CVS Follies: How to Turn a Charitable Contribution into a Scandal and Lawsuit!

CVS Follies: How to Turn a Charitable Contribution into a Scandal and Lawsuit!

November is “National Diabetes Month.” On November 2, 2021, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and CVS Health each made announcements about a partnership between the two organizations that described a CVS $10 million commitment over three years to the ADA to reach five million patients and transform health outcomes. The announcements include the following statement:

“CVS Health will also (my emphasis) host an in-store fundraising campaign at all CVS Pharmacy locations nationwide during American Diabetes Month, now through November 27, to give customers an opportunity to support the ADA and build a future without diabetes.”

The “customer opportunity” was implemented by providing customers with options on a checkout screen to donate pre-selected dollar amounts, as well as an opt-out option, for the ADA. This request of customers provided little additional information.

In May 2022, a CVS customer who had made a donation filed a lawsuit intended to be a class-action suit against CVS about this program. However, it has only been recently that this situation has received wider news coverage (e.g., Boston Globe article by Alexa Gagosz, December 5, 2022). The lawsuit alleges that customer donations are being used to help meet CVS’s “debt” or commitment to the ADA, and that this represents fund-raising fraud. CVS has filed a motion to dismiss the case which is currently under review.

The basic question is whether customer donations are in addition to or a part of the CVS $10 million commitment to the ADA. In the motion to dismiss the case, CVS lawyers state, “CVS has no debt to the ADA.” This motion contends that, after three years of fundraising from customers, CVS would make up the difference between the total amount of customer donations and $10 million. However, this information is not included in the initial press announcements or to customers at the time of their checkout at a CVS when they are asked to consider a donation. My interpretation of the press announcement is that the word “also” implies that the donations from customers are in addition to the $10 million commitment from CVS. To my knowledge, CVS made no mention that its commitment was to “make up the difference” between customer donations and $10 million until it was sued. CVS has described its financial commitment in a manner in which it derives maximum recognition for itself in contrast to the minimal recognition for its thousands of anonymous customers who have responded with a donation. Ironically, CVS’s own words of “also” and “making up the difference” should be sufficient reason for the courts to reject its motion to dismiss the lawsuit.

The ADA is just one of the many beneficiaries of CVS’s vast wealth, as well as the donations it convinces its customers to contribute. Some may wonder how CVS has accumulated such wealth that it can not only be so philanthropic, but also still be in a position to commit $5 BILLION (without admitting any wrongdoing) to settle the claims for its alleged role in the opioid usage and overdosage deaths tragedies. A large majority of CVS employees will quickly provide the explanation – CVS understaffs its stores, has deplorable working conditions for most employees, and places its customers at risk of errors!

At the same time CVS rigorously protects every penny it feels it is due. A social media posting of a recent letter sent to a CVS employee reads as follows:

“In reviewing your payroll records, an overpayment has been identified. The overpayment was a result of incorrect Payment Submission and occurred on check(s) dated xxxx-xx-xx. This error resulted in an overpayment in a gross amount of $0.01, and a net amount of $0.01. We understand the overpayment was out of your control, but we must work together to resolve the situation without delay.

Please send a personal check or money order for the net amount of $0.01. Payment is required no later than 2 weeks after the date of this letter. Failure to resolve this issue may result in the balance being sent to a Collection Agency.

Please make each check or money order payable to CVS Caremark and include your ID number and the Service Request xxxxxxx on your payment.”

One Response

  1. Is the penny a joke?!?! What the hell. Wow they really try to seem like they are helping the public at the cost of the public?

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