Speaking up to make things right

It seems more and more we’re taking action on behalf of a cause, in opposition to an event, as a way to make a statement, or to address a grievence. Is it because there’s more things to get upset about, our expectations are greater, or because we have the ability to complain? Probably all of the above.

Many of my business traveler readers from JoeSentMe.com have commiserated about airline service or the lack of it. We often move from one airline to another to punish a wrong. I’ve been vocal about avoiding Southwest for canceled flights and otherwise poor service. Others have complained about American, United and Delta. It makes us feel good to speak with our feet and walk away from a company that treats us badly. And it’s good to let them know. We want to do business with companies that treat us well and show respect. Unfortunately too few do.

It’s also something important to do. While our efforts may often be in vain, we feel better because we’ve acted on principal. And possibly just one of the complaints will be enough to make an impact.

A priority for me this past week was to move all my prescriptions away from Walgreens because of their decision not to dispense abortion-related medication, even in some states where abortions are legal. I felt Walgreens was putting the health of their customers at risk in order to comply with threats from right wing politicians.

As reported by Politico,

The nation’s second-largest pharmacy chain confirmed Thursday that it will not dispense abortion pills in several states where they remain legal — acting out of an abundance of caution amid a shifting policy landscape, threats from state officials and pressure from anti-abortion activists.

Nearly two dozen Republican state attorneys general wrote to Walgreens in February, threatening legal action if the company began distributing the drugs, which have become the nation’s most popular method for ending a pregnancy.

The company told POLITICO that it has since responded to all the officials, assuring them that they will not dispense abortion pills either by mail or at their brick-and-mortar locations in those states.

The list includes several states where abortion in general, and the medications specifically, remain legal — including Alaska, Iowa, Kansas and Montana. For example, Kansas’ law that patients only obtain the pills directly from a physician is blocked in court.

I wrote emails to their CEO and customer support officials (wcrexecresponse@walgreens.com and rick.gates@walgreens.com) but never received a single reply. But along with the many thousands, I’m sure our protests registered, not only at Walgreens, but by the other large pharmacy chains, who have, so far, not followed Walgreen’s lead. And then I voted with my money. I moved by prescriptions to the Amazon Pharmacy. It was quick, simple and painless, like most things with Amazon. And I’m saving money as a benefit.

The internet helps us make our views known with sites such as Yelp, Healthgrades, BBB, and numerous other review sites. Email a ddresses are usually easy to find with a bit of searching. While Walgreen’s executives failed to reply, I’ve found most company executives do. A no reply speaks volumes about the company.

The key to effectively complaining is to do it politely and briefly, explaining the issue and describing your relationship to the company. What I’ve learned is not to take the issue personally or let it eat away. So many decisions are based on rules corporations have created combined with a customer agent with little authority to do anything on their own. Going high up in an organization is usually more effective.

While I’m no longer on Twitter, its a good platform for complaining. Companies usually have an account and monitor complaints when they’re tagged publicly.

Six months ago I had to deal with Verizon for charging me for DisneyPlus that came as a free benefit and then autorenewed once the benefit expired, even though I never used it (or even remeber getting it). I was able to escalate it to a corporate office dealing with escalated and got the issue resolved. I got half the payments back and $20/month reduction off my ongoing bills. I also got an agreement to be able to call back this person whenever I had an issue, bypassing the normal route.

Some efforts did not go well. When Amex cancelled my Platinum card for a fraudulent charge while on my way to Rome a few years ago, they couldn’t figure out how to get me a replacement card during my two week trip. When I got back I asked for an adjustment, being a 20-year Platinum member, towards the $700 renewal fee. They were adament about no breaks (and no apology). I left them for Chase Sapphire and have been very satisfied. Ironically, for years now I continue to get offers from Amex almost weekly about coming back. They’re weren’t smart enough to realize that it costs a lot more money to get a new customer than what it costs to retain an existing one.

While there are many companies we can take issue with, three are at the top of my list for how well they handle issues that go wrong. Costco.com always goes out of the way to satisfy. Returns are easy, and when I ordered a Panasonic Microwave with a broken tray, and Panasonic didn’t respond, Costco shipped me a replacement part in two days, buying it off Amazon on my behalf.

Amazon makes it easy to make returns and removes all risk when buying something sight unseen. Lastly, Chase for my banking has been flawless. It’s always easy to reach an intelligent customer agent who has a broad knowledge of their products, services, and especially navigating their outstanding app and website.

Good customer service seperates the mediocre, penny-pinching companies from those that excel in providing care and the respect we expect. Life is too short to tolerate bad service. Let them know and find a replacement.

by Phil Baker

2 thoughts on “Speaking up to make things right

  1. Cheryl Riedlinger says:

    Thank you so much for switching from Walgreens. As a customer and shareholder i also contacted them to ask why they would alienate more than half their customers by caving to these AGs and have not received a reply. I am hoping CVS and Amazon do not follow suit.

    • Phil Baker says:

      Thanks for your comment. Not replying even to a shareholder is disappointing. Evidently not much they can say to defend their decision.

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