Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Former Employee Shares Story

Thanks for this recent submission...

Hello, I'm going to give you some background on DR, even though I did indeed work for Duane Reade, I have to admit that it got to be one of the worst company to ever work for. I've been a loyal, dedicated and responsible worker for 3 years. I was a pharmacy technician. I loved with I did, I just hate whom I worked for. Employer treat they employees like crap then they wonder why customers get bad treatment at times. I'm not going to lie, there were a few occasions when patients did get on my nerves and honestly working in a pharmacy can be overwhelming. There are reasons why scripts take long, scripts are turned downed etc. However, I always kept a smile on my face .Never got a complaint from no one. I loved making my patients happy and knowing that I somewhat impacted their lives. All the regulars knew me and I knew them.

DR cooperate always complained and nag about small minor stuff but never want to show appreciation and say thank you to the good we did for the store. Everyday they would send emails about different task we must do, etc. There was so much they want done at the pharmacy with little time. They don't care about people, all they care about is money and prescription count. They want all the money but don't want to pay because honestly the pay is not that great. When I started, I was a full time worker. After 2 years, they automatically dropped it to part time without my knowledge. I was very upset because I have bills and rent to pay. I confronted my manager and was told that there was nothing she can do about it. The most she can do is give me the max of part time hours which was 36 hours a week. I said that's kool.

A few weeks later, I looked at my schedule and saw that my hours dropped tremendously to 30 hours a week. I confronted my manager once again and she said the district manager sent a email saying we were over budget and she had to decrease everyone hours. I'm like to myself how the hell were over budget but yet they stay opening up new branches, coming out with DR products etc. They got money for that but don't got money to pay the employees. We stayed under staffed(that's one reason why wait time was long). They wanted so much out of us. We had security in my store at one point, they stopped security in my store. We used to get secret shopper visits, they stopped that. We used to do prescription delivery,transfer and central fill they stopped that. We lost so many patients due to no delivery. I was very upset about that. Shoplifting increased in our store. They would send emails, saying look out for shoplifters. I'm like if they didn't cut security then maybe shoplifting wouldn't have increased. Honestly, they wasn't paying me extra for watching out for thieves so therefore I didn't care.

They want all the money. As long as they're rich, that's all they care about. I got terminated from DR recently and I'm kind of relief but the way they terminated me was totally unjustify. For 2 years, I worked with this obnoxious, arrogant, rude, disrespectful pharmacist. He only worked on the weekends. As long as I worked with him, for some apparent reason, I always felt he had something against me. Although, I was very nice towards him, never gave him a nasty attitude, he would always pick arguments with me over something pity but I never argue back because for one I did respect him as a pharmacist, colleague and as an individual. I've never got that in return. He treated other workers with more respect then he did myself. I always wondered why he treat me with such animosity. He treated some patients like crap as well. Many of out patients complaint about him to me and management but of course nothing was done about it. We did get along at times, but I always try my best not to push his buttons even if it wasn't purposely. Example, he actually screamed at me because I wrote a lower case l on a prescription bag for the patient last name instead of a capital L.

Once one of my regular patients came in, she gave me a prescription. I went to go see if we had it and we only had partial. I went back to her and told her we had to order it for the next day. She told me she really needed it and asked if we had some to give her so I told her we did. I went to the pharmacist and told him that the patient wanted the partial. He screamed at me, saying I shouldn't take matters into my own hands and that he's the pharmacist. He should give the permission, not me. I told him fine. All I was doing was trying to help and I got yelled at. I noticed that when other technicians do the same stuff I do, he wouldn't get mad but when it's me he would. I complaint about him to the supervising pharmacist whom works on the weekday and is really nice. He said he would talk to him. I got yelled at again from the weekend pharmacist for complaining about him. I'm like I can never win.

