My long pharmacy nightmare is over.

As of January 1st of this year, I could no longer get my prescriptions filled at Walgreens. This was thanks to a dispute over reimbursement between Walgreens and Express Scripts, the third-party company that manages Blue Cross’ prescription program. (I’m not even going to rail about the ridiculousness inherent in three for-profit companies having to be involved in simply filling my prescriptions… Ugh.)

Now, I didn’t have any particular love for Walgreens prior to this switch. Here in  SF, they are certainly convenient with tons of locations. And for the most part, the service is OK – the one near my apartment (and thus ghetto-adjacent) was not  my favorite thanks to the high proportion of crazies filling prescriptions. But the one near my office always had my prescriptions ready on time and the staff there is universally friendly and efficient.

This, of course, was before I was forced to switch to CVS – which I believe stands for “Completely Vile Service.” I say without hyperbole that the pharmacy at their location on Market St. provided the most consistently terrible service I have ever experienced in a retail environment. To wit:

There were always long, slow moving lines. This is annoying and exasperating under any circumstances – but was made all the more frustrating by the fact that, during one stint in line, I counted eight (EIGHT!) staff members behind the counter, only one of whom was actually waiting on customers. One was taking phone calls rather than assisting customers who’d already been waiting 15 or more minutes in line. Three were having a long and involved discussion about a bottle of pills they were all staring slack-jawed at. The remainder were busily shuffling about and studiously avoiding eye contact with customers.

My solution to the long lines? Arrive at the pharmacy as soon as they opened. This seemed like the perfect plan, since the CVS opened at 7AM and the pharmacy at 8AM. I could get there at 7:55 and be first in line when the pharmacy opened. AU CONTRAIRE! In the minimum of eight visits I mad to the pharmacy over the course of six months, not once (NOT ONCE!) was the pharmacy open at the 8AM. There’d typically be one or two staff members waiting to start their shift, but the pharmacy could not be opened until the manager arrived – which would be at anywhere from 8:05AM to 8:15AM.

And the absolute worst part of all? I spoke to the pharmacy manager on multiple occasions about opening on time. Her responses included the following:

  • “I have a really long commute.”
  • “The train was late.”
  • “It’s only five minutes after 8.”
  • “Well, you’re late to work anyhow.” (This in response to my advice that I typically start my workday at 8:00AM)
  • “I come all the way from Fremont.”
  • “I have a really long commute.”
  • “I have a really long commute.”

I remember telling her about my own experiences working in retail sales for over a decade and that we typically began our workday anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes before store hours, ensuring that we were prepared to wait on customers as soon as the doors opened for business. Her response? “Well, I have a really long commute.”

I did speak with someone at the CVS’ headquarters and even got a call back from a local district manager, apologizing for the ongoing problems and assuring me that there was a new pharmacy manager who would straighten things out. Three days later, I showed up at 8:00AM and found the pharmacy closed, per usual, with no staff in sight.

I should also add that during one visit, the store manager herself offered me a $20 credit on my next purchase in an effort to ameliorate the shitty service I’d received. She assured me that she would enter it to my account and it would be deducted from my next purchase. Unsurprisingly, this did not happen.

Anyway, it sure has made me realize how delightful Walgreens is. Looking forward to going back to the Spear St. location, where the staff still know not only my name, but the name of my cat (they fill his prescriptions, too.)

And as for CVS? I shall joyously never patronize them again.

2 thoughts on “My long pharmacy nightmare is over.

  1. Hi F, CVS makes Walgreen’s look like Nordstrom. Even over here in the teeny tiny CVS in Harbor Bay shopping center, it sucks. The lowest level employees are nice but the management couldn’t care less. It used to be a neighborhood Long’s, then CVS conglomed onto them and installed cameras and anti-theft mirrors and all the bad attitude came with it. I hate them. The worst drugstore chain ever.

  2. CVS is a bunch of greedy A-holes that only care about money. They overcharge you if you have insurance, and the mail order program sucks!!!!

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