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April 20, 2008 / David Lindner

Lessons from Wal-mart

We’ve decided to use a different pharmacy. Since we switched insurance agencies, we had been trying out Wal-mart’s pharmacy. We’d heard about the 4 dollar prescriptions and thought it would be worth a try if we only had to pay 4 dollars for a prescription.

Well we never did get the 4 dollar prescription just like we never got customer service. On three different occasions I was told a prescription would be ready in 30 to 45 minutes. We’d go back and after an hour, and the prescription would still not be ready. I decided to sit and wait, I wouldn’t have decided that had I known it would have been another hour. There were never any complications, only poor service.

On one occasion, I had asked to be notified as soon as the prescription was ready and they wrote down my name on a list. I checked in every 20 minutes, to see if it was ready. After an hour another lady came to the counter, and I asked her, at which point she went over to the rack, checked and pulled it off the shelf. They had put it on the shelf where they put prescriptions that have been filled for a while instead of on the shelf of people waiting! I waisted an hour waiting on a prescription for my sick, pregnant wife that would help her feel infinitely better because of poor customer service and incompetence.

On another occasion, I observed a disgruntled customer express her frustration to the pharmacist after having waited two hours for a prescription to be filled. Instead of diffusing the situation – like a leader would do – his response escalated the situation. He responded by telling her how many prescriptions he’d filled that day.

If they had told me that it would take an hour for the prescription to be filled, or even two hours, that would have been fine, and I would have come back at the appropriate time. But they have decided it’s better to lie to people and have them get upset with the pharmacy than it is to tell the truth, and probably keep a few more customers. They’ve completely given up on customer service and taken the government approach to pharmacy, it doesn’t matter how the customer feels , what matters is how Wal-mart comes across.

We won’t be going back to Wal-mart’s pharmacy, not because they’re Wal-mart and we have a problem with them, but because I have a problem with poor customer service. When it comes to customer service, honesty and apology go much further than lies and defense.

Let’s make sure we treat the people who come into our organizations like they’re paying our salaries.

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