Let Inga Tell You: Thanks for the great service; now stop texting me!
I have a love-hate relationship with CVS Pharmacy — love for the incredibly overworked, friendly, helpful staff members who work behind the counter, and hate for CVS corporate, which seems to think up more and more invasive, annoying and profit-making plans under the appearance of caring for my health.
But let me say upfront that we owe Olof’s kidneys to an alert CVS pharmacist. In an unfortunate confluence of events in 2012, my husband started with a new primary care doctor who changed all his medications and in the same week he underwent what was supposed to be a routine appendectomy, which, alas, went terribly wrong due to scar tissue from previous surgeries. Olof’s kidneys suddenly began to fail.
Both physicians blamed the other.
In desperation, I asked our lovely CVS pharmacist to research interactions between the new drugs, and specifically any drug that could be causing kidney failure. She zeroed in on one drug with a 1 percent rate and commented, “You know, 1 percent is not zero.”
Sure enough, that drug was stopped and Olof’s kidneys rebounded quickly. Ironically, since then, a close friend of ours has gone into kidney failure with the same “1 percent” drug.
So to the incredibly dedicated folks behind the counter at CVS Pharmacy, we will be forever grateful.
CVS corporate and its computer algorithms, however, are another story. For quite a while, I would swear that 70 percent of the text messages I received were unsolicited messages from them. The only texts I wanted were the ones saying that the prescriptions I’d ordered for us were ready for pickup.
Even after declining auto-refill, they were constantly refilling prescriptions that we no longer took. I will say they seem to be doing better on this. I gather we weren’t the only ones who complained.
But it didn’t keep them from blowing up my phone with text messages such as:
Olof, remember to text Y to have all of your current and future RXs automatically filled with ReadyFill.
Hi Olof, would you like your eligible RXs at CVS Pharmacy to be automatically refilled for you? Text Y to accept. (No option for “No and stop asking!”)
Inga, would you like your current and future eligible RXs to be filled on time? Reply Y to have your RXs ready when you need them.
I also was getting a lot of calls from the pharmacy itself noting that I hadn’t filled a particular prescription lately and would I like them to do that? I felt sorry for these folks, as they clearly didn’t like making these calls either. I would politely decline and ask them to please stop the calls.
But you can’t do that at the local pharmacy level. You have to call the 800-SHOP-CVS number and ask them to take you off the default Full Harassment Package and change it to “order ready only” text messages. It took multiple calls.
Meanwhile, when making a purchase at the store recently, I almost tapped on “Would you like to receive text messages about our sales and specials?” No! I’d probably get 50 messages a day.
They also have a new deal called a CarePass that for $5 a month gives you discounts and other benefits. There is no way on God’s green earth I am giving them any more excuses to exploit my phone number or email address, no matter how good the deals are.
But the final blow came recently when I got a message from my lovely primary care doctor on her portal. She reported that she had received a call from CVS Pharmacy that I was not taking a statin and that in their review, I should be. They’d discussed it with me, CVS said, and I’d concurred. Almost simultaneously, a text message popped up on my phone from CVS that I could pick up my new prescription.
I went ballistic. My current doctor knew I’d failed at Lipitor, but she hasn’t been with me long enough to know I have severe adverse reactions to all statins. I am sure CVS’ latest computer algorithm searches for people my age who take blood pressure medicine (it probably knows I’m fat, too) and don’t take statins. But they never asked me about it. And to call my doctor totally crosses a line.
I replied to my doctor that they’d duped her on this and said I hoped that if she ever got a call from CVS again, she’d tell them she is perfectly capable of managing her patients without their input.
Alas, “Don’t call my doctors ever ever ever” isn’t one of the opt-out options on the CVS site. But if I have anything to do with it, it will be.
Inga’s looks at life appear regularly in the La Jolla Light. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. ◆
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