CVS Battle-of-Wills, and Savings Victories

I was walking to CVS on my lunch break Friday, when someone nearly bumped into me. She didn't say anything, so automatically I apologized instead. It drives me crazy when I do that! I certainly don't care if the people around me are clumsy or distracted, but I don't feel like there's any reason for me to take false credit for collisions. This very small social error of over-deference, or however you want to view it, seems more objectionable to me because of its connections with my jelly-spine days, which aren't as far in the past as I should like. In any case, as I walked on I had the very distinct thought, "I wish I had a confrontational bone in my body... or maybe even two of them..." I then spent the rest of the walk considering why greater assertiveness would be useful, and how I should start trying to be more deliberate about standing up for myself... a highly significant and almost ironic train of thought, as you will see, because of what happened about 20 minutes later.

At CVS I proceeded to do a little (highly targeted) shopping, and got to the register a few minutes later to find that the clerk didn't want to honor the coupons I had brought. He mistakenly thought that I could only use one coupon per manufacturer, and as L'Oreal had been particularly generous with coupons lately, I was armed with three (of very nice high denominations too: $3/2, $3/1, $2/1). He was very stubborn, and very sure he was right. I knew he was wrong, and had just spent ten minutes considering the value of assertiveness and not being intimidated by people. The battle was epic.

For several minutes he explained that I could only use one of that set of coupons, and I politely kept repeating that the policy was per item and I was good to go. Another clerk and then finally their manager had to get involved before he would believe us that I was actually right. Overall it was no big deal, just a little confusion on the part of the register clerk, but even that little bit of confrontation (quote-unquote) had my adrenaline kicking in hardcore, accompanied by flushed cheeks and shaking hands . I did manage to keep speaking normally though, no increased pitch or fast talking, so I gave myself kudos for that much. Conclusion: As I was aware, I am not good at being assertive... but sticking up for myself anyway is highly satisfying. I continue to be mystified by encountering clerks who are determined to save companies and manufacturers' money, when these same companies and brands are the ones desperately marketing in an effort to get me to take them up on their deals and sales... but oh well.

Details on my CVS escapade are as follows... There were very nice weekly specials of $5 Extracare Bucks back on $20 of L'Oreal products, as well as a $3 ECBs back on a $7 Bandaid/Neosporin purchase, and both categories had stuff I had already been meaning to buy. I bought

2 packages of L'Oreal Skin Genesis face-wash wipes
1 L'Oreal Hip eyeshadow
1 L'Oreal Bare Naturale Mascara
1 Neosporin
1 box of Bandaids

I had those three notorious L'Oreal coupons, and a coupon for $1 off each of the first-aid items too. After I had won the epic battle, I then proceeded to hand over a "$5 off of $25" CVS coupon, and $9 ECB. MUAHAHAHA the register clerk just loved me I'm sure...

The total normally would have been $44.28. It cost me $13.59, and I got $8 ECBs back. Plus, the small sense of self-actualization from standing up for myself when in the past I would have given in. A most memorable shopping trip. :P

Note: I've posted before about playing the Extracare Bucks (ECB) game to get stuff for free or highly discounted... if you're still getting started on that, check out my post The Secret Life of the Savvy CVS shopper for a refresher on tips. A good ECB special to take advantage of (or start with) this week would be the Crest Pro-Health Enamel Care toothpaste or rinse, free after purchase price back in ECB bucks, and coupons frequently available in the paper too. There's also $5 ECB back after $10 St. Ives purchase and $5 ECB back after a $20 L'Oreal purchase (which, along with a bunch of coupons, served me pretty well last week). Find other ECB deals on items including Zyrtec and Schick Quattro for Women in their online store circular here.


  1. Way to stand your ground! Aren't stupid clerks just the most frustrating thing? Grrrr. I think you handled it perfectly!

  2. that's such a wonderful accomplishment! and if it's any consolation, i apologize to coffee tables when my shins run into them. you make me laugh.

    i'm off to CVS.

  3. Funny - I too struggle to be assertive. Where I grew up, assertiveness is NOT valued culturally, but here you're expected to be assertive if you want to succeed. If I can, I often take the tact of attempting to look like a lost puppy that needs help and hope that people will be sympathetic or feel guilty - rather than attempting to stand my ground. :)


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