The Waiting Is The Hardest Part

Most Sunday mornings, I buy my Times at CVS. That early, the store is empty. There are no lines. And the staff — especially always-smiling Phil, just coming off a long shift — is friendly and helpful.

The rest of the time, the place is nuts.

But let an alert “06880” reader — a woman who wishes to remain anonymous — tell her tale.

I need to vent about the CVS pharmacy lines! Over the 3 years I’ve lived here, it’s gone from driving back from the doctor’s office, popping into CVS and picking up the prescription in less than 15 minutes, to now almost a 3-hour wait tonight.

I have a sick 1 1/2-year-old with an ear infection and needed to get a dose before bedtime. I was at the doctor’s at 2:15. They called in the prescription while I was there. So I went directly to CVS. I figured I’d have to wait a bit, but wanted it ASAP.

I waited in a ridiculously long line, only to be told it would be a 2-hour wait. I returned 2 hours later. They said my prescription hadn’t even been called in, which was untrue.

So they checked and discovered it had been. They told me 5 minutes, which turned into another half hour. By 5:30 I was rushing to get out of there and get the medicine in my son so we could all get some sleep tonight.

I was not the only sad story tonight.  There were many people almost traumatized by their individual situations and long lines. I asked the guy handing drop-offs what was going on. He said that since Walgreens stopped accepting express Rx (?), CVS now handles all of those customers. When I asked how they planned to address this increase in drug traffic, he shrugged his shoulders.

I think I’m about to take my business elsewhere. After spending an entire afternoon trying to obtain this prescription, it would have been more efficient if I had just driven to Fairfield.

Any thoughts on CVS? Walgreens? Achorns? Where do you get your prescriptions filled — and what’s your experience with customer service?

Meanwhile, don’t get me started on that CVS parking lot. Why do you think I only go there on Sunday mornings?

69 responses to “The Waiting Is The Hardest Part

  1. CVS? Walgreens? They’re interchangeable. Like all the chains, for the reason cited by your reader, and many other reasons – they all stink! Your reader should fill her prescription drugs at an independent like Achorns (where I do) or Colonial Drug. There are no lines to speak of, and the staff is always friendly, polite, and competent. Also, they are not more expensive then the chains. The thing I can’t figure out is why ANYBODY fills prescriptions at the chains.

    • VETDOC at Compo

      Could not agree more. A circus, very often.
      Can’t possibly count the number of times I have gone in and my Rx is not ready even after I phoned to ask if its ready. What?
      Service is a 2 on a scale of 1-10.

      I ONLY utilize if after hours (OR, if in need of a public rest room).


  2. Have been here for 13 years and stopped going to CVS and Walgreens years ago. Colonial Pharmacy is the place to go. They are not open 24/7, but are the nicest and most pleasant people to work with. My husband was sick a few years ago and the prescription was faxed at closing time(thought I would pick it up in the morning). We received a call from the owner after hours saying the prescription was ready. I mentioned that it was after hours and he said that he was working late and knew that my husband was sick and probably needed the medicine sooner than later. Now that is customer service!! Won’t use anyone else now.

  3. Ditto…sad but true. Try Achorns on Main St. Not 24 hours but such a different experience it’s worth it!

  4. Call the main cvs office to report.

  5. Colonial Drug is the place to go. Russ, Robin and the rest of the staff are town treasures, unfailingly pleasant and efficient and compassionate. I could tell you countless stories about how they improved an otherwise trying situation. I happen to know a CVS pharmacist and the stories she tells me of the hours she is required to work and the number of prescriptions she is obliged to fill per hour would truly shock you because it is inhumane.

  6. Same here….Who needs the extra stress of dealing with the CVS mayhem when you are already battling something else (or else you wouldn’t need a prescription, right?) When my mom was terminally ill we switched to Colonial. Sometimes they can be cranky too, but overall the experience is much more tolerable.
    Next step, improve our diets and lifestyles such that we keep our trips to the pharmacy to an absolute minimum! Since eating clean and avoiding environmental toxins I’ve made one trip to the pharmacy in the past 5 years as opposed to my former rate of 6 times a year! Now that’s a ratio I can manage- at any pharmacy. Blessings and Happy New Year!