I got terminated because of the weekend pharmacist. One Saturday, he was helping a patient with his medicine. The patient had to pay for his medicine but it wasn't going to be scanned for until the next day(long story why). His previous co pay was $4.19 but he handed me a five dollar bill. Being that I didn't scanned a item, I needed a transaction to give him his remaining change. A customer came with a few items and wanted to purchase at my register. I told the patient to hold on while I take care the customer(because once I open the draw, I can just give him his change). He said OK. The pharmacist came to the register and saw that the patient was still there. Unaware of what was going on, instead of him asking me nicely why the patient was still there, he demanded me in a hostile tone to finish with the patient first then attend to the customer. I told him politely that I need to make the transaction to give him his change. The pharmacist went back into the pharmacy. The customer was very upset and took what the pharmacist said offensively. She told me that she wanted to say something to him but I just told her to leave it alone.

The customer had a friend with her and it was the customer friend who confronted the pharmacist. She told him that he needs to have more respect for his co workers and customers and he shouldn't talk to people in that tone. He told her to shut up and get out. They exchanged a few words then she left. After she left, he came at me, yelling and screaming at me, saying i was happy to hear that and it was my fault she insulted him. I told him I had nothing to do with it and that I was just doing my job. Instead he kept yelling at me, saying that's why he don't like me working with him at times and how I wonder why he yells at me. That's when I said enough is enough. It was becoming unbearable. I was so upset, I blasted back at him. I told him I'm not his child, he don't pay me and he don't need to talk to me like that. He kept yelling, so I said I was tired of his sh*t and he's not my f**king father. He told me to punch out and leave. Two customers witness the commotion. One left and the one that was still, I apologized to her for witnessing that. She was actually on my side and said no problem..

The manager came and pulled me aside. She told me how the two customers came to the front to complain about the pharmacist. I told her what happen so she told me to take the rest of the day off. I came to work Monday and was told how he sent a statement to cooperate. The supervising pharmacist asked me what happened and I told him. He said how the weekend pharmacist said I cursed him out. I admitted that I used profanity but I was provoked and was fed up with his foul mouth. I had put up with it for too long and I could only take but so much. I also said I didn't insult him using them curse words. The supervising pharmacist seemed to understood. I told him I didn't want to work with that pharmacist again. He said for me to send a statement to the PDM(pharmacist district manager). I did that very night. I did not get a response back till this day. I went to work the whole week and during that week I was told I had no choice to work with the weekend pharmacist. I obliged.

Saturday came and I was very nervous to work with him. I was so concern about what if he tells me to leave again, what if he starts another altercation, what if he really hates me now. On my part, I really wanted to apologize to him for cursing. I don't like to hold grudges but for some reason something was telling me don't apologize. It would have made me look like the bigger person but I figured maybe to him that would have shown a sign of weakness and I wasn't about to go for that. Surprisingly, the day went smooth. Even though we didn't have any personal conversations, he cooperated and was even extra nice to the patients. I was wowed and actually kind of glad to see him work differently for the better. I said to myself maybe that altercation was a wake up call or he had a meeting with the cooperate and told him to change his ways. Either way, I was impressed. I was like finally things look like they going to be alright. It's all over.

I was so wrong. I came to work on Monday and my manager said she needed to talk to me. We went her office and I was told that I was put on suspension for using profanity in the store. I was like "WHAT' got to be kidding me. It wasn't my fault and this is my first offense. I asked what happened and for how long I'm suspended. She said a lady from cooperate called her that morning and told her to put me on suspension and I have to contact my union. I'm like no one even ask or got my side of the story and I'm suspended. I said OK. I'm going to go home and call the union. I was upset because my manager could had called me at home to tell me instead of me going all the way to work to hear this. I was schedule for 3PM so she had plenty of time to call me. I went home and called only to get the secretary, so I had to leave a message. The next day, my manager calls me to tell me that I was officially terminated and that if I had any questions that I need to contact my union. I was like wow...ok... fine.

