CVS Apologizes For Horrific Customer Service

Rachael writes in with an update about her complaint with CVS.

CVS wrote in asking that we forward their contact info to Rachael. We did.

Rachael writes:

Ok, so I emailed Mike, the director of public relations at CVS back after he wrote to you requesting to get into contact with me. I let him know that I was emailing because I was at work and could not make a personal call until around 6PM. He immediately wrote back and arranged for a Customer Service Supervisor call me after 6.

Sure enough, approximately 6:30, I received a call from them. Unfortunately, I don’t recall the young lady’s name but she was actually very pleasant. She said that they appreciated my candid post on The Consumerist and that they were happy I was so honest. I couldn’t help but think that all these people read where I said “Fuck you CVS” and I kind of felt bad. I told her this and she said not to worry – that nobody took offense and they probably would have responded in much the same manner given a similar experience.

I was surprised that they read The Consumerist and she mentioned that they have several customer service reps browsing various similar blogs as well.

We chatted briefly about my experiences in the store and she asked if I’d had other problems. I told her that getting a prescription is no problem and purchasing things off of the shelf is not a problem (other than the painfully long lines) but the only problem is honestly when you try to get some help (getting razor blades or photos).

She said that the district manager was notified of the issue and that the store manager was as well and that they would be taking care of it. She also informed me that they would honor the 15 cents per print photos and that they were mailing me a CVS giftcard to make up for the frustration.

So all’s well that ends well. They were very helpful and gave me a couple telephone numbers and email addresses to address any future concerns.

I must say I’m surprised – albeit pleasantly. I didn’t think a big faceless corporation like CVS would care what I thought about two poor experiences I had in their store. Now there are going to be those saying that they bought me off, but I don’t think so. I was there Tuesday to pick up a prescription and had no problems. It was a service issue with a store I frequent and I would have continued shopping there (just not for photos or blades lol). But in any case, I’m happy, they are happy and it’s all over for now.

Perhaps this weekend I will try again for the photos….

Thanks Consumerist.

Hey, kudos to CVS. Don’t feel guilty about complaining Rachael, anything that makes access to razor blades at CVS even a little bit easier is considered a service to your fellow man.

(Photo:Vince Brown (attila))

Comments

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  1. rohde88 says:

    Rachael “rights,” did she correct the situation or pen it?

    Good story though!

  2. Asvetic says:

    I didn’t think a big faceless corporation like CVS would care what I thought about two poor experiences I had in their store.

    They might not have had it been a single incident, but the fact that it was almost back to back with the same customer set off the warning bells. It’s still nice to read that a company is trying their best to set right, what shouldn’t have gone wrong.

  3. BlondeGrlz says:

    How do I apply for the job of reading consumer blogs all day? Hire me CVS? Comcast? Best Buy? Ok maybe not Best Buy.

  4. MissTic says:

    I think her story highlights the customer service problem, not a store policy problem (which she admits) and has me wondering why she didn’t try to contact mgmt to begin with. IIRC, she stormed out of the store and came here. Granted, Consumerist was the best option in the end; clearly retailers pay attention. *waves to retailers lurking here*

    I’m glad to see that they are addressing the issue. A store is only as good as it’s worst employee. But I think making an attempt to resolve things through the chain of mgmt only bolsters your case when you end up on Consumerist and have it read by The Powers That Be. Just my $.02.

  5. Adam W says:

    I work for a CVS store and when i read the original story, I about died. i can say personally that CVS does care about their customers and I wanted to find out what store this was so I could personally call and give the manager a piece of my mind for representing our company like that. we have an internal site that shows some of the best customer stories that are submitted to us about our employees going above and beyond “the call of duty”. these are about the exact opposite of some of the stories you see here. one of them i remember vaguely is that there was a customer who was from out of town and needed a short supply of some prescription and the insurance wouldn’t pay for it so the pharmacist paid for it himself out of pocket. its things like this that really do make our company a great place to work for IMO. (granted all this is coming from a photo lab supervisor so i was most shocked about the photo issue.)

