life in a pharmacy Archives - I Hate Working In Retail


Why CVS Employees Hate Working For CVS

One Thing I’ve Learned About CVS Employees. They Really Seem To Hate CVS.

I mean really hate CVS. Every company has its disgruntled and malcontents, and I’ve found those types can be useful ones to seek out when I’m writing about drugstore shenanigans. But man, every time I put out a call for people willing to give me the skinny on these guys, I am inundated with volunteers. No other company even comes close.

And now, I don’t even have to go seeking. This email from a CVS employee showed up completely unsolicited. I know every company has executives that like to play business hardball, but it’s becoming clear that this company is distinguishing itself in an industry that seems to take pride in treating its employees like shit.

Of course I could be wrong. Having given space to this employee, I’ll happily give more to anyone who would like to pen a rebuttal. Anyone who’s itching to tell the world all the great things CVS is doing to advance the profession, or even just how they aren’t as bad as the other guys.

The offer is open. There’s an email link to the right of this page where it says “tell me what you think”

Without further delay, from a CVS employee. Complete and unedited.

I open this post with a quote from Hunter S. Thompson:

“In a closed society where everyone is guilty, the only crime is getting caught. In a world of thieves, the only final sin is stupidity.”

Why do I quote Thompson when talking about CVS, or indeed any Corporate Pharmacy? Because we live in a culture that silently condones cheating and fudging to make the numbers look good. If you work in retail, you know what “The Numbers” are. If you don’t, I won’t waste time explaining it. If you google “Triple S” or “Key Pharmacy Metrics” you’ll get it. Let me get to the heart of what’s wrong with CVS’s culture of numbers:

If a store is not selling enough scripts (notice I didn’t say filling), getting high enough ratings on the Triple S/KPM, or their inventory is out of whack in any way – they get endless hassles from district. This forces stores to do whatever necessary to make themselves look good. Refilling scripts without asking patients, filling dubious CII scripts to make their script budgets so they can maintain staff levels, and literally stealing receipts to boost their customer survey scores. This sort of thing is ignored by the higher ups because it boosts the district’s numbers, until someone blows the whistle. I’ve seen Pharmacists fired not because they were cheating at the scores, but because they slipped and forgot to cheat one month and made it far too obvious that they were doing so.

Notice that it wasn’t a manager or district supervisor who called attention to the CVS stores in Sanford, FL who were filling ridiculous scripts for Oxycodone and other narcotics from pill mill doctors. They were tickled pink and the gobs of money that were coming out of these stores. If a technician hadn’t blown the whistle and called attention to what was going on, it would still be happening and those stores would still be the most profitable ones in the area. Once it was out, CVS immediately sent emails to every store with instructions that no one at any level talks to the press. CVS associates are to forward all requests to some yahoo in the corporate PR office (Head of Media Relations or some such nonsense). Everytime we see that email, we know that something’s gone wrong again for CVS somewhere in the country. We’ve seen that email more in the past 4 months than in the previous 2 or 3 years combined. The CEO and everyone high up in management said the same thing, “It was irresponsible of these people to accept these dubious scripts and to keep filling them. They did so in contravention of CVS policy.” Policy that was quickly changed from “Fill the scripts, or you’re fired!” to “We stand behind you. Don’t fill scripts that you think are improper or outside the standard of care.” shortly after this story hit the airwaves.

Pharmacists used to be able to simply wave these people off by saying that it was out of stock, but now that’s been abolished too. The policy changed again, “You can only say you’re out of stock if you are legitimately out of stock. Otherwise you have to explain to the customer that you cannot verify the script and will not be filling it because in your professional opinion…” et cetera. Why? We were never given a real reason. My theory is that it’s a way of ensuring that these people end up at our competition rather than another CVS. Maybe it’s some sort of reverse Honeypot trap, trying to get Walgreens or Rite-Aid to fill a pill mill script and get them nailed to the wall instead.