I called the union again and left another message. Its been a whole week and still haven't heard anything from the union. I came to the realization that DR really don't give a dayum about you. I bust my behind for 3 years for them. Worked on the floor, did front end, did extra stuff that my job title didn't require and I got treated like trash. They didn't even give me a warning and even my side of the story. I didn't talk to anyone from cooperate. They only concern is that I used profanity. My first offense and I got the boot. My supervising pharmacist tried to get me to come back and sent a email to cooperate saying I'm such a great worker and it's going to be a lost to the store and they going to send something back saying they don't care that I'm a great worker. I used profanity and they don't tolerate it so therefore I can't work for them. I don't even want to work back for them. The only good thing I can say is that I discovered my passion working for them and that's medicine. I came in knowing nothing and left out with so much knowledge and experience. I came across this website and decided to share my story. I felt I needed to. Not only customers hate it, they're employees that does as well.

I would never recommend any one to work or even shop there. There prices are too high anyway. I'm nothing but truthful here. No reason to lie. DR sucks BIGTIME. BTW, that weekend pharmacist still got his job and is still working there....SMH....Thanks for reading.....

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Five hours, three Duane Reades, two prescriptions -- Just to get a painkiller!

We just received this contribution, which is thoughtful and brilliantly written. What an outrageous experience. Thanks, J.C.!

- - -

Couple of years ago got one of those pesky early thirties cancer diagnoses. No problem – six months of moderate chemo should take care of it. Problem was, it didn’t, so it was on to the major leagues: full body radiation, heaviest chemo Sloan’s got, bone marrow transplant.

Nice thing is that it worked. Only reason I bring it up is that fingernails and toenails are destroyed by the HDC, and sometimes they don’t grow back correctly, which was the case with a couple of mine, which is why I had a toenail extracted this afternoon at two. Not a nice feeling, but the local anesthetic worked just fine (and really, it’s a lot more fun than a bone marrow aspiration).

Of course, when that local anesthetic wears off, you’re replaying George Clooney’s memorable interrogation scene in Syriana. Which is why the surgeon prescribes a painkiller. Just fine. And here’s where our favorite central character enters.

Duane Reade number one: I walk in, still entirely numb in the area affected, and hand the script over to a dainty, very courteous pharmacist, wearing a delightful periwinkle hijab. A half hour, she says. No problem. I walk gingerly to the nearest café, sit outside, and enjoy the autumnal sun.

I return to pick it up. But there’s a problem. The surgeon’s staff had failed to inscribe the dosage on the script. Well, that’s certainly their fault, not the fault of our esteemed pharmacy chain, certainly not the fault of the pharmacist (who truly seemed a nice person). Even at this point, somewhere in the darkest corners of my hypothalamus, I was already guessing the scenario.

I’ll just call my surgeon, I said. No, you can’t. Okay, I say, perhaps you can call the surgeon. No. We need a new script.

All right. I called my surgeon’s office. A young woman picks up. “That’s a little strange, but just come back and we’ll give you another one.” I did.

Back to Duane Reade, new script in hand. Thirty minutes, I’m told. Fine. Back to the café for another coffee. Back to Duane Reade. The local anesthetic is beginning to show signs of fatigue – merely the early stages, but still. And alas, another problem: they’re out of stock.

With all due respect to the lovely hijab-wearing young woman, wouldn’t she have been able to tell me that an hour ago? But I don’t want to make a fuss. Where, I ask, might I find the item in stock?

“We can’t tell you that, sir. This is a controlled substance.”

Well I know it is, I say. It’s a painkiller. I just had surgery. But you’re unable to call another branch and see if it’s in stock?

“We can’t do that, sir. It’s a controlled substance. But there’s another location just down the block.”

Of course there is: vermin spread like Starbucks. Off to Duane Reade number two.

This one, a block farther South, heading away from Tribeca towards the courthouse district, is a little messier. I mean that literally – the place was pretty filthy – and more crowded. But my spirits remain high. I wait in line patiently, then hand the script to this new pharmacist, who was not wearing a hijab, and was neither dainty nor particularly courteous. (Note: okay, I admit to a pro-Arab bias, but this has been borne out over and over, both here and abroad.)

Problem here eerily echoes the first: the staff had failed to specify the dosage.

“Well that’s odd,” I said. “This is a new script. I just picked it up a half hour ago. The problem with the old one was that the dosage wasn’t specified. That’s why I picked up this new one.”