  6. Aladdyn says:

    @MissTic: “A store is only as good as it’s worst employee.” I would disagree and say a store is only as good as its manager. A good manager would be paying attention to what their employees were doing and fixing any problems. Unlike the managers at BB and CC and such where the manager just backs up the poor decisions of employees.

  7. Kat@Work says:

    “I didn’t think a big faceless corporation like CVS would care what I thought about two poor experiences I had in their store.”

    They don’t care about you, per se, but your situation was resolved to your satisfaction because you posted your story here and bad publicity spreads like wildfire on the internet. That, they care about.

  8. Sudonum says:

    The problem with all this is that you have to shame them with something widely read on the internet to get them to provide you with the service and respect all of us as consumers deserve. This goes for all “Mega Marts”, not just CVS.

  9. Elijah-M says:

    When a company establishes a track record of unacceptable customer service, it is a reflection of how the employees in the field are treated by their corporate supervisors.

    If CVS is truly interested in fixing this problem, they need to staff their stores with an adequate number of people, and treat those people in a way that reflects how they would be treated as customers. While I can appreciate the Customer Service Supervisor’s resolve to atone for the experience the OP had in the past, I would be a lot more impressed if they took proactive steps to prevent similar experiences from happening in the future.

    I have found one very effective method of preventing myself from having such experiences: I no longer shop at CVS.

  10. UpsetPanda says:

    Really, the only real thing that this does is give her a gift card. They’ve “notified” the district manager…if things really improve there, we’ll chalk it up to these efforts, but I’ve come to be very ambivalent toward these “we’ve informed management” phrases, because you know somewhere down the line, someone will just throw that in the trash.

    And what happened to the edit tools for the comment box?

  11. Imaginary_Friend says:

    I think Rachael was right in writing to the Consumerist for this particular case and bypassing the store manager because it’s obvious from the all of the negative comments in her original thread that CVS’s poor customer service is systemic. Sometimes it takes a little public scrutiny to make a company change their ways. Hopefully, CVS will now try to turn over a new leaf.

    Good job, Rachael. Kudos again to the Consumerist.

  12. Buran says:

    So, did they say whether or not they’re going to FIX these problems? In other words, stop making you run to store management just to buy vital medicine and basic supplies? Apologies are simple. Action is hard.

  13. theravenfakeaccount says:

    The CVS on 11th and Market is the worst!

  14. Jackasimov says:

    I’m glad everything worked out. I wonder if an email to corporate would have had the same result.

    I’ve worked retail for quite some time and company corporate headquarters ALWAYS take complaints seriously – unless the facts don’t bear out or you sound like an angry crackpot. It really does them no good to have a store that doesn’t function well or keep it’s customers happy.

    Notable exceptions:
    -The Post Office
    -The United States Postal Service
    -USPS

    I love my local CVS by the way. I was so happy to see all the run-down Walgreens in Chicago get some worthwhile competition.

    Next topic: Fuck Walgreens

  15. ivanthemute says:

    @blondegrlz: Why not Best Buy? You’d always have work!

  16. Jackasimov says:

    Weird. I think my comment just disappeared into the abyss.

  17. Jackasimov says:

    Nevermind. Sry.

  18. Swervo says:

    Ever since CVS took over for Sav-On out here in Southern California, the whole operation has gone significantly downhill. We’ve gotten apologies from them for things in the past, but I haven’t seen anything change, so I’m not holding my breath…

  19. trinidon2k says:

    Someone gets paid to read the consumerist site. That’s like the best job ever. How do I apply?

  20. enine says:

    Ok, CVS blog readers
    Store# 5715; 3355 East Livingston Ave, Columbus OH 43227

    Please tell the pharmacy that having to manually fill out insurance forms should not be a condition to deny filling a prescription. My wife offered to payy full price and we would submit a claim to our insurance later but the pharmacist then wouldn’t allow that and was rude enough that my wife left the store crying.

  21. socalrob of the 24 and a half century says:

    @Swervo:
    so its not just me who’s noticed this. I have 3 CVS in my city. 2 daytime ones and a large 24hr one. They all sell broken merchandise, or shoddy merchandise that breaks within a few days. I bought a small fan and it broke after 3 weeks of usage. Couldn’t take it back though.