  7. Susan Schmidt

    Colonial Drug! Don’t wait another second to transfer all of your prescriptions to them — they’ll take care of you with a smile.

  8. My recent experience at CVS is similar: one prescription filled with the wrong drug; a loss of another prescription that was called in–the entire record erased, for a drug that my ill son needed promptly, with the staff refusing to call the doctor outside of office hours to replace; half a pill given instead of a whole. Want to switch to Colonial but always worried about after hours needs, and have to investigate whether the prescription pricing is the same.

  9. I think I’m one of the customers referred to in the original posting. I dropped off 2 prescriptions and was told it was a 30 minute wait. I accepted that, seeing how crowded the store was. Forty-five minutes later, as traffic slowed down, I went up to one of the pharmacy clerks who didn’t have a question. I said, “I’d like to ask you a question.” His reply was, “I’m closed.” Amazingly, he stood in the same position, staring at the cashier next to him (who was actually working) and did not move (or blink) for about 4 minutes. Finally, I got on the line so I could at least ask if my Rx was ready. It was…it had been sitting in a basket probably for 15 minutes. I was never called up by the pharmacy to get in line. This happened to the customer who was behind me as well. Added to that was a problem with the way the insurance was handled and, the next thing I knew, my Rx was in an abyss, sitting on a counter with nobody acknowleding it. To make a long story short, I hour and 15 minutes later, I left the store. I hear Stop & Shop pharmacy is a good one to try…

  10. We always went to Colonial—BUT they stopped taking our insurance. That may be the reason many shop at CVS and the other chains.

  11. Colonial Drug all the way! CVS is a corporate giant that has negogiating power with the insurance companies. Go Colonial – stay local !

  12. Bobbie Herman

    Try Super Stop & Shop in Westport. They are extremely courteous and efficient. If a prescription is called in by the doctor, it will be waiting for you when you arrive. If you bring in a prescription, they’ll tell you “twenty minutes,” but it’s usually ready in ten. It’s more convenient for me as I’m usually in S&S once a day, and I live closer to it than Colonial or Achorn.

  13. Stopped using CVS years ago.
    Support our local businesses and go to Achorn!

  14. Katie Augustyn

    We have had excellent service from Achorn’s for the past 10-12 years.

  15. Colonial is the BEST. They are SO nice there!!

  16. Stopped using CVS years ago!
    Support our local businesses and use Achorn!

  17. We use Achorn, they are fantastic: helpful, prompt, and friendly. I’ve never used CVS for prescriptions, but when my pediatrician won’t call prescriptions in to CVS because it takes too long, you know it’s a bad sign!

  18. Russ, Robin, and the rest of the staff at Colonial are terrific.

  19. As a Weston resident, I use Lang’s. My doctor advised me not to use CVS, saying that it gets prescriptions wrong more often than most.

  20. John McCarthy

    Wow, so you’re the guy who is buying the paper version of the NY Times.

    • Sunday only. It lasts through the week (you can see me reading it while I exercise on the stationary bike at the Y). And I like the paper version of the Sunday crossword puzzle. So sue me.

  21. Another Anonymous

    I hate to say it, but they’re not always nice at Colonial. Several of the staff members have argued with me, and I’m NOT a customer who goes in talking on the cell phone or acting rude.

    CVS can be a piece of cake or a nightmare. Sometimes you breeze right through, and other times, it’s a long, long wait. And there’s no pattern to it, at least that I can see.

  22. Jane Nordli Jessep

    A very long time ago there were a couple of drug stories on Main Street, including Achorns, maybe even three including Colgans which had a soda fountain and was a kind of nice hang out for teens who liked cherry cokes. It must be one of the only non-chain stores in town and I would love to give it a plug. I always get my prescriptions filled there partly because my family has done business there since I was young and it is good to support local business. But also, the pharmacists take a personal interest in you and if you have unique needs they will do their best to address them. Give it a try, I don’t know how the costs compare but for me there is no cost difference.

