At a time when many are looking to save money at the grocery store, one user has gone viral for their method of reducing costs at the register: Buying expired food.
In a clip with over 2.9 million views as of Saturday, TikTok user Emily says that she discovered that her local CVS was offering a discount for finding expired products. The discount was significant, she says, with one sign claiming that a customer could receive a $3.50 coupon for their purchase of goods past their sell-by date.
“So what do I do? I come to the protein bar section, because I’m trying to buy Celsius packets right now for my trip, and they’re so expensive here,” she details. “I start searching through all these bars. I’m like, ‘Hmm, these Quest blueberry muffin bars, no one buys those.’ So I check it, and it says [it] expired in November’—so I’m going to go get my coupon.”
“If you find an expired item, you get a $3.50 off coupon,” she summarizes.
In an email to the Daily Dot, Emily elaborated on her experience, saying she was able to find an expired product “within 2 min of my search.”
“The manager is able to give you a coupon straight away, no questions were asked,” she explained. “I went back the next day and received over $40 in coupons which are also stackable (can be used all in the same purchase).”
In the comments section of her video, viewers pointed out that this was not a universal policy. In fact, CVS only offers such discounts as a result of several lawsuits.
“CVS reached a settlement with the state of Pennsylvania several years ago, after the state accused the retailer of violating an earlier agreement aimed at ensuring that expired products were not being offered for sale,” reads a piece in Coupons in the News. “Under the terms of the agreement, CVS would provide a $3.50 store coupon for any expired product that a shopper discovered in any of the state’s hundreds of CVS locations.”
Although the article notes that the policy was supposed to end in 2021, shoppers have found that they are still able to get such discounts in-store in Pennsylvania.
A similar policy was in place in Connecticut, reads a press release from the State of Connecticut.
“…For at least three years, CVS will offer consumers a $2 discount coupon toward any purchase, for each expired over-the-counter drug, baby food or formula, egg or dairy product a consumer finds on store shelves and turns in to cashiers,” the press release says. “Consumers do not have to make a purchase to receive the coupon and there is no limit on the number of coupons a consumer can receive for finding expired products in the stores.”
@emilyiscaffeinated Putting in max effort today fr #cvs #free #coupon ♬ original sound – Emily Reidy
Commenters shared their thoughts on this policy.
“It’s honestly a genius policy because it’s a low cost to ensure no expired products are on the shelf,” a user said.
“I’m always on our dates at my job,” offered another. “These customers wouldn’t have a chance.”
“Some people literally just walk through CVS searching for expired items,” explained a third.
To Emily, this policy makes sense, she tells the Daily Dot.
“I think this is a good policy because it keeps expired goods off the shelves and grows awareness around consumers checking dates on products,” she wrote. “However, it is a little strange how the company is delegating employee tasks to the customers.”
The Daily Dot reached out to CVS via email.
Update 9:27am CT: In an email to the Daily Dot, a CVS spokesperson shared the following: “We remain committed to ensuring that expired products are not sold to customers. We have a clear product removal policy and procedures in place at all of our CVS Pharmacy stores to help ensure that items are removed from shelves before they reach their expiration dates. Any unintentional deviations from this policy that are brought to the company’s attention are quickly rectified for customers. In Pennsylvania and Connecticut, we continue to offer coupons to customers who notify store employees if they discover certain expired products.”