    And to relate to the article, my local CVS, which is not a 24hr CVS, has condoms locked up. If you go to ask for them to get you a pack, they give you a long lecture about safe sex. Now, your buying condoms so you dont need a lecture, and then its also from a store employee. Just sell me my condoms and leave me alone.

    Sorry CVS, if your reading this, your So Cal stores suck. Please shut them down and let walgreens come in or something.

  22. ProjectGSX says:

    I was in a CVS the other day and figured why not, Ill take a look… yep, their sign said 15 cents for prints and 19 cents for 1 hour prints.

  23. MissTic says:

    @Aladdyn: my comment still holds: a bad manager would technically be the store’s worst employee ;)

  24. eddytompkins says:

    Two of the last 3 times I’ve tried to use their “bonus bucks” program, it didn’t register. For instance, they had an offer, buy 4 SoyJoy bars for $4, and get $4 back in bonus bucks. So I bought one of each of 4 flavors, and had them rung up. It didn’t print out the bonus bucks, so I showed them the receipt. It had a slightly different code for one of the flavors (I can’t remember exactly what the problem was). So, had I not paid attention, I would have paid $4 instead of $0 for these.

    The manager apologized mildly, but I didn’t get the sense that they were trying to do anything different about it. I wrote their national customer service. They said they would look into it, but never got back to me.

    So be extra vigilant if you use their “bonus bucks” offers. I imagine they make a lot of $$$ off of inertia from people that don’t notice this stuff or say “the hell with it, this isn’t worth my time” when they notice an error.

    And yes, they do sell lots of cheap stuff that breaks easily, but that seems to reflect what the United States has turned into in its social attitudes and economic policies. So I don’t think they’re any worse than any other company in that regard.

  25. coan_net says:

    As with all stores – 90% of the time it is not the company that is bad – it is bad employees which makes the store bad

  26. Craig says:

    “Rachel rights???” We all make typos every now and then but that’s just embarrassing from a blog like this.

  27. Re: the lack of employees:

    The RiteAids (at least in my area) have an appalling lack of employees. There’s one where, if you go there past about 7pm, there are literally only 2 employees in the entire store. And one of them is in the back stocking or something. Which means there’s inevitably 3 people in the cashier line, two people wanting ice cream, and someone in photo, and there’s only one person working. It drives you nuts.

  28. MMD says:

    Would Consumerist be willing to share the public relations director’s contact info? Because the CVS in Hyde Park in Chicago is abysmal and the complaints I’ve lodged have been ignored.

  29. UpsetPanda says:

    On the “Rachel rights” thing… Yeah, I’m officially offering my services as a writer…can I freelance edit, even? Sigh.

  30. rjhiggins says:

    @Elijah-M: No longer shopping there may sound great, but if you think Walgreens or Rite-Aid and the like are much better (as a rule — there are always exceptions) you’re mistaken.

    Plus, not everyone has a lot of options nearby. And driving miles out of your way regularly just to stick it to CVS isn’t practical.

  31. damitaimee says:

    @MissTic: from what i remember reading in the original story, a manager was to be called in order to open the locked case. the manager was no where to be found and they had asked her to come back tomorrow.

    who else was she supposed to contact?

  32. Elijah-M says:

    @coan_net: When the employees of a large national chain store consistently provide horrible customer service at multiple locations, it is not because each one of those employees is individually inept. It is because the corporate leadership of that large national chain does not have an adequate vetting process in place, they do not adequately train those employees once they are hired, and they do not provide adequate incentive for the *good *employees to stay. Every chain has a few bad employees. If that chain has the right leadership, those employees are the exception rather than the rule. As the comments in teh original thread attest, this is not the case with CVS.

    @rjhiggins: I wholeheartedly agree that Rite Aid and Walgreens are as bad as, and sometimes worse, than CVS. As I mentioned in the comments for Rachel’s original post, I now get all of my prescriptions (and I have several) filled at my local Publix grocery/pharmacy, which consistently provides excellent customer service. They also carry every single product that can be bought at CVS/Walgreens/Rite Aid, and at an equal or lower price.

