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Bribing patients with gift cards

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Unlike some angry websites out there, I will never make you send money to a politician campaign fund for articles (who will just be bribed by your employer to sit there and do nothing like most politicians.  More Kool-Aid anyone?)  No needed here, we only serve raw recycled rants with some filler thrown in for roughage and some ads thrown in for good measure.  Not that I’m against anyone sending me money or you your money to someone…. Of course I work for an independent so what the shit do I know about anything?

Anyway, I’m sure you get the point.

Does anyone else find it a bit sad that our profession has sunk to a level where the chains have to bribe patients to get their Rx’s filled?  Oh, its disguised as “gift cards”, but its really bribery.  Lets call a duck and duck here.

Rite-Aid is now offering $25/rx (max of 4) for prescription transfers.  Wait, Rite-Aid?  They are still in business?  Drugmonkey said it best: New Rite Aid slogan: “We are the Chrysler of health care”

Obviously Rite-Aid/Walgreens/CVS/Whore-Chain-Y has some real winners running the show to think of these bribe cards.  Now let me ask you this, is the patient who transfers his Rx’s over for a $25 gift card (max 4) a patient that you really want?  Is this patient going to be loyal to your store and come to you no matter what?  No! This patient is going to call in his 10 medications, wait until you have them already filled and ready to go, then want them ALL transferred to Walgreens because they are offering free blowjobs with every Rx transfer!  These are the patients who view pharmacy as McDonalds (which most chains I believe have the same outlook.  Drive thru anyone?) and don’t give a rats ass about you, your store, your job, or what you say.  They are only fueled by what they are getting for free (and last I checked, it was illegal to give gift-cards to MediCal patients since the state is paying for their Rx’s).  This is the patient that will fuck you over the moment you let your guard down.  This applies to any store that does the gift cards/$4 generics/free antibiotics/etc bullshit.  You will end up spending more labor costs on these pain-in-the-asses than you will get back with their shitty insurances/$4 plans.

How about this novel idea:  Why doesn’t Rite-Aid/Walgreens/CVS lower the cash price of its generics to a REASONABLE level (ie: a price that’s based upon actual cost, not AWP) so they wont need to bribe idiots with gift cards.  Why don’t they offer SERVICE (Rx’s in say, 10 min vs 3 hours) rather than a CASH BRIBE to lure people in through their doors.  You know why In-and-Out burger is so damn popular? Because you get a smiling (and always cute) face, good food for not much money, and your order is ALWAYS RIGHT.

However the execs at Rite-Aid (way to drive that plane into the ground boys!) are a whole lot smarter (and higher paid) than me, so that means they obviously know what they are doing (*crash!*)  You can have all of the gift-card freeloaders.  I care about my patients, and my patients care about me.  If thats worth less than $25/rx (max 4) then so be it.  Better off without them.  The’ll come crawling back once the freebie well has dried up, they always do (and like an idiot I always take them back).

Comments #

Comment by Used to be angry pharmacist on 2009-07-27 23:53:54 -0700 #

My wife transfer our kids’ vitamin prescriptions from one chain to the next for the measly $5-$10 gift cards. I have no idea where to pick up the prescription any more. Exactly your point.

Of course, the chains offer no service whatsoever and the dummy clerk of the day can’t find the prescriptions ever. The pharmacist looks so tired that she may just fall asleep trying to counsel me.

Comment by Drug Monkey, Master Of Pharmacy on 2009-07-28 01:13:22 -0700 #

Yes, your posts are contribution free, and also a perfect illustration that you get what you pay for.

Kidding. You know I love ya…..:)

You also know that if Bill Monning does not one more thing, he’ll have accomplished more for the profession than APhA, the organization in Washington supposedly looking out for our interests, or the California Pharmacists Association ever will. Stay tuned to my little blog garden for news of how much CPhA cares about you.

I was happy to see *any* sort of leadership on the issues that are destroying our profession, and you should be as well my friend.

But for some reason you’re not. Which makes me think you may be confused at the difference between Kool-Aid and Rite Aid.

Comment by PhedUpWithPharmacy on 2009-07-28 03:53:36 -0700 #

Once again TAP you hit the nail on the head. You gotta figure the chains lose more money than they gain from those promo… er… bribes so what I have never been able to figure out is why they continue to do it? Are they really able to make money this way? I really can’t see how but then again (like you) I apparently don’t make enough money to discern this business practice as profitable.

Comment by Pattie, RN on 2009-07-28 04:35:32 -0700 #

..And these folks will switch pharmacies every month or so, depending on who is giving away goodies on any given date. I see legions of people who can’t remember which drugstore their Lasix is at THIS month…but somehow, it will be YOUR fault for not keeping up with which partner they are dancing with this week!

and btw…did ‘ya know these cards frequently wind up on E-bay? Some purchases can’t be made with a gift card, they require cold hard CASH…

Comment by Wally on 2009-07-28 07:49:49 -0700 #

Drug Monkey works for Rite-Aid how about that!

Comment by Greg_the_pharmer on 2009-07-28 07:52:02 -0700 #

Those of us that have to do them hate them (and believe me, it’s not by choice). The people at corporate just don’t get that this in no way creates any kind of cuatomer loyalty. As you said they will just transfer them to the next place that offers a card next time. I do work for one of the chains (not one of the ones you’ve mentioned) and at least our company is somewhat smarter than the others in a lot of ways. First, anyone on any kind of government-sponsored programs are ineligible, this includes Medicaid, Medicare and Tricare. Second, if the total price (copay plus reimbursement from insurance) is say $12, then the maximum value of the cash card is $12, not $25. That keeps the whiny-ass Wal Mart customers from coming in and wanting us to price match (another company policy I disagree with) and wanting a $25 cash card on their $4 pravastatin 40mg Rx (which we already lose about $3 on). No offense to any of the Wal Mart folks who read this, but I can tell you that the $4 Rx thing has made for some seriously whiny and bitchy customers. Not to mention they show up at my pharmacy wanting their fexofenadine filled for $4 because they do it at Wal Mart and they aren’t smart enough to read the fine print. I do not dislike Wal Mart pharmacists, only what your corporate people have done to our profession.

Comment by LD50placeboeffect on 2009-07-28 09:21:09 -0700 #

Speaking of come-ons…more and more it’s sunk in that the health insurance industry has been scamming for as much as it can get (probably for years)…just opened a journal freebie…the kind that are in advertising stands near supermarket doorways…a free drug prescription card falls out–use it anywhere–discounts on every prescription–no fee…if anyone can get a discount on any prescription who is picking up the tab for the discount? And, why? And, how come now?

Comment by New Pharmacist on 2009-07-28 10:25:35 -0700 #

I do work for a big chain… and I hate the freaking coupons. Thank goodness we don’t accept competitor coupons like some of the other chains do. I love turning the Medicaid/Medicare clan away when they try to use a coupon. I had a guy the other day that transferred a script from a grocery store chain to us, and there he was paying $10 for 90 days of his med. We bill the insurance he tells us to, which of course only allows 30 days at a time, and charges him a copay of $10. We tell him this at the register, and he nods like he apparently understands. However, 2 hours later, I get a call from him screaming that I shorted him 60 tablets. Again I had to explain how we don’t have the 90 day/$10 program, and he has the nerve to say to me “well I only transferred to get the gift card so I could get free shampoo and soap, if I would have known that, I wouldn’t have transferred it”.

A couple months ago, we had a good few pharmacists (not representing their companies) go to the state board of pharmacy and petition to ban coupons in our state, on the premise that it is really unsafe for the patient… because pharmacists really have no idea what people are on at other pharmacies. That, of course, got shot down by the board. So thus, I keep transferring Rx’s for a lousy gift card and then transfer them out to a totally different pharmacy next month when they go to use another chain’s coupon.

Comment by WrongAid on 2009-07-28 12:11:40 -0700 #

I work for WrongAid. Not sure why noone says who they work for on these sites. The gift card is the worst idea since the drive-thru which was the worst idea since the slogan “The customer is always right”. BUT, when Rite Aid posts its quarterly sales they get to leave out the fact that a huge portion of front-end sales is actually shit being bought with Rite Aids own goddamn money. HAHA! Investors are suckers! There is no worse place to work than Rite Aid. We get all the hassle of the $4 plan without actually having one so we spend all day editing prescriptions to $4 and fighting with assholes who wonder why their shit didn’t ring up for $4. Yay Rite Aid!

Comment by Groucho on 2009-07-28 12:33:33 -0700 #

I work at one of those $4 generics places and I still hate it because all I hear is “What do you mean its not four dollars?!?” and “Aren’t ALL of your prescriptions $4?” and I love when the crack heads come through and have a cow that their somas and lortabs aren’t $4 . . . as they hand me an expired/tampered/fake ID.

Comment by Dr. Grumpy on 2009-07-28 12:46:10 -0700 #

Correct. These people don’t give a shit about quality care. They will blow the giftcard on tobacco and/or alcohol, get 1 drug fill, and move on to the next discount.

