The Pharmacy Chick

Flying the coup in retail

I’m not the purchase police, thank you!

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 10:15 pm on Saturday, September 19, 2009

I know this has happened to every pharmacist out there, but it happened something like 3 times on Friday at work.  Due to recent labor cuts, Pharmacy Chick has been spending way more time at the cash register than she would prefer.  Often customers will ask me to ring up a few purchases.  As long as its not a grocery cart full of crap, I don’t mind a few items.

Honestly, I really don’t analyze what people choose to buy. Most of the time I don’t even really look at what they are buying…I scan it, bag it..and be done with it.  We sell stuff, they buy stuff.  So when a customer comes to the counter with a purchase, why do some of them feel the need to apologize or somehow justify their purchase?  For example, I have this diabetic guy.  He brought a half gallon of ice-cream to the counter and asked me to ring it up.  I said OK and he just had to add  “This isn’t for me”…

Candy, Wine, Beer, whatever.  We are in a store where we are expected to service our customers.  I know there is a lot of debate among pharmacists about what we should or should not ring up.  Even among people who relief at my store, some won’t ring up this or that.  Officially our company stance is, “if we sell it, you ring it up”. They sign my paycheck, I ring it up.  When I get to the point when I sign my own paycheck, I can decide what I will or will not ring up… That being said, I am not the police of what people buy.   If  you wanna buy a 12 pack of Bud-Light then fine, I really am not losing any sleep over it, nor am I moving you to my loser-shit list for having done so. (well maybe, but I am not telling you!)

I know that you smoke and use inhalers…no point in hiding your cigarettes….I know you are diabetic…If you wanna eat that bag of oreos and up your insulin dose, go right ahead. I’m not calling your doctor and tattling..

Its your life…I can only control my own. I am not going to embarrass you for buying stuff so please don’t feel obligated to justify or rationalize your purchases. Really….so unless you are buying an anatomically correct blow up doll, chances are pretty good that NOBODY in the pharmacy is going to talk about what you are buying..

BTW..we don’t sell those dolls.


Comment by Phat

September 20, 2009 @ 10:28 am

So what you’re saying is you sell non-anatomically correct blow up dolls right?
yea we get the rejects…with all the holes in the wrong places.LOL

Comment by anon

September 20, 2009 @ 4:06 pm

You think you are buying a Flinstones punching bag, but get quite the surprise when you take it home…

Comment by Mallory

September 20, 2009 @ 4:11 pm

Maybe you’re just too busy to care what people buy? I sometimes get the feeling checkout personnel are judging me on what I’m buying. Very occasionally you even get a snarky or too-personal comment. “Ohh, you have a cat!” “Nope, I’m trying the new kibble diet – my sister lost 18lb in four weeks.”
“Having a party?” “No, I’m planning to eat six pizzas and 4 litres of icecream all by myself.”
Mal, they are just being nice or polite..I really don’t care what people buy…its their business..if I see something really interesting I have commented if its something I have never tried or would like to..”Hey this salad dressing looks it?” its just casual conversation..dont be offended if they say something about your cat food..

Comment by Pharmacy Mike

September 20, 2009 @ 5:33 pm

I feel EXACTLY the same way.

I work in a grocery store, and here’s the stupid thing… While we sell beer and cigarettes, for whatever reason, we’re not allowed to ring them up at the pharmacy counter. How does this make any sense? What are we trying to prove?

Ok… So a customer just spent $300 on prescriptions at our pharmacy counter, but we have to make him walk 20 feet to the closest regular register because we can’t ring up his beer. What’s the difference between the pharmacy register and the regular register?

Just like you said… If we sell it, we should ring it up.

Comment by Dr. Grumpy

September 20, 2009 @ 5:46 pm

I encourage tobacco and unhealthy diets. They’re good for business.

Comment by Carol

September 20, 2009 @ 6:17 pm

Heh. I once had a customer going through Ventolin inhalers like they were Smarties. one day he came in, I could smell the cigarette smoke on him He also wanted to buy Claritin Extra, Sudafed and Reactine Sinus. I asked him if all that was for him. It was, I explained about narrowing your airways with all that decongestant stuff. He bought plain Reactine and called me a month later. Apparently his asthma was waaaaaaaaaaaay better. Soemthimes I have fun ringing things up. Sure the company lost a few bucks, but they sucked anyway. And I got to help someone. rarein that sompany.

Comment by The Ole' Apothecary

September 20, 2009 @ 11:07 pm

Some years ago, at a grocery store, I bought Bird’s Eye brand of frozen peas instead of the store generic. The cashier had to comment, “Oh, those are expensive!” I told her I didn’t have a car payment.

