Customer service – the bane of everyone!

 Writer’s note: To fully understand this post you may have to live in the US, the land of extremely high drug prices and zero customer service. Proceed at your own risk.

I was alive back when there was real customer service. Department stores had staff in every department to help you find anything. They called other stores for stock and had it transferred over free. They enjoyed helping you!

Woo….those days are gone, gone, gone. The weird part is that I don’t expect it anymore. People who staff stores, medical offices, and any place where you receive services are nice. Many just don’t help you beyond the normal. Maybe they are too busy. Maybe the expectation isn’t there. When you find someone who is willing to search calendars for an appointment that works for you or find something you need not in stock, treasure them. They are rare.

Nothing is worse than health care. Anticipation of a call to my health insurer or (ack!) Medicare fills me with dread. It requires a Starbucks run of epic proportion. Sometime it requires a shoe purchase.

I try to work around it. I “navigate” their websites ad nauseam. That one thing I want isn’t there. Almost everything else is but not what I need. (Oh yes, my password always expires and they never like my new one. That requires a call to web help. Any call requires a 5 minute “cocktail hour” while you are navigating multiple menus that never have the service you need.)

I don’t’ know about your health insurance but mine does not come with coverage for retail therapy as a result of contacting them. In fact it doesn’t come with much coverage at all. I am grateful for the bit that it does cover but almost every medication I’ve been prescribed in the past five years was not on the “covered” list.

Yesterday dawned a new day. I took my new prescription for allergy eye drops (nothing life threatening) to my local drugstore. It was almost $200. For freaking eye drops! For allergies! Seriously?

I didn’t get it. I told them since it wasn’t life threatening, I’d do without.

Goodrx is a website that helps you navigate drug prices. I had done my homework first but I went with hope. (Yes, it’s that same hope I take with me when I get a haircut but I always come out looking like myself!)

My usual drugstore said high price, no generic. But I knew better. I drove to a new pharmacy in the area to price it. The staff inputted my coverage information and came up with the same price but I didn’t have to say anything else. She told me there is a generic for a similar drug. She asked if I would like her to call my doctor to change it.

As I got up from the floor where I had fainted, she executed the whole deal without any work on my part. (Ok, I had to tell her my birthdate three times.)

Now this was customer service. I didn’t have to go home and call my doctor. I didn’t need to do more research on similar drugs (of which I knew nothing about – I didn’t even know I had allergic conjunctivitis until my checkup visit).

So did I thank her? I sure did. I yelled over to the other staff person that she was great. When I picked up the prescription, I told her boss. I wrote it in a review. I’m changing my drugstore listed in all my doctors’ records. I am a fan.

They didn’t do anything illegal to help me. It still wasn’t free but I saved $160. That’s a lot of Starbucks.

By the way, my retail celebration (you knew that was coming didn’t you) was a summer frock and…..yep, a Starbucks mocha latte.

I sure hope I made her day because she made mine.

72 thoughts on “Customer service – the bane of everyone!

  1. Pingback: Customer Service – The bane of everyone – Expect The Exceptional

    • It is. The other eye drop I was prescribed but didn’t fill cost $420 for a month supply. That’s for dry eye which isn’t fatal. We’ll see what happens. My doc is supposed to send a letter of medical necessity but I have no guarantee they will approve. Even if they do the cost will be high. My real sympathies go with people who need life saving drugs but can’t get them or get bankrupted by them.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Sadly, the poor customer service we used to count on in the U.S. has spilled into other places outside that had used the U.S. as a model for service and efficiency. I just don’t think people care anymore. Case in point, I have a cell phone plan in the Philippines that allowed me to send text messages back to the U.S. at a very low price; it was a cheap way to keep in touch with family. One day, they sent a message to me that the system was being upgraded. The day after, I could no longer send an overseas text. Their web site offered no help. Their service people couldn’t explain. The technicians were furiously working on resolving the problem. Nobody had any answers, and yet they said that I still have my plan, because of course my first question was “did the plan change??” Almost two weeks now and still no one knows, though their website seems to have been modified and my plan is no longer offered. You would think that someone would just tell me that. It’s not like I can come through the phone and punch them in the head….