These companies are betting volume will make up the difference. I don’t think it will work with this particular patient group. They are too busy scrounging for cigarette money.

Comment by Jerry on 2009-07-28 14:18:11 -0700 #

I once worked for C-V-Hell-home of the $25 gift card. I put no blame on the customers who use the coupons because they have a right to use them. I put ALL the blame on corporate pharmacy and their backward thinking ways. I recall transferring rx’s that were not filled in over 6 months, which in my opinion promotes bad pharmacy. We were probably filling scripts for medications that were discontinued by the patients doctor..but who cares, they have a COUPON!!

Coupons created extra work for an already over-worked and understaffed pharmacist.

Comment by Punx-C-Pharm on 2009-07-28 14:25:02 -0700 #

I recently opened an independent in my small town that previously only had a “tight”-Aid, Wally world and another franchised independent. People were so disgusted with the service at Rite Aid, that I am already filling 150 a day – and I just opened at the end of March! Then I started hearing about the “bribe mailings” the patietns were getting. They were seriously burning them in my store in protest! It was awesome. There – if you treat people right they were be loyal – those that went back to the “hell” I call tight-Aid (and there weren’t many) are worth the loss. Plus, I read the fine print on the bribes and there is so much red tape attached that hardly anyone with insurance is eligible for the cards anyway. What a joke.

Comment by pharmowner on 2009-07-28 15:01:02 -0700 #

I own a pharmacy, and my BEST friend with a shit load of RX’s did this exact thing…transfered his RX’s to Rite Aid for the gift cards. Needless to say…I am still angry!

Comment by 2BAPharmD on 2009-07-28 17:09:21 -0700 #

I love it it when people pick up their Advair right alongside their Marlboro Reds, speaking of cigs…

Comment by Becky theTechie on 2009-07-28 17:56:46 -0700 #

What frosts my buns is that most of those chains you’re discussing *also* accept competitor’s coupons and price match other stores. My understanding of the price match deal is that it’s technically illegal (here at least), but of course in my store, it’s done anyway. Every corporate decision is made based on Rx count/month, and we’re supposed to do everything short of sexual favors to get those new Rxs in the door. Then, of course, we have our own “Bend us over for $4.00” list. At least once a day, someone comes in for generic Vicodin, bitches that it’s not on the $4.00 list (at least Corporate’s not THAT stupid!), tells us to price match Walmart, and then hands us a Rite Aid $25 gift card coupon that we *have* to match. Meanwhile, they’re generally also impatient, rude, ignorant, loud, and/or have poor hygiene, which makes me feel somewhat better about how little they’re paying for my friendly and polite service. If they don’t respect themselves at all, they must not expect much from me either.

Comment by RphSlave on 2009-07-28 18:04:54 -0700 #

100% spot on

I work for the $4 whore that forced all other chains to do the same. Some strange reason they thought this would change the industry. Well guess what dumbfuck CEO…it did for the worse. Cause now people only want the $4 rx’s and anything that isnt $4 they want us to call back to get it changed. And here’s what is funny….$4 doesnt mean anything anymore cause its matched.

Want to have a booming business?
Want to bring in customers?
Want to have loyal customers?
Want to have a good staff?
Want to have a happy Rph?

It goes back to what it should of been about to begin with: having enough help to wait on people on a day to day basis so your pharmacist can have time for their patients. I know this is shocking….its beyond belief…but until they do this…it will continue to go downhill.

Comment by Christine on 2009-07-28 18:05:10 -0700 #

Wow, people who keep switching pharmacies as often as I change my underwear must have a fuckload of time on their hands. Hubby and I have a lot of prescriptions between us, we’re busy people and would not have the time to switch them back and forth to get freebies.

We use CVS, because they are the lesser of the other evils (such as Walgreen’s, I HATE Walgreen’s) There just aren’t any good indie pharmacies near us these days.

I did take advantage of the $25 gift card offer from CVS, but this was a NEW prescription, that I had been planning to have filled there anyway. This store is convenient, they don’t fuck up too much, they have decent parking, so we plan to stay with them. Hubby got the coupons in the mail for this, due to being a longtime customer, so why not get a free $25 for little effort on our part?

Also, the small print on the CVS coupon said that people who are having the government (Medicaid, Medicare) pay for their scripts were not eligible for the gift cards. That is good, as the welfare rabbits are the ones who have the time on their hands to transfer scripts from store to store in order to collect freebies. Working people like us don’t have the time for that, we just want to go to a store that is convenient, get our meds, and be done with it.

Hubby’s doctor says that he needs to have a better blood pressure measuring thingy. So I gave him the gift card that I got to put towards that.

So, not everyone abuses this offer, but we are probably in the minority here.

Comment by RphSlave on 2009-07-28 18:10:21 -0700 #

oh and 1 more thing…

1 summer I was told we couldnt hire. $$$ wasnt there, though we desperately needed the help. But you guessed right. We DID have the money for Gift cards. That summer over $3000 was done on gift cards. Business did not change. And stupid me thought that $$ could of went on a new hire.

Comment by Sara on 2009-07-28 18:15:50 -0700 #

I work at CVS, roll out of $25 gift card again starting August 10.

Damn the man.

Comment by RphSlave on 2009-07-28 18:20:17 -0700 #

. I do not dislike Wal Mart pharmacists, only what your corporate people have done to our profession.

No offence taken. They flushed the profession down the toilet 🙁
It came back to bite them in the ass. The only thing that can build a business is the old fashion way: having enough people so people can be taken care of properly. But due to ignorance above me its not like they can go back on what they did.

Im just wondering what Genius is going to come up next that is supposedly going to make everything better, when in fact only makes it worse.

Comment by NY Intern on 2009-07-28 19:25:21 -0700 #

I suppose that is the one and only good thing about being in NY. In NY you can only transfer one refill at a time. You probably are not going to make $25 or more on one fill and the person still has to get refills at their other pharmacy. NY does not have the free card thing and I am thankful for it.

Comment by Georgia RPh on 2009-07-28 19:43:31 -0700 #

My favorite was the email we got from corporate about how to politely explain to customers who are ineligible for the coupons why they are. This bone-head wrote in complaining about how he was being discriminated against by us because of his “private federal insurance.” I kid you not, those were his exact words! Seems he thought since he paid premiums that even though he was retired from the federal government that he was eligible. As he said, it wasn’t like the government was giving him free healthcare. Argh! What part of “funded in whole or part by the federal government” wasn’t making sense to this guy? Of course, he was looking into filing a lawsuit, even though corporate explained that the pharmacist who had refused to honor the coupons was right.

I also enjoy the customers who vaguely ask at checkout if we have any transfer coupons (as if!), then complain to management that we would not honor their non-existent coupons! Sorry, but last I checked, you had to have the coupon to get the benefit. Try that stunt with your groceries and see how far you get.

The last nail in the coffin was when my chain starting offering gas points for Rxs. Two Rxs in a month and it’s 10 cents off a gallon. Of course, same rules apply, and boy do I love explaining that to people. Why is it that the people with government funded insurance complain the loudest when they are denied something? If my copays were $3, $9 or god-forbid, $22, I would fall to my knees and thank the poor pharmacist who filled them. Serves me right I suppose for working for a chain!

Comment by another pharmacist on 2009-07-28 19:48:41 -0700 #

I also hate the coupons and wish they would be outlawed, but marketing folks think they bring in customers. (I love how many people transfer the prescription for 30 tablets of Hydrochlorothiazide). It is also so much fun telling the people that they cannot use the coupon for Tricare, Medicare, or Medicaid or any government plan. If corporate folks want to give money away, maybe they should send giftcards to loyal customers who prescription filled regularly at the store?

Comment by PharmIntern on 2009-07-28 20:11:20 -0700 #

Your story makes me so happy I could almost cry. 🙂

Seriously, it makes me so happy to read about someone who doesn’t abuse the coupons, which, as you correctly guessed, is extremely rare. Well done.

Comment by Michael on 2009-07-28 20:18:26 -0700 #

The chain store I currently work at, having transferred there from a previous store when it opened eight months ago, gave out TWENTY $25 transfer Rx gift cards to ONE customer. My pharmacy and store managers tried to put a limit on it and the district supervisor upheld the limit — but the customer went up to corporate, and corporate came down saying to just do it. The store averages $70,000 per month in the red for our company currently (genius corporate decided to build 2 stores on the same road, no more than 7 minutes apart). We average only 60 Rxs per day. Yet we had $500 to give to one person, who recently transferred all their Rxs out to Target for gift cards.

Comment by PharmIntern on 2009-07-28 20:24:16 -0700 #

Maybe I’m alone in this feeling, but does anyone else, indie and/or chain alike, feel like you’re wasting your time by inputting a new patient in the system when you see a gift card coupon or six spill out of their purse or wallet? Ten bucks on my part says that we’re never going to see them again, or that they’ll have another coupon in hand if we do, so why even bother? Gah.

I love the people who come in with their prescription(s), insurance card, and gift card coupon(s) all in hand, and hand it all to me. I get an ever-so-slight twinge of satisfaction when I tell them to present the coupon when they check out, lest we lose their precious coupon amidst the chaos that is our pharmacy. I’ve seen some people become visibly upset over this, though they say nothing.

