Old-time pharmacies gone the way of the Edsel

August 28, 2013
Old-school pharmacists

Old-school pharmacists

I’m really lucky to be in the age group that remembers old-time pharmacists. You know, the ones that knew us, our ailments and wanted to sit for a spell and give us kindly professional advice?  Yeah.  There are many things I  remember and miss about the past, and this is one.

Maybe you’re wondering: Where are those pharmacists?  I wondered, too.  Then, we found one.

It started when our big chain pharmacy committed insurance fraud. Oh, they called it “a  mistake” but here’s what happened and you judge for yourself.

M had a dosage change. Same meds, different dosage.  Our doctor notified the pharmacy, a 24-hour operation chain store.  About three-fourths of the way through the year, the pharmacy told him insurance would no longer cover the drug for the remainder of the year, as he had exceeded the doctor’s dosage.

“That’s impossible,” he said. “The dosage change was very clear.”  And after days of calls and looking into it, we discovered that the pharmacy had filled both the old prescription and the new one each month. When M. only picked up the new one, they simply put the old one back on the shelf–but not before CHARGING OUR INSURANCE FOR IT.  So they double-dipped AND that counted against M’s pill count.

I’m not exactly sure how the drug clerk and druggist couldn’t have figured it out. It’s not like they offered M. two prescriptions each month.  Don’t you think putting it back on the self and still charging insurance is an “error” easily discovered? If it even WAS an error. To me, it sure seemed a sneaky way to cheat insurance companies. But it created a mess with M’s medication.

Of course, you’d think big insurance company would have figured it out, too.  Duh. But, I was done with big chain.

That drug store hadn’t impressed me, anyway. Pharmacists had screaming fights with patients in my presence (sometimes in foreign tongues)  and there was always a really long queue.  It wasn’t a pleasant place. So I had my next prescription filled at a small Walgreens near our home.

What a difference!

The pharmacist not only got things right, he also flagged me about a potential interaction. He always has time to talk about a medication. He’s not only courteous, but warm and friendly.  A throwback to the 1950s-style pharmacist, that’s what he is, the kind who got to know each customer.

I moved all my prescriptions and so did M. We have no regrets. Going to the drugstore is now almost pleasant. A rare customer service pharmacy experience.

I love my Walgreens

I love my Walgreens

Even better: ALL the clerks and managers at my Walgreens focus on customer service. The other day I didn’t see a product I needed on the shelf. One of the clerks offered to go in back and check. He came out three different times with possible solutions. Another clerk also weighed in. When did you last have customer service like that?  Yeah, the 12th of Never. Or maybe 25 years ago, when such things were routine.

Sure, Walgreens is a big corporate chain. But somehow, this little store on Hamilton Avenue seems to get it right. Kudos to them.

I am now fiercely brand loyal.

For more on customer service, HERE’s a ruefully funny account of tangling with Comcast customer service last year. And HERE I bemoan how nobody wants to talk to customers any more.



4 comments on “Old-time pharmacies gone the way of the Edsel
  1. Many people are surprised to learn that there are about as many independent community pharmacies as there are chain stores. The chains are concentrated into a few major brands that wash away the visibility of the independents.

    Chains tend to be convenience stores that have a pharmacy. The pharmacy is primarily a way to attract people into the store. Independents are usually the opposite. They are pharmacies that might provide other products or services. One service the independent still provides is the specialized service that you describe, the specialized customer service.

    In the spirit of full disclosure, I must admit that I am a business coach and I have worked with a number of independent pharmacy owners over the years. That experience has been just like being their patient, a joy and a privilege.

  2. Susan Cooper says:

    The service that these old time pharmacies once provided has gone to the way of fast in and out service. There are many chain pharmacies in grocery stores and big box stores that people do not need to get to know their pharmacist. Most time they never even talk to a true pharmacist. I miss the old time pharmacies. 🙂

  3. wholesale jerseys free shipping says:

    Old-school pharmacists provided great customer service

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