Friday, May 30, 2008

Giving Walgreens a Whirl

I'm visiting my parents tonight in their hometown in Wisconsin.

My mother mentioned this afternoon that she had to stop by Walgreens to get some prints made.

"Walgreens!" I exclaimed. This was just the opening I had been looking for.

Last night I'd printed out a few $10 off $30 Walgreens coupons, which were good for today only. Now, I don't really want to get into playing Walgreens the way I play CVS. Sure, like every spot on earth, my home has a Walgreens within a mile. But I already spend too much time on CVS, and I can see it from my front porch. Besides, I have Extra Bucks already, and I can generally work it out to get anything I need there for free, but at Walgreens, I would likely have to pay some out-of-pocket cash to get started, and I didn't want to.

But here was this coupon. $10 off. Well, I thought, when I go home, if anyone needs anything from Walgreens, I'll give them one of these coupons or maybe go for them.

So I told my mom I'd get her prints for her. She needed quite a few, which I thought was great because it would help me get to that $30 threshhold. The way I saw it, the thing to do was this: Get reimbursed for the first $20 from my mom and through coupons, then spend the last $10 on stuff that's free after Register Rewards. That way, I spend nothing, pick up some RRs that I could give to my mom who actually shops at Walgreens, and anything I buy is free.

It worked out almost that way. But wandering around an unfamiliar store, trying to figure out the Walgreen's system and trying to fill a cart with stuff for which I could use at least 12 bucks worth of coupons (the photos were going to be around $8) ... it was just too much work.

I came back, exhausted and dying of thirst, more than an hour later, which was actually ok because this Walgreens doesn't have a machine that prints out photos instantly, unlike my own dear CVS. So I would have had to wait an hour or come back later anyway.

Here's what I bought:

2 bags Chex Mix $ 2
1 Excedrine $ 2
51 photos 10.49
Snapple .99
Band Aids 1.99
Soft Soap 2.99
Kids Plaque Rinse 4.99
Oral-B toothbrush 4.49
Walgreens Maxi Pads 1.99

I had a coupon from the weekly flyer that made the photos 15 cents each, but I wasn't sure if they would ring up full price first, so I had a little insurance on there. In retrospect, I could have saved my free Snapple coupon from the Tribune for a CVS transaction when I really needed a freebie. But hey, I have never been able to find Snapple at CVS anyway, so what the heck. I will enjoy drinking that cold Snapple on my drive back to Oak Park tomorrow.

My coupons:
-10.00 Walgreens coupon
- 2.00 Walgreens coupon Softsoap
- .35 mq Softsoap
- 1 Chex Mix mq
- 1 Bandaid mq
- .99 Snapple mq
- 2 Excedrine mq
17.35 in regular coupons

Then, the cashier looked at the .15 prints coupon, and instead of subtracting 5 cents for each of 51 prints, he subtracted FIFTEEN cents for each print, for a $7.65 coupon. At the time, I didn't understand what was going on, I just said, "Wow, great coupon." But I have a confession to make: I would have let him make the mistake even if I understood. I am a bad, bad person, readers. Sorry, Tammy.

So, my $31.93 coupon was reduced by $17.35 in normal coupons and a $7.65 super-just-for-me coupon. My total = $6.91 + 1.59 tax = $8.50

I had purchased $12 worth of stuff that was listed "free after rebate" in the EasySaver booklet (What a lie! Those savings were anything but easy!). Since I know NOTHING about shopping Walgreens, I thought these rebates were the Register Rewards that print out at the bottom of your coupon. When my receipt came out, though, I had nothing. I asked the cashier, where are my register rewards, and the poor kid, who was suddenly deluged with a huge line (why does this ALWAYS happen no matter how quiet the store was before I approached the counter?), called for the manager.

I showed the manager the items in the book, and he explained that these are MAIL IN rebates. OK, duh. At least the manager wasn't one of my old high school classmates, since I was in my hometown and all.

So, I paid $8.50, my mom reimbursed me $2.50 immediately (she of course was quite happy to get all those pics so cheaply), and I will send away for my $12 in rebates.

So I doubled my money tonight, not counting the postage stamp. But it took me over an hour to earn that $6 and a bagful of junk I hardly wanted.

The verdict? It's been nice, Walgreens, but I am heading back to CVS. So long.


Crystal Paine said...

Just FYI: Walgreens just changed their system so you can request your rebate online rather than having to mail everything in. I've not done it myself but I've heard from others that it's pretty easy.

And at least you can save a stamp! :) Oh and if you request a gift card, you'll get an extra 10% back, too.

I think you did great for your first Walgreens run; I personally much prefer CVS, too.

eally said...

I'm with you...I prefer CVS over Walgreen's too. BUT, I do go in there when they have these special coupons and I combine them with other coupons and their rebates for some really great deals sometimes. You can do your rebates online and it is SOOOO easy and you'll get your rebate within a week. Great job on that first trip!

Andrea said...

I prefer CVS too but sometimes Walgreens comes through with some really good deals so you just have to get them! And, definitely do your rebates online - it's suuuper fast! You did awesome!

Carrie said...

Ladies and gentlemen, the Great Crystal Paine, aka Money Saving Mom, is in our presence. Or at least she was at 11:43 p.m. last night.

Thanks for the advice, Crystal and the rest of you. I followed it and found it very easy to redeem the rebate online. I guess I'll hold onto the Walgreens gift card I get in case a deal comes along there that I can't resist.