Duane Reade

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Duane Reade Pharmacy is Totally Incompetent
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NEW YORK, NEW YORK -- The Duane Reade pharmacy at 2409 Broadway (at 88th St), dept #366, is absolutely the most incompetent pharmacy I have ever been to in my life. First of all, I can't even count the number of times I've gone to pick up a prescription that my doctor called in, and they've told me my doctor never called it in, that they have no idea what I'm talking about. When I get the doctor on the phone, she says she did call it in. This has happened at least half a dozen times in the last few years. They're just too incompetent to keep track of prescriptions that are called in.

But the last straw was this. I tried to fill a 90-day script for a long-term med I take (Bupropion XL 300 mgs, generic for Wellbutrin). I dropped it off along with 2 other 90-day scripts, Lexapro and mirtazapine (generic for Remeron). I picked up the Lexapro and mirtazapine on October 25, 2011, but was told by a member of the pharmacy staff that it was too early to pick up the Bupropion XL.

The next day, October 26, 2011, they sent me a text message saying the script was ready to pick up. But I was going on a trip and was unable to pick it until almost 3 weeks later. When I came to pick it up 3 weeks later, they said they'd already put it back on the shelf and would have to fill it again. I said fine, no problem. Fair enough.

The next day, November 14, I got a text message from them saying there was a problem filling the script. I called them and they told me my insurance wouldn't pay for it, that I have to use the insurance company's mail-order service. This was contrary to what the insurance company told me (both over the phone AND in writing) when I'd begun the plan. It was also contrary to what Duane Reade told me 3 weeks ago (they sent a text on Oct 26 saying the script was ready and I could pick it up).

I told them that the script had already been filled 3 weeks ago, and had been ready to pick up, and that in fact I almost did come pick it up. I was passed around to 3 different people and repeated this to each of them, before I finally got to speak to one of the pharmacists. I asked him, "How come I could have picked this prescription up 3 weeks ago, but now I can't?" The pharmacist said (and I quote): "Uh...I don't know."

So, I spent hours upon hours on the phone with the insurance company over the next 4 days. When I finally managed to get a hold of someone who could help, they informed me that Duane Reade screwed up (surprise, surprise), and I could pick up as many 90-day scripts as I wanted. Duane Reade was completely wrong to tell me I had to use mail-order. So, I wasted 8 hours of my life on the phone with the insurance companies, getting passed from one number to the next and being put on hold over and over again...ALL FOR NOTHING. I should have been able to pick up the prescription all along.

I immediately called Duane Reade pharmacy and informed the pharmacy staff member that I wanted my 90-day Bupropion XL prescription (which I originally dropped off almost a month ago) filled, that I had been told my insurance wouldn't pay for it but that was wrong, that I just spoke to my insurance company and have paperwork to verify this, and that I wanted the prescription filled immediately. The staff member looked up the prescription and told me that he didn't understand why I wasn't able to fill it in the first place, that he wasn't seeing anything on the computer about insurance not paying for it. He said he had no idea what I was talking about, basically.

When I explained the situation, he put me on hold, and when he came back, he tried to tell me that the reason they wouldn't let me have the meds was because I tried to fill the script too early. This of course was BS, and I told him so. It hadn't been too early since October 26, and furthermore, that's not what they told me when I tried to pick up the script. They told me my insurance wouldn't pay because I had to use mail-order, not that it was too early. He put me on hold again, and when he came back, he had changed the story, and tried to tell me it was the insurance company's fault. I told him it wasn't the insurance company’s fault, that the insurance company had NEVER put out any kind of notice to the pharmacy saying I had to use mail order, so in fact the insurance company had nothing to do with it and had no idea what the DR pharmacy staff members were talking about. His answer to this was, "Well, uh…I don't know."

I have never been to a pharmacy as incompetent as this one. I will never, EVER go back there again. Everyone there – pharmacists and staff members – are completely useless, and I'm tired of wasting my time on the phone, calling my doctor or my insurance company, trying to figure out what Duane Reade pharmacy did wrong this time. If it was just the one incident, I wouldn't be so disgusted, but this same pharmacy has misplaced my prescriptions so many times, that this was just the last straw.

