Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Stop Calling me, CVS!

Contact your customers-- but don't annoy them to death!

There is a rule in most businesses that a small number of good customers provide a large share of the profits.  Businesses need to identify who these people are, and paper them.  CVS Pharmacy seems to be doing the opposite.  The more business you do with them, the more they hound you with repeated, annoying, deceptive calls!

I have finally had enough of CVS's telephone calls and other annoying marketing tactics.  It is time for me to switch.  A simple Google search reveals that I am not the only one who is sick and tired of what they are doing.  How can a corporation be so shortsighted that it annoys its customers to death?  I have had a lot of health problems in the last 10 years, so I am a VERY good customer of theirs.  However, they treat me like just another person to annoy.  Here are a few specifics in my case:

1) CVS added prescriptions to an "Automatic Refill" program without my consent. That means that every time they feel that I need more medicine, they refill it and call me 5 to 10 times to tell me to pick it up.  These include calls from a human being, calls to my cell phone, and robo-calls.  
2) Last week they called and left a message telling me that it was "very important that I call them right away".  The emergency was, that I had one of those auto-refilled prescriptions to pick up.  First, this is just blatant deception. Why not leave a message like the 1,000 before?  It WAS NOT very important to waste my time to call them back.  Second, I had just picked up a 3-month supply two weeks before!
3) They just called my home and my cell to tell me that I could pick up some more nose drops if I wanted.  Honestly. they left a message at home, again telling me that it was "very important for me to call right away".  They reached me on my cell, interrupting me at work… That is the only reason that I know about these extremely important nose drops.
4) The people who call you tell you that they are not allowed to stop calling you.  You have to call their corporate number in order to request that they stop calling you. Here is how to get CVS to stop calling you, at least in theory: Call 1-800-746-7287, and right after their answering system finishes telling you about language options, say "CALL".  Basically, keep saying "CALL" until it says that it is connecting you with the person.  Tell the person that you want them to stop all calls whether it is from a recorded message or a person and give them every phone number you have.  Even though the person on the other end of the line is "innocent", I don't think it would hurt to show them a little anger: CBS needs to understand how much this is angering some of us.

There are two big problems with this, aside from the obvious fact that annoying your customers with endless calls, and deceptive calls, will drive them away:

a) They are wasting their own money and time. I just picked up a 100 day supply of one medicine for example, and 25 days later they are calling me telling me that I have a refill ready.
b) This seems to be illegal. According to :
In 2008 an FTC Rule: "Expressly prohibit telemarketing sales calls that deliver prerecorded messages, whether answered in person by a consumer or by an answering machine or voicemail service, unless the seller has previously obtained the recipient's signed, written agreement to receive such calls".  

Now, there are a few exemptions and exceptions in the law that CVS might be hiding behind.  Businesses are allowed to call customers with which they have a relationship, and there is an exemption for purely informational messages ( e.g., your flight has been canceled). There is also an exemption for "healthcare-related prerecorded message calls that are subject to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act", but I cannot believe that the FCC had this nonsense in mind for pure telemarketing from Drug Stores.

Hopefully some lawyers will get involved and file a class-action suit against CVS. Normally, I am not in favor of all of the class-action suits out there, since they are usually settled in very little of the money ever reaches the consumers who are affected.  However, in this case, I just want it to stop!  over the next few weeks, I am going to begin transferring all of my prescriptions elsewhere, even though there really is no other pharmacy that is remotely convenient for me.  But, I have had enough!

Tell me about your experiences in the comment section below!  Anything more ridiculous than what I have experienced?