    Liked by 1 person

    • There is a reason they are located in isolated places where we can’t get at them. They probably have more security than presidents because if we could, we would indeed punch them in the head. During this debacle, the first person rep I reached promptly disconnected my call when she found out what I was calling about. Accident? I think not!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. We use Express Scripts for maintenance scrips and for other scrips we USED Target’s pharmacy. Target was no longer on our plan after last September. I was happy to lose them because most of the people acted like they hated their job and that attitude did not help them with customer happiness. Go the extra inch or mile for us… uh, no. Now we are at a pharmacy that is a hospital pharmacy in our kinda big city and I am thrilled with their customer service. And, yes, I have told them often how much I love and appreciate them. I am so happy CVS worked for you. Seems totally crazy to me that we should have to be fighting for what works for us when we are feeling physically or emotionally crummy. You would think people in healthcare would get that!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I often think it’s the specific place with the people employed rather than the corporate name. My old pharmacy used to have a pharmacist that was fabulous and often saved me money. Sadly the new ones don’t have the same concept.

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  4. The kind of copper wire that my daughter and I use to make jewelry is getting more and more difficult to find. We went into our local Joann’s craft store to find that they were selling out the rest of their stock, and only had a couple of spools left. The clerk volunteered to go to another Joann’s, purchase the rest of their stock, then return it at our local store so that we could buy it at the sale price. A few days later we went back to the store and were able to buy four more spools to hold us over until we find someplace else to order it. We are now faithful Joann’s customers. Service definitely makes a difference!

    Liked by 1 person

    • OMG! You definitely won the customer service trophy. That took work and a laying out of money. I don’t know anyone (except a friend or relative) who would have done that! We have a Joann’s too. It tends to staff people who enjoy crafts and sewing and I find them so helpful and willing to share cost saving strategies.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Synchronicity again for me too…but with my phone company, not my pharmacist! I just renewed my phone plan and upgraded my phone. I did this on the mainland so I would have more choice in comparing plans. Good idea, right? Wrong! When I got home (ferry) my phone did not sync to my computer as promised. Not. At. All! I then went to our only local Authorized Apple dealer. Big mistake. No. Help. Whatsoever! I then dropped by our local phone dealer. I had minimal expectations. But truly they were amazing! They fixed everything for free and were incredibly helpful and positive. Like you, I almost fainted! And, I just wrote to the phone company to say how delighted I was with the helpful service. I agree with you and Rita. Customer Service is a lost art. When you find it, it revives the soul!

    Liked by 2 people

    • CS is a real crap shoot. I have yet to figure out if it’s the company/store’s leadership that drives good service or the luck of getting someone interested in helping. I remember buying my first phone many years ago. I walked in a store and was totally flabbergasted. Too many choices. Didn’t know what I wanted or needed. I got a wonderful young woman who lead me through a series of questions and recommended something very economical. It was also red which was the only criteria I came in with.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. CVS was good for me recently. The pharmacist received my prescription and called to ask if I wanted it filled. It was cream for my face and cost $300. When he heard gasping and gagging on the line, he said he’d be glad to call my doctor and ask if she would substitute another. We were all happy. He had provided real customer service, and my doctor was willing to help me. I was thrilled to save $300. Yes, I did save $300. The second prescription was for $200, and I decided people would have to live with my red, rashy face. I’m adroit at avoiding mirrors, so I’m not going to let it bother me.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. 200 bucks for eye drops is insane. Having to shop around for generics is strange too. It helps me understand why health care is such a huge issue to people there.
    I think you should fly over here to go drug shopping – the money you save would probably cover the cost of the flight!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Synchronicity again, Kate. Just last week I filled an Rx for an eye medication, and the ophthalmologist specified that only the brand could be filled. It was $185! I had to ask, but the pharmacy did agree to allow a less expensive generic instead (I haven’t even tried it yet), and thankfully it was only $10. Score! Glad you were able to get yours switched too. BTW, how often do you have to call Medicare? – Marty

