COON RAPIDS/BLAINE, MINNESOTA -- So I had just gotten hired at Walgreens in Coon Rapids by the managers and I couldn't have been more happy. I had just quit my previous job because of the managers. I was hired in May of 2013 and I didn't mind it at first because I worked with my favorite managers.. but once they got transferred to a different store things started going to **. The managers I worked with treated me like **, they ALWAYS called me the wrong name, and treated me like I was 5. I was 17 at the time, I worked with cash registers and people before.. I know what I'm doing **.
Then in maybe Dec. a new manager got hired and right when I met him he asked me a very inappropriate question that didn't need to be said. Right off the bat I hated him, I dreaded working with him and I tried not to be rude but I hated him and so did a few of my co-workers. I had asked off many days throughout the year for school reasons and they would continue to schedule me on those days.. it drove me nuts and I wanted to quit so badly.
Around April I wanna say, I was working with my store manager and at first I didn't know what to think of him cause the only thing he has ever said to me was "bye" or "hi" so whatever, but when I worked with him, I answered the phone and said over the intercom saying he has a call, at the end of the day he came up to me, got so incredibly close to my face and said "do me a favor and call me either ____ or ____, thanks." He was very, very rude about it and I hated him. I also went to Walgreens one day and they were horrible when it came to service. Walgreens in Blaine and Coon rapids sucks and it deserves to be shut down. GET BETTER MANAGERS, THANKS.
FRESNO, CALIFORNIA -- I am usually not one to complain, let alone write a complaint, but what happened today to me was uncalled for. So today March 12 at approximately 9 PM, I was shopping for some makeup and hair products. I decided to pop off the cap of a hairspray to see if I can smell anything, if so, does it smell good. Then I noticed one of the employees watching me about 20 feet away. She then yelled across the store saying, "Hey! You can't spray that!" in front of all the customers and my family. Very embarrassing for me since everybody turned and looked at me as if I did something wrong.
I was shocked because I didn't spray anything, I was trying to smell it, I never once sprayed anything. I replied back to her, "I didn't, I was only trying to sniff for a scent." Her response was, "Yes you did, I saw." Right, she saw me over everything and somehow saw this invisible spray since I never did. False accusation isn't the only problem here, it was her tone. She yelled at me with a convicted attitude like I was stealing or something; I was only sniffing. Last time I checked, it wasn't against the rules to smell something to see if you like it or not. This was a very poor representation of how a customer should be treated.
After I decided to ignore her and walk away, I could see her following me throughout the store and watching me, like I was some criminal. I think how wrong this was of her is obvious. I have done nothing wrong, yet she treats me like some criminal. It would have been okay if she had walked over and asked me if I did spray in privacy, saving me the embarrassment. Yelling across the store and following me though, isn't okay. I would like for her to be disciplined by her superiors and taught a lesson on how to talk to a customer properly as she should have.
VA BEACH, VIRGINIA -- My experience working for Walgreens: More than one year ago I was hired at our neighborhood Walgreens. All I can say is "wow. How did I last this long?" Let me take you on a short story journey, on what REALLY happens inside our little home away from homes that we call work. From the outside, it looks like a pretty good job, nice, organized, people seem polite to you. Everyone has on his or her smock, nice, neat name tags, smiles. At least, that's how it was when I went to fill out my application at the Walgreens closest to me. Unfortunately, I didn't get hired at that one, but at another one in the area.
I was hired by one of the laziest EXA's I think I have ever met. She didn't do a whole lot, she brought her boyfriend to work sometimes and he stayed there for hours on end while her husband would circle the parking lot. Oh but once she got transferred out we got someone much worse. At first, he helped out, complimented us, was even polite but after two weeks, that wore off. He is rude, makes lewd comments, is far lazier than our last EXA and in his own little remarks, discriminates. They might be very light when he says them, but now more and more people are catching on.
He closes only once a week, and when he does, he mainly just sits in the office on his phone. He asks everyone else to clean his aisles, and gets an attitude if his are not straight, and if ours are not either. I have even made the comment to him about him being on the lazy side, and he told me "he didn't have to, he paid his dues". And God-forbid you ever get pregnant while working there. At one point, I was put at main, with morning sickness, when I tell them "I don't feel well, can I go home", I was told to just throw up in the trash can when I felt sick. I had to stay that whole night.