As someone here has already mentioned, I place absolutely no blame on the customers. They found the coupons, so they have a right to use them, assuming they meet the necessary criteria and whatnot. Instead, I blame the corpo-chain companies 100% for continuing this nonsense. It just screams, “Hey, everyone! It’s OK to pharmacy hop!”. IT’S NOT OK TO PHARMACY HOP! Truthfully, there really is no way for us to know what you’ve had filled at other pharmacies, so how are we to know if it’ll interact with any of it? Don’t get me started.

Lastly, and maybe it’s just my area, but all the welfare folk around me out there seem to know that gift card coupons don’t work on government plans. Looks like the professional welfare breeders will have to find something else to occupy their time. Thank goodness for the small things, right?

Comment by Becky RPh on 2009-07-28 20:32:33 -0700 #

I can honestly say that the entire reason I left retail pharmacy and crossed over into hospital is because of those fucking coupons. I got sick and tired of watching the greedy American public do anything for a buck. They’re unsafe and making retail pharmacy into a joke! Kudos to the retail RPh’s out there who can let it all roll off their backs because Lord knows I couldn’t.

Comment by rph3664 on 2009-07-28 21:51:36 -0700 #

When I worked in retail, our store had ongoing coupons for a free ham (actually, one of those salt-water enhanced things that would give Michael Pollan nightmares). One per customer. So, we had one couple who would bring in their prescriptions one at a time, when different people were working, until we caught on to them.

And the manager didn’t think they were doing anything wrong!

Comment by Watson349 on 2009-07-29 00:16:42 -0700 #

It is absolutely shameful to have promos such as transfer coupons. We are under-cutting each other while at the same time complain that the profession as a whole is being screwed left and right. Well, with all the in-fighing, the profession presents itself as an easy target.

Regarding transfer coupons, when I was at a company that recently sold to CVS, we were encouraged to stick these coupons in the windshield of the cars parked in our competitors parking lot. Needless to say no one does it. Maybe they would have more success if we were not told to do so on our own time. By the way, even though the fine prints says, active transfer prescriptions only, and government insurance plans are not eligible. The SOP is to ignore all that, so we basically issue gift cards to everyone. Hopefully CVS does not put up with that kind of practice.

Sometimes I want to sue my school for false advertisement. The profession is nothing like what they described. Maybe a class action?

Comment by john cv$ on 2009-07-29 08:25:39 -0700 #

First I cannot tell you how much I hate those gift cards and the fact cv$ accept competitor gift cards! cv$ preaches patient adherence and filling your rx’s at one pharmacy yet they are the biggest gift card whores!

Furthermore, one of cv$’s new patient care initiative (PCI) is fill certain rx’s without the patients consent and then call them up letting them know its ready. These rx’s are usually ones filled at other pharmacies. How does cv$ know about this rx’s? nobody knows

Also I am willing to bet cv$ still makes money or breaks even with gift cards. The statistic for “extrabucks” is that the customer spends 3.5 times the amount of extrabucks. Often when I see customers redeeming their gift cards its for a $100 purchase.

Comment by Lisa on 2009-07-29 08:35:26 -0700 #

Something I didn’t see mentioned above…

Coupon hopping can be hazardous to the customer. Imagine someone on 5+ meds, who gets new scripts and keeps changing pharmacies. Bet they don’t report every drug they are on to ever new pharmacy. Drug interactions anyone???

Comment by Carolyn… on 2009-07-29 09:38:21 -0700 #

I was actually horribly amused when a vacationing patient came in, to Ontario Canada, asking us to price match what would be a $4 script in Michigan… It was fun lecturing her about how in Ontario we do not price match for medications ever, and if she was that concerned about the $10.00 difference she could wait on the bridge for two hours to get back to the states to get her discount… My boss was in the background trying hard not to be heard laughing… I still couldn’t believe this woman was asking us to price match to a store in another country… Not even the Wal-Mart pharmacy will do that here…

Comment by SusannahMio on 2009-07-29 11:18:34 -0700 #…god…those damn coupons piss me off so much! I’m a pharmacy intern at a CVS and we have a policy of accepting competitor coupons. So not only do we have jackasses bringing in our own $25 coupons but we get everyone else’s too! A lady had the balls to bring in a LAMINATED walgreens $25 dollar coupon and ask for it BACK after the transaction. Needless to say I gave her the big FUCK YOU on that one. I love breaking the news to Medicaid and Medicare patients that they can’t use the coupon and then they get all upset while I just stand there giggling with glee. What’s worse is people think whenever they transfer in they get $25 bucks without even presenting a coupon! The retail pharmacy industry is consuming my soul…

Comment by Newb on 2009-07-29 12:17:55 -0700 #

Had two semi-apocalyptic thoughts as I was reading this:

  1. How funny would it be if all stores other than Wally-World discontinued the $4 price match nonsense. Send every patient in America to them and completely overload their system at once and see how long they can last. (sorry pharmacists working there, we’ll build a memorial or something)

  2. Give people those gift cards like crazy! Bleed these chains dry in their own idiocy. Then all we can say is “We told you so!”

Probably will never happen but might give me at least a good nights sleep for a change.

Comment by was1 on 2009-07-29 14:50:23 -0700 #

is there a limit on the number of blowjobs i can get at walgreen’s or can i get one with every rx?

Comment by was1 on 2009-07-29 15:22:34 -0700 #

we did a ham giveaway at a supermarket pharmacy i worked at. funny thing was that we were located in an area that is heavily populated by jews. talk about being conflicted…

Comment by Flavius on 2009-07-29 16:38:41 -0700 #

It’s bad enough when it concerns transfers. But when we were running through our coupon session we would have patients come in with refills, new rxs, what-have-you and expect to get the same $25 a transfer would. They wouldn’t even have the coupon on them.

Of course, there’s no point telling them it only applies to transfers because they’ll just go to another pharmacy, fill it, and then transfer it, so we basically handed out cards to anyone with a valid rx and a pulse (assuming they weren’t on state care).

Now, the problem here lies with corporate who provide absolutely no back-up for the pharmacists in this matter. They’re the ones who say fill it, we don’t care if they’ve used 20 coupons already today, we don’t care if it’s someone else’s coupon, we don’t care if they’re not transferring an rx.

I think someone should just stand at the door and hand out cards, we might save more money that way.


Comment by supertech on 2009-07-29 17:06:30 -0700 #

I work for one of those $25/rx (max4) pharmacys.. and I totally agree with you..and how the hell the expect to stay in buisness giving $25rx ( max 4) gift card to people who r then making u price match to the competitors $4 rx is beyond me..we get a total of $16 and the pt get $120 (minus the 16 of course) yeah that sound like a money maker to me..all for a pt who will tranfer the next month anyways..yet an employee who has worked 9yrs ( always with an OUTSTANDING review) gets a 2% raise because moneys is tight..way to keep employee moral up.. ok I’ve ranted enough..

Comment by WrongAid on 2009-07-29 18:41:51 -0700 #

John cv$ mentioned above auto refills. Rite Aid is forcing our program, called “Courtesy Refill” onto all our customers. I’ve actually fought with my boss about this. Her ability to keep a straight face a preach the pros to this program astound me. She truly is a perfect corpo sheep. She will go far in the system. Anyhow, the “Courtesy Refill” plan auto fills prescriptions then calls the customer to come get their med. Technically it is a voluntary system but corpo is pushing it and basically tricking people into volunteering. My store is WAY below the level of participation (we are actually judged on percentage of people on the plan!) I shit you not! At least once a week we get sent a report with what our percent is compared to other stores. Even at the low end of that comparison I can’t tell you how many mistakes this has led to. People getting something they were taken off of and thinking “well i guess doc put me back on that”. A fucking shame. I’m just waiting for the chance to get the fuck out.

Comment by canadian druggie on 2009-07-29 19:11:20 -0700 #

There are days when the xanax looks good and I am tempted. As of today
I will just remember the crap my american brothers and sisters have to deal with and use this as my calming agent.
Our company just started a program to call patients and tell them their
rx is due. They say this is good care. I call it drumming up business.
I and many of my fellow pharms have refused to do this.
Period–refused. What are they going to do. Have head office fill rxs.


Comment by joe the plumber on 2009-07-29 19:47:29 -0700 #

Must admit, the pharmacy profession has sure gone sour in the past years. Coupons have become very annoying. Corporate only cares about sales. Counseling…hah…..yeah right….no time, understaffed, overworked, too many problems too deal with doctors and insurances. Makes me want to change my profession to be honest. Too many angry customers expecting us to bend over backwards. I get no respect.

Comment by sumotoad on 2009-07-29 19:52:53 -0700 #

It is no different at the pharmacy that rhymes with ball peens. Auto-fill is the service du jour. I hate it, and keep my percentage as low as possible. Can’t tell you how many times the patient doesn’t pick up the med that they need, and picks up the three they don’t and then later tries to return them. Good thing our bonus is miniscule or I’d really be pissed….

