About a year ago, I wrote a piece lamenting the closing of a local pharmacy, following its having been gobbled up by a huge “drug store” chain. From that point on, I would have to have my prescriptions filled by one of the huge pharmacy chain stores that I did not mention at the time.
Well, now itâ€™s time to mention it. It was Rite Aid.
My experience over the last year with Rite Aid has been less than satisfactory. On more than one occasion, I was told that the store was â€œout ofâ€ the prescribed medication. This is a store that has more than 100 kinds of shampoo, but they are out of the medicine I needed? (It was not some obscure medicine used to treat rare disease. It was more like a deli running out of cheese.)
On other occasions, I had to patiently wait while the pharmacist struggled to find me in the storeâ€™s mammoth database. This, of course, required me to give my name, address and phone number a half dozen times.
In addition, there are the â€œBig Store Rules.â€ According to the Rules, one has to drop a prescription off at one counter (the â€œDrop Off Counterâ€) and pick up a prescription at another counter (the â€œPick Up Counter), which is about fifteen paces away.
One time, before I was aware of the â€œBig Store Rules,â€ I walked up to the Pick Up Counter and said to the lone pharmacist (a young woman who appeared to have graduated from pharmacy school earlier that day) and said that I wanted to have a prescription filled. When I tried to hand her the prescription, she told me that I had to go to the other counter (i.e. the Drop Off Counter). Mind you, there was no one else either dropping off or picking up prescriptions. So, I walked fifteen paces to my right, and she walked fifteen paces to her left so that we could meet at the “Drop Off Counter”. Then and only then would she accept the prescription. This could have been a Monty Python skit.
Today may have been the clincher.
Before proceeding to work this morning, I was at the doctorâ€™s office for regular visit. At the conclusion of the visit, I received a prescription. The Docâ€™s office graciously offered to call the prescription in to the pharmacy so that I could go directly to work from the office and pick up the prescription at the end of the day. Great idea.
After work, I proceeded to the gigantic Rite Aid pharmacy to pick up my prescription. Knowing the Big Store Rules, I walked smartly up to the â€œPick Up Counter.â€ I told the teen-aged looking pharmacist that I was there to pick up a prescription that had been called in by Doctor So and So earlier that day. She proceeded to the alphabetical bins in which the finished prescriptions are placed. I could see that the bin that bore the first letter of my last name contained only one white bag. I knew that there was trouble when the child-pharmacist picked up the lone white bag, examined it and then went to speak with the other pharmacist, who must have been at least six months older.
Pharmacist Number Two looked at the same bag (as if the name on the bag had changed in the interim) and then asked me, â€œYou said that your doctor called this in?â€ I replied in the affirmative. The kiddy-pharmacist then asked, â€œWhen?â€
I replied, â€œapproximately 9 oâ€™clock this morning.â€
Ms. Cabbage Patch Kid Pharmacist inquired, â€œAre you sure?â€
I replied that I was quite sure. (I know this to be true because the person in the Docâ€™s office who actually called the prescription in is a friend of mine — one of the Usual Suspects who happens to work in the Docâ€™s office.)
â€œWhat is the prescription for?â€ she asked, expecting, I assume, that I would tell her something like, â€œThemâ€™s the pills for my epizoodic.â€ I fooled her by giving her the name of the drug and the dosage.
Then we did the name, address, and telephone thing.
She clicked away on the computer and finally turned in my direction and said, â€œI have bad news.â€
I was wondering what kind of bad news pharmacists are called upon to deliver, when I asked, â€œWhat is the problem?â€
The barely post-pubescent pharmacist said, â€œThey called the prescription in to the other store.â€ (That would be the other gargantuan Rite Aid store on the other side of town.)
I really didnâ€™t feel like driving to the other side of town during the rush hour, so I asked â€Can you fill the prescription here?â€ It seemed like a no-brainer to me. Hell, itâ€™s the same chain, and both stores have all my information in the same database.
â€œWell, sir. Youâ€™ll have to wait, and it will take a lot of time, because we have to call over to the other store and have them cancel the prescription and then we would have to fill it here. By the time we do all that you could drive across town to pick up the prescription.â€
I grumbled, â€œAre you serious?â€
â€œYes sir, the other store already â€˜billed outâ€™ the prescription, and all that has to be canceled. It takes lots of time.â€ Obviously, she did not want to be bothered, even though there were no other customers at either of the counters.
When it was clear that I was schnitzled, I turned to go. At that moment, the teeny-bopper pharmacist said, â€œOh, and when you are ready to have this refilled, you should call over to the other store and ask them to transfer the prescription to this store, and we will be able to take care of the refill.â€
I thought as I plodded out of Rite Aid Number One to my car so that I could drive to Rite Aid Number Two to pick up my Rite Aid prescription, â€œWhat? I should call to the other store and arrange to transfer my prescription? How screwed up is that? Isnâ€™t this something that Rite Aid can and should take care of?â€
I guess it hasnâ€™t occurred to the dipshits at Rite Aid that I am the customer and not one of the blue smocked schmucks who work in the shampoo palace that masquerades as a pharmacy.
None of this ever happened to me when Mr. Nestor and his daughter ran the real drug store in town â€“ the one that vanished about a year ago.