I've been frustrated by the incompetence of this pharmacy for a long time. In fact, the only reason I still went there (until this incident) is that I take Suboxone, and they are the only pharmacy I know of in the neighborhood that carries it. It is a tightly controlled substance and not all pharmacies are licensed to carry it.

But even with the Suboxone, they're totally unreliable. Whenever I need to fill my Suboxone prescription, I actually have to call them ahead of time and ask if they have it in stock, because literally half the time they don't. This is a very serious medication that a person will get very, very sick without, very, very quickly. Withdrawal symptoms kick in within 36 hours. A person on Suboxone truly NEEDS it, every day. If you're going to be out of it half the time, then you should at least know when you're going to get it in stock, and what other local pharmacy I can get it from if I can't wait.

But of course, whenever I ask, "When will you have Suboxone in stock again?" and "What other pharmacy can I get it from in the neighborhood?" the answer is always, "Uh...I don't know." That seems to be their answer for everything.

I am never coming back to this pharmacy. I don’t even care anymore that they are the only pharmacy in the neighborhood that carries Suboxone (or occasionally carries it, anyway). From now on I’m filling my Suboxone prescription at another pharmacy across town. Having to go across town for my medication is actually less of a hassle than dealing with the useless people at Duane Reade Pharmacy #366.
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Venice09 on 11/18/2011:
Why have you continued to go there for years? There's a Duane Reade on every corner. Pick another location or find a different pharmacy altogether. There's no reason to put up with such incompetency.
Skye on 11/18/2011:
Why not just move to another pharmacy? There is one on every corner in that area.

lime_tree51 on 11/18/2011:
As I mentioned in the article, I continued to go there because I take Suboxone, and they are the only pharmacy in the neighborhood that carries it (that I know of, anyway). The majority of pharmacies do not stock Suboxone. I've called as many of the other neighborhood pharmacies as I can think of (about a dozen or so in all, from Duane Reade to Rite-Aid to CVS) and none of them have it.

This Duane Reade is 4 blocks from my building. The next-closest pharmacy I know of that has Suboxone is over on the Upper East Side (a 20 to 30-minute bus ride away), and the next-next closest one is in Washington Heights (a 40-minute subway ride away).

But, as I also said, I don't care about that anymore. I'd rather run all over town to fill my Suboxone script, than deal with these people anymore.
Venice09 on 11/18/2011:
Lime tree, if you request it from another pharmacy close to home, maybe they can accommodate you, especially if you become a regular customer and they want your business. I don't know if you tried that already, but if not it's worth a try. I hope it works out.
olie on 11/19/2011:
Suboxone is a schedule III narcotic used to treat heroin addiction. It's a pretty serious drug. It makes sense that any one pharmacy might not have a huge supply on hand. And I'm sure that no pharmacy would tell a customer when a shipment of schedule IIIs is expected.

I know that I notice when I'm getting low on a prescription. That's when I call for a refill--I don't wait until I'm out. You might try the same, especially since you know that the ONLY pharmacy in your area that carries it, often does not have it on hand at a moment's notice.
RIC on 04/25/2012:
If I could understand the Pharm.then she tells me the head Guy is on vac.If I could come in [drive 25 mins.ill]she might tell me if they had it.THEN let me know if she could do it.I WILL NEVER USE THEM AGAIN
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Very Rude Cashier
Posted by on
NEW YORK, NEW YORK -- Duane Reade has one very rude employee. [snip] The other employees were corteous enough, but frankly I do now want to have to deal with that kind of unproffesionalism. When I went back to Duane Reade to get an item I wanted, that had been put away by that cashier, I asked him where he had put it and was told that he "forgot" where he put it and did not want to "deal with me" as he was on break and having "me time". (the other employees had already searched for it and didn't know where it was) and I was told to wait, and I had already waited half an hour. Honestly, it would have taken him 10 seconds to tell me where it was and I would have gone to another cashier. I had to go to the manager and tell him to tell his employee to get the item. Which he took his sweet time getting to and knew perfectly well where it was. Then he told me "NOW I can deal with you because I'm on the clock." Are you kidding me? Even if you are not on the clock at least deal with the customer with some sort of decorum.