No, this one isn’t any good either. I call my surgeon’s office. By now it’s around four thirty, and they’re not going to be open forever. My hypothalamus is starting to rear its pituitary hormones. (It’s the part of the brain that regulates hunger, thirst, fatigue, and anger – usually in that order, like passing exits on a freeway.) The young woman I’d spoken to previously picks up.

“You’re not at Duane Reade, are you?”

Of course I was, I told her. “They’re awful. Find another pharmacy. There’s no problem with the script.”

Maybe not. But one problem is that the local anesthetic is now starting to get really tired. (One can’t blame it, really.) The first flashes of pain, starting at the incision point deep beneath the toenail and sparkling up the leg like lightning: no thunder yet, but there’s a storm on the horizon. I try to talk to the pharmacist again. “I just spoke with my surgeon’s office. She says that there’s no problem with the script. She just wrote a new one. She said there wasn’t a problem with the first one, either, for that matter.”

The pharmacist, looking at the ceiling, mutters something to the effect that, yes, the milligram dosage is marked, but the something-or-other isn’t, and clearly the surgeon doesn’t know what she’s doing, did the surgeon fill it out, or did she get somebody else to do it, they don’t know how to fill a prescription, what kind of surgery is this anyway?

My composure intact: “I just a toenail extracted. I’ve got a local anesthetic, but it’s wearing off. I’m really going to need this prescription.”

“Well don’t get angry at me, it’s not my fault.”

I gently tell the woman I’m not angry at her, but pretty soon my body will be angry with me if I don’t fill the prescription. I call my surgeon’s office again. By now it’s almost five.

“Okay, just come over and we’ll write you a simpler script, a Vicodin.” I make it back to the surgeon’s office, limping now. Not a Keyser Söze limp, but a limp nonetheless. I run in, grab the new script, and run out without a word. Back to the second Duane Reade. The script’s great! It’ll be ready in twenty minutes. I sit down and pick up an issue of Star Magazine. I learned many things. Lydia Hearst – socialite, model, daughter of Patty (of Symbionese Liberation Army fame), granddaughter of William (of Citizen Kane fame), great-granddaughter of George (of Deadwood fame) – has collapsed. I wonder if I’ll join her.

After doing quite a bit of catching up on Anne Hathaway’s corrupt ex and Jen and Brad’s calamitous dinner date and Michelle Williams breaking her silence I suddenly asked myself -- who the hell is Michelle Williams? And why am I reading this? Because I’ve just been sitting here for a half hour and I’ll bet we’ve got a problem, Houston.

I go to the counter and have to ask the pharmacist – are we okay here?

“Oh. Sorry. We’re out of stock. Have been for four months.”

I’m starting to hurt. There’s a CVS about a mile away. It’s rush hour. I don’t want to be walking around. No chance of a cab. Once again, Duane Reade can’t call another Duane Reade to see who the hell has one of the most common painkillers on the market. And the interesting thing is that I sense an aura of suspicion on the part of the Duane Reade staff – the way they pronounce “controlled substance” with slightly narrowed eyes and a peremptorily lowered voice. I’m well-dressed, and I’ve just had surgery; yet I feel I’m being treated as a drug dealer.

I call my surgeon’s office again, asking if they could recommend a pharmacy in the neighborhood. “There’s a CVS about a mile away, but there are about fourteen Duane Reades.” Now we’ve got stabbing, stinging nerve action from the foot to the hip. No throbbing yet, but that’s next. I hang up the phone, and find myself at the Duane Reade number three. I should have resisted, but the centrifugal force is too great. Or maybe I am, on some level, a masochist? Not enough time to dwell on this.

The third Duane Reade is, frankly, nightmarish. About twelve poor souls waiting in one of Dante’s circles but they’re not guilty of simony or anything, they’re just trying to get their damned prescriptions filled. I’m impressing myself with my patience; I wait in line, then hand over the script.

Bingo! A half hour, the frowning woman tells me. I’m ready to propose to her. (And she’s really not my type.) But before I leave, I ask her something. “Are you sure there’s no problem with this script?” No problem at all, she says. “Is the dosage correct, and specified?” Yes, she says. “Do you have it in stock?” Yes, we do. “So there’s no issue at all with this prescription. I ask because I’ve just had surgery, and I’m either going to need to fill this prescription within a half hour or go to an ER and I’d rather not do that.”

