Shoppers Are Threatening to Boycott CVS—Here's Why
A lawsuit is causing serious outrage against the popular pharmacy chain.
CVS provides service to millions of people around the U.S. for their healthcare needs, but with so many customers to serve, the drugstore chain does find itself mired in controversy every so often. From complaints about the company's hand sanitizer to claims about misleading medications, CVS has been hit with a number of consumer lawsuits this year. And while most of these suits are resolved with little fanfare, one lawsuit is now drawing enough negative attention that some shoppers are calling for a full boycott of the company. Read on to find out why CVS is now under fire.
READ THIS NEXT: 5 Warnings to Shoppers From Ex-CVS Employees.
CVS started an in-store charity campaign for diabetes last year.
In Nov. 2021, CVS announced that it had established a new partnership with the American Diabetes Association (ADA) in order to "support families in helping to prevent and manage diabetes, as well as fund research on the devastating health disparities that fuel the diabetes epidemic."
According to the press release, CVS Health has committed to giving the ADA $10 million over three years to help the organization's Project Power program, which "aims to break down barriers that limit access to vital resources and empower participants to effectively prevent and manage diabetes."
But CVS also allowed its customers to be part of the new partnership. In 2021, the company hosted an "in-store fundraising campaign at all CVS Pharmacy locations nationwide during American Diabetes Month," which is November. According to the press release, the campaign was meant "to give customers an opportunity to support the ADA and build a future without diabetes."
Now, donations from customers are at the center of the latest controversy.
The company is now being sued.
In May, the CVS Health Corporation was hit with a major lawsuit concerning its in-store charity campaign for the ADA in 2021. The class-action suit was filed by New York resident Kevin McCabe, who claims that CVS "engaged in common-law fraud" through its diabetes donation initiative.
Customers at all CVS pharmacies in the U.S. were asked if they wished to make a donation to the ADA when checking out as part of the company's campaign, according to the lawsuit. The checkout screen gave shoppers the option to do so by tapping one of several boxes that listed pre-selected donation amounts or they could opt out of the campaign by hitting a different box that stated "no."
But according to McCabe, the checkout message indicated that CVS was simply getting donations from customers to send straight to the ADA—which he claims isn't the full story. "CVS did not merely collect customers' Campaign Donations and forward them to the ADA, but instead, counted Campaign Donations toward the satisfaction of a legal binding obligation, which CVS had made to the ADA, to donate $10 million to the ADA during the three-year period," he stated in the lawsuit, accusing CVS of "engaging in fraud" by using "deceptive and misleading" fundraising tactics.
Customers are threatening to boycott CVS over the lawsuit.
On Dec. 5, Emma van Inwegen, a PhD candidate at MIT's Sloan School of Management, posted a now-viral tweet about the lawsuit. "CVS is being sued for asking customers to donate to the American Diabetes Association when they check out," Inwegen wrote in her tweet, which has since garnered over 21,000 retweets and more than 75,000 likes. "Those donations are in fact *not* sent to the ADA, but instead reimburse the CVS for a legally binding obligation of $10M that CVS promised earlier."
In follow-up tweets, Inwegen said she thinks it is "slimy" and "potentially" a violation of the Consumer Financial Protection Act (CFPA) that CVS did not disclose that they would be donating $10 million to the ADA regardless of whether their customers made donations or not. As a result of her tweets, frustrations have flared up online, with some customers threatening to boycott the drugstore company altogether.
"I have diabetes and this news has me outraged," one Twitter said in a reply. "Insulin shots, which must be taken daily, or even twice daily, are, in some cases, more than $100 each. A 30-day supply will cost you the rent [and] a car payment. For CVS to do something like this is outrageous!"
Another user quoted Inwegen's original tweet, writing, "@CVSHealth this is outrageous…it's time for a CVS boycott."
CVS is fighting back against the controversy.
When asked about the lawsuit and subsequent online controversy, a spokesperson from CVS told Best Life that "the claims asserted in this action lack merit." According to the Boston Globe, CVS lawyer Edward Powers filed a motion to dismiss the case in November, challenging McCabe's claims that CVS owed "debt" to the ADA.
"We have filed a motion to dismiss that details the plaintiff's inaccurate description of our campaign and its intent," the CVS spokesperson confirmed to Best Life. "We are proud of our 3-year collaboration with the American Diabetes Association (ADA) to support families in helping to prevent and manage diabetes, including our in-store fundraising campaign through which customers have, and continue to donate to the ADA."