Comment by WrongAid on 2009-07-29 20:14:48 -0700 #

If you call and complain to corporate, you will get as many blowjobs as you want. And a giftcard.

Comment by WAG-what the hell??? on 2009-07-29 21:21:04 -0700 #

I work for Walgreens and I HATE those damn giftcards! We opened a store and offered free $25 giftcards for new scripts and transferred scripts with limits allegedly to one offer per 6 mos. And this also excluded medicare, medicaid and tricare. People freakin’ lost it at limits regarding insurance or offers! Then, because my life isn’t busy enough, the Rite-Aid across the street has their transfer options so out they go then Walgreens sends these pt’s who transferred out checks for $25 that can be validated when a script is transferred back to us! WHAT THE HELL WALGREENS??? As previously mentioned by everyone-this is freakin’ dangerous and stupid! Why has pharmacy sunk to this low and stupid level? And $4 price matching-I am so sorry for you that have to deal with that. That is at least one thing I’ve been blessed to miss. And TAP?-Keep the honest rants coming! It helps me to stop the screaming at the end of the day!

Comment by anothertech on 2009-07-30 00:56:43 -0700 #

At my store, we will not price match AND honor the transfer coupon…it’s either one or the other…but not both.

Comment by anothertech on 2009-07-30 01:05:59 -0700 #

At my store, we have had so many customers ask to be taken off courtesty refill it’s not even funny. I think the program is being pushed to make it easier on the staff and to make sure there is enough meds in stock, but try esplaining the \we had to cancel the order because it was in our will-call for 13 days, the customer just stands there with a blank look on their face, wanting their medicine \right now—why didn’t I get a reminder phone call to pick it up (we call the phone number on file at least three times within the 13-day period, and are lucky if we have a valid phone number) when we have at least an hour wait with one technician and one pharmacist on a weekend shift…sorry, but you waited 13 or more days to pick up a prescription that sat in will-call, another hour won’t hurt you…

Comment by Techworld on 2009-07-30 11:44:39 -0700 #

That story is wonderful and really have been working for CVS for 7 years and let me tell you it is one and million. At the beging of this gift card mess we had one lady whom had 5 scripts all on the walmart $4 dollars list and every month 5 $25 dollar gift card ( yes it was suppose to only be for transfers but then upper mangement said hey instead of transfering every month we will just match the coupon with refills ) big mistake then every month for about 1 year she paid for 20 dollars of medication and got 125 dollars on the gift card! So in case the math is to hard she gained 105 dollars every month from filling scripts! Yeah then we get a new district manger and she is like what the hell is going on ….So she stops the $4 dollar price match and lets just say the coupons are highly regulated and very minor now….The best part is now we have to tell the customers oh sorry we don’t do that matching price thing anymore!!!! That i can assure u went over very well! Man i love this company!

Comment by Becky theTechie on 2009-07-30 12:06:01 -0700 #

Oh God. I know that pain too. “I WANT MY PILLS RIGHT NOW!!!” I’m not a chicken, sir. I can’t lay them like an egg on demand.

Comment by john cv$ on 2009-07-30 13:09:18 -0700 #

Wrongaid, I’m sorry to hear that RA is going down the same evil path that CV$ has with “auto-refills.” Let me tell in detail the cv$ system, hopefully, it will make you feel better. 🙂

The auto-refill system:

  1. fills the patients rx about 7 to 8 days before it’s due…alot of the time even before the insurance will pay for it.
  2. doesnt “batch” or clump the patient’s rx together. So basically a person on alot of meds is constantly at cvs picking up one rx at a time and bitching about! (then dont sign up!!)
  3. we are bitched at by corporate about our readyfill metric…how many people we sign up each week (%) and our total enrolled / eligible rx’s
    4)the computer calls the patient every couple days til it is picked up. Just keep track how many phone calls people get.


  1. Every day the pharmacist has a report and has to make calls telling people to pick up their rx’s. This is in addition to the automated pick up calls.
  2. another daily report where we have to staple a stupid piece of paper on rx’s in the bin. (why doesnt it just print it on the label??!)
  3. saturday i get a report with about 90 patients calling them to remind them to fill (refill reminders) their rx or that their flonase hasnt been filled in 3 months. Corporate basically told us we have to keep calling our patients til we get ahold of them.
  4. people get automated refill reminders as well.

So basically people get bombarded by phone calls all the time. It’s happened a couple times where a person calls in a panic thinking something was seriously wrong when they got back from vacation with 13 missed calls from cvs 🙁 AND the pharmacists/techs have to do a bunch of extra work, which could all be automated.


Comment by supertech on 2009-07-30 17:15:49 -0700 #

I agree with you..except that courtesy fill being pushed to make money..its not about the patients and is certainly not easier on us staff… its only more work to fill someones 5 rxs only to have them sit there untill they show up on will call..and we have to return them cuz god forbid they r there any longer..only to then have the customer come in the next day expexting them! Then we have to fill them all over.. were told to push the courtesy fills only to end up takin half the patients off the next month cuz they r getting to many phone call or they are already ahead on their meds..etc… I supposed it was a good plan but it has a lot of bugs to be worked out.

Comment by Mike on 2009-07-30 20:08:56 -0700 #

There’s no conflict of interest here. The Jew donates the ham and takes the tax write-off.

Comment by PharmIntern on 2009-07-30 20:15:02 -0700 #

Don’t you just absolutely <3 when people call up and are like “I just got a call from CVS, why?”. And we never have a damn clue as to why, so we have to play the detective game. . . “oh, it looks like your atenolol is due to be filled, do you need that?” / “it looks like the readyfill system flagged your finasteride to be filled and we filled it, so come pick it up” / “I don’t fucking know why it called you, it’s a computer!” ( yes, one of our techs actually told someone that she didn’t know why the computer called her because, well, it’s a computer, lol ).

“Patient Care Initiative: Improving Patient Outcomes”. . . and not to mention increasing script count while we’re at it. In the words of TAP, let’s call a duck a duck here.

As if we weren’t already busy enough in the pharmacy without all this bullshit.

Comment by couponhater on 2009-07-30 23:51:08 -0700 #

Ya I work for Rite Aid and this whole transfer coupon thing sucks balls. All we get now are assholes that want money. For example, we have this one patient that is on Medicaid and every single times she comes in she tries to get a transfer gift card. We always tell her that is illegal for us to giver her one and so she calls our district manager and he makes us give her one. Her reason for needing to have gift cards? She says it for diapers for her kid, but does she ever buy diapers? NO! She buys beer and tobacco products! So in retaliation we did a DOPL scan on her and found out she’s been doctor shopping. So we called Medicaid and now we have her restricted to one pharmacy and all her controlled scrips have been canceled haha. That will teach her to fuck with us…

Comment by the.dauphine on 2009-07-31 07:13:51 -0700 #

I’d like to thrown in that I work for Walgreens and have to put up with those “gift cards.” Technically, Walgreens doesn’t do the gift cards any more. Nope, you get a check sent to you in the mail for 25$ for transferred Rx’s. All you have to do is transfer your Rx to Walgreens, we’ll write in a validation code, and you can use that 25$ on any purchases made in the store EXCLUDING Rx’s. Of course, we have our issues. Like when this guy came in one night with 2 checks and wanted his 50$ and we told him that he had to transfer Rx’s. He actually thought that meant bringing his hardcopies from CVS to Walgreens.

Oh, and let’s not forget that if our healthcare industry comes to socialization, we won’t need to worry about these gift cards any more. No more SDL’s and no more insurance hassle, we all, basically, be on Medicaid and get our drugs for free. Free vicodin, anyone?

Comment by Jason on 2009-07-31 12:07:46 -0700 #

Being rather cynical myself, I normally enjoy this site, but this has got to be the winner in whining bullshit. I generally buy my prescriptions at a very large grocery store chain and they are top notch. I also sometimes use other chains and all have been excellent.

As for the $4 drugs. Boo hoo. Someone sells drugs for less than a 1000% markup and you complain. Fuck you.

Comment by Professional giftcard dealer on 2009-07-31 13:59:20 -0700 #

As an employee of a chain I can say the gift cards are a pain but we’ve always accepted competitors coupons because it stops the transferring, which is also a pain. We do require that the limitations on the coupon are followed (not expired, quantity limits,etc.). The way it was explained to us is that the mark-up on the items in the front of the store is high enough that a $25 dollar gift card is a drop in the bucket. We accept some of our coupons if expired for the same reason. I can’t remember the usual percentage mark-up but I do recall that it was higher than my 30% discount. I’m just thankful I don’t work in a pharmacy that has a $4 plan or would price match for one. After doing a rotation in one such pharmacy I can say that I’ll take the gift cards over that anyday. Gift cards are also less time consuming than the current automatic refill push (and the large number of return to stocks it creates, among other things).