She regards me directly for the first time. Junkie, she’s thinking. “We have a lot of people waiting in line here.” I say, of course, I realize that, but I just want to make sure there’s not a problem with this script. The surgeon’s office is closing soon, and I’m going to have to make other arrangements if there’s a problem. This is the third location I’ve tried, I explain, and the third script I’ve had written.

She scowls at me. “You gotta talk to her.”


Looking down: “Her.”

I glean from this helpful advice that she’s referring to a beleaguered, curly-haired woman in the back, who’s on the phone. “Well, can I speak with this woman?” I ask.

“She’s on the phone.”

I sit there for about, I’d say, fifteen minutes. All eye contact between staff and customers, needless to say, is rejected here. Finally I’m able, somehow, to get her attention. She meets my eyes, and I feel a flicker of sympathy for the woman: this can’t be a great place to work. But what was once a kernel of pain is now shrieking. So I’m projecting, vocally, like I’m on stage. “Excuse me, I’m very sorry, but I just need to know if you’re going to be able to fill this prescription. I’ve just had surgery. I’ve been trying to fill this script for three hours.” She regards the script.

“This is a controlled substance. I’m going to need telephone authorization from the surgeon.”

Okay, now I’m getting a little frustrated, and so are my neurons, for not being kind, supportive, nurturing – as if I have no respect for them, as if I take them for granted, don’t listen to them, always put myself first, say I’ll call and then I don’t, always late in giving them what they need (like a painkiller). (I just broke up with my girlfriend.) “Telephone authorization? I haven’t heard that before. I’ve been to two other pharmacies and have gotten three different scripts, for the past four hours, but no one, all afternoon, has mentioned anything about telephone authorization.”

“It’s a controlled substance, sir. You’re in line. We’ve got a lot of people waiting here.”

Okay. I call my surgeon’s office. “How long are you guys gonna be there? They say they need telephone authorization, don’t ask me why.” They’ll be in the office for twenty minutes.

I ask the woman at the counter – not the curly-haired one, who’s on the phone, but not speaking – if it’ll be possible to call my surgeon within twenty minutes. “A half hour,” she says.

Right, I say. But the reason I mentioned twenty minutes is because they’re closing in twenty minutes.

“Half hour,” she says. “There are a lot of people here, sir. You’re not the only one.”

Okay, I say, warmly. Thanks. I walk a few feet away, call my surgeon’s office again. The pain is radiating now, gleaming. I ask the office if they can just call the pharmacy. Maybe the pharmacist will have to pick up if they call. Figure, give it a shot.

I go back to the counter. The phone’s ringing, and I notice nobody’s picking up. Fifteen minutes go by, at the end of which I ask the first woman how things seem to be going and – in spite of the fact that I’m about four feet away from her – receive absolutely no recognition at all. “They’re closing in five minutes,” I announce, stridently, to a void.

I call my surgeon’s office again and get my surgeon’s cellphone number. This is what I’ll need, I’m thinking.

I’m kind of hopping around at this point – it seems to help a little. The problem with pain in the extremities, of course, is that they’re the victims of the gravity’s action upon blood flow. I find that if I stand on one leg and hold the ankle of the foot in question with the opposite arm behind me I’m not only mollifying the encroaching agony but maybe also performing an asana.

I look at my fellow sufferers. There’s a blonde woman next to me, perhaps in her late twenties, who clearly is in an analogous situation. I’m not sure what the ailment is, but it’s been one thing after another, and she cannot get what she needs. Now they’re saying that the insurance won’t cover her at this location. Why is that, she asks. It was fine at the other branch but they were out of stock. We don’t know, is the response. It’s not our fault. “Well can you call them?” she asks. I’ve tried, but I can’t get through, it’s not our fault. “Well what should I do, then?” I don’t know, Miss. You’re not the only person here. We’ve got a lot of people waiting here.

