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Too Nice = Less Respect If You Are A Caregiver.
A few days ago I went in to our local 24 hour pharmacy and was treated disrespectfully by a new pharmacist behind the counter. The more I tried to fix the problem with a prescription I was picking up, the less helpful he became. Then it hit me - I looked like h*ll. I had been caring for a parent with pneumonia for a full 10 days and was exhausted. I was wearing a pony tail, t-shirt and jeans and I was old, I was being nice and obviously must have been acting like a typical caregiver - being nicer than I should to try to fix a problem. Although the information in his system was wrong, he would not take the time to research the error - instead he suggested that I call my insurance carrier as it was showing "expired". He made the point that the conversation was over by picking up the bag with my prescription and tossing it to a basket across the workspace. Discussion over. Go away. With no prescription I was forced to go home and wait until I could confirm with my insurer that there was *no expiration* on the prescription benefit. They added that the pharmacist was wrong and should have given me a few day's supply if he was not willing to fix the billing issue. When I contacted the pharmacy's customer service line they said they were sorry I was frustrated.

Then I got mad. I told the CSR that I had been up with little sleep and no help for 10 days and referenced the multiple prescriptions my parent had at that pharmacy. I pointed out that I was there at midnight to pick up a necessary prescription for me that was overdue and could not wait. I followed it up with the fact that I had been a loyal customer. The CSR said "sorry". I said, No you don't understand. I am one of millions of tired old ladies who are caring for a loved one - we do it for free, manage everything including building relationships with healthcare providers to AVOID these problems and the value of all of our services total $470 Billion a year. The CSR said "sorry". I was still very angry and then I said in a quiet voice, OK, you are "sorry" - but I still have to get this prescription at the copay amount, not full retail due to your pharmacists' mistake. How will I do that until I can get a free minute to drive 20 miles back to the pharmacy - probably at night. Can you guarantee the problem will be fixed? She said "sorry, I can't guarantee anything". That is up to you to talk to the pharmacist about. I said wait a minute - why don't you call the pharmacy for me and fix the problem ... "sorry" we can't do that. As your insurer to do that. What? Why can't you fix the problem, make amends and have the prescription delivered to our house? "No, I'm afraid not - sorry". I began to cry. At that point the CSR broke down and said this

"I know what you are going through, you sound just like my mom who is caring for my dad who has cancer". I truly am sorry, but the corporation that I work for won't let me do anything other than log this call as a customer complaint. Someone is supposed to get back to you within 3 business days." Now I felt bad, and I said "sorry; I know it must be hard for you as well sharing the burden with your mom. I truly appreciate the fact that you listened and talked to me like a human being. I would like a favor from you". She said OK, if I can and here is what I finally said after I put on my big girl pants and realized that nothing corporations say or do is there for caregivers and nothing will ever change unless we change it the only way we can. Here is what I said:

"I am transferring my prescriptions, never shopping at the ______ chain again, going on social media and yelp to complain and sharing my story with every other caregiver on forums (like this one)."

She chucked and then laughed. "OK, I'll write that down, she said" and then she added - "give them hell, you DO sound alot like my mom".

So my question is twofold - 1. what is YOUR Story? Share it here - discuss it and let's raise enough awareness that the companies that don't recognize us start paying attention. 2. What Else Is Bugging You As A Caregiver?

I feel better writing this - now I am no longer sorry.

