Walt Mossberg dumps CVS for Walgreens over Apple Pay

“I’ve been a regular customer at CVS/pharmacy, the country’s second-largest drugstore chain, for 20 years. I’ve spent a small fortune there over that span, visiting several times a week to pick up everything from milk to toothpaste to prescriptions,” Walt Mossberg writes for Re/code. “But lately, I’m not feeling very happy with CVS, because of a business decision it made that curtailed my choice of how I could pay in its stores with my own credit cards. In fact, I’ve been taking more of my shopping down the road to CVS’s main rival, Walgreens.”

“Why? Because CVS has abruptly cut off my ability to pay for my purchases on my expensive new iPhone 6 with the first really excellent mobile phone payment system I’ve seen: Apple’s new Apple Pay, which is quicker and more secure than plastic,” Mossberg writes. “And it appears to me that the drugstore chain, and other merchants with which it is allied, are afraid of competition, afraid that I might get hooked on Apple Pay (or some competing system, like Google Wallet) before the drugstore chain and its fellow merchants can come out with their own rival mobile phone payment system, promised for next year.”

MacDailyNews Take: Hooked on Google Wallet? Good one, Walt!

In just one week, Apple Pay has already facilitated more transactions than all other ‘contact less’ payment methods combined! (Which shows how much of an epic faceplant Google Wallet has been – it was released over three years ago on September 19, 2011.)

Mossberg writes, “In other words, I’m wondering if CVS, whose name originally stood for ‘Consumer Value Store,’ really believes in letting consumers choose what’s valuable to them. By contrast, Walgreens supports Apple Pay, along with plastic credit cards.”

Much more in the full article – recommended – here.

MacDailyNews Take: Once again:

Unlike CurrentC, Apple doesn’t save your transaction information. With Apple Pay, your payments are private. Apple Pay doesn’t store the details of your transactions so they can’t be tied back to you. That is what Walmart, CVS, Rite-Aid et al. hate about Apple Pay and why they currently won’t allow their customers to utilize Apple Pay.

Boycott non-cash payment systems from any company that willfully turns off NFC in an effort to block the vastly more secure, much more private, and far easier-to-use Apple Pay service.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Dan K.” for the heads up.]


    1. Prominent media rejection should get the head offices at CVS to pay attention. Those guys must be on full damage control alert right now. And really time is not their friend not acting now and doing a “full reversal of their Custer decision.”

      1. It would probably mean more if Mossberg were still at The Wall Street Journal. Mossberg is still influential within the tech industry, even at Re/code, but he has nowhere near the influence he had as part of WSJ.

    1. You hit it.

      As we move more transactions online, middle class consumers are increasingly bombarded with ads and come ons in all sorts of places. We as consumers have become somewhat numb and the more ads & pitches we can avoid, the more time we have to do what we want each day.

      Harsh disincentives from a store as they target us with ads is not going to help them keep customers.

      Retailers had better get in with the future and start figuring out how to partner with their customers!

    1. The “bank charges problem” appears to be a smoke screen. The real issue is that CurrentC wants be able to monetize *all* your data and sell *all* of it to *all* its customers. Think of it as “Google snooping gone financial.”

  1. Interesting. I made the same exact switch, I had never even set foot in a Walgreens before Apple Pay, now I have zero interest in CVS. I’m also a brand new customer at Whole Foods…all because of Apple Pay. This phenomenon is real. Retailers better be careful.

    1. I also shopped Whole Foods for the first time recently and enjoyed the Apple Pay experience. In the process, I learned that their prices aren’t all that bad on certain products so I will give them another look soon.

      1. salad bar is not too shabby, either. does yours have a pub? try the fish and chips. they are to die for. welcome to the world of whole foods. jonny ives description of apple’s “magical” features and life improving power has just jumped up and bit your arse.

    2. I’d always patronized Walgreens, but only because there was no CVS in my part of the country. We just moved to a state that has both Walgreens and CVS, and in fact both are conveniently located near my home. I had just started shopping at CVS – literally one time – then this whole thing happened. Never mind.