    Liked by 1 person

    • Medicare — rarely. Only if I want to find out if something weird is covered. Medicare’s guide (paper book) is large print, easy to read and understand. I had a drug injection administered in the doctor’s office. I didn’t know if it was covered as a procedure or on the drug plan. The Medicare rep didn’t know. I would have to submit it after the fact. The claims examiner would make the decision. It was a $1,500 drug. I wanted to know upfront. As it turns out, it was considered a procedure and covered under part B but I spent at least 6 hours calling both my drug plan and Medicare and never did know for sure until afterward. Both can have long queues. With Medicare, you have the option of having them call you back.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Woohoo!!! So was this a small pharmacy owned by a pharmacist or did you switch from one conglomerate to another? Curious minds wanna know. I hate my new prescription coverage through OptumRX. I liked Caremark. So it’s been a sad year since it changed on January 1.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The other eye drop that the doc would like me to take is $420/month. I don’t have any eye diseases but suffer from dry eye. Standard health coverage offered by businesses is much more comprehensive than Medicare (usually but it depends on what you have). Before someone retires from a job I always tell them to get every done that they need (like joint replacements, etc.) and to fill all of their prescriptions prior to retirement.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I couldn’t believe it when I was prescibed a pain killer by my GP (many years ago and a surgery I well kicked into touch after a set to with a balshy receptionist) that was a mere 20p over the counter. Luckily, my prescriptions are now free as I’m over 60, but even if I wasn’t, my cancer meds would be free.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Some local pharmacies, mostly associated with large grocery chains, give out a small group of drugs free. Most are antibiotics that are the old ones. None of my drugs are free and I’m over 60. An old generic drug has a co-pay of $5 but anything new is expensive. If I get drugs through a procedure, it can be covered under my hospitalization plan. Our medical coverage here is complex. It’s hard to understand and very political.

      Liked by 1 person

      • There are concerns that our NHS will cease in its present form and charges made for GP appointments and consultations. This will put a financial burden on families already stretched. I am thankful I am usually healthy.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I always say that we are one major health catastrophe away from insolvency. I’ve seen so many families have to foot bills for treatments that were either not covered or partially covered. We work on staying healthy. We eat well and stay active. That’s about all you can do.

          Liked by 1 person

  11. This is hilarious if it wasn’t so sad and true. You’re right, customer service is dirty word in most companies, especially on the service or retail side. I don’t know what purpose most people serve in their positions of its not to do the job they are being paid to do. I’ve always believed there is a special place in hell for drug and insurance companies. They believe if they wear you down enough you’ll go away, not bother them and the services you paid for all these years won’t have to be expensed. I feel bad for the elderly those who aren’t computer literate, don’t know how to navigate voice mail, have the ability to check out new pharmacies or understand the complexities of insurance companies. It really does border on criminal at times.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Snorts! We so experienced the lack of customer service yesterday through mom. Shaking my head. Mom learned yesterday that from her recent car accident (which was not her fault but the guy’s insurance that hit her as almost made mom feel that way) will not settle yet. Go ahead ask me why. I’m glad you asked. Because mom’s insurance company is putting in a claim to get reimbursed from where mom had to be seen by the doctor on her own insurance! What the heck is that all about?! XOXO – Bacon

    Liked by 1 person

    • The worst is when you didn’t cause something but you are put through the wringer anyway. I also hate broken promises. Last year I went to a specialist who assured me that I would be able to get a drug at $30 max. Not true. It’s $400. What was he thinking. Oh, he was thinking I had regular insurance (through a business) instead of Medicare with a supplement.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Me too. I can’t believe the first pharmacy which I have used for over 20 years wouldn’t suggest or work with me. There used to be a pharmacist there who offered suggestions on keeping down costs. He’s gone and they no longer do that.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. glad you found the needle in a haystack, the place with customer service… and I thought we live in a service-desert… I wait since 2015 for a tablet-replacement from pooh-laroid and we had to fix our internet connection without help, the question if anybody of france telecom speaks english was answered with: no, call again when you can speak french ;o(

    Liked by 1 person

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