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The caregiver agency can always make you feel guilty besides it is none of their business what you do or where you go. I had a nurse from Edwardsville Illinois said " I have to take this." Meaning the file folder in the house. The nurse tried to make me feel guilty because my mom had me call in to cancel the home visits sometimes because she had to get up too early and the nurses always wanted to be here extra early to quote get her out of the way and get on with the day. Besides that they were here quite often and this particular nurse took the folder that is supposed to remain in the house with her and she doctored it then took it to Adult Protective Services, that is the fake folder and she misinformed the social worker that I was not letting anyone in the house when I was. He (THE SOCIAL WORKER) came out to the house and tried to force his way in. My mom said I will call you Monday. He came back the next week. Do you believe the nerve of this guy? He did not even wear a suit or tie a ratty old pair of boots, jeans, and a ratty old jacket, and a plaid shirt. He looked like a hippy that was recycled from the mid 60s. Well anyway he said well I heard your daughter was not letting anyone in the house. My mom said I was here the whole time they just wanted to come to the house before I got my first Vicodin down and I was in pain I know I should have called and cancelled because of Illinois state law but I was hurting too much and it was not her fault. I called the head of the home health care my mom used and found that the nurse did take the file but she claimed that it was in the back seat of her car and she forgot to bring it back. To make matters worse I had to talk the office manager into mailing the file back. We got the file back intact and the original schedule sheet showing that they did indeed come to the house quite often but I am still wondering to this day where the sheet she doctored up and gave to Adult protective services is? They don't even think that you are supposed to spend money on ebay or Amazon they think that everything should go towards the house and when they find something good they want that is yours they will try to doctor up a file to try to put you in a behavior unit and put you away for good just to get your money and stuff. They tried to even make me feel guilty for wanting to leave the house when my mom said she is perfectly fine. They tried to make me feel guilty about treating myself. Well they are manipulative and they really succeed at that don't they? Don't ever go with a caregiver service if you can help it. But when you do keep everything out of sight and keep you credit cards in a safe place. There were cards I had to have cancelled because of them. They get paid $13 in my state they are not supposed to make over that why do they make me feel guilty for taking care of my mom and treating myself for being a good daughter? why do they get off on that? They make me feel like scum like 3 inches high because I have a nervous condition and because they think I am too young to claim SSA when they have supposedly worked for it their whole lives. Seems like their tax files should be audited for all the stuff and money they took that belonged to someone else.
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When I was helping care for my mother, now deceased as of age 89, almost everyone was very nice.
Here is the 'almost' part! Every article tells a caregiver to 'get away, take a vacation, have time to yourself'. One day in the summer years ago, me and my husband went to the shore for the day, just to get away and walk the boardwalk. We weren't even staying overnight.
I got a call, answered it, it was my Mom's caregiver agency. Not the nurse, just the office worker. She must have heard the seagulls or the ocean, she started snapping at me, "where are you? what is that? what are you doing?" and I felt of course that she was implying I ought to feel guilty that I was not by my mother's side that moment. It worked, I felt guilty.
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I think that CVS and Walgreens have been doing that for years. They want you to take their discount cards to rack up points with but never can you use the points for prescriptions if you are on Medicare and Medicaid. Medicare and Medicaid customers are the ones paying over price for drugs. There was a man who went to a St. Louis Missouri hospital and this is case in point that even a hospital can over charge for meds when they can buy a vaccine to prevent snake venom poisoning at a lower price but because the patient did not have insurance the chose to charge him $50,000 or more for the meds when they purchased the vials of the meds for less than that. St. Elizabeth in Belleville Illinois price gouges also. My mom got a bill from their drug subsidiary stating that she owed 220 for Morphine, saline solution, blood thinners, and maintenance during her stay. How much savings do you think was past on to them? Getting back to the guy in Missouri you can find the story at kmov. under the tab for Chris. He is the consumer investigator for the CBS news affiliate in St. Louis Missouri Channel 4. Not only do pharmacies do it but the hospitals do it also.
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Thanks all for the comments & suggestions. I appreciate the sympathy expressed by some - truth be told where else am I going to get a hug and chance to vent online. Being a long term caregiver is challenging - it is a real gift to be able to speak one's mind. In this case, the subsequent discovery while reading the daily news that the pharmacy I had the very bad experience with is being investigated and sued for overcharging on purpose really puts it in perspective. So - my last vent.

The guy was a jerk and did not choose to fix the problem because people who are out of their medicine normally choose to pay for it despite the high price. I suspect that he knew full well what the side effects were if the medication was stopped, so the odds were good that I would be back and pay the price.

The people I spoke to along the way while I was researching and looking for better prices confirmed what I believe to be true - we are held hostage when pharmacies don't disclose prices on the telephone or list the prices of generics on their websites making shopping around almost impossible. I also learned that there are prescription discount cards that will get you a lower price than your insurance. It pays to stick to your guns and keep calling around until you find people who will provide the right info and help you.

The pharmacy chain that took the complaint and said they would be back to me in "2 business days" has yet to call. I suspect that once they saw I had transferred the prescription, it was obvious they were not going to win back my business.
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I've had only good experiences at my local Costco pharmacy.
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I have to say that when I see this type of thread I am glad to be in UK. Yes the pharmacists do run out of meds but they get them in within 24 hours and will only request we go elsewhere if that can't happen for some reason like me needing it today and it not being available until Monday.