    • Jane, the third drug store you remember down town was Gray’s, next to Ed Lee’s chinese restaurant.

      • Jane Nordli Jessep

        Hi, Gary,
        Yes, I remember Gray’s drugstore. In fact, the couple who ran it, the Jacobsons—if I’m remembering the name correctly– were lovely people and Mrs. Jacobson was the sister of one of our neighbors over in the Coleytown neighborhood. Their name coincidentally was Singer.



  24. yep – i had to wait 3 DAYS past my original Rx date for a bad bout of bronchitis…3 DAYS…..they said they were out of the med (and waited to tell me until I arrived hours after the Rx did – just to be sure it was ready, instead of calling us). THen the pharmacist said there was nothing he could do about it….so I left. Then the next day they tried to tell me that they could get me the name brand for over 130.00, (when my copay for the prescribed generic is actually 25) but there were not enough of those pills, then they told me that they would get it in the next day….well…..2 days after that I called AGAIN and was told by whatever person was on duty that morning that he would NEVER give me the name brand of that particular RX anyway even if they did have enough….and that they have an “issue” at the Westport location with pharmacists putting the bottles back in the WRONG location and it turns out they had the meds my dr had prescribed the whole time!!! And do not even get me started on the number of pharmacists I have seen touching pills with their bare hands….aren’t they supposed to wear gloves or use that metal spatula??

  25. Can’t beat your local Mom & Pop shop. Although a bit pricier, Achorn’s Pharmacy is worth it!

  26. Try the CVS in Norwalk (corner of Post Road and Willard Rd,). The lines are a lot shorter and they also have pickup/dropoff from your car.

  27. I’ve been using Colonial Drug for over 10 years, Russ, Robin and staff are always accomodating and pleasant. I find it hard to believe “Another Annonymous” that your were treated poorly there, I’ve seen rude customers in there and they were still treated respectfully.

  28. CVS is the absolute worst. I don’t think they’ve ever pulled up a prescription on the first shot. They are always confused and there are always long lines and slow service for every step. Those Mom and Pop shops all sound great….if they were open during any hours when either of us were around.

  29. Wendy Batteau

    We’ve used Achorns for 20 years. They know their customers
    personally, are cheerful, helpful, kind, and they’ll gladly deliver your medication – which helps when you’re feeling too awful to drive.

  30. Russ and his FABULOUS staff at Colonial Druggist is the way to go. I haven’t had an Rx filled at CVS (or elsewhere) in the 20 years I’ve lived here. Friendly, courteous, professional staff. They brighten my day and always address me by my name!!

  31. Achorns. They’re fast. They care. And they deliver.

  32. Hard to believe what I’ve read above. Haven’t drive-thru pharmacies come to Westport yet? In most parts of the country, CVS, Walgreens and even independents are closing all stores except for drive-thru locations. Our CVS here in Sarasota has a caring, friendly staff. It is busy but organized. I can call in an RX and drive thru to pick it up 20 minutes later.
    And in 10 years, they haven’t made a mistake.
    Jane, the third drug store you remember down town was Gray’s, next to Ed Lee’s chinese restaurant.

  33. Forgot to mention … I used to get earaches as a child. 60 years later and I can still remember that excruciating p-a-i-n. Hot water bottles and penecillin was the ‘cure’ in those days. I cannot imagine making a child with an earache wait all day to get an antibiotic. Shame on CVS.

  34. The Dude Abides

    COLONIAL DRUG!!!! Bought my first condom there in ’65 when it was in Colonial Green and still going. Efficient and nice. Can’t say I need as many condoms these days but they got them for you young whippersnappers!

    • Er, Dude, what’s still going, or shouldn’t I ask?

      • The Dude Abides

        Ah . . . good question. I still go to Colonial for my one prescription. I have a crush on Robin. But I only need two (2) condoms a day now so don’t frequent it as much.

