A Visit to the Pharmacy
Bill Long 9/15/09
Has This Happened To You?
The easy solution to America's health care woes is simple: just don't get sick and don't require any pills. But, since that isn't possible for many of us, we actually have to deal with people and systems. One of the groups of people we deal with is pharmacists. They are those harried professionals always looking into computers and often with scowls or uncomprehending looks on their faces. Well, just last week I was "disssed" by one of these people, and I decided not only to take my business elsewhere but to write a letter to the pharmacy manager. Here it is, with last names not included:
I am writing this to you at your encouragement (actually, you encouraged me to call, but this is also a good "forum" for me). I just changed pharmacies from Fred Meyer (i.e., Melissa's pharmacy) to another, and I thought I would let you know about it, since a good part of the reason was discourteous treatment by one of your staff.
In short, I began using FM Pharmacy about 3 years ago. I never had need for pills before then, but now that I needed them, I decided to do business with FM. Each time I ordered pills (or my doctor faxed them to you), I was assured that the order would be ready "in an hour" or so. I usually gave you 24 hours, just to make it "work." Invariably, however, when I arrived, the pharmacist told me that the fax "just arrived," and that I would need to return in another hour or 45 minutes. I wondered if there was a policy of not filling order until the person actually came looking for pills.
Rebuffed at that, I came back at the appointed time, hoping upon hope that I could at least get my pills. More than half of the time I was then told that I could only get a "partial order," since the pharmacy had to "order out" for more. Thus, a third visit was required.
I thought this was unreasonable but thought also that this was just one of the punitive costs of needing medical care in our society; so I was willing to accept this.
But then I came in for a pill refill last Thursday, Sept. 10. My doc had phoned it in the night before. The line wasn't very long, but I was served by an older female pharmacist with curled hair at the end and a limp, who seemed put out just to serve me. After ambling off for my pills and returning, she announced they only had 14 (our of 30). "Typical FM," I thought. So, she said I could pay now for all of them. I inquired why I should pay fully if the order wasn't complete. She snapped back, "Because that's what people do!"
Realizing I had a person of limited tolerance and helpfulness, I said I would wait until the rest of the order came in. "When would that be?" I inquired. She said it would be Monday, Sept. 14. I inquired further, "Does that mean my order will be fully ready on Monday?" She glowered at me and retorted, "That's when the shipment arrives!" She refused to give an indication of when the pills actually would be ready.
Then, realizing that our conversation was just about over, she looked at the 14 pills in a bottle still in her hand, snatched them away and said, "You won't be getting these then!"
And so I left--and transferred my pharmacy order elsewhere.
When I talked to you today, I perceived you were an intelligent, professional, task-oriented, friendly and efficient person in all your actions. In fact, it is your very professionalism that unwittingly encouraged me to write. For, I thought, you yourself certainly wouldn't tolerate this.
Thank you for receiving and reading this letter. As my old friend David XXX used to tell me (Oh my! he is the CEO of your company!) when we were neighbors in Hutchinson KS before he moved to Cincinnati to take the help at your company, "Bill, my great-grandfather, grandfather and father taught me that you win many firends by treating a customer right!" I know you agree with that philosophy.
William R. Long
M. Div., Ph. D., J. D.