Etoile (etoilepb) wrote in bad_service,

Ah, the life in New York City...

This happened in May, 2007. I sent a long and detailed e-mail to the company, though, and an earlier post about writing angry letters brought it back to me, so I thought I'd share.

Is there anyone who's ever had good service at a Duane Reade? I think it might be against city code for their employees to be competent or useful. (Duane Reade is a ubiquitous drugstore chain in New York City; they're two to a block like Starbuckses and it can be very difficult to find a non-DR pharmacy in some parts of the city.)

The store was at Broadway & 111th, near Columbia.

I had a doctor's appointment Thursday night 3 May, and they said they'd call the prescription in for me. Monday 7 May, I went in to the Duane Reade at just about 5:00 pm (right after work, and I worked in the area). Although there were a total of eight pharmacists and clerks behind the registers and counter in the pharmacy area (downstairs from the main checkout), and only one woman besides me in line, it took me more than four minutes and a couple of increasingly loud "excuse mes" before I was able to get anyone's attention, even just to say, "please wait." I asked about my prescription and was told the store had no record of me. Fine.

Early morning Wednesday 9 May (the delay here is my own fault, but there were reasons I couldn't call on Tuesday) I called my doctor's office and was told they'd phoned it in FRIDAY MORNING 4 May and spoke to someone called Malika, who guaranteed it would be ready no later than Monday. So I set out to call the Duane Reade pharmacy, and then it got BAD.

The phone rang 14 times (yes, I counted) before anyone picked up. I was put on hold seven different times before anyone offered to help me, then another three after answering the SAME questions. At one point my call was bounced to the photo desk, then back to the pharmacy, where the same man answered it three times and kept putting me back on hold, behaving surprised to find that it was STILL ME on the line as opposed to a new call. Finally, I snapped at him that I was tired of being on hold (I was using my work phone, with a clear display, and it said the call length by then was 26 minutes), and he finally told me that yes, the doctor had called it in, and if I came in with my insurance card I'd be taken care of. I thanked him and hung up. Seriously... did it need to take half an hour and THAT MANY holds / transfers to tell me that?

Wednesday 9 May I went in at 5:00 pm again. I waited for TWENTY minutes before finally, one girl gives me a prescription baggie, has me fill out my info, and tells me it'll be ready after 10:00 on the morning of Thursday, 10 May, nearly one full week after my doctor called it in.

So I got to the store at about 12:20 (on my lunch break). It took me another FORTY MINUTES to get out of there with my medication. At 12:55, I finally left the store, prescription in hand.

While they were trying to "find" me, they variously quoted me a wrong address, a wrong birth date, and two wrong drugs. (The loud announcement over the counter, "You came in for Valtrex, right?" didn't embarass me -- just annoyed me -- until after I got home and looked up that drug. WTF?! It is not even remotely similar in name, cost, color, packaging, or use to the drug I was there to procure.) I was told several times by the girl to whom I had handed the bag and my info just the day before that I had never come in before and didn't exist.

Also, during this mostly-hour, they just barked my last name at me (often mispronounced, despite it being one of the simplest one-syllable names there is) whenever they wanted my attention. You don't just bark someone's last name, particularly when it's a name that might be shared by others in the line! (My last name turned out to be the gentlman behind me's first name; it kept confusing both of us.) "Ms [me]" "[Firstname] [lastname]" or even "Miss" would have been perfectly sufficient.

I worked for CVS/Pharmacy in Massachusetts for three years, both as a clerk and in a management position, and I know how difficult it is to run a busy pharmacy. Sometimes things go haywire, or demand exceeds capacity. I totally get that. But for this saga? There's still no excuse.

For the record? Every CVS I've gotten this script filled at (three in Massachusetts, one in Rhode Island, one in New York, and one in Virginia) has had it ready in twenty minutes or less, even when I didn't call ahead. (I've gone on and off the med in the last ten years, so sometimes it's a refill and sometimes it's a new script I bring in.) Even a pretty ghetto Walgreens managed it in under an hour.

The upside? When I used the store's web form to e-mail them my tale of woe, I heard back from three district / regional managers within 48 hours. For two months afterwards, the pharmacy staff at that store was almost competent! But as soon as my renewals ran out and it was a new prescription, I took it 40 blocks away to a CVS. That way it transferred out of the city when I moved, too.
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