Comment by PharmIntern on 2009-07-31 15:23:37 -0700 #

You SERIOUSLY think that $4 is enough to cover the cost of the drug as well as the expenses of the pharmacy, i.e. electricity, cooling / heating, labor of the tech who filled the rx ( and likely had to call the insurance company on it ), labor of the pharmacist who checked it, cost of the vial, the label, etc. etc. etc. ?

No. Just no. Unless you’ve worked in a pharmacy ( which it’s rather obvious that you have never ), you have no CLUE as to the expenses involved. Just shut your pie hole, lest you make more of an ignorant ass out of yourself than you already have.

Comment by Mike Pharm on 2009-07-31 18:15:20 -0700 #

You obviously are a customer, and not an employee so you have no idea what you are talking about.

Comment by UrbanRxTech on 2009-07-31 19:21:04 -0700 #

I work for an independant pharmacy, located inside a clinic. Right across the street is Wallyworld. Our doctors actually tell patients that the meds they are prescribing that it’s a $4 generic across the street. What they don’t tell them is they will wait 2 to 4 hours for the E-Scribe to be moved from que to pre-fill and God knows where else before they even THINK of filling it, while the patient wanders around the store spending a ton of money on STUFF. The employees at this particular store have the personality of a rock. At our store, we don’t price match. We don’t have gift cards or coupons. What we do have is a staff of 6 who knows most of our customers by name. We make deliveries to the housebound (gives a whole new meaning to drug-runners…). We will even let you pay for your Rx next week if you need it now and get your Social Security then. We can get answers on a question about your Rx in a matter of minutes instead of hours, and do the legwork for Prior Auths. Try and get that from the big-box stores.

Comment by Uncle John on 2009-08-01 05:44:23 -0700 #

I work for a 13 store grocery chain. We do not match prices. We do not honor competitors coupons. We do get the occasional (twice a month) $20 gift-card that is sent to folks when they move into the area.

That’s one of the advantages of having the corporate honchos that remember what it’s like to WORK in a pharmacy.

Though I am paid about $2/hour below market, I’m not going anywhere. It simply ain’t worth the hassle

Comment by OUT FOR LIFE on 2009-08-01 06:36:11 -0700 #

This post is 100% spot on. The idiots that started all this bullshit (coupons, $4.00 RX’s, free antibiotics) must never have gone to business school. The way you stay succesful is by offering your customers something innovative and hard for your competitors to identify and copy. Obviosly, it’s damn easy to copy coupons and price reductions, so basically, after the initial success, all the mornons have accomplished is poisoning if not altoghether killing the market.

Good, timely service will beat these strategies to death in the long run.

Comment by phried on 2009-08-01 08:48:20 -0700 #

i work for a small regional chain, have been here 2 years now…gratefully we don’t have to deal with the coupons….but some of the drug co coupons also aren’t usable by Medicare, Medicaid customers…always enjoy telling them i’m not going to commit FRAUD for them, show them the fine print and then let them rant…..

spent 13 years as the PIC at another regional chain before getting soooo fed up with all everyone mentioned that i left and free-lanced for 2 years, relieved for the few indies left in our area, they’re glad to get a day off, took care of the staff, worked hard, upheld the laws and went home w/out any worries….

went to work for this company when the indie sold and called me to partner w/ him…now they are getting more ‘corporate’ soooo, i may be going back to relief….only reasons i came here was no Sundays, close to the house, etc…..yes, i am my own whore….

then the stuff starts, $4 plan, what friggin’ geniuses….3 weeks ago….filled 70 more scripts than the same week 1 year ago for $6.41 more gross sales, then last week, filled 140 more scripts than 1 year ago for $1400 less…..dumbasses….let wally world crash and burn….this IS NOT good common sense nor good business sense…..
why in hell’s name do we want to work more and harder for less….corporate just wants a bunch of whores….

1 stoopid bitch got 1 $4 script here in 10 mins drove 6 miles, (who knows how long it took) to get the other one at walmart as it was on their list and not ours….sorry, my time and gas is worth more than that…our price on the same script was $8….dumbasses….

still work a week on/week off so i’ve keep my foot in the door of a couple of folks on the week off….you never know…..

i feel the relief call stronger every day, never wanted for work, lots happier, just had to pay my own taxes and travel a little….

health care….what a fucking oxymoron….!!!!

Comment by Brandon on 2009-08-01 10:34:22 -0700 #

I love this post. I work for Rite Aid (I know, I’m waiting for someone to buy us out) and this gift card thing has been nothing but trouble I have people I’ve never seen before come in wanting their $25 per transfer while the customers I have known for years and know them by name get nothing. Had one lady yesterday ask for a transfer just for the gift cards. We got the transfers but it was RTS. I told her it was too soon and that she would have to wait til next month. Ask if she was out and she of course said no. She then said she would pay cash. I told her the cost and she said nevermind. She would transfer the RXs back to her original pharmacy and just wait later to get the gift cards. Seriously, the time spent taking care of this ONE customer could have been spent counseling, QAing and whatever else a number of of LOYAL customers. So yea,I truly hate this “promotion” with a passion.

Comment by marsha on 2009-08-01 17:04:58 -0700 #

10 minutes for a script is a disaster waiting to happen. Foaming at the mouth if it’s 12.

Comment by diana on 2009-08-01 18:35:40 -0700 #

that makes me want to move to NY. i hate the transfer crap.

Comment by rph3664 on 2009-08-02 13:30:03 -0700 #

That made me think of a Jay Leno’s “Headlines” where one of them was an ad for a butcher shop and said, “Get your Hanukkah ham here!”

Uh, wait a minute……….

Now, one time a cash-paying mom came in with Amoxil prescriptions for two of her children, and had two ham coupons and asked if she could use them both. I told her, “Sure! Your kids are each separate customers”. She said she felt like a thief because she knew the ham was worth more than the Amoxil, and I told her not to feel that way, that she was doing nothing unethical, and besides, sick kids are no fun.

Comment by One4me_One4you on 2009-08-02 19:05:56 -0700 #

I work for Walgreens (for now, ahem) and we offer one coupon per person within a 6 month time period. No Medicaid (smegma-caid, as I call it), no Medicare, & no Government plans. My store keeps track of usage and I love watching people get pissy when we remind them they used a card on a particular date and NO they cannot have another coupon.
I also go into their profile and take them off of our mailing list so they don’t get a corporate letter that asks them to return for more coupons and a $25 gift check.
I don’t play “Where’s Waldo” with their Rx’s either. If it’s not at the pharmacy they tell me to call, I don’t get the info of where that pharmacy transferred that Rx to. I say it’s not there, you will have to provide me with the correct pharmacy info.
I hate the disservice corporate has done to our profession.
I’m getting out, though it sure as hell isn’t soon enough.

Comment by Jackie on 2009-08-03 16:02:17 -0700 #

I used to work for CVShit and the coupons were one of the main reasons that I left retail pharmacy. It literally made me want to puke every time someone handed me a coupon. We used to go thru all the store ads and take the coupons out but it did little to curb the abuse. The few times I was able to turn someone away I would turn to the tech after the customer walked away and let out a gleeful evil laugh. Making the switch to hospital was the best move I ever made. I hate you all scum sucking coupon hopping whores!

Comment by Matt on 2009-08-03 20:59:32 -0700 #

THANK YOU!!! I just found this website tonight on a limb and totally agree.. Please go here and shut these people up.

Comment by jacob on 2009-08-03 21:19:03 -0700 #

I work for Giant Eagle and they have no limits to the amount of Giant Eagle coupons you can use. They use a “fuel perks’ promotion and if you use/abuse it enough you can get $30 in free gas for each prescription you fill. Medicare/Medicaid patients are not allowed to use the prescription coupons, but they do earn fuel perk credit when they buy food with their food stamps at giant eagle.

Comment by CVSgrunt on 2009-08-04 14:03:34 -0700 #

Ya know… if you leave 30second ( or longer) messages on the customers voice mail or machine, it counts as a completed call. 😛 Thats how i got my store’s % of calls score up. I’d leave rambling messages about this or that, or whatever nonsense.

_< I hope no one else district manager came up with the brilliant idea to enroll all rx’s for persons under the age of 50 in ready fill and then telling the customer “Thats just how we do it now” Its been cute dealing with the people bitching. Maybe i’ll become a porn star atleast they get paid for getting fucked.

Comment by The Angriest Pharmacist on 2009-08-04 23:20:17 -0700 #


I just have a major chubby to buy a server and run the setup out of my house — like a friend of mine does….:-)

So, I’m not selling posts or allowing myself to be bribed for posts. I’m just saving up to buy the goods cause my wife told me to go fly a kite…haha!

Comment by just the clerk on 2009-08-05 18:56:18 -0700 #

Hi, I’m your Dummy-Clerk-of-the-Day. I went to college for 6 years. Graduated with a 4.0. I’ve been employed for 20 years, until recently in a RESPECTABLE profession that just happened to be ripe for outsourcing to the dummy country of the day. This job pays $12/hour, and with my education and experience in the medical field, I only had to compete with about 45 others for it.