Going back to that earlier point, about people being fired for not filling scripts they thought were bogus? Not an exaggeration. Customers would complain to corporate and demand the Pharmacist give a full explanation why they would not fill the script. These dressing down sessions would end in a filled prescription for the patient and a gift card for their inconvenience.

The culture of numbers is to blame for the CVS stores in Sanford filling those bogus scripts. That culture is also responsible for CVS’s outside vendor of scripts Cardinal Health losing the DEA license at their Lakeland warehouse for providing those stores with the narcotics. Now CVS has to appeal and fight to have those stores’ DEA licenses restored. At the same time they’re fighting to fix these two stores, they’re going to close two completely legitimate stores in other locations that do good business for their communities.

It sucks to work for a company with such a warped sense of priorities, but what can you expect from a retail company that sees pharmacy only as a way to make money? A store doesn’t make it’s RX Script budget by filling scripts, but only by ringing them through the register. ‘Did you fill 4500 scripts this week, while lacking two technicians? Well, you only rang 1950, so we’re cutting your hours again. You’ll have to let someone go. What’s that? You won’t be able to cope with the extra workload? I’m sure you can go somewhere else then and we’ll get someone who can, and boost your store’s Triple S at the same time. Bye!’

It’s disgusting, and we’re stuck with it.

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10 Last-Minute Valentine’s Day Gifts You Can Get At The Drugstore

Sometimes, Valentine’s Day is the last thing on our minds, and buying a Valentine’s Day gift at the last minute becomes kind of inevitable. February in general is such a crappy month, between the unpredictable weather and the fact that you’re still waiting to organize all of your tax forms, praying that you’ll actually get something back and not have to owe a thousand dollars. (I’m sure it’s easy to figure out your taxes, but I’m not a math person, and it’s always kind of a big surprise to me as to how those numbers and columns add up. All I’m focused on is paying by April and not going to jail. That’s what happens, right?)

Thankfully, I’ve been in a happy marriage since the tail end of 2012. What that means is, I know what to expect for Valentine’s Day. “Flowers and a card,” I ask my husband every year. I don’t care where the flowers even came from — it could be a grocery store, a fancy florist, or half dead from someone’s cold garden for all I care. I just like flowers. However, years past have been a little bit more confusing. For those of you who started a brand new relationship in January, starting the conversation about Valentine’s Day expectations can be a little worrisome. I mean, what if you buy him a new sweater, and he gives you a high five?

This is why we should be glad that drugstores exist. Besides, you know, being a handy way to get that anxiety medication you need after analyzing what might go wrong on Valentine’s Day, it also offers a few good mid-level selections that can help either you or your fresh new significant other prove that you remembered this special day of love.

That’s why I’m here, dear reader. I searched through all of the seasonal aisles at my local Walgreens like a creepy weirdo/possible shoplifter in order to find you the best Valentine’s Day gifts you can buy for your loved one this year.

1. The Not-Too-Obvious Stuffed Animal

I don’t know what it is about this lion, but I love him. Like, I want to cuddle this thing all day. And I can! Know why? Because his arms aren’t sewn onto some gigantic heart made of poor material that says something like “HOT STUFF” on it. Even at the age of 31, I can still appreciate a good stuffed animal.

2. Cards, Obviously

You don’t need to step into a Hallmark store to get a decent card. Most drugstores have a pretty up-to-date selection, and you should be able to find something that speaks to you. I mean, from the standard Peanuts card to the lovey dovey romantic cards with a lot of words in script, you can’t really go wrong.

Also, they have cards that play music. I bought my husband one last year, completely by accident. Don’t even ask how my weak hands failed to open the card to its full capacity while at the store, since that’s a mystery I’m still trying to solve to this day. Thankfully the song wasn’t the worst.

3. Mustache Box Of Chocolates

There’s one thing that we, as a nation, have accomplished in the last few years. We’ve finally been able to openly honor the mustache. Men my age strive to look like cartoon villains who tie poor women onto railroad tracks while deviously twirling their follicles, and rightfully look up to Nick Offerman as a hero for his amazing facial hair.

