Sep 212004

I had an interesting beginning to the week. Apparently I was the victim of a spider bite Sunday. I had gathered up a load of laundry to put in the washing machine. I felt a prickly sensation like one gets when messing around with fiberglass.

I didn’t think much of it, but did to continue to feel like the fiberglass thread might still be there…Not too unusual. Later that day though, I had a small red place, and put some cordisone cream on it to stop the continued itching. By the time I went to bed that night, I had a small red spot about the size of a dime.

When I got up Monday morning, my small red spot had turned into a half-dollar sized welt, and as the morning moved along, so did the size of the welt, until by 11:00 a.m. (when I finally called for a Doctor’s appointment) a silver dollar would not have covered it. The doctor told me it was most likely a spider bite. He said last year he treated a ton of ant bites, but this year it had been spider bites.

He prescribed an antibiotic and a steroid, and because the welt was continuing to grow, told me to be sure to get them filled right away, and to start the medication.

Sounds simple, until Walgreen got involved. I dropped the prescriptions at a Walgreen Pharmacy near the house. I do a lot of business at this store.?In fact, due the events I’m about to?describe, I later ran a report later from Quicken, and learned that I have recorded just over $4,000 in spending there in the past several years. Combine that with the?prescriptions I’ve had paid for by insurance (I just payed the co-pay), and the times I have used cash, and I expect I’ve spent upwards $6-7k at this store.

After a couple of hours, I received a call from their automated system telling me they had delayed filling my prescription, and would contact me when it was filled. I waited a few more hours (with the welt still growing), and asked when they intended to fill the prescription. The lady, who barely spoke english, explained it would be the next afternoon. I explained the situation and the doctor’s instructions, and they agreed to call other Walgreens in the area.

After a bit, I got a call back from the pharmacist saying that their Westshore location had the required medication, and did I want to have it filled there. Of course I said yes, and asked that she tell them I’d be by in approximately 30 minutes to pick it up. As I was pulling out of my drive, I got a call from the automated system saying that my prescription was ready at the Dale Mabry location (the original Walgreen I’d used). I quickly realized that most likely, they had gone ahead and filled the one they could, sending the other to Westshore store. I really could not believe they would do that.

I arrived at the Dale Mabry store, got the prescription and explained to the pharmacist how I thought it was frankly "dumb" to think I’d want to go to two places to get my prescriptions. I asked to see the store manager. The Pharmacists had to page her twice, and then I had to go find Ms. Schuman. Ms. Schuman first began to explain that they couldn’t just move my prescriptions en masse to another store without my permission. I explained I didn’t want any of them moved, I just needed these two filled in a timely way this way, and that I realized, as she was explainnig, most people could wait a day, but that was why I had called. I could not wait a day.

I told was I was not satisfied with their attention to good customer service, and that I was a regular customer and expected better service and consideration from them. She then proceeded to do what ever "customer service" does….rather than accept responsibility for a mistake and apologize for the inconvenience, she proceeded to apologize for how I felt. The old, "I’m sorry you feel that way game."

Have you?ever noticed how often people in customer service roles tell you this? Think about it next time someone in one of these roles gives you what you believe to be an apology. Is it really? Saying they are sorry for how you feel is really a way of making you think you’ve gotten an apology, when, in fact, they are not really apologizing for the problem, inconvenience, or mistake they made or caused. Its a quick way of taking their company off the hook, and getting you off the phone.

I called Ms. Schuman’s hand on this one. I told her how I didn’t believe it was her place to apologize for my feelings…that what I expected was an apology for the inconvenience they’d caused. At that point, instead of an apology, she said, "Fine, then you have a nice day," and walked off.

Those of you that know me, know I’m not about to let that go. So, I asked for the name of district pharmacy manager. I was given a name, called their offices the next day, and was given a different name. I left a message for that person, but didn’t receive a call back. I called again, and this time asked for the next level. This time I was given a name for the next level, but told that person was on vacation. I asked for the next level, which was at their corporate office. When I called there, I learned the name I’d been given for the District person was not accurate.

I have subsequently talked to correct (at least that’s what she claimed) district pharmacy manager, a Jackie Donovan, and she has also promised to have Mr. Charles Bernard call me. In theory, he’s the general manager for the District…but at this point, who knows. Its like a used car lot around there. I think they just have each other pretend to be the manager.

They have now lost a good long-term customer, when all that had to happen to save the relationship was for the store manager to simply, "I’m sorry for the inconvenience was caused you, and I promise to discuss it with the pharmacy people, and we’ll try not to do this again." I guess that simple sentence isn’t worth the $6,000+ I’ve already spent there, or the thousands I would have spent there in the future.

Mainly, I know I’m no longer accepting the lame excuse for an apology, where companies train their people to say, "I’m sorry you feel that way, " instead of, "I’m sorry we screwed up."

Oh, and the spider bite is already back down to a small dime-sized red spot, so I guess I won’t have it amputated.

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