    3. Starbuck’s CEO made some asinine comment over the weekend that they have influenced more people’s decision to use mobile payments than Apple has. (http://www.cultofmac.com/301756/starbucks-ceo-apple-pay-great-still-wont-support-stores/)

      I, like you and Uncle Walt, am migrating my shopping to places I can use Apple Pay – I have not set foot in Walmarts or Target in the last 2 weeks, because they don’t use Apple Pay. Instead, all of the shopping I would have done in those stores, has been done in Meijer instead, because they accept Apple Pay.

      Have I ever used Starbuck’s mobile payment system – sure. Is Starbuck’s the only place I buy coffee because of that – not by a long shot. If Peet’s or Biggby Coffee announced today that they would accept Apple Pay, would they then be my sole source of coffee – YES! Now that’s influence!

    4. I had favored Lowe’s for a long time for my home, farm, and ranch supplies. I used Apple Pay at Home Depot yesterday. The clerk was like, “What was that?” Home Depot is a couple of miles closer to my house than Lowe’s. It’ll take quite a bit for them to get my business back.

      1. So Home Depot takes ApplePay? If so, I’m switching from Lowes to Home Depot. By the way, Home Depot CAN NOT AFFORD TO MESS UP AGAIN, since they already had a data breach! Surprisingly, Target is so stupid!

        1. Yes, Home Depot, at least as of yesterday was taking Apple Pay. The clerk was dumbfounded, so I guess it’s not something they’ve trained their staff on yet.

  2. Went to Walgreens yesterday – left CVS two weeks back. CVS doubled my Rx prices 2x this year. What was $10 in Jan is now $42.
    Walgreens – $10 a piece. Pay on the checkout already. Who am I going to use? Not CVS.

    BTW, I don’t smoke, but CVS also wants to be the Nanny to the stupid by stopping cigarette sales and are standing high on their home-made soapbox. No thanks. If you haven’t tried them, Walgreens is old-school and new-school wrapped up to make the best store of it’s kind.

    1. Long ago, when I was in college in Germany, I heard one student ask another for a hand grenade. I asked. They said that tobacco is a government monopoly in France. They can’t get rid of cigarettes, so they make them very strong to discourage people from smoking them. But some people like strong cigarettes.

      They explained that they were called hand grenades because you light them up and throw them away.

      CVS is under no obligation to sell laser printers, computers, or cigarettes. The Apple Store doesn’t sell them either. Cigarettes kind of contradict the whole point of having a drugstore, so it’s a good idea not to sell them.

    2. Choosing not to sell one of the worst causes of premature death and horrible crippling diseases! How dare they! I’m also incensed about their refusal to sell cyanide and C-4.

      1. Ciggy’s are a legal product. I tend to allow people to decide for themselves, but I’m not a Maoist. CVS sells drugs that addict people too. Oh nos.
        The sell snacks that also can cause heart disease and diabetes. Where do they stop? Thanks Ken and Sean, I’ll make my own decisions.

  3. Walgreens is great for Apple pay. TOO BAD they moved their headquarters overseas to avoid paying their taxes. I am mixed on this. Walgreens is a just as bad, but Apple pay will erase that bad taste….I guess. My CORP overlords in their wisdom are MAKING us employees USE CVS wether we want to or not for our Rx prescriptions next year. I have been with Walgreens for a couple years and resent being forced to switch. I want to keep my Rx plan…but it is all about the $$.

      1. If they dont pay thier taxes the government will end up asking you for more – unless an election is near in which case they will hide the shortfall in more borrowing or fancy accounting schemes

        1. Corporations don’t pay taxes; they collect taxes and pass them on to the consumer in the form of higher prices, as taxes are part of their cost of doing business. And we are the only major country asking companies to pay taxes on money earned overseas, on top of the taxes paid in those countries. Double taxation is hardly a moral imperative.