The next day that I was there, I was approached by my store manager, after a few moments in the bathroom with morning sickness, these exact words "If you're going to be getting sick in the bathroom all day, then just go home, I'm not paying you to be sick!" I sure wish someone would have told me that the night I was working at main vomiting in the trash can. And then of course, the morning I worked, while pregnant, was also the day loss prevention and district showed up. I bought some meds to calm my stomach so I wouldn't be getting sick, and when m y EXA asked "oh do you have the flu? You feel OK?"
When I told him "no, it's the morning sickness." He Said "Oh... OK" as if having the flu would have a better answer. Needless to say, the medicine didn't work and I was in the bathroom most of that morning. Not only was I sick, and tired, and having horrible mood swings, but it was also Christmas season!! At one point, I was scheduled 2:00-12:30 and of course we never got out of there until closer to 1:00 or 1:30. So trust me when I say, it was hard on my body. Now if that sounded bad, try miscarrying.
Unfortunately, when this happened, I had to call out. Which wasn't bad but in the confusion of it all, I had forgotten to get a doctor's note. (Which by the way is easy to forget when you're not all there after that experience.) My manager rudely, a week later, asked where my doctor's note was, and that she wouldn't give me my three (yes only three) sick day I asked for. She told me she needed it by Saturday. So I came in Saturday, and got talked at again because she needed it before 12:00. Well I didn't know that, but she agreed to put them on my NEXT paycheck. And, she forgot to put them on that one, in fact I lost the baby on December 5, 2006.
I didn't receive pay for my sick days until February 2, 2007. So it was about four pay checks later, that I finally got paid because a payout was out of the question. Don't get me wrong, I love the company I work for. I love what I do here at Walgreens. But the people that are put into power are absolutely horrible. My store manager, yes, when everyone comes for the VP visits, she puts on a wonderful act. Talks sweetly to everyone and treats her employee like little angels. But when you all are not around, she is completely different.
She has a habit of talking down on me and of course other employees, which could be why we have such a high turnover rate at our location. She has her over the top sarcasm that just kills the mood. I honestly cannot say how I have lasted this long here. There were times I was ready to just up and quit too. There were times I would go home crying because I have never in my life been talked down on so badly. Even as a child, adults had never treated me poorly or said things that would make me that upset. And here I thought Walgreens was a professional business-like place to work.
All around the office and back there are little reminders of our dress code, what we can and cannot wear. Well I sure wish district would have shown up on the day my manager decided to wear her Walgreens-bought skirt and high-heeled-backless clogs, that by the way, she could not even walk in. And since she could not walk in them, half of the day she walked around wearing grandma bedtime slippers she bought over in the sock aisle. And while wearing this, made a comment that my smock needed to be washed, actually, it had been, it had just become so faded it was looking messy. But then again, that how it almost always is.
Once she hears higher up are coming things get rushed. She starts noticing imperfections. Of course, she doesn't notice them any other time. Like I said before, don't get me wrong, I love my job but the people that are put in power need to be re-evaluated. If anything goes wrong in that store, if the store fails and audit, guess whose fault it is... OURS. Not really hers, it's ours. We are the ones who messed up. At least that's how it's made out to be. And if we get written up, it's normally for something we didn't even know we did wrong. We don't get a warning or anything like that.
Unfortunately, we are poorly trained and when we see lazy people who are our higher ups how is that going to inspire us to work harder and perfect ourselves? It's not. I'll be the first to admit that I do slack off. Why not? I see my manager and EXA doing it. I'm not saying I'm a perfect person because I'm far from it but I don't think I deserved to be treated like dirt when I am not. I am a good person. I am honestly not stupid and when it comes time to work, I do get most of my work, if not all of it done.
I also don't feel right signing my name to this, only because if it gets back to my manager on who wrote this, I will only be treated worse than I am now, and I honestly don't think I could take much more of it. But I am going to anyway. For I was off the clock when this was written, and if something is done off the clock I should not be punished for it, especially when I'm voicing my opinion.
LA, CALIFORNIA -- I started out with Walgreens 4 years ago as a cashier. I am now an ASM. I don't nor have I ever complained about the workload. It's retail. Well, in the earlier part of the year, apparently my son (who is one year old) took a product off the shelf and we left without paying for it. Unbeknownst to me of course.