Brand name peas are not nearly as expensive as a carton of Marlboro cigarettes—forty seven dollars. Holy nicotine! I love watching those per-carton price postings, because I don’t smoke, and never have.

Although I keep reading about the constant decrease in the number of smokers in the U.S., I don’t believe a word of it. I see and smell cigarettes burning everywhere, and each time I am at the Walgreens front counter, I am almost always preceded by someone looking for a certain brand or style of cigarettes. Bird’s Eye peas, indeed!

Comment by Doctor D

September 21, 2009 @ 2:35 pm

I just love the heavy smoker who spend a fortune on cigarettes each year, and then spend all their time complaining about the cost of their COPD medicines!

Sometimes Doctor D just can’t help but be a smart ass and tell them a way to cut way down on the cost of treating wheeze.

Comment by Mallory

September 21, 2009 @ 3:26 pm

Answering the chick – Probrably not clear in my post – I don’t have a problem with normal friendly comments. The tone can change what might be otherwise inoffensive into something snarky or nosey (As it did in these cases). And if they comment on my personnal hygine product, OTC medication or underwear purchase, I’ll avoid that teller for as long as I can remember what they look like.

Comment by Jennifer - Pharmacy student

September 21, 2009 @ 6:34 pm

Sometimes the cash register is the place for health interventions… if you have the time (haha). As a pharmacy intern, I’m not sure what *I* personally am allowed to say intervention-wise. I’m not usually a small-talk initiator either regarding other items. I don’t mind small-talk if the customer initiates it as long as the line isn’t huge.

As for being a customer and small talk or rhetorical statements/questions (which is all “You have a cat!” is… a rhetorical statement), I don’t mind those either. Never had a cashier be rude to me, and I shop at Wal-Mart of all places. No need to be rude to the cashier either. They are people too.
As a health care professional you can say anything you deem appropriate for health care interventions. If I see something that can damage their health.. such as a drug interaction with an otc, yea, I would likely say something..I just dont “police”their purchases!

Comment by rxkerber

September 22, 2009 @ 12:21 am

Sorry Ms.Chick, but I disagree with selling alcohol at the pharmacy counter. We tell people not to drink alcohol with their meds (narcs/ benzos/ antipsych/ NSAIDS) but we’ll ring it up? Nope not for me. I’m not stupid. I know they’ll buy it anyway, but when they crash their car from their alcohol/ benzo combo, no one can blame me. If we sell it to them, we are liable for what happens. Just as the bartender is liable if he keeps selling to an intoxicated person. Can you see the law suit? “Well, the pharmacist sold me my xanax and the 12 pak of beer at the same time. I didn’t see a problem.” Yes, you can document what you told them. But does it help when they injure someone? Sorry to be on my soap box and it is just one person’s opinion. I respect your opinion, but we are no more liable for selling a bottle of beer to a patient on a benzo or vicodin than we are for selling a candy bar to a diabetic. As long as we have sold the item legally (they are of age), we are not held to the standard of a bartender, unless the person purchasing the beer is intoxicated. We are a store…and our company is in the business of selling stuff…selling stuff pays their stockholders and we get sales. More sales, in the tills. and That, my friend is what the corporation is all about. The bartender is also selling a product for immediate consumption. Is it our duty to determine if this person is going to consume that beer? Why are we assuming its for him? I’ll buy my husband some wine at the supermarket. I hate the stuff, he likes it.

Comment by chris

September 22, 2009 @ 5:35 am

As much as i dont care what people buy in general, i do get annoyed when people pick up their 10 different tax payer funded blood pressure/diabetes/asthma drugs etc, along with the beer and tobacco. They just ticked a box to say they cant afford to pay £7.20 for the medication to keep them alive, but they can afford to pay for 20 cigarettes and a crate of beer that is killing them.yea Chris, that is a problem that never goes away.

Comment by Jennifer - Pharmacy student

September 23, 2009 @ 5:30 pm

Oh, sorry, I should clarify what I meant. When I meant intervention, I meant when, say, the diabetic rings up a candy bar with his metformin, I am not sure what I should tell the diabetic… if anything.

If someone is, for example, ringing up OTC Tylenol with their Vicodin, you better believe I am going to say something.Jennifer, you should be counselling your Vicodin patient not to use additional Tylenol before you even see it on the counter. We do.

Comment by Dr. Grumpy

September 27, 2009 @ 10:20 am

Sure, Jennifer. Spoil the fun and take away money from us hard working doctors.

Comment by CRinMI

October 2, 2009 @ 10:31 am

“What’s the difference between the pharmacy register and the regular register?”

In Michigan, you must be 18 to work at ANY cash register. And you must be 21 to ring up alcohol. That’s why the difference in Michigan. Underage workers might work in the pharmacy, but not at the regular registers.

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