Friday, January 23, 2009

CVS Update: My Patronage WILL go on…

I was beginning to wonder if my letter to CVS regarding the stale peanut butter pretzels was going to result in a response, but the other day my fears were abated after long last. As I was leaving for work Tuesday morning my phone rang. Now, I’m not trying to bring attention to my lack of popularity, but when my phone rings at ALL, my first thought is, “Who on Earth would be calling me?” My second thought is (of course), “Oh God, oh God – somebody has died.” Even if somebody does actually call me, it is a rare, rare occasion that they would do so before 9:00am on a weekday. I mean, who’s UP at that hour other than the gainfully employed? Jeez! What kind of company do you think I keep?

So my phone rings, and it is an out of state number. I answer:

“Hello, is this Laura Witkowski?”
“Hello, my name is John and I’m calling from the (indecipherable) corporation.”
“I’m sorry, where are you calling from?”
“The (indecipherable) corporation. I’m calling regarding some pretzels you purchased from us?”
“Oh, yes! The pretzels from CVS! Are you actually calling from Woonsocket, Rhode Island? Is this CVS CEO Mr. Thomas Ryan?!”
“Um, no… But I am contacting you regarding your original communication to us – it says here that the pretzels were stale? Can you describe the issue in more detail?”
“Well, I think so. They were stale – but is was really more of a moldy flavor. You know, like mold.”
“So were they moldy or stale? How did they taste?”
“Well, I would say that if a product is moldy, the likelihood of it also being stale is quite high. The product tasted moldy. You know, like mold.”
“I see. Do you still have the product?”
“Yes! I always hold on to opened and partially consumed moldy products for over a month as I wait for a response from the company regarding the issue in hopes that said retained product may be of use to the manufacturer should they choose to finally contact me.”
“Oh good. Do you have the bag handy?”
“I was kidding – I no longer have the product. I returned it to the store the very same day and took advantage of the CVS Brand product money back guarantee. I made mention of this in my original letter about the issue. You can ask Mr. Ryan.”
“Oh. Okay then. Well, we’re sorry to hear you had such a bad experience with the product. We would like to send you a replacement in the mail to show you our gratitude for bringing the issue to our attention.”
“Okay – that sounds great.”
“We’ll mail something out in the next day or so. Thanks again for contacting us.”
“You’re welcome. Thank you for your call. Goodbye.”

And like magic, a few days later, a letter arrived that contained a CVS gift card for three dollars. According to Janet, the customer relations representative who was assigned the task of responding to me, as a result of my comments, they will request that the manufacturer investigate the problem I have experienced and take the necessary action to prevent a recurrence in the future.

Now, I don’t want to tell CVS how to run their business, but I think a good start in this investigation is to insist that CVS stores take expired products off their shelves. I know this seems obvious, but just the other day I was at the same CVS location from which I purchased the pretzels, and lo and behold, I noticed that they STILL had the same expired pretzel stock on their shelves. Again, I am not a business guru, but when it is mid-January of 2009 and a product has an expiration date of November 2008, maybe it’s time to admit that this product will not and should not ever be sold. I brought it to the attention of the cashier at the store, but I won’t lie – she didn’t seem appropriately moved by this information. Our conversation went something like this:

“No thank you, I won’t need a bag. Also, just so you are aware, your CVS Gold Emblem Pretzel stock is expired. Almost every variety in fact.”
" ... "(blank stare)
“They expired back in November.”
“Oh … of what year?”
“November of 2008. So about two months ago.”
“Oh … okay.”
“Alright then.”
“Thank you. Have a good day.”
“Mmm Hmm.”

Well, I tried my best. It is now in the hands of those at CVS who are assigned to tracking down the source of the problems when customer complaints arise. I imagine them to look a lot like the detectives from old film noir movies – except they have “CVS Sleuth” embroidered on their trench coat pocket. I just hope that they don’t go all rogue and shit and make up their own definition of “necessary action.” I don’t want to see anybody mowed down or any factories torched because I had a bad moldy pretzel experience. But what can I say? It really is out of my hands. As they say in AA (or so I’ve heard) I must “let go and let God.” Amen.


Melody said...

I've complained to both the CVS and the Rite Aid in Hamtramck for selling me stale food. Both times I got a $25 gift card. I had to complain about Rite Aid again, but told them NOT to send me a gift card because that's not what it's about. It's about not putting stale Salteens BACK on the shelf after I brought them up to the register to tell the clerk they were stale. I know this makes me sound crazy. I hate CVS.

Laura said...

Wow - a $25 gift card, huh? Twice you've gotten one? Look Melody, I could pretend that I'm not jealous and that I agree with you that "that's not what it's about" but I can't pretend. I feel like my letter was well worth a $25 gift card. You CLEARLY have a magic consumer's rights touch of which I am jealous. But I DID get an actual box in the mail the day after I posted this. In the box? TWO PACKAGES OF CHOCOLATE COVERED PEANUT BUTTER PRETZELS. Which came with a letter from the guy who called me. Also he referred to said mailed product as a "gift pack." So suck it.

Anonymous said...

If you don't buy every single product off their shelves then it costs them money.... Greed wins.

Jonathan from Charlotte

D'Anne Witkowski said...

I have also found expired produces on the shelf at CVS. Like Melody, I also take every single package in question to the register and inform the cashier or manager. I haven't found them back on the shelves, but Melody's experience is alarming. If I have to choose between CVS, Rite Aid, and Walgreen's, I pick Walgreen's. Unfortunately, there isn't one very close to my house. Alas.

Magic Pants Jones said...

I can only smile when I read about your half-hearted consumer crusading. Nice stuff.

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