Well today, LP comes to question me about it. I don't remember. I didn't confirm or deny the allegations. I even VOLUNTARILY paid for the item. Needless to say, I was sent home & I'm currently on suspension until further notice. Note: the product was $4. I'm disturbed that it has come to a matter of my job over such a minuscule amount of money. Bottom line: Walgreens only cares about a profit. No customer or employee is more important. Just my 3 cents.
ANYTOWN -- The people who currently mismanage Walgreens on the corporate level have spent the last six years making the absolute worst possible decisions on the future of the company. The pre-Barack Obama Walgreens DOES NOT EXIST. There is now only 25% of the merchandise selection in a Walgreens store than there was six years ago. The tenured employees... DO NOT GET ANNUAL PAY INCREASES. There is nothing more for the thousands and thousands of tenured employees that make up the heart and soul of Walgreens. Nothing for them.
This company put in place a "pay cap" that the tenured employees reached years ago. The place is now staffed by people with ADD and OCD, because "they need jobs too." Good hiring logic right? Simply put, this company has been destroyed by unbelievably bad business decisions. They intend to siphon their annual profits out of the pockets of the people that work at Walgreens. Have a complaint about it? There's the door...
They will purchase an entire chain of stores in the U.K.., however they will not give pay raises to their tenured employees. The most unbelievable bunch of lying phonies in retail. The people making decisions at the corporate level have never set foot in a retail store. If I have to work there until I am two hundred years old, I will see them close down the entire worthless chain of stores.
AURORA, COLORADO -- I am a mid 40s, educated, tax paying, voting, credit card carrying consumer. On this Sunday afternoon I walked into the Walgreens at Havana and Alameda to look for hair color, hot and tired after a day of errands and shopping. I had a backpack fully on - both shoulders, not just slung over one (and as such, impossible to unzip or access without taking it off completely), a shopping bag from another store in one hand, and a jug of iced tea in the other hand.
While looking for the hair color stock, I was stopped in the aisle by an employee informing me I'd need to leave my bags at the counter before I could shop anymore. Then further that my backpack too would need to be left with the staff. I stated I had a laptop in my backpack and wasn't prepared to simply leave it at a front desk. I was informed that they would be there, but that I should have been stopped at entry rather than allowed to come back so far. I was being addressed with a tone one might expect to hear at age 7 - as if I needed watching over and direction.
She continued, making it clear that I would not be allowed to shop if I didn't agree to leave my merchandise and backpack with her. It now being abundantly clear that I was for whatever reason under suspicion for possibly intending to steal from them. I told her I didn't need to shop there that bad - that I'm not looking to steal anything, and turned to leave.
However, on walking back out of the aisle, I noticed a number of other shoppers, many with backpacks, who'd apparently not been singled out and forced to entrust a Walgreens employee with hundreds of dollars in computer, software (in the backpack), and paid and bagged merchandise from other stores as well, if they cared to spend a few bucks there. I was the lucky one receiving that special attention.
Only one other time in my life have I been blocked from shopping unless I agreed to leave my possessions with a store employee, and in that case it did actually seem to be a policy applied to everyone entering, not just me. However, even then, I was offended enough at the presumption being made of customers, that I not only left and spent my money at a shop down the street (which didn't require customers hand over possessions to spend money with them) but have not returned to any of that chain's stores in the years since - highly recommending against it to others should the company come up in conversation.
Walgreens already has the competition of other stores that sell more and for less all around them. This particular store has a Target and Costco (which I am a member of and neither of which has ever requested bags and or backpack be handed over to shop with them) about a mile down Havana. While I've noticed there are some retail stores now taking an assumptive approach toward customers as potential shoplifters on entry, I am of the opinion that all customers, no matter what their age, appearance, or demeanor, until they prove otherwise, deserve to be treated with respect by the companies profiting for their interest and time.
If I don't feel afforded such by any company I attempt to do business with, I simply don't return. And in the case of Walgreens, and being embarrassingly singled out and so completely and without evidence or reason for suspicion, barred, I not only will not be returning to this store or any in the chain, but am now posting the events and experience as well. Embarrassing, offensive, and stressful - all for thinking I'd see if Walgreens might be a good place to purchase hair color from.
LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY -- About 9 P.M. this evening I went up to Walgreens to pick up a prescription using the drive-through service outside. The gentleman at the window asked for my I. D. because it is a sleeping medication. I provided him with my government-issued badge, as I am a federal government employee. He said he needed my driver's license. I explained to him that my government badge actually has more information than my driver's license (it includes among other things, my fingerprint) and I unfortunately did not have my driver's license with me so providing that was impossible. He said he needed some form of identification he could record.
I then offered him my health insurance card, which has a series of numbers on it. This was declined. I offered my student identification from the University of Louisville, also possessing a series of numbers, identifying me with a picture as well as my student identification number. This was declined. I offered two different credit cards, my social security card and then my Triple A card all of which he declined as well and he went to get the pharmacist in charge.
(On a legal note, 902 KAR 55:110 reads, Section 5. Patient Identification Number. (1) A patient or the person obtaining the controlled substance on behalf of the patient shall disclose to the dispenser the patient's Social Security number for purposes of the dispenser's mandatory reporting to KASPER. (2) If a patient is an adult who does not have a Social Security number, the patient's driver's license number shall be disclosed. (3) If a patient is an adult who has not been assigned a Social Security number or a driver's license number, the number 000-00-0000 shall be used.
(4) If a patient is a child who does not have a Social Security number or a driver's license number, the Social Security number, driver's license number, or the number "000-00-0000", as applicable, of the parent or guardian shall be used. (5) If a patient is an animal, the owner's Social Security number, driver's license number, or the number "000-00-0000", as applicable, shall be used - Yet none of these forms of identification were accepted and the medication was being denied resultingly.)
The pharmacist came to the window and immediately asked for my driver's license. I explained again that I did not have this particular form of identification and asked her to look at one of the various forms of identification in her possession. She reiterated that a number was needed that "could be recorded" so they could track me if my prescription was lost. I was perplexed and explained to her that the forms of identification I had submitted had various numbers that could be used for tracking purposes, should my prescription be lost. I also said it would be unlikely that it would be lost because I keep the medication for sleep on my nightstand at home.
She said I needed to either give her my identification or take my prescription elsewhere to be filled. Admittedly, I was very frustrated at this point, especially with the pharmacist's last directive (who identified herself as **). I proceeded to tell her that she knew very well I could not take that particular prescription anywhere else to get it filled because I had the prescription transferred from Walmart. She said this was not her fault but instead the blame was to fall on the State of Kentucky for not allowing me to transfer the prescription to another store or Walgreens location, for that matter.
She did understand that I could not take the prescription anywhere else though. I suppose she had assumed I was not familiar with Kentucky law. I told her I was completely out of this medication. I would not be able to fill the prescription elsewhere without going back to my physician's office and getting an entirely new script. She once again reiterated Walgreens was not to blame for this dilemma but instead the fault was with the State of Kentucky. At this point I asked for the name of her immediate supervisor. After asking the name of her supervisor several times and her refusal to provide me with it, she told me to either drive away or she would call the police.
I am at a loss for words for how this affected me. I still am in shock over it. She continued to threaten me in my vehicle stating she would call the police if I did not drive away. Looking back, she had my federal badge inside the window. She had my student identification. She had two of my credit cards as well as my Triple A card and my social security card. I was so upset at the time, I didn't even realize this fact, but I think it is important to note that she did not return these items at this time while requesting that I immediately drive away or she would have the police physically remove me from the premises.
I reiterated to her, as a question, that I was being threatened by the police as well as being asked to leave because I asked for the name of her immediate supervisor. She continued to reply with threats and did not address this point. By this time, I was physically shaking. I remember her continuing to state the above directive and fumbling through an old change purse, I located an expired driver's license from California, where I had lived for about five years.
She then processed my prescription with this "outdated" information, given it was expired since 2004 and had my former California address on it, and put my belongings in the window, along with a blank script with the name ** scrawled on it. I am perplexed at how all the current information I submitted was rejected and yet an expired driver's license without any current information on it was finally accepted. I will NEVER shop at Walgreens again. NEVER.
SMYRNA, DELAWARE -- I ride my bike to work. It's about an hour long ride one way. I got to work at 2:58pm on December 9th. I park my bike in the photo lab where I work and I turn around and the store manager is there. Before she even greets me with a hello she starts on me right away about my earrings. I have had gauges in my ears for YEARS and I've had them since I started with the company back in April of 08. I've gone up a few sizes as well and no one has EVER said anything to me about them. I've even shaken hands with corporate staff and greeted with my gauges and they've been nothing but nice.