I know it made you angry when I had to ask your name, we only fill 400-500 scripts 6 days a week. A snotty guy with prescription vitamins for the kids who blames his wife for not knowing what pharmacy to pick them up at, should have been more memorable.

The reason I didn’t see your bag of meds hanging up was because they weren’t there. I walked over to the computer, looked you up, the only info I got was “on hold”. I looked in the fax box to see if your rx was expired, that’s where we keep the pending auth for refills. No info. I looked in the Prior Authorization file to see if we were waiting for a doctor to authorize insurance payment for your fabulous vitamins, no info. I asked the tech if anything sounded familiar, she said “Not now. “ and then: “It all sounds familiar, sheesh.” I asked the pharmacist where else to look….no answer. By this time another tech is throwing pills in a bag and says: “It’s done, right behind you on the counter there!” Wrong meds.

O.k., 7 more customers in line all rolling their eyes. Subliminal drive-through buzzer periodically going off.

If only I could pull the right thing out of my ass fast enough for you, maybe that would help you and your lovely wife remember where you called to have your vitamins filled in the first place?

Sorry, just livin’ the dream one day at a time.

Comment by bulldogundertheweather on 2009-08-05 19:59:54 -0700 #

I admit I’m part of the problem. However, my transfers are legitimately because I can’t fill it at the other pharmacy(I live 200 miles from where I go to college). I admit I have taken advantage of the transfer gift cards simply because I’m a poor college student blessed to still be on my parents insurance but cursed to be stuck with non generics which are $40/month/a piece. It helps me subsist a bit better. I also use drug company coupons when I can come by them. However, I am patient about scripts not being ready (I have before made three trips to the pharmacy trying to get one of my scripts in a snow storm on foot…3 miles round trip without anything more than a sigh on trip #2 when it hadn’t come in because the day’s shipment was late due to the weather.) That being said I this post which I happened upon has convinced me to try out the independent pharmacy near school and try to curtail my pharmacy hopping (admittedly only done at corporate pharmacies that have awful customer service).

Comment by Mag on 2009-08-09 12:12:20 -0700 #

Move to NJ instead. NJ state law doesn’t allow financial incentives on Rxs so no coupons for transferring refills. Same goes for coupons for filling x number of Rxs and so on. One of the large chains in the aera did manage to squeeze in coupon books for “aking for” ReadyFill but at least there are no phone calls to be made for that.

Comment by PharmerMat on 2009-08-12 08:12:30 -0700 #

The Biggest problem with the giftcards is the BS from corporate. At my pharmacy, we have refused to honor competitor coupons in the past and the (im)patient calls in a complaint to the corporate office. then our DM comes and bitches at us about “lack of service” and makes the RPh on duty (even if it wasn’t the one that initially refused) APOLOGIZE to the patient WTF!!! and then we give them the damn giftcard… after a couple of these incidents we just decided to say screw it, “if corpo doesnt care neither do we…” its not worth the hassle, and we get dinged on our execution for complaints. i hate to say it but its easier to just let the bastards win… so now it is a giftcard free for all! if you ask for one, and have a coupon of any kind, you get it… Its your 6th refill, and you have a coupon from WAG? why not… medicare or medicaid? sure, just dont call and complain… coupon expired, no problem, but if the “Customer Satisfaction Survey” prints out on yor receipt, you better call and give me all Outstandings….

Comment by ABPharm on 2009-08-14 19:39:07 -0700 #

I work for Rite Aid and not only do we give stupid gift cards but we also price match $4 Rxs. Sooo.. a patient can get paid $21 dollars for filling a prescription, makes sense huh. Doesn’t it just seem like we are whoring ourselves for 1 more customer that will stay 1 month until another store offers a coupon. I want to ask the “higher ups” — Would you go to a doctor that paid you for selecting them as your PCP?? I hope not! And by bribing people to come to our pharmacy we are only degrading the view of pharmacists in the health care world!

Comment by WesOstra on 2009-08-17 08:44:04 -0700 #

The Genius MBA types running the chain pharmacies do pretty much regard the RPh as a clerk. A grossly overpaid clerk. A grossly overpaid clerk with an attitude. This is actually true of MBA’s at either Chain Stores or in the hospital setting. Every day they are looking for a way to be rid of us. Sooner or later they are going to find the right politicians to bribe and there we go, replaced by robots and Rx Techs.

Not many good years left…


Comment by MtVernator on 2009-08-21 07:04:53 -0700 #

Angry Pharmacist, you are brilliant! I wish there was a way to get those in our profession to understand how they negatively impact our profession by working for these outfits. They must have self respect the size of a fruit fly. How do they sleep at night?

On the rare occasion I transfer a prescription to a pills-in-the-bottle plan outfits that mask as helping the poor down and out in our community, I make a point of asking what the blue light special of the week is or some such thing.

Comment by Hell Bell on 2009-08-31 17:58:28 -0700 #

We’ve done two overlapping gift card bribes this month, and frankly, I’d rather give a blow job.

Comment by njyoder on 2009-09-01 22:18:42 -0700 #

Damn capitalism! How dare they run their business better and attract more customers as a result?! Why can’t ma-and-pa stores get all the business just because they’re independent? Independence is inherently superior; no sour grapes here!

How about we call a duck a duck? You’re bitter and a discount is a discount. Since when did the definition of “discount” change to “bribe”? Because it fits all reasonable definitions of “discount,” but none of “bribe.” Although, maybe the OED decided to revise the definition of “bribe” to “n. 1. Any money offered in a way that offends someone on the internet.”

You probably shouldn’t use the “calling a duck a duck” expression just because you’re pissed off and bitter that the other companies are more successful. It reminds me of people who misuse “literally,” except in this case, it’s literally combined with sour grapes (my humor amuses me greatly).

Comment by BlueTech on 2009-09-04 09:57:30 -0700 #

My wife takes zofran (generic, I know better than to ask for brand on that shit) and Walgreens marks up the cash retail price 20,000%. That’s not a typo…twenty-thousand percent. What costs their pharmacy $3.20 per 100-count bottle, they sell for upwards of $600. How the FUCK is that fair business practice? Of course, my insurance is nice enough to give me a $15 copay and not pester me with prior-auth bullshit, but before I was insured (Yes, unemployment is a bitch), they were robbing us. …Makes me feel like hijacking a wal-trailer on the interstate, just to break even.

Comment by Amy on 2009-09-12 14:22:57 -0700 #

I have only transferred or brought new scripts in for a gift card twice. I am kind of weird in the sense that I like going to Target (my pharmacy of choice). The pharmacist knows me, answers questions and is all around helpful. To me, the $25 gift card wasn’t worth going to the other place since it always took twice as long and the service was lacking.

Comment by Kloman on 2009-09-23 20:30:14 -0700 #

yep, 1800walgreens, just say I had an attitude and I promise they will track you down to shove a gift card in your pocket.

Comment by Kloman on 2009-09-23 20:34:11 -0700 #

I freakin HATE THOSE CHECKS!!! thank goodness we don’t price match but if I hear one more thing about that God-forsaken wcard I might wretch.

Comment by bcmigal on 2009-09-25 12:27:39 -0700 #

With a brand new WAG opening a few miles away in a few weeks, one would think that a another huge chain would make a concerted effort to romance their current customers. Not so, that would be too logical. Instead, staff was cut by 50% . Two more employees quit and one went on sick leave due to stress. The company’s solution was to institute a hiring freeze. Now customers must wait days for their RXs, the lines are 8 people deep, and the lone pharmacist and cashier/tech on the closing shift are left to fend for themselves.

Cfill, readyfill, autofill, power, etc are only more ways to make pharmacy folks do more with less.
We are told to \work faster, pick up the pace, be more productive. If it wasn’t so disturbing, it would be humorous.

Today, I must spend some time reading the \register training kit\ so the I can use what I learned from pharmacy school to ring up milk, mops, and makeup. And let’s not forget, those ever so popular gift cards.

Where-o-where has pharmacy gone???

Comment by noshi on 2009-10-12 21:29:00 -0700 #

Interesting concept about the store regulating their gift cards to exclude the government beneficiary sector (the HUGE majority of the Rx’s most pharmacists will get). That reason alone is why you see the same with brand name coupons (no medicaid/no medicare).

It would be far better off with if we just charged the patients on actual cost, like Molina Healthcare or Community Health Group (common Medi-Cal 3rd party insurances). Oh wait… Their reimbursement rates are crap (often 1-2 dollars above cost for a majority of nickel and dime generics). Not sure if that’s a good plan now…

No. What we need is for pharmacists to stick to a fair price to charge for their services and not be undersold. Let those stinking shoppers get their drugs at Costco and enjoy their wait.

Another way pharmacists are screwing other pharmacists and themselves over… -_-

Comment by Nancy on 2009-10-13 20:42:59 -0700 #

We started the “icentive/bribe” cards about six monthes ago because everyone was transferring their stuff to WaMart, Its bad enough that they have cornered the market on Prescription pricing… but now that they pretty much have everyone getting their scripts filled there, WalMarts prices are slowly going up.
Our card is supposed to keep track of WalMart pricing so we can match it to stay competative but now since their prices are going up customers are back to thinking that we are screwing them over. We can’t win.

