In our survey on customer relations, we asked for your worst customer stories and you delivered.
We received dozens of submissions detailing abuse of every kind—physical, mental, emotional. You were threatened with everything from frozen dinners to guns. Customers blamed you for everything that could possibly go wrong (but more often for things that you did right). You were attacked with personal insults. You had a surprising variety of items thrown at your heads.
In spite of all this, you continue to offer great care to the people that walk up to your counter. Here’s to you the pharmacist: blamed for every mistake—real or imagined—and rarely given the credit you deserve. So enjoy these stories and hope you never have to deal with these people. And when you inevitably do, here are some ideas of how to deal with them.
Up next: Deadly generics?
1. Customer knows best
A customer who was new to us brought in a script for Synthroid that was not marked as brand medically necessary. We filled it with generic, and she paid her copay without saying anything. About an hour later, she came back and accused us of trying to kill her. She was quite loud and was crying and hitting other customers. I dropped everything and came out to stop her assault on the other customers. I got her attention and she accused me of attempted murder. I asked what she meant. She said that her doctor, who had retired years ago, had told her that generic Synthroid would kill her if she took even one dose.
2. Chapstick slapstick
A customer was angry at me because the doctor had not yet ok’d her Prozac. She threw a display of Chapstick that was on the counter at me and the tech. I cried inside, but asked her to leave the pharmacy before I called the police.
3. The pharmacist is mightier than the sword
I had a guy for whom I wouldn’t fill oxycodone eight days early threaten to go get a gun and shoot me and my staff. He then called our district office with the same threat. The police were called. They determined it to be a credible threat and arrested the individual.
I spoke over the phone with an older lady who swore our generics came from Mexico. She hated Mexico, the people, and their medicine. I let her vent and switched her medicine to brand name per her request. She thanked me and then asked for my name. She apologized profusely when, without an accent, I told her my name: José.
5. Happily ever after?
I had a customer who called me a f***ing b**ch because I changed the brand of his lamotrigine and couldn’t immediately fix it and fill the prescription with the old brand. He contacted the board of pharmacy and told them we were using counterfeit drugs, so we had to trace the drug back to the manufacturer through the wholesaler. He finally came back and apologized, stating that he was bipolar and that was one of his bad days. We shook hands and I said let’s start over and he has been pretty nice since then.
6. Childish behavior
Every time this one customer came in, he would complain loudly that he was being overcharged. I checked and he paid the same amount each time. I resolved it by taking him aside and telling him that, evidently, by his actions and his accusations, he was not satisfied with my service. I suggested he find another pharmacy to meet his needs. His grown children came in to speak to me, apologizing for their father’s behavior, and saying they understood my actions. I told them how sorry I was for the situation, but felt this was the best way to resolve this situation.
7. Three strikes
A patient claimed I had shook her insulin up before she left the store. She walked from back of store to her car out front with insulin in bag. When she opened it up in the car it was cloudy. She came back in and threw three bottles of insulin at my head. I called the district manager and got permission to recommend the pharmacy down the street.