Friday, January 6, 2012

Lost in Translation

Last night I stopped by CVS to pick up a prescription.  Since I live in South Florida, which has a high population of Spanish speaking folks, CVS has moved to employing bilingual folks in the pharmacy department.  While this makes perfect sense, some of these folks actually don't speak English very well.

The pharmacy tech gave me the prescription and then asked me for my card.  I was perplexed since under our insurance plan I thought my prescription would cost $0.00.  But, since it is a new year and health benefits change from year to year I was not overly surprised that what was $0.00 in 2011 might have a charge in 2012.  I gave her my debit card and she said "no, no, card" and returned my debit card.  I asked, do you need my insurance card (we have not received new 2012 insurance cards yet)?  She responded, "no, no" and walked away and returned holding up a red CVS savings card.  Now, as an aside I don't use those savings cards as I don't like corporate America tracking my every purchase.  I do know folks who use them and get good discounts but use a fake name or their dog's name (and I actually have a savings card in Snarfle's name which I have used for his medications from time to time, since not covered by our insurance) so I need to look into that.  I told her I didn't have a CVS savings card and asked what my total was?  Her response, there was no charge for the prescription.  So my follow up question was, what savings would I get by using the CVS savings card on a $0.00 transaction?  Her response, no savings.

I left wondering about the point of all that back and forth.  I'm sure the pharmacy tech is required to ask each and every customer for their CVS savings card so I don't hold her responsible.  But, what should have been a one (1) minute transaction turned into a five (5) minute transaction.  I was frustrated both because I did not understand what she was asking for and, when I did finally understand, what the point was.  CVS is losing money because the employee is wasting time on pointless banter and I'm, as the customer, left with a negative impression.

If a pharmacy transaction is $0.00 there should be no request for a CVS savings card  Since, logic would dictate, there is no opportunity for savings.


Frugal Coconut said...

Those who already having a CVS savings card probably won't mind presenting it because they obviously don't care about being tracked in the first place. It's just an extra step in the Rx pickup process to which they've already become accustomed.

CVS has incentive to track all purchases ... forgoing the $0.00 ones would skew the numbers and eliminate an aspect of customer behavior that they would otherwise be able to monitor. For example, CVS would want to know if its customers go there for $0.00 prescriptions and maybe pick up a couple of other items at the same time (or on another unrelated trip because CVS is familiar or top-of-mind) which works favorably toward profit margins.

Also it is entirely possible that some customers may experience enhanced goodwill toward CVS due to the fact that, after presenting their CVS savings card and being told that their prescription would cost $0.00, they mistakenly believe that it's actually CVS that brought the price down to zero rather than the insurance plan itself.

Not defending them ... just throwing out some ideas on how things may look from the other side of the fence. :)

Sam said...

Thanks for the different perspective FC.

I should have also mentioned that I was in the drive-thru so no chance that I would add to my RX pick up. Also, should have mentioned that it was the first time I was asked at the drive-thru for the CVS savings card.

Anonymous said...

I found it interesting that you get your (or certain) prescriptions for free but I recall you saying you don't get a 401k match from your employer. Does your employee have you pay part of your health care premiums with payroll deduction? I don't pay a premium (I hear that changes for 2013) but pay a deductible and percent when I use services or Rx. But I do get a 75% 401k match on the first 8%.

Sam said...

Hey Anon, this RX is free because I'm insured under Mr. Sam's plan which is much better than mine.