So if this is the type of employee Duane Reade hires, at least at this branch, I feel adverse to returning.
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jktshff1 on 08/05/2009:
Your boss going to bother you at lunchtime?
i_am_canadian on 08/05/2009:
Hmm, where do I begin? It's probably not in anyone's best interest to use a person's first name here. It can get a someone fired if the wrong person sees it. Second, he stated he was on his break which means exactly that. Perhaps he could have been a bit more tactful, but you were likely equally rude to him and I wouldn't have gone out of my way either. Third and finally for the employee's sake, please don't return if you feel adverse to doing so. Rest assured their feelings won't be hurt.
Eloise on 08/05/2009:
iamcanadian, best answer as always. It's the guys break leave him alone. I'm sure someone else could have found it if they had bothered.
PepperElf on 08/05/2009:
OMG yes. employees are still human
and sometimes having a break away from constant demands
is the only thing stopping them from going off the deep end losing their mind.

I feel that everyone who begrudges someone else a break should be cursed to get treated the exact same way when they are dying for a break.

maybe if they knew how horrible their actions made other's feel they'd start being nicer.
Anonymous on 08/05/2009:
Never heard of this place but at one time for sure unionized stores like Safeway, an employee could get "written up" for working through their break or lunch.
Give the guy a break, Izzy!!
Ttereza on 08/05/2009:
I am on the fence about this review. More than a few times people have approached me when I had clocked out and was on my way out the door, or when I was shopping at the store after my shift was over.

I've always treated the customers as if I were still on the clock, even when they were rude. (After being informed by my coworker that I had clocked out for the day and was just waiting in line to buy an item, a woman said angrily, "Well as long as she's just standing there doing nothing she can help my daughter find a bra she likes!")
Helped that woman kindly, too. ):

My perspective on this situation is that sometimes employees, even off the clock, should be able to offer assistance if able. But customers should realize that their actions when they are not on the clock are like favors, and should treat the employee accordingly. Another review where respect and understanding from both employee and customer would've gone a long way.
spiderman2 on 08/05/2009:
This is why I always stay out of sight when I'm on break!
PepperElf on 08/08/2009:
ttereza - if the customer is going to be rude to you when you're off the clock and demand you help them....

going along with it just reinforces their belief that it is OK to treat the employees like poo, that your time off is less important their their wants.

and sometimes helping someone a little bit, when your off the clock, can turn into more than a few minutes. and if you're not being paid for it... why work for free?

you have bills to pay same as the customers. they're not working for free so you shouldn't have to either.
Ttereza on 08/08/2009:
Pepperelf, you are right in many ways, I suppose going too much out of the way has created the sort of over-entitled customer that we find nowadays. I am not suggesting that everybody goes to an extreme like I seem to with helping off the clock, but in this story I can understand the author's perspective when the guy could not tell someone where the item was, etc. Less of an obligation, and more like a decent, human favor.
At the same time, this author should not have expected him to oblige, but I understand their frustration.
judyswimz on 01/10/2012:
I encountered a situation with a lazy cashier that was the last straw and I will make every effort to shop elsewhere from now on. I had selected a post holiday clearance item that had a %75 off sticker. I brought it to the register. I do not get to see the receipt until after I swipe and pay. It is the cashier's responsibility to make sure that scanned items ring up correctly. The %75 off item scanned for full price. I checked the receipt after I left the store and then had to bring back the item at which point I decided I do not want the item at all and I returned the item and my account was credited. This could have been avoided if the cashier checked as the item scanned if you scan an item that has a %75 off sticker and see it is scanning for full price you should manually key in the correction that is what a cashier should do and not just be a brainless robot.
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