Comment by Mike on 2009-10-14 06:33:26 -0700 #

Walgreens has to do something to compete with the dollar store tactics first employeed by Wal-mart. Why not give a $25 dollar check to sell a drug at a $200 profit all the while the patients get a bunch of junk that actually ends up costing the store about $10 at the most. These people who use these constantly – and there are plenty – are fools anyway who don’t care about the potential for errors or missed DUR opportunites. Further, the drive-thru has its benefits. I’ve never been an opponent of it. Mom’s with three sick crying kids don’t come in the store. People with BO so bad you could puke leave it outside. The elderly who can’t walk well don’t have to come all the way into the store. The think I always laugh at with independants is most of them AREN’T! They’ve had to Co’op in order to have any buying power. There are only a few ‘true independants’ left. But back to the drive-thru. The thing that does just KILL ME is when a person just pulls up and pushes that damn “call button”. Or when they want to wait in line – indeed – like a McDonalds – to get their medications. At least I don’t have to try and prepare the Rx in 4 minutes while they stand at the counter and stare at me like “what’s taking so long.” And I also love how patients who use other pharmacies, come in on a Sunday afternoon and say “I’m only here because “”” is closed”. Oh, really? Well fuck you – wait until tommorrow and go there then for your Vicodin for your broken arm. Point is we’re always good enough when it’s a late night, weekend or holiday. Okay okay the rambling stops here.

Comment by Mike on 2009-10-14 06:45:22 -0700 #

Hey Bluetech – yes walgreens’ cash prices on many drugs are outlandish but your $15 copay is all you need to be concerned about because you obviously have no clue what we ACTUALLY get paid for the drug. Your $15 copay plus whatever the insurance feels the drug is worth is what we get paid – and it would be the EXACT SAME PRICE ANYWHERE ELSE. I actually have to work for this company. I don’t feel like a flea. I get paid great and have an awesome staff and a great bunch of patients. I’ve had many an internal irritation with some of the company policies and business practices but never on the prices we charge. If you don’t have insurance we have options. If you don’t like the options then WHY WHY WHY do you keep coming back? I’m sure ondansetron is 50 cents a pill at Walmart or at an independant pharmacy. See the thing is as evil as walgreens, CVS, etc are. WE are constant targets for gov’t inspections (esp with boards of pharmacies – who want to come up with NEW RULES everytime they can’t find something wrong). I’d put Walgreens up against any chain, indep, grocery store pharmacy in regards to a clean compliant pharmacy. That’s the good. The bad? Risking patient care by having RPhs work 12 hours shifts (open to close) alone. Having no plans in place for sick calls. Basically telling you to come to work if you’re puking. No breaks or lunches – and I mean NONE. If I get 5-10 minutes to eat my lunch uninterupted I’m usually shocked. It’s hard defending a company that internally pisses me off so much but if I must I must.

Comment by Mike on 2009-10-14 06:51:43 -0700 #

The long waits may be explained by the fact that people actually come to the other places. Everytime I got to Target and I look at what they call their “pickup bins”. Usually there’s about 50 to 100 scrips in them. When you have a ton of fantastically overpriced junk to fill the remaining 49000 squarefeet – you can afford to staff a pharmacy with 2 pharmacists and 3 techs to help prepare your 100 daily prescriptions. It’s for that exact reason why I don’t work there. At any momment Target could close their pharmacy and actually have the potential (likely) to make MORE money. They don’t have a pharmacy to be a drug store. They have it to suck you in so you buy their junk. How outraged people who bitch all day about medication costs but then buy a $50 pillow without complaint because “it’s so cute” boggles the imagination.

Comment by Redheadedpharmacist on 2009-10-20 16:06:16 -0700 #

Rite Aid’s stock cost less than the price of a 20oz Coke at the grocery store chain where I’m a retail pharmacist so you aren’t the only one that recognizes that ideas like free gift cards are a monumentally stupid idea. But hey, good call Rite Aid for buying the Eckerd pharmacies. I guess they weren’t flying towards bankruptcy fast enough and had to find an express lane towards Chapter 11.

Comment by Alice on 2009-10-21 17:59:06 -0700 #

Ditto on every thing you said, I work in a pharmacy too, go through the same thing, and those gift cards are a sorry means to run a pharmacy!!!!!!

Comment by Katrina CPhT on 2009-10-22 00:07:52 -0700 #

I work for Rite Aid pharmacy. I agree with you with these stupid gift cards. Ad says 4 max…. We don’t even have a way of knowing how many gift cards someone has received. We don’t give gift cards to Medicaid or any other state or government covered pt’s. I can’t speak for other Rite Aid pharmacies but I know the individuals that I work with are very attentive to our PT’s. Rite Aid’s idea is to get them to transfer, hope they have an amazing experience and stay. But like you’ve said….. all the chain pharmacies have picked up on this gift card garbage. I large majority of the transfers done in our pharmacy, the pt’s have actually stayed, but there are still those free loaders hopping around the whole town to get free money. When Rite Aid first through out these gift cards, they didn’t let their employees know what the regulations and rules were involving them. We were handing out gift cards left and right. Then we find out the rules and I have to turn down a gift card, because customer is now under Medicaid. “Well I GOT THE GIFT CARD BEFORE!” and he calls corporate makes a complaint…. cooperate undermines us and sends him a gift card.(breaking the law I might note) -_- I don’t know where you’re from, but here in Washington State, Rite Aid is still kicking pretty strong, sure there’s probably 4 Walgreen’s to every Rite Aid, but we’re still very much in business. 🙂 Then again if they keep giving out free money, I might not have a job much longer! :-p

Comment by Katrina CPhT on 2009-10-22 00:13:28 -0700 #

And…. our max wait time is 15 minutes… NOT 3 HOURS HOLY SMOKES!

Comment by Katrina CPhT on 2009-10-22 22:07:02 -0700 #

Haha…. or the prescription fills when they still have like 60 tablets left. haha Love that one….or…. it fills correctly for about.. 3 months then all of a sudden decides not to fill it one month.

Comment by MedMan on 2009-10-31 15:57:24 -0700 #

Katrina CPhT…. What pharmacy has a max wait time of 15 minutes??? None that I know of. Does that mean if you cannot fill it in 15 minutes I am not allowed to wait? I fill a monthly prescription at Rite-Aid (obviously) once a month and I get the script from the doc and go right to Rite Aid. The normal time I wait (I am usually there about 4:30PM EST) is about 25-35 minutes. I just went last Tuesday (not 5 days ago) and my wait time was an astounding 58 minutes, 58 MINUTES!!! And heres the kicker, after 45 minutes of me sitting next to the pharmacy, the lady came out and said we dont have all of it, I am going to give you 3 of the 56 and you can come back tomorrow. So after telling me they were only giving me 3 of them it still took another 15 minutes to drop three tablets into a bottle and ring me up. I saw maybe 7 or 8 people picking up RX’s during that wait. What the hell do you guys do back there that it should take just about 60 minutes (for those that are counting that is an hour) to place 3 pills in a bottle!!! Seriously, I need to know, what takes that long. I could’ve watched nearly an entire movie in the same amount of time it took to place 3 pills into a bottle and place a sticker on the bottle. You guys really are quick.

Comment by Edward Leathers on 2009-11-02 07:06:45 -0800 #

If you have a coupon for a transfer you can get one. I am afraid if I don’t do so many transfer coupons every day my boss will come in and beat me with is pimp cane. Yesterday I had a lady come in and bring in a coupon check that was mailed to her and we transfered a rx from a grocery store pharmacy. When I looked at the hard copy it we had origanly called another store and been told that it was transfered to the grocery store. There is no telling where the original was at. This is a dangerous practice that our state board has no desire to stop because the chain rep on it is from the worst offending company. I went to a law seminar one time and when someone in the crowd brought up the subject of stopping coupons the then state board pres. (a chain rep. ) blew the person off and went on to the next question. So much for the safety of the public.

Comment by Edward Leathers on 2009-11-02 07:14:58 -0800 #

What you don’t have a rx-microwave to set on 3 seconds and pop them out like popcorn.

Comment by JustAsAngryTech on 2009-11-02 07:55:23 -0800 #

*sigh* If I had a penny for every time I heard this….

Ya know, the pharmacy doesn’t just stop and drop everything it has going on just because YOU come strolling in. Believe it or not, there are other prescriptions being filled, the endlessly ringing phones still have to be answered, people picking up their already filled scripts have to be rung up and counseled, e-scripts and new doctor phone ins have to be typed/filled/verified, questions have to be answered by customers… and that’s only if everything is going smoothly. Equipment fails/doesnt’ work, short staffed,etc. And if there happens to be an issue where the medication is out of stock, or not enough to fill a whole script, then the process has to start all over because everything that leaves the pharmacy has to be verified and labeled, even if it’s three lousy pills. So if it takes twenty, thirty minutes, one hour or more, it’s because YOU AREN’T THE ONLY PERSON IN THE UNIVERSE NEEDING A PRESCRIPTION FILLED!