  33. Adam W says:

    @Imaginary_Friend:

    I wish you wouldn’t say that. I work for CVS and that is NOT the norm. We have 23 stores in our district, and about half of us score 95% or higher every month on our customer service surveys for the Front Store, Pharmacy, and Photo which has its own separate survey. In fact, my photo lab achieved a 100% for 3 months in a row now on customer satisfaction.

  34. royal72 says:

    “I recently went to CVS to buy razor blades and they were completely locked up. Apparently a new procedure since they never were in the past. I try to get the attention of no fewer than 3 CVS employees milling about doing nothing. One actually stops and tells me I have to go to the counter.
    So I get in line and wait and wait and wait. 10 minutes later, I’m at the counter and I tell them I want to buy razor blades. They tell me I need to go to aisle 2. I told them I know where they are but they are locked up so can I get some help. They tell me I need to go back to the pharmacy because they have the key. I go to the pharmacy and wait another 10 minutes in a painfully slow line. Pharmacy cashier tells me they’re located in aisle 2. I confirm this and tell them I need help since they are locked up. They tell me I have to go to the front counter.

    I inform them the front counter told me I needed to go to the pharmacy counter. They tell me to hold on and they walk to the front. I’ve been in the store a good half hour now.

    The cashier comes back and told me that only the manager had the key and he must be on break or something because they don’t know where he is and can I come back tomorrow? I ask what they do when the manager is out – who has the key then and they told me that the cashiers have them. I ask why none of the cashiers present have a key then to assist me. They told me they cannot leave their counters because they are busy and I have to wait for the manager to get assistance.

    I should have known better to try and order photos there…..

    I wanted prints of my wedding photos. You know, all 315 of them.

    So I go in to order them. They have 15 cent prints 24 hours and one-hour prints for 19 cents. It’s 10am on a Sunday.

    I tell the guy I want the 15 cent ones. (I’m in no hurry). He tells me they don’t offer that option. Despite the 3 – 6 foot long banners all over the pharmacy advertising that. So I tell him I want them in an hour then. He asks how many prints I need. I tell him 315. He looks at me funny and tells me I can’t have them in an hour. Despite those same banners advertising one-hour prints for 19 cents a print for orders up to 500 prints. So I tell him then I will pick them up Monday then and can I have the 15 cent price. He tells me “I already told you, we don’t offer that service”. So I say “So I have to pay the one-hour processing price of 19 cents a print?” He says I’m correct. So then I ask “So I can come back in an hour or two to pick them up?” He tells me I have to come back Monday.

    Clearly a losing battle.

    So I went in on Monday (at 8PM for the record). About 34 hours after dropping them off for “one-hour” processing. I didn’t actually even drop anything off. I had the pics on a cd and I had to do all the processing on their automated system myself…. Anyway…

    I go in and of course they have one cashier working. There are like 30 people in the line.

    I go to the photo department. There is somebody sitting behind the counter but she ignores me and talks on her cell phone for about 5 minutes. I guess she realized I wasn’t leaving so she comes up and asks how she can help me. I tell her I’m only picking up prints. She says well nobody is working in photos today (um, then why is she manning the photo counter? Furthermore, how friggin hard is it to turn around and grab the huge and bulging envelope with my name on it so I can pay?????)

    I look at her and say “So how do I pick up my photos so I can pay for them?”

    She points to the line that HAS NOT MOVED since I walked in (apparently there was nobody manning the cashier counter – just like how this chick was not manning the photo center – despite doing just that).

    Anyway, she points to the line and tells me I have to wait in the line and when I get to the counter, I have to ask the cashier if she can go to the photo department to pick up my pics so I can pay for them. You know, the ones behind the chick manning the photo department (or not).

    I point to the envelope about 1 foot behind her and ask her if I can pick it up so when I go to the line, I can pay and leave (I mean, it’s a good $50 of photos here….) Let’s not forget they also decided to charge me for one hour processing that I was not allowed to have…..

    She tells me no, I have to wait in the line and maybe that cashier will help me.

    I told her that she could keep the fucking pictures then.

    I walked out.

    CVS can keep all 315 photos.