My pharmacy is lovely and while the pharmacist is a bit stand-offish the staff who work there know me and my situation and just steam roller the pharmacist if she or he gets on their high horse about anything. I wanted my mums meds in dosette boxes but the pharmacist said she didn't have meds that could go in rosette boxes because they changed a lot. I wasn't having any of it and was my usual blunt self - the staff stepped in and told her you don't understand the situation she does need them that way and she is more than capable of making the adjustments when they are made and then we adjust the dosette box next time....no problem - I do always go to the same pharmacy and for me that works really well - heavens they even called me Jude now
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Interesting thread; not just price, but also service at pharmacies.
I looked around and found that Consumer Reports in April 2011 lead their article off with the following information, that I have found to be exactly correct:
"Chalk one up for the little guy. Consumer Reports’ latest drugstore study (available to subscribers) affirms that the top-rated walk-in stores are neighborhood independents, not giant chains such as Walgreens and CVS.
Ninety-four (94%) percent of readers who shopped at independent drugstores were highly satisfied with their experiences. Included in this group are The Medicine Shoppe and Health Mart, independent-like chains that are individually owned and operated but have a common parent company. Independents made fewer errors, offered swifter service at the pharmacy counter, and were much more likely to have medications ready for pickup when promised than traditional chain, supermarket, or big-box-store pharmacies, our survey found.
People who filled their prescriptions at independent stores also praised the pharmacists’ accessibility and personal service, and encountered fewer delays and medication mix-ups than those who shopped elsewhere."

I do use an Albertson's SavOn pharmacy and it's just great. I have a personal relationship with all the pharmacists; they know me and my family on sight. I also negotiate price with them by printing out coupons from GoodRX and most of the time the cash price via the coupon is about half what the copay would have been.
When I was disrespected several years ago elsewhere and given the wrong prescription by a pharmacy, I complained to corporate, only after I filed a complaint with the pharmacy board. That got their attention. I insisted on a written apology and proof that the errant pharmacist received more training. I got that, too.
Be nice, be tough.
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They can afford to be jerks and we put up with it, they are out of my meds 1/2 the time, tell me to go elsewhere-or they might have them in a month or 2. I have been going there 10 years for my and my parents rx's I don't want to drive all over town!! Or the pharmacist overrules the doctors and states they won't fill the meds? What... they were ordered by the hospital... but they can do it.... Crazy .... A friend of mine dated a gentlemen who owned a huge franchise chain-nationwide-3 letter company figure it out... he stated each of his pharmacies brought him in approx $20 million a month!!!!!! Whenever he wanted a new plane, boat whatever he would just sell off a store....the pharmacy makes about 20 times what everything else in the store combined sells!Nuts go across a border and get the same brand rx for 90% less, yes the exact same manufacturer and medication......we need regulations...like other countries. I was so happy one rx was originally $2200 a month but now they have a generic available....great... but that one is $1300 a month and since it is out now no vouchers are available from the original manufacturer to help pay the cost of the medication....so guess what, me like many others can't afford that so no meds for me! I have a sick mom to care for and her meds/care/insurance come first....it is a literally a sick world we are living in while some laugh all the way to the bank! Sorry a sore spot with me!
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Cat, FF was speaking theoretically (note the "if" prefacing her statement):

"If every store had the same price than it would be considered "price fixing", and we wouldn't want that."
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@freqflyer. This is not price fixing, if you read the newspaper report, it is illegal because the hike in prices are accomplished by gaming the contract the pharmacy has with the insurance companies and the insured patient/customer. If the average price for a drug falls between $0 copay and $55 copay, then charging $150 copay is gouging. How that pricing was accomplished - by rigging how the cost is reported to the insurance company is sophisticated. Consumers at pharmacy chains do not have the luxury of open price reporting because there is a cloak of secrecy around generic pricing - try calling pharmacies and asking them what the price of a prescription will be. They wont' tell you until you go in and submit your prescription. They game the healthcare system and rig prices - that is wrong.