  35. If you’re in the northern end of 06880, Lang’s in Weston is a best bet. They’re wonderfully helpful, and they have some very nice gift items too. Parking never seems to be a problem. And the post office is just around the corner, with rarely a line. Of course, Colonial is great too. When they were new to me, and I was “enjoying” bed rest at Yale (a high-risk pregnancy expecting multiples) I’ll always remember receiving the gift of a heart-shaped bar of soap from Russ. I saved it, using it sparingly, for years — that is, until my teenaged daughter bought me a new one! The outcome after all had been a good one.

  36. I’ve never been able to figure out why anyone goes to CVS for prescriptions when it doesn’t cost a cent more to get courteous, quick, professional attention from Achorn’s, where I have been going since I moved to Westport in 1998. They process insurance efficiently, and get to know you, your kids, and your RX history. Plus, I always feel good about bringing business to a local retailer as opposed to a major chain – and that includes when I shop for cosmetics, greeting cards, and a very interesting selection of gifts.

  37. BTW, Dan, terrific graphic.

  38. the skeleton waiting is hysterical!

  39. I long for the day when most big and small pharms concoctions will not be intoxicating people and the environment with the second highest cause of death attributed to properly prescribed drugs; and for the day when natural food growing, [mostly locally] is subsidised instead of the poisoning industrial and military industries which profiteer from illness and death.

  40. Achorns..personalized service..Doctors prefer to call it in here..

  41. I’m sure ObamaCare will make it all better :/

    • Princeton '82

      Yeah sort of like Bush ’43’s senior prescription plan. 8 trillion in unfunded possible costs.

      • Attacking Bush is not a defense of Obamacare. If you think the CVS emlpoyees are indifferent to their customers just wait until some GS nothing is charged with filling your prescription. Public employees have absolutely no incentive to do a good job and you can’t sue them for giving you the wrong prescription. There will be excellent healthcare facilities built just a short fligh away for those who can afford them. The poor and the middle class will die waiting to see a doctor for their MRI or angioplasty.

        • Thank you anon, that was my point.
          Obviously, princess ’81 took a page from his blamer in chief.

        • No one said that it was a defense but it was ill-advised considering the magnitude of potential liability. Where in the Obamacare bill do you see GS public servants filling prescriptions? Its purpose was to broaden the pool of those insured in order to hopefully, lower health care costs. This will be done through private carriers and not a governmental entity. Hell, most of the middle class/poor are dropping dead now waiting for a doctor or the ability to pay one. Your socialistic fear mongering is a lost argument considering that a Boomer generation of 73 million is about to make medicare/medicaid bankrupt if something is not done. Hats off to President Obama and the Democrats for doing what Richard Nixon tried to do in ’71 and Bob Dole advocated in ’96. There is no blame here but shame for taking this country so long to get anything done.

          • The express purpose of Obamacare is to drive private healthcare providers out of business. The $2000 mandate will make it virtually certain that millions (73,000, 000 by some estimates) will lose their current healthcare provider Those individuals will be forced into government run programs. Part of the Obamacare program is a 30% cut in Medicare reembursements. These cuts will reduce the supply of healthcare providers willing to accept Medicare payments. Thus you will have the perfect storm; private suppliers exiting the market, a huge increase in demand for healthcare services from the newly entitled and the aging boomers, no commensurate increase in supply, and government price
            controls on health services. The only game left for the middle class and the poor will be government run healthcare programs; welcome to Ba rry’s world. Or you can fly to Costa Rica and find healthcare from American doctors who have moved offshore to avoid the penalties of Obamacare.

            As long as Obama pretends that healthcare is a free lunch, there is no possibility that the supply of healthcare will increase or the cost of healthcare will come down.

            According to the CBO the cost of healthcare will continue to increase after Obamcare goes into effect. On the other hand you can get in on the frequent flyer plan for medical tourism in Latin American and the Carribean, where the the new hospitals will be built.

