The other day I signed up for CVS Pay via the IOS app. The experience was not what I expected. I had been using the CVS app for quite a while to digitally access my rewards card. After losing several of the tags and getting tired of constantly having to enter my phone number at the point of sale, I had adopted the CVS app as a convenient way to access my rewards account. Having had a good experience with the app so far, I noticed the roll-out of the CVS Pay option and decided to turn on the feature and enter my card information for later use.
The next day I was at my local CVS store about to make a purchase. Stuck in my routine, I pulled out my phone to scan my rewards card as I was checking out. Not remembering that I had signed up for CVS Pay and therefore not having done anything to initiate a payment, I was very much surprised when the register automatically began an attempt at running my card. My phone must not have made a good connection as both my phone and the register began “thinking” for a while. I did some thinking too and realized that the CVS Pay must have linked my credit card to my rewards account and automatically began processing that card when I scanned my rewards card. The “thinking” only resulted in an error message and me having to use my physical card in the POS device anyway.
Not too thrilled that the app first ran my card without asking or allowing me to initiate the transaction on my own in case I wanted to use a different form of payment and then wasn’t even able to complete the transaction anyway, I decided to abandon CVS Pay and return to my regular routine. Since I thought I was only entering my card for later use at my own discretion, I really had not yet even decided to adopt CVS Pay in the first place. This is where things got strange.
When I returned to the app to turn off CVS Pay, I discovered that there is no way to turn off the feature. No problem, I thought to myself; I’ll just delete my card information out of the app. Surely not having a card on file will cause the app to prompt me to turn off the feature. Of course, that didn’t work either. Maybe the FAQ section of the app will provide some guidance how to turn this feature off, I thought.
The FAQ in fact does appear to offer a solution to my problem.
Q: “How do I disable CVS Pay if I have lost my Phone?”
A: “Please call Customer Care at 1-888-607-4CVS (1-888-607-4287). We can disable it for you.”
At this point I was fairly annoyed but also curious as to how far this rabbit hole goes, so I decided to call the number. I think you can guess what happened next.
At first, I’m dumped into the main CVS phone tree asking me if I need help with prescriptions or other assorted issues. Hoping to speed the process along I immediately ask to speak with an agent. Surprisingly, I am able to reach someone in only a few minutes. Not surprisingly, the first person I speak has no idea what I’m talking about or how to turn off CVS Pay. The first person I speak with is in the CVS.com department. She determines I need to be speaking with someone in the Extra Care card department. After sitting on hold for a while, I finally get to speak with a second agent. After I again explain my situation and provide the FAQ language that led me to call, the second agent decides that she cannot help me and that the first agent was incorrect and that she needs to transfer me back to the CVS.com department.
Having had some hope of finding a solution given the apparent relevancy of the FAQ I had found, the lack of progress so far was making me increasingly frustrated. The third agent very apologetically had me try deleting and reinstalling the app, something I probably should have tried myself before making the call. However, this still does not solve the problem. The agent assures me that CVS Pay is now turned off on her end and that there is nothing more that she can do to try and help me. She proceeds to take down the technical details about my device and operating software and informs me that she will be opening a ticket with their IT department to resolve the issue.
That was three days ago, and I have not heard from anyone in the CVS IT department. On a subsequent trip to the store, the POS device again tried to run my now nonexistent card, confirming that CVS Pay is still enabled. I’m not surprised to have not heard back from the IT department, as I suspect the software is working exactly as intended and that there is no bug to fix. Why CVS would choose to implement CVS Pay in such an inflexible way doesn’t make sense to me. Maybe I’m an outlier, but I don’t always choose to use the same payment method every time I’m in store. By linking the CVS Pay feature to the rewards card, the app doesn’t allow any choice on the consumer’s part. This would be fine if there were a way to disable the feature for those of us that decide we would prefer the choice of payment method over the efficiency of automatically running a credit card when the rewards card is scanned.
While CVS Pay is an example of a merchant wallet implementation that I would not recommend, I would like to point out that I find the Exxon Mobile Speedpass wallet, which I have been using for a while, to be a great implementation of a merchant wallet. It can automatically determine the gas station where you are and allows you to authorize a pump from inside your vehicle (this is great on cold or rainy days!). The best part of all is you can still use other forms of payment if you so choose.