Prescriptions are not optional and are regulated. That makes them different from a grocery chain's prices. Most grocery stores run on slim margins averaging aroung 2% markup and are very competative.
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Shopping at the pharmacy is no different than shopping at the grocery store. Some items will be less, some will be more, depending on the store. If every store had the same price than it would be considered "price fixing", and we wouldn't want that.
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We recently had to move my husband's scripts to another pharmacy so I selected a chain store close to home. I was surprised to see that while his portion (in the donut hole) is the same amount, the amount billed to insurance is significantly higher than the other pharmacy. At first glance, you'd think it was ok because our OOP is the same. But this increased retail price will put him in the donut hole that much sooner next year. I'll be shopping RX prices before Jan.1.
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I completely agree that there are pharmacists & techs who care and go the extra mile for their patients. I've been blessed to have them on my mom's side many times - that is why I was so shocked at what happened. The whole point of my story is that it is when things go badly that it becomes obvious how much it affected me, and that it probably does to alot of others who are caregivers. I was actually surprised by the article, it was a funny coincidence that it came out today. The article appeared in today's paper shed light and game me a whole new perspective for me personally on the issues because according to the article, there is a long term pattern of price gouging and abuse by this chain that is proveable and is dictated by the senior leadership - who also set the tone and expectations for their employees at the store level. The fact that my prescription benefit card did not have an expiration date and the prescription benefit company verified to me over the phone there was a current price with the chain at a much lower agreed up price with that chain that the pharmacist should have honored - and called or gone on the system to check. He did not, he made me feel bad, frustrated, sad and as a burned out caregiver who knows how to take a few deep breaths and try to reframe the issue and get resolution of the problem in a pleasant tone of voice (no matter how mad/sad/upset I am feeling internally) points to it being a bigger problem that one rotten encounter. I had that gut feeling when I posted because when bad service happens it is rarely personal, although if you have ever been sneered at it feels that way.

As far as feeling that I was looked down for how I was dressed, yes I believe that that was the case. I felt bad because I know that appearances do result in snap judgements by strangers. Call it profiling, ageism or what you will, it does happen. DId anyone read the article in the paper - if so what do you think, will it change things for the better and make prices fairer? I found another pharmacy that charged me a fraction of what the original pharmacy quoted me as the generic cost - that type of price gouging makes a huge difference to me as a caregiver, How about you?
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I believe for every pharmacist who won't bother to help, there will be ones who do, even from the same chain pharmacy.

Last year my grocery store pharmacy told me I couldn't get my favorite pharmaceutical manufacturer for an anti-cancer pill I was taking. Sorry, nothing they could do. So I tried other pharmacy chains with no luck, but found a pharmacist at a local CVS who wanted to help. He searched and searched, and a week later lo and behold he found a full bottle of pills which he had sent over to their store, put my name on it, thus every time I came in for a refill, it was good to know on the shelf were my pills :)
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It's also possible he's one of the people who take what's in the computer as gospel and have no interest in making an effort to figure out the problem for a customer. Unfortunately, some folks have a "that's not my job" attitude about customer service.
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Cat, thanks for the update on that pharmacy chain... makes me wonder what other chains might be next.

We deal with so many different issues with medicines. Like cases where a pharmaceutical manufacturer stops production of a pill because there is no profit in making that pill or the company had merged with another company, thus changing the fillers/binders/coatings on a pill. I am hyper-sensitive to certain products and found just one manufacturer where I can deal with a certain prescription. Nothing worse than finding you can't get that pill anymore :(
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Hey everyone, here's an update that explains alot. Opened the paper today and read an article about the pharmacy chain I complained about being sued for price fixing. Might explain why the guy was so short with me and dismissive when I wanted to know how my prescription copay inflated to $141.00....so complaining to a corporation that knowingly gamed the system and overcharged customers means that he probably knew what his company did.

The news article is here or probably in most major news sites.abc7./news/cvs-accused-of-overcharging-for-generic-drugs/895185/ They are going to be sued in a huge class action suit.

Thanks for all the comments - I really believe after reading this article that posting on social media like Yelp does matter hugs to everyone who shared support.
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There are ways to avoid the pharmacy all together by actually not going to the pharmacy. Let me explain, If you have a Med Ex in your area or you have some type of pharmacy that delivers to the house or apartment you live in you can avoid a nasty pharmacist and get a very nice pharmacist and dedicated staff that does not like phone trees. If you have a refill though coming out to the house and need to send a new prescription they will work with you. All you have to do is have the new prescriptions in an envelop ready for the driver to pick up and your Co-Pay ready to give the driver when they show up and you receive your refills and then you get your new prescriptions the next day thus alleviating the $3.50 service fee and you are also able to get any over the counter items at a lower price delivered at the same time.
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If you want to complain, forget about Yelp; research the company, contact one of the execs, or better yet, figure out how to notify the shareholders. It's a lot of work, but those in a position to benefit from good management and good customer relations are more likely to be concerned than independent, unrelated, disinterested people online.