Also, mustaches are funny. Anything which acknowledges the hilarity of a ‘stache is immediately great as is, even if it doesn’t include delicious chocolate inside.

4. The Hello Kitty Crazy Straw Cup

You guys won’t be able to tell, but it lights up if you press the bottom of it. I tried it out in the store, and then awkwardly walked away the second a fellow customer gave me a strange glance. Why didn’t I take a video?! Even worse, why didn’t I just buy one for myself? I do admit, I was massively tempted.

Regardless of your age, the crazy straw is an amazing thing to have in the house. We all need to drink water to survive, so why can’t we do it in a way that boosts up your daily morale? Guys, this gift is perfect for the Lorelai Gilmore-esque girl in your life, who’ll never think that Sanrio items and accessories aren’t adorable.

5. Gift Certificates

Yeah, sure. They might be a little impersonal. But you know what? If you’re suave enough, you can make it work.

Use this prompt I just made up, and feelings won’t be crushed: “Hey, baby. I know you like movies. And I know AMC is your favorite theater chain within a 20-mile radius. This gift certificate is a promise to see a movie together on a super romantic date. Popcorn is on me. And by me, I mean we’ll use this sexy, totally planned gift card to pay for it.”

6. Non-Alcoholic Wine

So, I live in Pennsylvania. And in Pennsylvania, we have super strict rules about how and where you can buy alcohol. Currently, even getting a six pack of beer is difficult. You can’t get wine and beer at the same place. When my husband and I went to California for our honeymoon, we bought wine at CVS just because we could.

That’s why I was quick to notice these random bottles hanging out at Walgreens, probably waiting for some under-aged kid to buy it without reading the bottle first. Is this a great gift? Eh, probably not great. But if your loved one also lives in Pennsylvania and doesn’t drink, it’s definitely a sweet gesture to have something “fancier” than soda to drink while watching TV together and holding hands.
(By the way, that’s like, the ideal Valentine’s Day date to me.)

7. These Lionel Richie-Inspired Cheesecake Treats

I’m a sucker for packaging. Since we last talked about wine, I’d easily buy the bottle with the hilarious label that ends up tasting like Sweet Tarts and hand sanitizer over something that’s classy, yet kind of uninspired design-wise. This is why I love these milk chocolate treats. If you haven’t seen the video for Lionel Richie’s “Hello,” you’re missing out. Two words: Clay Bust.

8. Other Candy

The candy at Walgreens isn’t just there for the purpose of being sneaked into a movie theater via gigantic purse. Even though these candies weren’t “seasonal aisle appropriate,” it doesn’t mean that they won’t be thoroughly enjoyed. I mean, it doesn’t have to come in a heart-shaped paper tin to be a stellar gift.

Seriously, this might be your only chance this year to buy your boyfriend 20 packs of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups without looking weird. Trust me, he’ll love you for it.

9. A Decorative Tin

This one requires a “Step 2.” What will you put in your love tin? Twenty packs of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups? A gift card to AMC? Clues to a romantic yet sadly disappointing love-themed treasure hunt? A coupon for a free hug? The world is yours with this tin.

If you want my honest advice, I think a few homemade cookies would fit quite nicely in there. Cookies fit nicely everywhere — tins, stomachs, hands, and more!

10. Someecards Chocolate Heart

If your romantic partner litters their Facebook wall with Someecards to the point where you’ve actually considered breaking up with them, this is the perfect way to show them how much you care. He’ll see it, laugh, say “this is SO me!” post a picture on Instagram, and probably get a couple obligatory likes. Just let him enjoy the chocolate before getting snarly with the comeback of, “they’re so everyone, Troy! Everyone can relate to them!”

I mean, you kind of knew what you were getting into when buying this, right?

Images: Mike Mozart/Flickr, Karen Belz (10)


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