ppod_citn-728x90
ppod_citn-320x100

Update: CVS has confirmed that the manager who was recorded, and another involved in the incident, have been fired. “We have completed our investigation, and as a result the two colleagues who were involved are no longer employed by CVS Health,” CVS spokesman Michael DeAngelis told Coupons in the News in a statement. And he reiterated CVS’s earlier statement that “profiling or any other type of discriminatory behavior is strictly prohibited.”

CVS is apologizing to a Chicago woman, whose Facebook post about an unfortunate couponing experience she had this past Friday night has gone viral.

In short, a manager thought a coupon she was using was counterfeit – so he called the cops on her. Some think the manager was just being cautious about stopping a suspected coupon fraudster. But others believe the woman simply made the mistake of “couponing while black”.

You’ve read the stories recently, of police being called to investigate black individuals for doing innocuous things that white callers found suspicious or threatening – like mowing the lawn, taking a nap or picking up litter off the side of the road. So is it time to add couponing to that list?

53-year-old Chicago native Camilla Hudson says she was on her way home when she stopped into a 24-hour CVS shortly before midnight on Friday, to grab a few things. One of those things was a free health-care item, for which she had a coupon.

“So, THIS just happened,” she wrote in a Facebook post shortly after leaving the store. “I had the police called on me for attempting to use a coupon @ the CVS Pharmacy.” The coupon, she explained, was “mailed to me by the product manufacturer, as replacement for problematic/defective product. The manager on duty said that he’d never seen a coupon like the one I had and said that he thought it was fraudulent. When I asked for his name and his title/role within the store, he became agitated and rude.”

And that’s when things began to escalate – so Hudson took out her phone to document what was happening. The manager, she said, “ran to the back of the store and slammed a door in my face”. He later emerged and, visibly shaking, called police while Hudson recorded his end of the conversation.

336x280-CITN-3

“I had ZERO concerns about the police being called,” Hudson wrote in her post. The manager told “the 911 dispatcher that I was harassing them,” she continued. “Three tactical unit officers arrived and, after some conversation and documenting their names, badge numbers, etc., I eventually left the store. Needless to say, this is far from over.”

Her original post was widely shared, and as news outlets across the country began covering the story, it quickly gained CVS’s attention. The very next day, she received a phone call from CVS’s corporate office. The caller apologized and said the company would investigate the incident.

Hudson’s post never explicitly accused the manager of racism, or of singling her out because she’s black, though she suggested as much in local media interviews and at the end of her post: “Life in these United States. Aargh.”

But CVS’s public response went there unambiguously, referencing discrimination, profiling and diversity as it apologized to Hudson and promised to make things right.

“We sincerely apologize to Ms. Hudson for her experience in one of our stores,” CVS said in its statement. “CVS has begun an investigation and we will take any corrective action that is warranted to prevent it from happening again.” The statement went on to say that “CVS Pharmacy does not tolerate any practices that discriminate against any customer and we are committed to maintaining a welcoming and diverse environment in our stores. We have firm non-discrimination policies in place to help ensure that all customers are treated with respect and dignity. Profiling or any other type of discriminatory behavior is strictly prohibited.”

So with everything that’s known so far – was this a case of racial profiling, or an employee doing due diligence to stop someone who insisted on using a suspicious-looking coupon?

Because the coupon, pictured above, does look a little sketchy. But that appears to be the fault of the manufacturer for issuing an amateurish coupon with a fill-in-the-blank brand name, whose bar code doesn’t attach to any particular product and instead takes up to $17.99 off any purchase at all.

The coupon comes from First Quality Retail Services, which makes store-brand baby care, feminine care, incontinence products and other items for a number of retailers, including pharmacies like CVS. In a statement to Coupons in the News, First Quality confirmed the authenticity of the coupon. “Based on the photograph in the article it appears that this is a legitimate coupon,” First Quality spokesperson Michelle Dengler said. And one commenter on Hudson’s Facebook post, who said she works at CVS, said she’s seen coupons just like it plenty of times.

“Not only did they not verify it or attempt to verify it, they made no attempt to redeem it,” Hudson said. “They never even scanned the barcode at all.”

Still, even though the coupon appears legit, some commenters aren’t offering Hudson any sympathy. “You were obviously harassing them. It’s just a coupon, learn how to take rejection. Just because you are black doesn’t mean that’s why they didn’t take it,” one commenter wrote. “YOU’RE MAD because the cops were called on you after you clearly stated that you followed this man around the store with a video camera, because he wouldn’t accept your coupon that actually looks fake,” another wrote. “As a couponer, our coupons get denied every day by people of all colors,” a third commenter offered. “And you know what I’ve never done? Followed someone around a damn store with a camera. You know what else has never happened to me? The police have never been called on me.”

Other commenters are digging up information on the manager, identified as Morry Matson, who’s moonlighting as a candidate for city alderman. A former ward delegate for Donald Trump in the 2016 election, Maton’s campaign platform includes “restoring law and order”. “Welcome to Chicago where ‘No Lives Matter’, his campaign website reads. “Living here is like living in a real life ultra-violent video game.”

So just when you thought it couldn’t get any more controversial, now the debate over the incident has taken on political overtones as well, with some commenters criticizing Matson for being a Trump supporter and suggesting that’s why he called the police on a black woman.

Still others say, no matter his political views, or Hudson’s race, Matson’s actions were just plain wrong. “It clearly looks like this man isn’t suited for a job in customer service! It’s not right that you were accused of faking a coupon and treated rudely,” a supporter wrote in response to Hudson’s post. “The sensible thing to do if he believed the coupon to be fake was to go verify it,” another suggested. “I am tired of idiots making phone calls out of ignorance. You handled it with style & grace,” a third commenter offered.

Hudson has not responded to a request for comment. Matson’s campaign website was taken down this weekend, and he could not be reached for comment.

So while CVS investigates, it remains unclear whether this incident was about race, harassment, oversensitivity about fraudulent coupons, or maybe all of the above. There are some pretty real-looking fake coupons out there, so you can’t necessarily blame retailers from being on alert for counterfeits. But then there are also some fake-looking real coupons out there – as evidenced by the one Hudson tried to use – so there may be such thing as being too mistrustful, of someone who was clearly not an extreme couponer trying to get away with a huge haul.

So the next time you receive a coupon that might look a little questionable, be careful where you use it. As one Chicago couponer can tell you from firsthand experience – it’s getting rough out there.

Image sources: Facebook/Camilla Hudson

5 Comments

  1. Honest Couponer says:

    How sad that a simple incident involving a suspicious looking coupon quickly turned into a racial and political issue that has gone viral. And shame on the company that issues coupons that both look completely amateurish and are coded as all-scans.

    • Agreed. The guy should have said he would have called the police no matter what color she was. And trying to scan the coupon would have meant nothing since a fraudulent coupon would be coded to scan fine.

      • Those boys are going to make a fortune as long as they agree with corporate not to talk about thier settlement with public.

        Trust me as an expert in security printing, at 17.99 the pantograph is flawed no block out and no foil…………..A must on a high ticket item.

    • Hmm? There was nothing racial here at all, the cop asked what the person looked like so he said African-American…To call that “Racial” is really reaching or trying to MAKE it into a race issue.

      • Honest Couponer says:

        Totally agree. Very sad situation that shouldn’t have cost anyone their job. I’m guessing there are hundreds of conflicts at the check-out line every day regarding suspicious looking coupons. Amazing how this incident turned racial and political so quickly. The CVS ex-employees were just doing their job with some actual diligence.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

Privacy Policy
Disclosure Policy