    They only have my last name and telephone number on file. Let’s see how long it takes them to decide it’s time to call me.

    Then, maybe for the fun of it, I will have the 19 cents vs 15 cents discussion.

    I’ll probably end up ordering online now. Fuck CVS.”

    “Ok, so I emailed Mike, the director of public relations at CVS back after he wrote to you requesting to get into contact with me. I let him know that I was emailing because I was at work and could not make a personal call until around 6PM. He immediately wrote back and arranged for a Customer Service Supervisor call me after 6.
    Sure enough, approximately 6:30, I received a call from them. Unfortunately, I don’t recall the young lady’s name but she was actually very pleasant. She said that they appreciated my candid post on The Consumerist and that they were happy I was so honest. I couldn’t help but think that all these people read where I said “Fuck you CVS” and I kind of felt bad. I told her this and she said not to worry – that nobody took offense and they probably would have responded in much the same manner given a similar experience.

    I was surprised that they read The Consumerist and she mentioned that they have several customer service reps browsing various similar blogs as well.

    We chatted briefly about my experiences in the store and she asked if I’d had other problems. I told her that getting a prescription is no problem and purchasing things off of the shelf is not a problem (other than the painfully long lines) but the only problem is honestly when you try to get some help (getting razor blades or photos).

    She said that the district manager was notified of the issue and that the store manager was as well and that they would be taking care of it. She also informed me that they would honor the 15 cents per print photos and that they were mailing me a CVS giftcard to make up for the frustration.

    So all’s well that ends well. They were very helpful and gave me a couple telephone numbers and email addresses to address any future concerns.

    I must say I’m surprised – albeit pleasantly. I didn’t think a big faceless corporation like CVS would care what I thought about two poor experiences I had in their store. Now there are going to be those saying that they bought me off, but I don’t think so. I was there Tuesday to pick up a prescription and had no problems. It was a service issue with a store I frequent and I would have continued shopping there (just not for photos or blades lol). But in any case, I’m happy, they are happy and it’s all over for now.

    Perhaps this weekend I will try again for the photos….

    Thanks Consumerist.”

    .
    .
    .
    good lord, how much time and energy have you spent, on being inconvenienced for what amounts to about an hour out of your life? how much time have you spent on writing to consumerist, talking to cvs damage cont… err, public relations, stirring it up to friends/family/neighbors/colleagues/etc., and of course your time actually spent at cvs?

    look i get cvs tends to suck ass, i know since i go there once in a while, but if your experience was so horrible, then follow these four steps…

    (1) scream at the top of your lungs for the manager and have it out right then and there. trust me, screaming customers tend to get the attention of hiding managers.

    (2) don’t shop at cvs anymore (ie: don’t give them your money). it’s the only power you truly hold as a consumer, so use it.

    (3) have a martini and bitch about how shitty cvs is to your bar tender for 10 mins.

    (4) move on.

  35. Imaginary_Friend says:

    @royal72: As enticing as those ideas sound, royal, they aren’t going to solve the problems. We want these companies to get it through their thick corporate skulls that we are sick of being treated like crap and having to pay for the privilege. If they can’t operate a business where good customer service and mutual respect are The Rule and not The Exception, then they deserve to be publicly humiliated so that other unwary buyers will know not to shop there (if possible).

    If that isn’t possible, then they need to stop merging with all of the smaller, more decent companies and just get the hell out of our neighborhoods.

  36. royal72 says:

    @Imaginary_Friend: i have no problem with calling out these jackass companies, hence forth i read the consumerist. yet the simple fact remains, this will keep happening and they “will take very seriously” whatever your problem is. they will do just enough to placate the situation, so you keep giving them your money.

    in the meantime you’ve spent your whole day and a lot of energy on something trivial in the grand scheme of things, that will happen again and again. i can think of about a million things better to do with that time and energy. so my point is that we as consumers, need to figure out a better solution that will affect permanent change and one that we can enforce individually (ie: stop giving them your money).

    ps. lol, ben and staff would probably not be very happy if this type of stuff ever did get resolved, because then they’d need new jobs.

    pss. i have a new version of the catch phrase “we take this matter very seriously”, how about “bureaucratic consumer placation”.

