I’m truly in love with contactless payments. ApplePay and AndroidPay are quite possibly two of the most revolutionary things to come out of the birth of the smartphone.
From not having to carry emergency cash on a run anymore (cabs all accept contactless payments in NYC,) to the speed in which I can tap, pay, and go, I find new benefits every single day by being able to pay without “paying,” per se.
And then, on the other side of technology, the side where Fred Flintstone starts his car with his feet, there’s CVS Pharmacy.
Whether I’m buying a three dollar protein drink or paying $50 for a monthly medication, (thanks, crappy Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance,) every time I pull out my phone and tap the payment terminal (with the giant “wireless” logos, I might add,) I get, without fail, the following message:
“CONTACTLESS PAYMENTS NOT ALLOWED.”
Sigh. It’s not limited to the type of credit card I’m using, either. I’ve tried with AmEx, Visa, and Mastercard. This has happened in Boston, NYC, and multiple other cities around the country, and not one CVS cashier could ever tell me why, until last night.
At a CVS in Boston, as I was again fumbling for my credit card, putting it in the machine, waiting 20 seconds for the code to generate from the PIN chip, and generally lamenting how this usually forward-thinking company could screw up this badly, all so I could buy nothing more than a six dollar roll of soft-wrap bandages for my foot, a cashier noticed my frustration.
“Sir, you should download the CVS app – You can use that to pay for your purchases today by touching the phone to the terminal.”
I was floored. “Wait a second,” I said. “CVS wants me to download an app, connect my credit card to it, and then, every time I need to pay, open my phone, find the app, open it, click “pay,” and then I can use contactless payments?”
“Um, yeah,” he said, looking at the floor ashamed. He realized the futility of what he was asking me to do.
Why, CVS? WHY? You can get the SAME marketing information from me on a regular basis without making me download the app – I already have a CVS card, you already know that I prefer Advil to Aleve. You know my medications. You have my insurance info, my doctor’s info, and you know that I buy an inordinate amount of bandaids because I chew on my cuticles. You have my mobile and home numbers, and you text and call when my medications are ready for pickup. WHY would you POSSIBLY force me through an additional six steps to pay you when you’re not gaining ANYTHING of value by having me do it? Additionally, not only are you not gaining anything from me you don’t already have, but you’re pushing me more towards drug stores that let me pay via ApplePay. And let’s be honest – In NYC, that’s as simple as walking an extra four feet.
Companies, come on. In 2017, don’t make the same mistake of overthinking your customer’s loyalty. In CVS’s case, they’re a drug store, and my loyalty to them is already a given – All my prescriptions go to them, they’re closest to my apartment, they have all my info. For the sake of upping their app adoption by one user, they’re going out of their way to lose me as a customer. Simply put, don’t do this. Put yourself in the shoes of the customer, and then truly ask if this is helpful. Because, well, it’s not.
I would love to give CVS a platform here to respond. If anyone from CVS wants to reach out to me to explain this, or even to correct me if I’m wrong, I’d welcome the opportunity to write a followup post on this.
But for now, I’m out of Methyl B12, and there’s a Duane Reade a block away.