Including a middle-aged African-American woman who had patiently sitting on the single chair at the pharmacy area for – get this – five hours. That’s right. Five hours.

I look up “pain” on Wikipedia, on my Blackberry. “A definition that is widely used in nursing was first given as early as 1968 by Margo McCaffery: 'Pain is whatever the experiencing person says it is, existing whenever he says it does.’”

Thirty minutes or so later, I’m informed that my surgeon’s office is closed. “Is that right?” I said. “That can’t be.”

“No, really,” the woman says; “they’re not answering.”

I see an opening here. “That just doesn’t make any sense at all, because I had mentioned to you an hour ago that they were closing in thirty minutes. Granted, that would mean that they closed about a half hour ago. But you’re telling me they’re closed now? That doesn’t make any sense. Anyway, it’s not that important, I had a toenail pulled out of my flesh four hours ago and the local anesthetic has almost completely worn off.”

There’s a slight shift in the atmosphere – I have the attention of my brothers, my sisters, this small community of the oppressed: I am speaking for all of us, now, and in spite of the fact that at this point I probably do resemble a junkie – perspiring and hopping around – I am slightly vindicated.

The woman looks at me. “I don’t know what to tell you, sir.”

“I know what to tell you. My surgeon’s cellphone number. Please call her. She’s waiting for your call.”

She writes it down, but I can’t see if she’s making the call or not. There are collective groans. It’s getting hot – or maybe it’s just me. The pharmacy’s going to close in a half hour. And this is where I do it. A couple I know, two of my dearest friends, a brilliant engineer and sound designer and an inspired art curator, have, shall we say, an occasional foot in the world of – well, “controlled substances.” I text them. It could be my only way out – other than going up to the ER, which I really don’t want to do. But the pain is becoming pretty much unmanageable, and I’ve got a pretty good tolerance after a year in a hospital bed with my insides turned out.

They text me back immediately. Of course. No problem. And then it occurs to me: I’ve just had surgery, I live in the United States of America, and I’m seeking analgesia on the black market. What is this? When I was in Greece a few months ago and my companion developed a terrible bladder infection we walked into a pharmacy and were given an antibiotic – without a prescription, without a referral, and we’re not even Greek. Same thing happened to me one time in Istanbul.

And I’m sitting here with twelve other Americans enduring my same scenario, if for different reasons. They’re mainly mumbling about insurance.

The pharmacy’s about to close; I’m going to head over to my friends’ loft – what about these other people? One more time, I ask the curly-haired woman what’s going on. She claims she’s been calling my surgeon’s cellphone, but she’s not getting a response. “What should I do?” I ask her.

“I can give you the script back,” she offers. How generous. I wonder what would happen if I were to roll up the script itself and smoke it.

I call my surgeon on her cell. Of course, she picks up. I ask her to give the pharmacy a call. She says sure; she was expecting their call. She does. A minute later they hand me a little orange bottle. Five dollar co-pay. I’m one of the lucky ones that has insurance. I’m shaking in pain. I limp home, pop a Vicodin; my foot thanks me. I google “Duane Reade sucks” and a blog comes up with that exact title; I contribute without hesitation, painlessly.

I wonder about those other twelve people trying to get their insurance companies on the line this afternoon. I have much in common with Senator McCain: I’m white and have a terrible temper. (I’m proud of myself for controlling it today.) I have less in common with Senator Obama: I’m white and have a terrible temper, I grew up with a supportive, upper-middle-class nuclear family, and I didn’t go to Harvard Law School, never became the editor of the law review, and I’ve spent no time at all engaging in community service on the South Side of Chicago, the city where I’m from. Senator McCain calls for tax credits of up to $5000 for families that purchase health insurance, and he was quoted thusly in the Washington Post: "We do not believe in coercion and the use of state power to mandate care, coverage or costs." The non-partisan Tax Policy Center estimates that with his health care plan, we’ll have a million more insured citizens by 2009, five million more by 2013, and the national debt will increase by $1.3 trillion over the next ten years.

