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Walgreen’s to Customers: “You need us more than we need you.”

Posted by Rick · December 27th, 2003 · No Comments

This, at least, is the message of Ms. Vollker — this is a guess at the spelling after she proudly told me her name when I objected to her message — of Walgreen’s store #4242 in Sun City, Nevada.

My wife and I visit Sun City frequently. Until last year, her mother lived here. Since her passing, we continue to visit her husband, my wife’s stepfather, whenever we get a chance to get away from our home in Fresno.

Sun City is a Del Webb development up the hill from Las Vegas. It’s a beautiful retirement community; quiet, peaceful, upscale. People living here have planned their lives as well as Del Webb planned the neighborhood. They’re in a position both financially and geographically to enjoy great weather and a plethora of activities such as golfing on one of the community’s several exquisite golf courses. The majority of local establishments are highly customer-service-oriented.

The Lonestar, for example, serves a fantastic range of steaks and seafood cooked to perfection. Whether you’re enjoying a Black Russian prepared by Renae behind the bar or taking an impromptu dance lesson from Michelle, you just can’t go wrong. On occasion, I’ve stopped a passing waiter or waitress when ours was busy to ask for more bleu cheese or a refill on my drink. They’ve always been more than willing to help, even though they must be busy with their own tables. This is a class joint where customer service is more than just an empty phrase.

All of Sun City seems to be this way.

Well, except Walgreen’s store #4242 just down the street from Mase’s lovely home on the golf course. Even there, however, they’re willing to grunt a greeting or two. Just don’t try to cash a check for nine dollars if you’re from out of town. They won’t do it. Not even after you show your driver’s license, or point out the $20,000 worth of credit cards sitting in your wallet.

The woman “serving” me — there’s no real word for the approach of these folks — had already rung up my purchase and was checking my I.D. when she realized I was “an outsider” who probably only spends a few thousand dollars a year in her neighborhood. She made clear to me in no uncertain terms that I was unwelcome in her store. When I objected that everyone else in the area was more than happy to receive my checks, she called a manager. Ms. Vollker arrived and was looking at my $9.97check when the cashier uttered the fatal explanation of my oppugnant characteristic: “Out of State.”

And that was the end of that. I’ve received better service from the automated cashier down at the local Smith’s, where I have a store card because I shop there so often. Smith’s isn’t in California (I wish they were, though! those automated, self-serve cashiers are pretty spiffy once you get used to them and they don’t grunt at you), but they have no trouble taking my checks.

I understand the worry about receiving a bad check. But unlike Smith’s, Walgreen’s does exist where I live. In addition, they run their checks through computers just like most of the rest of the world. It would not be at all difficult to determine before the machine even finished imprinting the back of my check that it was good. (To add to the mystery, the bank I use is a federal savings bank that doesn’t even have branches in California!) Or, perhaps, a little common sense, judgment, or — dare I say it — customer service might cause them to think twice about insulting a customer over a chapstick and some ear plugs.

Only Walgreen’s can’t risk $9.97 to retain a customer.

Categories: Corporations


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