Sticks and Stones (Walgreens Bitch Incident)

To make an incredibly long story short… let me ask you this:

What would you do if a call taker called your wife/mother/daughter/etc a bitch?

While you think about that, here’s a clip of Yeni talking to Valentin from Walgreens:

No audio? No problem… here’s a quick transcript:

WALGREENS: Before I connect you, is there anything else I can assist you with?

YENI: No. Thank you.

WALGREENS: Yeah… bitch.

I haven’t posted the full call, but I’ll summarize. Basically, Yeni went to Walgreens. The pharmacist incorrectly switched the order. Yeni called to find out what to do. The call taker wouldn’t let her talk to a pharmacist. She then asked to talk to a manager… he called her a bitch… and then transferred her to a Pharmacist.

Yeni, as expected, did not like being called a bitch.

Now… what do you do about it?

As a business owner, I don’t want to hold the company responsible for the actions of a single employee. Instead, I want to let the company know about the incident and give them an opportunity to keep our business.

About an hour after the call, I called Walgreens to file a complaint. The short story… they didn’t take one. I even told the “supervisor” I was talking with that I felt my call was simply being brushed aside and did not feel “good” about the incident. The supervisor told me something along the lines of “I’m sorry you feel that way.”

Strike One

The next day I called the corporate office. The initial call taker was very upset about the complaint, assured me that the complaint would be investigated, and that I would receive a follow-up.

I called back two days later and was told that I hadn’t given Walgreens enough time to investigate this issue. The next business day I received a call from a Walgreens Executive Response Specialist advising that they did not have a recording of the call.

Strike Two

Backstory… with our phone system here, we record calls. It’s a great thing. With Florida law, once you tell someone that the call can be recorded… you can record the call. So, on outbound calls (such as to Walgreens), when their announcement says “this call may be recorded” — we record it.

I offered the Response Specialist my copy of the call. She seemed a little shocked that I had one, but said that she would absolutely love to have the call and was genuinely thankful for my offer.

I waited another business day… and called the specialist, again, to get an update. It had now been a week. I was told that the behavior of the call taker (named Valentin) was not something that Walgreens strives for and that Valentin’s supervisor would be forwarded the complaint with a recommendation for discipline.

The specialist thanked me for my time, apologized to me, and told me to “be well.”

Walgreens never offered to apologize to my wife.

I wanted Yeni to receive an apology — a truly, sincere apology. To me an apology accepts responsibility and asks for forgiveness. “I’m sorry” is just words. A true apology takes thought and demonstrates sincerity. Something like, “It is very upsetting to me that someone on our staff called you a horrible name. This is not inline with our principles and beliefs and is unacceptable. Although I cannot take away what we’ve done, I truly apologize for our actions and hope you will give us the opportunity to prove to you that this was an exception.”

Instead, we received a “recommendation for discipline.”

I figured I would try one last time and reached out to Walgreens PR department. The quick version… they were too busy to talk to customers but took down my name and number.

The specialist called me about an hour later reminding me that she was the one helping me. I assume that the PR department called the specialist… who knows. I told the specialist that I wasn’t thrilled. My wife deserves an apology — a real apology.

I was told they would send us one.

Today marked two weeks. I reached out with an email asking about the apology… I was told they had sent it via US Mail and I should be patient. I was also offered a $25.00 gift card.

Strike Three

I turned down the gift card. I’m not sure what the price is for calling someone a bitch. I certainly don’t want to be in that business.

Looks like we’re looking for a new pharmacy. Any recommendations?

Read the update.


teacherpatti 2014-06-18 Reply

The word “bitch” (as used against women) is so ubiquitous that I doubt they took this very seriously. And hell, even women can’t seem to agree…half of us would say “aw, no big deal”. (Contrast this with Jews…if someone called one of us a “kike”, I can say with confidence that most of us would rise up and be like, “Uh, no.”). It saddens me greatly.

Trish Everitt 2014-06-19 Reply

Fred and Yeni, I am sorry that you experienced this and that a corporation was not big enough to do the right thing, period. There clearly is not much to discuss when there is proof. The truly sad big picture is they are not alone in the corporate world and the positive thing is that small business owners, such as yourselves, always prevail in this area. Chin up, screw them and post your story to every outlet you can.

Charles Krimm 2014-06-20 Reply

Once when traveling on business, we got a hotel room and there were cockroaches in the room. We collected several and then when checking out went to the desk and asked if there was any charge for the roaches and placed them on the counter. We were not satisfied with the distain we got from the employees, and so wrote a letter to the company to inform them of our displeasure. They wrote a beautiful letter telling us how sorry they were for the problem.
When the secretary mailed it to us she forgot [maybe not] to remove the memo from her boss which remained attached to the letter. The memo read “send these sob’s the bug letter!!!” Need less to say we returned the letter and memo to them pointing out their rudness. We never heard from them again. We as a copmpany then stopped all business with them.

Point being do not let the company off the hook for their employees. Walgreen’s is completely sub-standard as a pharmacy, and they can really care less.

Michael Graves 2014-06-20 Reply

The pity if that, as in many other areas of business, the larger chains like Walgreens and CVS has pushed aside the local mom & pop pharmacies. It’s just another view of the Wal-Martization of America. Wal-Mart hasn’t seen a dollar from me in 13 years.

The situation with pharmacies is a little better. There still seem to be local shops, although they don’t have the deals on household goods. They tend to me more about what the pharmacists do best. For the household goods there’s always Target or the local supermarket.

All my best to your lovely wife!

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