Well the manager comes up to me and says "you know you can't wear those right? You've got extra earrings right?" and I just stare at her completely taken aback by her random questioning. I try to explain that I JUST put it in and I only need 24 hours before I can place a normal gauge in it rather than the tapered spike used to enlarge the hole. She cuts me off and says "to the office... now!" So we make our way to the office. I'm now sweating from the bike ride and very irritable. She closes the door and send the SIMs out of the office for us to "talk" (AKA she talks and I stutter and struggle to get a word in).
After she was done telling me the same thing she already stated on the sales floor I begin again to explain my side. "I had huge, gawdy glass spirals in my ears when I firs" (cut me off) "**, can I pleas" (cut me off), crosses arms and lets her talk... she never says anything more than what was already said. Every attempt at trying to explain myself she cut me off and told me it was irrelevant. I was in trouble about a month before that for my Septum piercing.
There are at LEAST 3 other girls there with a nose ring and one traveling pharmacy tech that comes in with a huge lip ring and I was told to go home or take it out. When our argument was finally done she told me to go home, don't come back and she'll be talking to our LP. I said "good. I'll be speaking with him and employee relations. You're inconsistent and unfair in your discipline and how you run your store" and then left. I'm still waiting for both people to call me back.
I've done my research and found nothing on piercings. They're subtle and not gawdy nor do they stand out and I flip my septum up into my nose so you don't see it... even though there are other people there with a nose ring. I've even talked to some ex corporate people and they've told me to fight it. I can't be all that bad of an employee. I feel I've established myself very well within the company as a good team player. I've got two things to go on when I fight it: "Lifestyle diversities", unfair inconsistent workplace. The company itself isn't too bad... it's the management and the lack of proper training that makes your life working for Walgreens a miserable living hell.
I am now fired as of 4:55pm on December 10th. The Employee Relations and Corporate did nothing to help and I'm not unemployed and quite possibly unable to get anything from unemployment. Something has to be done. This is ridiculous!
TEMPE, ARIZONA -- This is a letter that I wrote to the "powers that be" at Walgreens Health Initatives. I have removed any names... other than Walgreens Mail Service and Walgreens Health Initatives and AARP. It is my opinion as a member that AARP needs to reconsider affiliation with this company.
"I am writing you because I found your name on the Walgreens Pharmacy Benefit Management page of Walgreens Health Initatives website. I am at a loss as far as exactly who to contact regarding the problems I have been having with Walgreens Mail Service. The problems have been going on far too long and even speaking on the telephone to supervisors has yielded little help or results. Unfortunately because these difficulties were totally unexpected I did not keep a day by day accounting of exactly what happened when.
It has been almost a month since I mailed in a prescription from my physician to the mail service. I waited and waited before I called the first time - a recording told me the prescription was being shipped - when the prescription never arrived I became concerned and called again, this time speaking to a person. I was told that the prescription was on its way and to not be concerned because it sometimes took 5 to 10 days to arrive. Once again the prescription didn't arrive so I called again - I believe this was on a Wednesday or Thursday the first week of September.
This time the person I spoke to asked me for my address, when I told her she replied that the prescription had been sent to a neighboring city in error. She double checked my paperwork and said that she could see that the address was correct on their records and could offer no explanation as to why someone would send it to another city. She said that she would have a new prescription sent out right away but that it would not arrive right away because of the Labor Day Holiday. At this point I had little faith in what I was being told so I started called the info line (recording) to stay on top of the day the prescription was actually being shipped.
It turns out "right away" was not so right away and I decided to look into the problem further. I finally called and asked to speak to a Supervisor on the 9th. I did not get that woman's name. She told me that the prescription was being shipped overnight via a carrier and I could expect it on the 10th. I explained to her that my address was a rural one and that most carriers do not deliver to rural mail boxes. She put me on hold to check with the carrier.
When she came back she said the carrier had not yet received the prescription and that I should call them later that evening and the first thing in the morning to change the address, (although she didn't know if they would allow me to be the one to change it). At that point I was become very angry and I told her that I did not feel that taking care of the address change should be made my responsibility - Walgreens should be the one to handle that. She said she would take care of it and that she would stay in touch. Once again that never happened and yesterday, the 10th of September the prescription did not arrive.