Comment by LD50 placebo effect on 2009-11-02 12:44:38 -0800 #

Simple answer. It would take 30 seconds, maybe 15 seconds if we trained marathons, to run around and drop 3 tablets in a bottle if that was all a pharmacist does. But, most people are not really ‘into’ knowing the thought process that goes on in filling a prescription. Because, essentially, the schooling a pharmacist pays for is intangible. Maybe an analogy in another field will help…why does a person pay a lawyer $750/hr?

Comment by Bonnie Kopsco on 2009-11-12 13:49:19 -0800 #

I just learned riteaid will nolonger honor the $4 plan. So as a loyal riteaid customer I guess I will no be using riteaid because not evryone can afford to pay more. I will be going to Walmart from now on. I sure hope they do not do away with their plan as fast as riteaid did.

Comment by Mike W on 2009-11-19 14:56:46 -0800 #

I totally agree, coupons/gift cards….they just bring out the “Coupon Whores” who would drive around(using $25 in gas) just to get a freaking card. When someone dies due a drug interaction, that can’t possibly be caught, and the 11 Pharmacies the patient went to are sued, maybe this shit will stop. I wish the execs making these decisions(who by the way have no idea of what goes on in a Pharmacy all day) would just get their collective heads out of their collective asses and stop trying to reinvent the wheel. It just DOESN’T work.

Comment by Bohemian Lucy on 2009-11-22 22:55:52 -0800 #

I wish you all would just let this one go. This year my income will be barely $1000 above the federal poverty guidelines, yet I refuse to go on public assistance. I don’t qualify for health insurance (the ol’ pre-existing condition racket, you know), and I could not afford my three prescriptions without so-called “Coupon Whoring.” Please, I am trying my best not to become a burden to anyone, whether they be family members or unknown taxpayers.

So let me use that bribe of a gift card in peace, because at least it means that I am not using food stamps.

Comment by Jody on 2009-12-29 11:13:47 -0800 #

You are right, it is not legal for us to give Medicaid/Medicare/Tricare customers giftcards but those are usually the only people that want it! Not so much the Tricare people though. You should hear how these people flip when they find out they can’t get the gift card for the purchase of a transferred rx. One guy even tried to convince us that he was transferring his Oxycontin rx to us! Bringing me a hard copy is NOT transferring an rx! He came in every day for a week letting us know how poor he was!

Comment by RxMommy on 2010-01-07 20:22:46 -0800 #

I hate all the crappin’ transfer coupons and all the bouncing around that goes with it. The wonderful chain I work for has their own version of WalMart’s $4 generic program and we’re expected to push it like pharmaceutical sales reps. I’m sorry, I didn’t go to pharmacy school to be a salesperson or pimp a product or service I do not believe in. Yeah, there are people who could benefit from our program but it is few in number. Where I live you have Medicaid recipients, Medicare Part D and Tricare beneficiaries, and people with private insurance. The Medicaid/Medicare/Tricare/Federal Employees are not eligible for the program and the private insurance plans generally pay so much better than the discounts given by the program my employer has. Many of my coworkers and myself are tired of being made to do something that is a bunch of crap.

Comment by bcmigal on 2010-01-09 12:49:00 -0800 #

Often the prescription receipt does not indicate that the pt is on Part D so I think many of them are getting the transfer coupons. One pt has a letter from the DM that says she can use a coupon with any Rx. Last week, she paid $3.00 for her scripts and got $75 in gift cards. She then came back later in the day (when a different cashier was on duty) and got another $25.

I think that using some sort of discount or coupon as an enticement for Medicaid or Medicare pts is a felony.

Comment by Jim (its how much?) on 2010-01-29 07:18:57 -0800 #

I use walgreens. Always have. My company cut my hours 2 years ago to 25 as I have a disability and it limits the time I can spend staring at the flickering screen of my puter. Well at 25 hours I do not qualify for health care. And at 476 every 2 weeks I make to much for ahcccs. So I get to pay cash for my meds. I had a heart attack two weeks ago wednesday, and now I have all new meds. Plavix included. On the Walgreens plan my generic meds cost me 58.00 and damn glad to get them at that price. I got a 14 day supply of plavix free (a discount card from the manufacturer) I have to pick up my 30 day rx here in three days. I do not know what it will cost. But I do not shop drug prices. I want to know that the pharmacy I am using can say Wait. You should not take this drug if you are taking that drug. It is contra indicated (like that word) sounds like something Ollie North came up with.But I get no discounts or checks in the mail, or coupons, or. Oh wait. Yeah. Lets try for socialized medicine. Oh wait. Then my meds will not be approved as I am old (saw Vietnam, have some benefit from DVA) but the meds would cost damn near as much at the VA pharmacy, and I do not know them. Not to mention I have been to VA doctors. Can we say “Wow. What language is that. Oh you got your degree in Granada) No I stay with the same Pharmacy chain I have used for what 30 years. I did once try walmart. But the generics did not seem, as efficaseous (spelling*) and after a month I got new rxs from my PCP and went back to walgreens. Maybe walmarts generics really are made in a cave in a mountain in China. Do not know for sure. But I still have to come up with the 58 bucks for my generics plus the cost now of a 30 day Plavix. But I am an in between. In between presrcirtion Coverage, and any form of public assistance. and the meds will literally consume 1/2 of my pay check. But still, I want to know that the RPh or CPHt can see my history and gets the warning before I kill my dumb ass taking some med from another pharmacy that cannot see all the interactions etc.

Comment by Drug Pharmer on 2010-06-26 13:13:46 -0700 #

I rather enjoy working my ass off to fill your damn $4 drugs….NOT. You, son, are CLUELESS. Why don’t u just crawl back into your crib and go to sleep. IDIOT!

Comment by FML0.1% on 2010-07-07 19:51:04 -0700 #

No kidding about a lack of corporate back-up. I almost got fired because I didn’t honor a coupon. A woman shows up to pick up an RX which was filled a couple days previously. I was the one ringing her our and she shows me a coupon. I do my best to see if it was a transfer. The image was a new RX, no note left for me and it was not inputted as if it were a transfer. No one had told me to give out gift cards like candy to everyone who had the right insurance so I said no since it was for transfers only. She contacted corporate and in the next week I had a warning for my “attitude with customers”. Sometimes I just want to quit.

Comment by cardsfanbj on 2010-09-03 09:52:50 -0700 #

I’d have to agree with you, there.
I’m a tech at Walgreens in Middle-of-Nowhere, MO. Our store has been open since spring 2009, and I came in a few months after (when my school year started, I’m an engineering student)
As long as I’ve been working there, we’ve only done 1 promotion, usually mailed to one of our patients who transferred a script out to try to get them to come back and we’ve offered a $25 check good on their next in-store purchase, which is why this is barely legal, (not valid on rxs, void if you have Medicare/Medicaid/Tricare) and have had patients who bitch at us because they can’t use it on their $40 copay. One patient recently came through our drive-thru, had the check validated, screamed at me, then sped off. I went to the front to buy a drink and almost literally bumped into the same man, who demanded our (junior assistant) manager come to the front and refund him those $25 dollars. I told the ass manager she can’t do that, since it’s clearly spelled out in that little disclaimer. She ignored me, told the patient we’d have a $25 gift card for him for his next script. Our pharmacy manager, staff pharmacist, and store manager, each told her “no, we can’t do that. call him and tell him this.”
Walgreens no longer sends these out (THANK YOU JESUS!!!), though those few left out there will be honored.

Comment by uncle Mikey.. on 2010-09-08 23:32:50 -0700 #

a pharmacy customer here… want to hear something funny about auto refills?? I bought a house a 2.5 years ago, I get reminders for the original owners prescriptions… they been dead for 15 years…. yes, it’s from a chain, the chain had bought out Longs Drugs, a local chain that wasn’t like chain stores of today..

Comment by Former CPhT on 2011-11-18 13:28:19 -0800 #

Through college I worked at CVS and we would have those free $25 gift card with a transfer. So many people actually said they got better service at our store than where they went before and kept coming back. Granted we weren’t incredibly busy at our location but still.

Oh but we got our fair share of idiots wanting the free $ for their free prescription anyway which fortunately the fine print says “Not valid on prescriptions that are filled on Medicaid or Medicare insurances.”

Comment by [email protected] on 2017-12-19 14:59:02 -0800 # You missed his point altogether…sounds like you got put in your place rather securely… I always feel sorry for the tech, getting attitude from people like you, trying to keep the whole place in order single handedly.. I just give my name, and let them know I will be sitting down, when they are ready for me..I never rush them, as they are having rough day as it is..and i bet you either come in during your lunch break, with most people, or around 5-6, when everyone else comes, so they are the busiest, and things are as hectic as they possibly can be, either work it out, so you don’t come during a rush, or learn some patience…like an adult, and don’t expect the world to stop when you walk obviously think being a pharmacist tech, is the same as being clerk at a 711…You have no clue, and it was obvious i your reply, where you “got his point exactly”…lol