CVS Offers Customers Free Smartphones, But They Would Have Been Free Anyway

CVS (NYSE:CVS) has found a new way to get more customers to use its smartphone app: That's getting free smartphones into the hands of its customers, according to Antoinette Alexander in Drug Store News. But what sounds like a very generous promotion is not quite as good as it appears.

Under the online-only deal, which CVS is running in partnership with Simplexity, new contract mobile customers and customers who are eligible for an upgrade with their current mobile provider can order a new Android smartphone for free. Once the phone arrives, the customer will be prompted via text message to download the CVS app. The promotion is for accounts with Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile (but not AT&T), and iPhones aren't offered.

That's fine—but a quick comparison makes clear that the free phone via CVS would also be free if the customer just upgraded or signed a new contract directly with one of those mobile carriers. The main difference: The text message nagging the customer to download the CVS app. That makes this promotion feel just a little deceptive—though in fairness, the phone really is still free.

That said, it's a clever idea. Some customers dread the idea of the hard sell they'll face if they walk into their mobile provider's own store or call for an upgrade. The fact that they'd rather do the deal through CVS instead of the carrier probably says more about mobile carriers than about CVS. If the customer just gets that little download-our-app text instead of a full-court press to buy cases, extra chargers, screen protectors, family plans and unlimited whatever, that might actually make some customers feel a lot happier with CVS after all.

For more:

-See this Drug Store News story

Related stories:

CVS Launches Its Very Attactive—But Potentially Pointless—iPad App
Duane Reade Gets Lots Of Non-Obvious Value From A Mobile Game
CVS's Web Authentication Goes Way Beyond PIN

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