I called again today and once again asked for a Supervisor. The woman I spoke to would only give me a first name. I asked her for her extension # and she said it was xxxx (attempting to reach her at that extension later was impossible, she apparently made it up on the spot). She told me the reason my prescription had not been delivered was because the carrier did not deliver to mail boxes! I am totally frustrated and very angry with Walgreens as probably any reasonable person might be at this point. This is no way for customers to be treated and I feel someone should investigate what is going on.
The person I spoke to today said she talked to the carrier and that they would try to have the prescription delivered today. She also said she would call me back to let me know if the carrier was going to actually be able to deliver it. I don't hold out much hope for either one. I am sure that you or someone there at Walgreens can look at the file for my order and if what has happened with the order has been actually documented you will see that the Mail Service is handling such things most ineffectively. I would greatly appreciate hearing from someone regarding this matter."
After writing this letter I called Walgreens Mail Service again - first they told me they couldn't understand why it wasn't delivered and told me that I should call the carrier and talk to a supervisor there to find out why it wasn't delivered. Once again I had to explain that I did not work for Walgreens, I was the customer and it should be up to Walgreens to find out why overnight shipping, for which they paid, wasn't made. After being place on hold the person I was speaking with returned and said that allegedly the carrier attempted delivery of this prescription today, Sept 11 and was unable to deliver it. There has been someone here all day waiting and no one came.
Now they tell me that it may be delivered on Monday. In addition they actually charged my credit card 1 cent for the redelivery!!! I told them I absolutely refuse to pay, LOL! Also, I learned that Walgreens called my doctor's office to get yet another prescription - huh? What did they do with the first one?
This email was sent back in February by an hourly assistant manager to the CEO of Walgreens, Greg Wasson, right after our pay cut was announced. It was forwarded to me from a friend of the author, and I deleted the author's name to protect his privacy. It is lengthy, but well worth the read for anyone that still has a thorn in their side. I know I do.
"Mr. Wasson, pursuant to Walgreens policy and the Walgreens Open Door Policy, I am hereby formally exercising that privilege to speak with an open and frank mind about recent decisions made in Deerfield. I am writing you to request that among the decisions being made by Corporate and the consultants you have hired, that the decision to officially scrap the Four Way Test and the Walgreens Creed become official.
After all, over the past three years, both have become increasingly irrelevant. With the decision to re-neg on the agreed upon compensation rates for MGTs, and the shady, cowardly way it was communicated (after hours, Monday afternoon, straight from Store Ops, completely bypassing the DMs), the Four Way Test and the Walgreens Creed are no longer relevant. In the minds and hearts of many of your store employees, in fact, they are non-existent.
Before you label me as just another angry malcontent with a sharp mouth, please bear with me. Not all that long ago, I was in your same position. I was a senior managing director at a large, top-ten marketing agency. When the handful of us that were recruited in to "save" this agency arrived, we found the state of the agency in dismal shape. We had just lost over 25% in capitalized billings via the loss of a major client. Adding to our frustration and angst was a struggling economy.
But, unlike your consultants and inner circle, we made the decision to take care of our employees and clients first before we took care of the analysts and brokers on Wall Street. We chose to take care of the staffers who were doing the work before we took care of those of directing the work. Yes, we had to make some job cuts, but again, unlike your consultants and senior executives in Deerfield, we chose to cut those directly responsible for the agency's rapid descent.
We didn't start in the middle of the ranks, or at the lower end. We started at the top of each department and group. And those who were responsible for the agency having lost valued clients such as Frito Lay and Taco Bell due to mismanagement, poor decision-making, complete lack of leadership, cronyism, and an attitude of "well, that's how we've always done things" found themselves terminated. No severance package. No parachute. Sure as hell no early retirement. In other words, those who had mismanaged the business were not rewarded or praised or excused. They were fired. Period.
Unlike Walgreens' corporate, we did not go looking for mid-level copywriters and account executives and media buyers and inform them that we were reducing their salary and compensation packages due to the poor decisions of upper management that got us into this mess. Those employees, much like the assistant managers here at Walgreens, were not the problem. Our senior people that mismanaged the business and who made the bad decisions were the ones shown the door..
