Since it’s Black Friday and all, figured I might delve into the consumer-affairs arena.

This afternoon, I strolled over to ubiquitous retailer CVS’s Adams Morgan outlet, at 1700 Columbia Road NW. There I purchased a 99-cent bottle of aspirin and two packages of AAA batteries—-2-for-1 deal today!

For my $7.32, I not only received the aforementioned goods, but 22¼ inches worth of receipt. Just what am I getting with all that paper?

  • About 5½ inches is your usual receipt stuff—-store address, date and time, items purchased, subtotal, tax, cash, change.
  • One-half inch is for a bar code. Yeah, apparently receipts need bar codes now.
  • Three-eighths of an inch is for a “TRIP SUMMARY” informing me I’ve saved $5.99 today.
  • Three-eighths of an inch is for a Flexible Spending Account summary, which might be helpful if I had one.
  • About 1½ inches is for a 40-word statement explaining exactly why the Flexible Spending Account summary might be helpful.

  • One inch is for a “REMINDER TO PICKUP A LITTLE SOMETHING FOR THE SITTER, HAIR DRESSER, TEACHER, PAPERBOY, GROOMER OR CO-WORKER. WE’VE GOT SOMETHING IN THE RIGHT SIZE FOR ANYONE!”
  • Another half-inch is used to remind me that I can “SHOP 24 HOURS A DAY AT CVS.COM” and to thank me for spending my drugstore dollar at CVS.
  • Three-quarters of an inch is used to inform me that I’ve spent $30.38 at CVS in Fall 2008.
  • Now, the next five-and-three-quarter inches is for a coupon for a free $25 gift card with a new or transferred prescription. That includes:
    • One and three-eighths inches for another CVS logo and an “extracare/coupon” logo
    • One inch to tell me what the coupon is for, and an expiration date
    • Another half-inch for a bar code
    • Three-eighths an inch for some unexplained nine-digit number
    • A quarter-inch for my ExtraCare Card number (actually only the last four digits—-the rest is all asterisks)
    • Two full inches for a 59-word disclaimer explaining that this doesn’t count if your script is paid for by any government program or if it’s for a controlled substance in Louisiana, among other restrictions
    • A quarter-inch for another inscrutable number, this one 11 digits.
  • After that is a second 5½-inch coupon, for $1 off any Cottonelle or Scott Bath Tissue 4 or 12 pack. This includes all of the elements on the other coupon, though the disclaimer on this one is only 1¼-inch. ( It does note that the offer “EXCLUDES PRESCRIPTIONS, ALCOHOL, GIFT CARDS, LOTTERY, MONEY ORDERS, POSTAGE STAMPS, PRE-PAID CARDS & TOBACCO PRODUCTS”—-not sure how that applies to a toilet-paper discount offer.)
  • And, for good measure, a half-inch of plain white space.

I appreciate all of this added value, CVS—-don’t get me wrong—-but what I’d appreciate more is if you could keep the receipt to, say, five inches, cut your paper costs, maybe take a nickel off that pack of batteries, and give me a receipt I can actually fit in my wallet.

Thanks!