But change your approach and be very rational about it; anger just makes you seem more dismissible. It's easy to decide that you're irrational and angry and ignore your complaint.

And frankly, given that he was new, he might not have known how to address the problem. He relied on the store's computer system which indicated the script had expired. A good pharmacy, an individual one like the one we eventually selected, will offer to contact the scripting physician to get a renewal on the script, unless perhaps it's a narcotic.

BTW, you mentioned this is a 24 hour pharmacy. What time of day or night were you there?
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I've never been treated badly by a pharmacist. When my Mom was still alive and I was picking up her prescriptions for her they went out of their way for me. I'd walk up to the counter and always caught the eye of the head pharmacist. He would smile and get my Mom's prescriptions. I usually didn't have to wait.

When my Mom was transferred to the NH he made all the arrangements for her prescriptions to be done there properly without me even having to ask. Even said kindly to me "now you can rest"
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I think the formal complaint is in order. He had no business denying you at least a few doses of an important prescription while it was sorted out, and it should have been escalated to management on the spot if there was some reason he could not do that. It is utterly unprofessional to treat someone differently because they are not well dressed. If you had not been 'nice" he might have had an excuse. The formal complaint might be a signal to him to change his attitude, or that if he is too burned out to view customers as human beings, and to treat fellow human beings with decency, he needs to get help; possibly, along with others who complain, if this is not isolated behavior, it would be a heads up to his employer to take disciplinary action.

I do realize that the Walgreen's and similar pharmacy people are expected to ring up non-pharmacy purchases, deal with long lines of impatient people, and in general are not getting tons of respect themselves, nevertheless, you learn to cope with that, or hate it but hang in until with enough pressure, corporate policies need to, and could, change for the better, or get out. This kind of thing can hurt people. I have had patients hospitalized because a prescription was denied when a single phone call or fax could have taken care of it, but they were too busy and didn't care enough about the Spanish speaking single mom with two special needs kids...You know how they say "don't get me started"? - well, you got me started!
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Now in Texas there is a Texas state board of pharmacy through which you can make a formal complaint. I imagine (because I am a dumb Brit and I do imagine consistency where often there is none) that every state has a board of pharmacy and they licence pharmacists .....so put it in writing hun nothing ventured.....
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I said not to personalize, i.e., not to try to figure out why this jerk was treating her badly. That excuses his behavior. My motto is "don't get mad, get even". I've found that a letter to the store manager/department manager with a cc to corporate customer relations works wonders in getting respect and results. Phone calls get you connected to clerks. If you must make a call, be nice to the clerk and ask for a supervisor.
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This pi**es me off you guys, why should the poster have to accept that level of disrespect from the pharmacy? It is not acceptable when essentially you are told we're sorry, but we won't take responsibility for the problem or make any effort to try to correct it and is then advised don't take it personally, maybe if you just behave differently next time it won't happen again. And freqflyer, I'd like to believe that her appearance had nothing to do with the way she was treated, but there have been too many studies done that prove all too often it does make a difference. So I agree, "give them hell", and do it loudly or else they won't even notice.
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I would talk to the day time pharmacy manager and the store manager. I would not personalize this.
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Could you have call the pharmacy the next day, late morning, and speak to the 1st shift Pharmacist? Sounded like a glitch between the pharmacy and the Rx insurance provider. Everyone has a bad day, even a pharmacist.

I really don't think it had anything to do with how you were dressed. Heck, the same could have happened if your were dressed like a bank President, or picking up your order via drive-thru.

I wouldn't waste my time adding negative reviews on yelp or any other review site, because most people when they have 100% good service never write a comment, but one bad time they are all over the internet with negative comments. Thus, those reviews are meaningless.

Rarely do I run into any problems at the pharmacy. Usually if there is an issue, like no order is waiting, it was because my Dad had forgot to call in for a refill yet told me pills were waiting :P
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