I saw the blurb the PR spinners sent out regarding Wal-Mart cutting seven-hundred-plus jobs from its Bentonville, AR, headquarters. I know several of the senior marketing executives for Wal-Mart, and I know the principles at their two advertising agencies (Bernstein Rein, Kansas City, and GSD&M, Austin, TX) extremely well. And there is also more to this story than what was sent out to our stores by the spinners. Quite a bit more, actually. Wasn't hard to find, either. The Wall Street Journal did a nice piece on it.
Wal-Mart cut the fat and the bad decision-makers from its headquarters.. That money is being reallocated to their store levels, where, and I quote from one of their marketing VPs, "Where the revenue is generated and where the revenue will always be generated."
I see excuse after excuse coming from Deerfield about a challenging economy. Yes, it is challenging. But strong leaders find strong solutions that result in strong motivation. Easiest thing in the world is to cut the jobs or salaries of employees you know you'll never see and never have to face. Hardest thing to do is to look the senior staff in eye that you've seen everyday for the past five years and tell him, "**, I hate to say it but you've made far too many bad decisions in the last few years and we're paying the price. As much as I like you, you're out of a job."
The single worst decision made in Deerfield and continuing to be made is putting the shareholder in front of the employees and customers. The most successful airline in the history of this nation is Southwest Airlines. Herb Kelleher never gave a rat's rear end about Wall Street. He and Colleen simply continued to build, grow and run their airline by putting their employees first with the caveat that they take care of Southwest's customers in a manner that would put all other airlines to shame. In doing so, they created a customer service reputation that is legendary.
Southwest also made a profit every single quarter, but often times Wall Street would criticize them for "not meeting expectations." Again, Kelleher cared about making a profit, not what some Ivy League weenie on the Street thought. When you do that, your stock will take care of itself. When I came out of semi-retirement and joined this company five years ago, there was little doubt that Walgreens put employees first. Today, there is zero doubt that Walgreens puts Wall Street first. Monday's late day announcement regarding assistant managers' compensation drives that point home even harder.
Everyone realizes that Wall Street loves debt and acquisitions, how else does one explain CVS's stock price? But the single most attractive thing to me when I joined Walgreens was that it was a cash-solvent company. That said to me fiscal responsibility. Where has that fiscal responsibility gone? Deerfield crows about record sales and upward sales trends on our "news page" on Storenet, then in e-mails to the stores, talks about declining sales that precipitated taking money out of over 16,000 assistant managers' pockets.
We read about awesome January sales and then we foolishly think, "Hey, maybe we'll get some of those lost hours back in the stores." Silly us. Deerfield then announces we're spending that money to buy more Rite-Aid stores out in California if an effort to please Wall Street analysts.
We, as a company, used to mock CVS for that very same attitude and for their growth-by-acquisition mentality but then here we go and do the same exact thing... only we take money from the employees to help fund the acquisitions. And now, we're doing everything we can to model our store operations after the very competition we used to deride and mock. When I joined this company, the line was, "We don't want to be the biggest drug store in America. We want to be the best drug store in America." We strove for quality over quantity. Now we trade chase quantity at the expense of quality.
Bottom line, Mr. Wasson, is that you're demanding that your source of revenue - the stores - do more and do it with less people, which means working harder. That's fine. Most of us are used to doing that. But then you demand that we do more with less, having to work harder, then do it for an average of 20% less so that we can continue to fund your ill-advised acquisitions based upon what a bunch of consultants advise, solely in order to please Wall Street over Main Street.
All the while asking Main Street to pay for it all and accept the longer wait times, the decreased service, the run-down stores that Deerfield will not invest in to refurbish, the unreliable equipment that processes film and prints while demanding more out of the people manning the equipment. Is it any wonder complaints, chain-wide, are climbing faster than a homesick angel? But we're sure the consultants have an answer for that, too.
But just remember what we used to say back in the military: "Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach. Those who can do neither, consult." It has never been more true than it is today. Which is why should I ever have the occasion or pleasure to meet Kevin Walgreen, I'll be honored to shake his hand and buy him the beverage and meal of his choice.
Mr. Wasson, I know you inherited this mess and I salute you for trying to straighten it out. But foregoing and abandoning the principles and values that built this company and made it great is not the way to do it. I wish you all the luck and fortune in your challenges, and if I did not care, maybe as deeply as you about the future of this company, I would not have taken the time to write as much as I have nor in the tone I did. I hope you understand and respect that."