            • The health care providers were behind Obamacare at the start but bailed when there were exclusions to the mandate of everyone being in the pool. Thank you Joe Lieberman. We discussed this before but a study of Japan, Taiwan, Germany, England and Switzerland indicates three needed proponents to deal with health care costs: Non-profit carriers, everyone in the pool and the government controls costs. The government basically does this for Veterans and Medicare and no one, including me, has a complaint about service or delays in getting attention. We can spend 3 trillion in Iraq, 1 trillion in Afganistan and 800 billion to the fat cat investment bankers but we can’t pay for health care for US citizens? Hell, I say give everyone Medicare and stop the wars!!!

              • Not every doctor will aceppt Medicare payments. Obama has excluded all of his friends, unions, from the requirements of Obamacare. Russia has government run healthcare system; there is little of no healthcare. In countries like France, the percentage of people covered by private insurance has increased from 15% to 85% in the last 30 years. Governmenr run healthcare increases the demand for healthcare but does not increase the supply. Moreover, when the ultimate end game happens; price controls, and rationing, it will be too late for the middle class; buy a condo in Costa Rica, our doctors will be nearby. As long as healthcare is a free lunch, there will be less and less healthcare available. Unless people pay for their own healthcare, we as a nationa will spend Too much on healthcare. Medicare has a $40 trillion unfunded liability; it will go the way of the dodo before long.

                • I guess I am limited to the GOP health plan: Don’t get sick and if you do, die quick.

                  • BTW, check out documentary “Forks not Knives” regarding a plant based diet that would knock out 70-80% of cancers and heart disease. Perhaps our only chance to keep health care costs from destroying us?

                  • There is no free lunch. If you want medical care, you will need to find it outside of the government run healthcare programs.

  42. Jane, Dorain’s Drug Store was another on Main street and I believe where Russ got his start..

    • Jane Nordli Jessep

      Yes, Dorains was one of the drug stores I was thinking about. Dorains, Grays, Colgans and Achorns, though I’m not sure if Achorns was there in the 1950s. We had in store accounts at Dorains and Grays. Ah, the days. What’s up with all the jibber jabber in this discussion thread? Wasn’t the intention of Dan’s question to have people help each other out with good ideas, not drown each other out with unsolicited political rants. Be nice. Be sweet. Help your neighbors.

      • Arthur B. Champlin

        Gee, I guess the traffic at CVS and drug stores that were here in the 50’s is far more important than the health care crisis in this country. Maybe we ought to jibber jabber about the Remarkable Book Store some more too?? Ah, the days of the 50’s when Mad Men prevailed and women hid behind their apron strings.

  43. Anonymous Mommy

    Colonial is great but I generally fill all prescriptions at Walgreens and have had perhaps just one problem in all the many years I’ve been going there. Maybe I’ve gotten lucky but I can’t recall any major issues when I’ve had to get something filled. It’s usually quick and if it’s not ready, I’m given a time to come back(generally a half hour or less) and it’s always been there.

  44. Melissa Ceriale

    Do these westporters not know about Russ at Colonial Drugs?? Or Achorn Pharmacy? Where the staff have been there for a thousand years and know you by name? Where you can find someone who knows your family and they ask how your son or daughter or husband has recovered from that recent bout of bronchitis? Where you can still have an old fashioned house account and not worry about having enough cash on hand to pick up the much-needed script? This is what Westport is about.

    • Jane Nordli Jessep

      I agree about Colonial Drugs and I should add yet another affirmation of it as a wonderful example of what Westport is really all aobut.

  45. I would love to use a small independent pharmacy, but it always seems that they are closed when I need them, or do not have what I need. My husband and I work full time, so a place with full evenings and weekends is pretty essential. I absolutely detest CVS though, so perhaps these others are worth a try. CVS seriously needs about 10 times the pharmacy staffing it currently has. Not to even mention the parking lot situation. Ugh!

  46. I don’t have prescription coverage, so I will usually go to Stop & Shop or Walmart for free antibiotics or discounted generics. But if this weren’t the case, I would definitely try the independent pharmacies.