24 Hour Shopper’s Drug Mart Vancouver, 885 West Broadway, Vancouver: A Review of Customer Service, Prices
Tonight, upon standing up without being in motion: pelvic pain (in the shower – my pain tends to let up while walking briskly; as that’s the way I groove, going to fetch groceries for dinner I felt alright) just as bad as I experienced before my surgery for endometriosis hit me, and did not go away. At times, the pain comes in waves – not this “time” (period of menstruation) – it was “I want to vomit”-inducing and relentless. I called my doctor, and she told me she could see me tomorrow at 8:45 am. I told her that I could wait until then for a prescription of painkillers to be faxed to a pharmacy. One hour later, after being curled up in the fetal position trying to watch a movie but quite nauseated by the mere sound of the actors’ voices (anyone who has had a migraine headache knows about this feeling! I’m sure other pain conditions are similar…not to mention psych med withdrawal syndromes). I called back – I cannot get through 12 hours in this state. Thus, as pharmacies around here (other than Dan Kooner’s Shopper’s Drug Mart franchise that I and my doctor have been “banned” from, located at Commercial and E. Broadway – 2 minutes from my apartment complex – as she wrote a prescription that angered Mr. Kooner and fellow pharmacist “Ritz”, claiming “she did not know how to count”, and the tears that welled up in my eyes – just tears, no “disruption of public order” such as yelling, name-calling, etc. – just some fearful tears that my pain would not be resolved in the near future after already struggling to get in to see my doc on an emergency basis. Good reasoning. Indeed, beware of having a physician who doesn’t spend days counting out pills for a similar salary as seeing terminally ill patients and whose mental math – maybe because their mind is occupied with more important things? Just a gander… – is as bad as mine, or showing any human emotion whatsoever, if you happen to visit this location and expect to receive an overpriced but needed – i.e. needed – prescription).
Thus, I hobbled to the 99 B-Line stop close to my place for a twenty-minute, standing room only ride with a bunch of other young people dressed up to do something other than go to Shopper’s Drug Mart this Friday evening. I immediately thought of my messy (washed and then slept on) hair and the fact that I was wearing my Dayton’s with shorts I wear to do garden work, along with my winter coat. Fabulous. かわいい！ Tres, tres chic (what does a gal have to do to get an “accent aigu” around here? ) However, I only care about such “faux-pas” for a minute before my own, less shallow thoughts return, so my attention returned to waiting to see the bright red and white sign of Shopper’s and some pain-alleviation. All bar-hoppers/hipsters/punk-__?__s…(what do you call people in their [younger, I hope...] twenties trying to dress like Sid Vicious? Is it a sub-variety of hipster?) had exited before I arrived. I expected to walk in and out, as my doctor had called the prescription in at least 45 minutes ago, at this point.
I knew I was in for trouble when I heard the pharmacist, an older woman with stylishly streaked grey, flat-ironed hair, and a very tacky attempt at “hip” purple glasses announce to another customer (are there baby-boomer hipsters too?!? ), very sternly, that the wait would be at least one half hour. There were no other customers in the store. I suppose her and her minion were taking the “dead” time to catch up on other prescriptions and bubble packs that needed to be refilled for the following days, so that these regular patrons and payers of ridiculously high dispensal fees (approx. $4/prescription more than small, family owned pharmacies, people! They may hand out “points” for their overpriced merchandise, but when I made the switch, I ended up saving a lot more – I’m talking several hundred dollars since the new year) could do what I expected to do – walk in, walk out. This would not be the case.
