shop at least for the ones that match closely to your scenario for the week.  
    • It is really easy to at least look thru the current printable coupons available.
  • Most importantly, don't forget to ask for rain checks for any extra buck item out of stock you wanted to purchase.  Also ask for ones for non-extra buck items on great sale items.
It is hard to think this thru and get it from my head to the page to a reader's understanding.  Much of CVSing is easier taught one on one, but I will continue to try and share what I know about getting the most out of shopping the CVS weekly deals as simply and clearly as possible.

Disclosure: Links in this post may be Simply CVS affiliate partners or personal referrals.


dot said...

I think you did a very good job of explaining that.
If I have to do more than one transaction, sometimes I'll take the first one to the car and then come back and do another one. I know the employees must think I'm nuts but it helps me to keep my head straight.

Cheryl @ Simply Shoeboxes said...

Thanks, Dot. I still easily get confused when doing too many transactions, especially doing my mom's and mine. Also, the staff and I get to talking and laughing and my mind is not on my shopping. lol Glad you have found a way that works for you. And most people who see us shopping probably think we are nuts :-).

Anonymous said...

Wow, now that is what I call answering my question. Thank you so much for taking the time to explain how to use rain checks. This site is AWESOME!


Cheryl @ Simply Shoeboxes said...

You are welcome, J, I hope it all helps.

Julie said...

GREAT info!! :) Thanks!

EGriffin0229 said...

WOW! You REALLY did an amazing job explaining CVS' abc's... For firstimers, I'm sure the information would seem overwhelming. I would classify myself on the borderline of "Continual/Committed CVSer" and I still learned a thing or two. I just happen to find your site thru another blog (sorry I can't remember) and just thought I'd skim through your Index. Nice job!

Cheryl @ Simply Shoeboxes said...

Hi, EGriffin, yes, some of these explanations can be overwhelming. Readers ask these questions and some of them do not have simple answers. I would love to shop with them to teach them.

Cheree said...

I recently had a raincheck for two powered toothbrushes $3.00 ECB back. I know that it was limit two but the cashier said that she could only give me ECB on one of them. So I didn't argue I just decided that when I have rainchecks I will cut out and staple the ad to the raincheck. Then I can prove I'm right. Just wanted to share this I have not seen this as a tip on any sites I have visited.

Cheryl @ Simply Shoeboxes said...

Thanks, Cheree. I have done this in the past when I wanted to be sure there was no confusion. I actually had a cashier do this last week because she didn't want to write it all out. I think I'll post this soon as a CVS snippet.