  37. Imaginary_Friend says:

    @royal72: Good point, and I agree with you for the most part. I’ve got other things to do with my time and plenty of shopping choices (within walking distance too — lucky me!). I can and do vote with my wallet, but for others who don’t or can’t or are just plain fed up, I support their desire to get the word out on the Consumerist and other sites 100%.

    It might not seem like it’s doing any good, but if that were true, then why are there so many PR flacks trolling these types of sites? Obviously the negative publicity does have an effect or else these companies wouldn’t bother trying to placate squeaky wheels like Rachael. If mistreated customers make a loud enough noise, eventually all of that negative press is going to hit these companies where it hurts — both from a consumer standpoint and an investor one as well. It might not happen overnight, but it will happen.

    Keep on ranting, Consumerist readers! I’ve got your back ;)

  38. metaled says:

    On the subject of CVS lockup of some items. Yesterday, My son was due to fly to San Francisco with his aunt and cousin (this morning) and he had a serious ear infection. The doctor prescribed antibiotics and told us to give him sudafed before the flight or he would be in some real pain. We stopped at our bank on the way home and then the CVS in the shopping complex with our bank. My wife asked for the Sudafed, got the request to show ID like we had expected. The pharmacist told us to hold on, she had to get permission to sell us the Sudafed. The manager came over and she asked him if it was OK to sell us the 1 box/10 doses, since we lived in Encino, (less than) two miles away from this Reseda Store (Calif.)! WOW!
    Thank god we bought it here instead of having him try to buy it several hundred miles away! What do people from other states or countries do when they go to CVS that is not the one that shares their ID’s zipcode? I could understand it if we were 16 year old kids buying 20 boxes of the stuff at all the stores, but when a 40+ year old couple with a child buy ONE box, have to get permission since there is a store closer to their home? That is manager/store policy going a little too far!

  39. dazzlezak says:

    “Sorry CVS, if your reading this, your So Cal stores suck. Please shut them down and let walgreens come in or something.”@socalrob:

    You only think that CVS sucks because you haven’t had a Walgreens to “shop” at like when you are sick and they are the only 24 hour pharmacy and they won’t fill your scrip in less than 2 hours (and you are coughing your head off).

    If CVS is a C or C-, then Walgreens is a D- at best.

    Hopefully they both get their act together before the burn in corporate hell.

  40. thequietone says:

    (from metaled)but when a 40+ year old couple with a child buy ONE box, have to get permission since there is a store closer to their home? That is manager/store policy going a little too far!..

    It doesnt matter how old you are, what race, gender, whatever. Anytime you buy sudafed now-a-days it has to be logged in a book according to the government. Now this pharmacist probably doesnt cashier too often because they have other important tasks to attend to so he probably doesnt know the procedures he has to follow in order to sell sudafed. Now the store I go to sells there sudafed products at the front of the store

  41. Oisian says:

    I’ve worked for Walgreens and CVS and in hospital pharmacies and I can see why people get so frustrated. I personally hated the whole ‘doyouhaveacvscard’ crap that we had to add on to all the stuff we legally have to ask anyway. Walgreens at least pays their Nationally Certified Techs a decent wage…CVS could care less. For 6 months they couldn’t manage to get my direct deposit into my bank account, payday is Friday, I worked second shift..therefore no pay until at least Monday…until my cheque cleared. Then I got 50 cents more an hour and they didn’t give it to me until 4 months later and wouldn’t retro it. In the meantime I got another 50 cent raise and then a $2.00 raise for further training and responsibilities…I still haven’t seen either of those…after working for them for a year, and still being on my original minimum tech wage start off, I quit. There’s no way I will see that money now.
    I now have a corporate job for an insurance company who treat you like real human beings. As for the Sudafed issue..every employee had to pass a training course for compliance and they ALL know how to process the sale. We have never been told to refuse a sale due to distance from home, what the heck would people visiting relatives do?..that’s ridiculous.
    Basically the rule of thumb is ‘pay peanuts and you get monkeys’…go to hospital pharmacies for your meds, they are less retail oriented.