First, although I had stepped up to the desk the “pick-up” location, identical to every such desk at every Shopper’s Drug Mart at every store in Canada five minutes previous (when stepping up to be served at a Shopper’s pharmacy, do not expect any human acknowledgment – you know when you run into someone you rarely see but were once kind of friends with walking towards you on the street and they keep their face down and start walking faster, making sure not to catch your eye? These pharmacists do something similar, looking down at the pills they were counting with more vigour than they had been before a human being arrived to be served, their job suddenly becoming all-consuming) to a woman the pharmacist decided to help first, who had switched all of her regular prescriptions to Shopper’s because of a promotion with these points of theirs that they have on right now if you make the switch. SCAM ALERT – DO NOT FALL FOR THIS, YOU WILL NOT SAVE ANY MONEY, YOU WILL LOSE MONEY. She had even been standing at the drop off spot, despite needing to pick up filled prescriptions for Seroquel et. al. (expensive meds) – I wasn’t spying, but the pharmacist announced “Seroquel, Quetiapine! Okay?” so loudly it was impossible not to hear. The points promotion had to be explained in detail, as a rehearsed speech that reminded me of the obligatory safety demonstration on planes, as it involved modelling a couple of different cards upon which points could be accumulated, and I waited about ten minutes to listen to the spiel by-proxy, only to find out that they hadn’t even started filling my prescription yet, as looking up my name and date of birth in the computer to reveal my “Personal Health Number”, a requirement, was beyond their job description. They waited for me to come in, toting the plastic card with this number on it.
“I’ll give you a buzzer so you can shop until your prescription is ready!”
“Um, I’m not really in the condition to be walking around ‘shopping’, so I’ll just have a seat.”
After twenty minutes, during which I could tell my prescription had not been started yet as the little tray still holding the fax my doctor had sent was in line behind a few other trays holding prescriptions (none of which people were around to pick up – indeed, I had arrived at this “Emergency 24-hour location!” during catch-up hour) I went for a brisk walk, as these take my mind off the pain. I came back after about fifteen minutes and they were just starting to fill mine. I sat. Pain. No interest in shopping, and asking myself, “For what? Cough syrup just in case? Costume jewelry? Cosmetics, because I’m already feeling oh so sexy? A product containing Febreze?” Pain.
Finally, “Ms. _____?” A mispronunciation of a very common last name. Always appreciated. “That will be seven dollars and six cents.”
“Excuse me? I haven’t paid for a prescription for months. I reached my deductible in May. My prescriptions are covered at 100%.”
“Well, the government is already paying a lot for you! 70%.” I try to do some mental math of my own – so these twelve pills to get me through until my doctor’s appointment in the morning would have otherwise cost $50 or so?!
“Okay.” Not in fighting mode. Pain. Then, a problem with their payment machines. MasterCard down. I make a call to my dad, in a time zone where it is 1:30 am, to get a Visa card number. The first does not go through. Sweet jesus! He has those “Infinite” Visas (that should be outlawed, but also, never declined). A fuss is made by the pharmacist. I tell my dad loudly that I am at a Shopper’s Drug Mart in Vancouver, hence the charge and this ridiculous decline of the Visa on a $7.06 charge. That’s right a SHOPPER’S DRUG MART in Vancouver, as nowhere else is open. He has visited, and of course heard my grievances about the Commercial/Broadway location. He knows. I make sure I am loud and sound as displeased as possible, despite the pain. The second charge, on yet another card, clears.
I am not even given an obligatory, “Good night.” Was it because I didn’t have a points card? Oh, maybe the expression of annoyance…or the huge (imaginary) line-up behind me. I think this pharmacist needs some Seroquel, or probably a stronger anti-psychotic if the daylight hallucinations have reached this point of severity.
Vancouverites, and, Canadians in general! – DO NOT GO TO SHOPPER’S DRUG MART TO HAVE YOUR PRESCRIPTIONS FILLED! The items they sell are a dollar or two more than at a corner store, the make-up they carry is much less at fancy department stores, the pharmacists they employ are inhumane, other employees look tired and sick – I can only imagine having to spend the day in one of these places, being paid minimum wage to do so. Instead, support local, small-business class pharmacies – they are cheaper, they are not five months behind on “Fair PharmaCare” records, and their staff will do the amazing feat of greeting you with a smile as you walk in, and not harassing you about a “points” card!!
And if you also suffer from pain that can come on by surprise, you won’t find yourself at 1:52 am, finally winding down after a horrible experience that increased your pain by adding stress. You won’t soon be paying for Ativan on top of whatever else you pick up at Shopper’s. Trust me – I’m a very experienced pharmacy-frequenter (by chance, not choice!).
And I usually do not return looking like this, even when in pain: