Some personal news: CVS gave me a 5’8” receipt today pic.twitter.com/75dPvFQvDK
— Emma Keane (@eckeane) October 3, 2018
The drugstore chain CVS is famous for its long paper receipts. They have become an internet meme, as people proudly pose for pictures with receipts that are longer than they are tall. How did that happen? A lot of it has to do with customer tracking. When you sign up for a rewards program at any business, software enables the store to track your purchases and target you for advertising. At CVS, this is called the ExtraCare program, which will save you money on certain items, but comes with a lot more advertising.
Receipts aren’t just proof of purchase anymore; they’re a forum for stores to tell you things. That still seems true. My receipts offered me information about other, even more rewarding rewards programs I could join. The told me about satisfaction surveys I could take where I might win $1,000, or $3,000, depending on the drugstore. They updated me on my rewards points. They explained how rewards points work. It was like a satisfying chat with a very rewards-points-oriented friend.
All this information lengthens your receipts, which CVS embraced more than most stores. Rachel Sugar experimented with different stores, keeping track of her receipts when using reward programs and bypassing them. Read what she found, as well as the history of the CVS receipt meme, at Vox.