Senator Obama’s plan would raise the debt at about the same amount over about the same time, but we’d have 18 million newly insured citizens by 2009 and 34 million by 2018, covering almost every single child in the country.

But my goodness – is that Mrs. Palin cute, or what?

(NYC 9/10/08)

Wednesday, May 25, 2005


Thanks to D for the following submission:
. . .
I would say that THIS is the "Duane Reade Sucks" story to top them all, but with Duane Reade, you never know.

About a month ago, I was at the pharmacy counter at the Duane Reade on 70th and Broadway, where one other customer was waiting for a prescription to be filled. Naturally, there was only one employee helping customers behind the counter, despite loud non-work-related conversations going on in the back, and naturally, the employee behind the counter was complaining slowly and loudly about how she was the only employee behind the counter. As I was being helped, a female pharmacist came out to join her. The other customer, increasingly irate, then began complaining loudly about how her prescription was taking forever to be filled. "I've been waiting here for forty minutes," she complained. "When is it going to be ready?"

Rather than responding politely, the pharmacist yelled, "Don't you be telling me that you've been waiting for forty minutes, 'cuz I've been here watching you, and you've only been here for twenty-five minutes!" I was thinking to myself that twenty-five minutes was already pretty long to wait in the store without being told to come back later. But the other customer, apparently inured to the typical atmosphere at Duane Reade, responded by yelling, "You fuckin' bitch!"

Irate or even disturbed customers are an unfortunate reality in any service business. But at Duane Reade, they are not to be outdone-- because then the pharmacist screamed back, "Don't you call me a fuckin' bitch, you fuckin' bitch!"

I would have left then, had the incredibly slow counter service not been holding my credit card hostage. As I watched, the irate customer then went up to the counter and began banging on it, screaming, "I need my fuckin' pills!"

Instead of responding calmly to this disturbed woman (who obviously really did need her pills), the pharmacist responded as only a Duane Reade employee would, by screaming, "Do you want to take this outside?" The disturbed customer then answered, "Yeah!" And it was then, to my absolute horror, that the PHARMACIST CLIMBED OVER THE COUNTER AND PUNCHED THE CUSTOMER IN THE FACE.

There was apparently no store security, as the person who ultimately came to separate the two was a Lincoln Center Business Improvement District security officer from the neighbhorhood (who, as far as I could tell, just happened to be in the store). As for me, I grabbed my credit card and ran.

Noted Issues:
Irate, irrational, and potentially violent customers exist everywhere. But
irate, irrational, and violent EMPLOYEES, who actually INITIATE PHYSICAL

Submit your own experiences to

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Foul-mouthed at the counter

I was at Duane Reade the other day at 47th and 6th Ave. The check-out line was long (about 8 people waiting for the single clerk at the front registers). When the clerk looked up to see the line, she said "shit" very loud in a nasty sort of tone. Then she picked up the phone and paged someone. Several minutes later, a couple of employees came up from the lower level. The clerk yelled at them, "what the fuck were you both doing downstairs together? Look at this fucking line."

Noted issues:
1. An adequate number of employees should be stationed at the front registers to handle customer traffic.
2. Employees should never swear at coworkers in front of a line of customers, some of whom may be children.
3. The store is generally quite dingy and dilapidated.

Welcome to Duane Reade Sucks.

There is a virtual monopoly in New York City on drug stores. As they say in the jingle, "Everywhere you go, Duane Reade!" The chain operates over 230 stores, and has been ranked as the fastest-growing drugstore chain in the country.

Yet for a city that prides itself on being the best in the world (best restaurants, best theater, best nightlife, best museums, best shopping, and so on), we have the worst drug stores. The typical Duane Reade drugstore offers a dingy, dirty atmosphere and surly, foul-mouthed, incompetent (if not downright violent) staff.

As feedback to store employees and managers has gotten me nowhere over the years, I thought it time to create a space for New Yorkers to share their Duane Reade stories. Please, be polite and be honest about your experiences in Duane Reade stores. Hopefully with some collective storytelling, and the power of numbers, we can make management aware of the problems and improve this staple of New York life for everyone.

Submit your own stories via e-mail to