    1. Actually, they didn’t move their headquarters overseas. It was proposed, and the consumer backlash and threats of a boycott scared them into scrapping that plan. I believe it also cost the person who proposed the plan (the CFO maybe?) his job.

  4. while the number of pay transactions at walgreens/cvs/rite aid might be low compared to overall transactions, the buzz over this will cause cvs/rite aid to look slimy. best PR for apple and it costs them nothing. these box stores pay their bills on RX’s. if you really want to hurt them, move them to walgreens.

    predict they will go the way of meijers and ignore the exclusivity agreement. the thing they can’t stand more than paying credit card transaction fees and consumer behavior information, is losing business to their biggest competitor (walgreens). there has to be a big smile at their corporate offices these days. a free off label migration program. they probably hope cvs/rite aide never turn nfc back on. also, CurrentC can’t go live soon enough so the 90% of their customers who don’t have an iphone6 can be incentivized to migrate as well.

  5. In the grand scheme, Mossberg not shopping there is nothing on their financial statement. My local CVS has great pharmacists and staff. Better than the Walgreens across the street. My thing is to continue to use credit at CVS so they’ll have tipsy the charges and tell them I’m not interested if they talk about CurrentC. The stores need to be equal as far as service goes if I’m going to switch.
    I’ve used credit cards for many years and yes Apple pay is much much more secure but it’s not everywhere and I don’t expect it to be for a while so it’s not a big deal to me.

  6. It’s unlikely I’ll. Have Apple Pay capability for another 8-10 months. But I’m already boycotting CVS … Sadly, since they just started opening stores in my Midwestern city.

  7. People who have NFC capable Android phones would love Google Wallet, if they knew about it. Yes, it’s not quite as secure as Apple Pay, but the ease of use is pretty good. The problem is that most Android users have no idea what it is. Most have never heard of NFC or Google Wallet. Most Android users don’t know if their phone is NFC capable or not. But if Apple Pay takes off, it will also help the adoption rate of Google Wallet. And this is good for those of us who have chosen the better option. The more people who want to pay with NFC, the more demand there is from consumers to retailers and credit card companies to offer it.

    1. (for NFC to be popular it has to be EASIER than credit cards especially Chip cards where you can just tap, Goog Wallet is harder to use… )

      90+% of android phones in the world don’t have fingerprint sensors
      the small remainder have fingerprint sensors that are sucky to use or don’t really work
      (Apple designs everything, chip, software etc so it’s Apple Pay system works well, android phones use off the shelf processors and OS)

      with goog wallet without a finger print sensor or a lousy one you have to PASSWORD YOUR PHONE, then Select the Goog Wallet App switch it on and then use…

      apple pay you just press the fingerprint sensor

      The OTHER THING GOOG WALLET TAKES YOUR PURCHASING INFO and Goog uses it (sell it to advertisers , to retailers ? — this is even more valuable than normal retailer info as goog ties it with all the info it gets from your web searchers and Gmail (yes Google scans all your gmails and attachments including photos , look at the terms of service ) and Google + info while APPLE DOES NOT TRACK YOUR PURCHASING INFO.

  8. How about this for a CHOICE. Use locally owned businesses (independent pharmacies in this case) in order to keep your money in your town. These corporate behemoths are like huge vacuum cleaners sucking all the money out of your communities. Also, all the surveys show independent pharmacists lead in customer satisfaction. If the chains had great service, they wouldn’t have to force people to come to their store via closed networks (CVS-Caremark).

    I have customers that pass up 3 or 4 other drugstores just to come to mine. I care. I treat them right, charge lower prices, and get them out a whole lot faster. We have been doing what the chains are now trying to do for years (don’t sell cigs, alcohol, we do drug management, we know you.)

    PS. If you run into an old, run down independent that is not too friendly, keep looking. Most of the older, poor-service pharmacies have already closed.

  9. I find it curious indeed that this Apple Pay Imbroglio is happening just before the start of the lucrative Christmas Shopping Season. The timing for the CurrentC consortium couldn’t have been worse.

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