Deliver on Your Promises

My wife and I used to buy our drugs at Walgreens, the largest drug purveyor in Chicago and one of the largest in the United States. Now we don’t.

Figuring the retail value of my wife’s various medications and my heart medications – the alpha-blockers, beta-blockers and assorted linebackers – we used to spend several thousand dollars a year there.

Walgreens wasn’t a horrible store. The prices were fair, if American pharmaceutical prices can ever be labeled fair. We stopped going there primarily because they forgot about “niceness” at the pharmacy and frequently made us wait a half an hour or so at the drive-through. It is ironic that we took our business to Target’s pharmacy, which doesn’t even offer a drive-through drug pickup.

Walgreens promised us convenience, but disappointed. Target did not promise drive-through convenience but the store executed well what it did offer. We virtually never have to wait at the pickup counter at Target. The drug staff is friendly, courteous and knowledgeable. The cashiers are appropriately friendly and efficient. They run the store like they care about it.

My takeaway from my own behavior as a customer is that the key thing a seller must provide is consistent service with a smile. Walgreens provided my drugs and had competitive pricing, but they constantly annoyed me by taking too long and then not apologizing for the delay.

As I began writing this piece, I started thinking about the times I have failed people in my own business – disappointments that I probably thought were trivial like a phone call unreturned, a bill paid late, or a request by an employee ignored. Over time, I am sure the omissions, perceived rudenesses and egotism have cost me dearly.

We often think business rises or falls based on big ideas, creativity and boldness. Perhaps success depends more on having an efficient drive-through and smiling cashiers.

Question: What businesses have you abandoned?

Lloyd Graff is Owner and Chief Space Filler at Today’s Machining World and Graff-Pinkert & Co.

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16 thoughts on “Deliver on Your Promises

  1. Emily Halgrimson

    My experience has been the opposite. Our local Walgreens has the more efficient courteous pharmacy staff, and our Target pharmacy is filled with an unhappy crew I avoid.

    Very true theme though. Huge companies can pour millions into advertising and creating great products, but if they don’t have a pleasant person smiling and chatting while swiping the credit card, the end user will leave with a bad taste in their mouth.

  2. Bill

    If I was planning fast on food for a quick lunch, I would go to Wendys. About 6 months ago I ordered a chicken sandwich and when I bit into it it was completely raw in the middle. I haven’t been back since. I

  3. Peter @ Polygon

    I agree with the premise, only in this case Walgreens here on Fort Myers, FL has been excellent. The stores are super clean and have very friendly staff. Personally, I also feel that they seem to maintain better technology products (data media, small electronics, etc.) than most of their competitors. I rarely need to buy that stuff, but when I need it at an odd hour or don’t have time for a big box store they have it.

    I abandoned chain retailors for men’s suits and instead pay a little more at a personal clothier. Better customer service by far, but no drive through. (

  4. Bill

    If I was planning fast on food for a quick lunch, I would go to Wendys. About 6 months ago I ordered a chicken sandwich and when I bit into it it was completely raw in the middle. I haven’t been back since.

  5. Ron

    Fast food restaurants. My wife and I prefer good, healthy choices at mom and pop type places over the same old same old. Oh, and I left Walgreen’s for a family pharmacy when Walgreen’s would or could not straighten out a prescription problem for me. I too spend thousands of dollars a year on prescription drugs. They don’t seem to know or care that they screwed up.

  6. John Otto


    I’m sorry I didn’t call you back but the customer turned out to be a mirage. Should have called to to say so but got busy with a machine import.

    What a giant, costly paid in the neck it is getting to be importing machines.

    Getting back to customer service, or lack thereof; the biggest offender is our government. As it currently stands we are stuck with them like it or not. We can’t even vote them out since the free lunch crowd now rules the roost 🙁

  7. Jim Goerges

    My experience has been completely the opposite! Our Walgreen’s has great staff and counterside manners! I must admit, there are quite a few people who go there with the “McDonald’s” order and delivery mentality and are not afraid to make there demands and there perceived lack of respect for there situation made in public though, I personally think that is a bit over the top and rude in my estimation. Seriously, if you think things are bad now, just wait till Obamacare settles in, you’ll be wishing the 1/2 hour waits were back! We’ll all gonna reap what the political left have sown. Rock on!….or not!

    Stores or businesses I have left, a few car dealerships, a couple used machinery dealers, a machine shop, and a barbershop. Most have been for reasons other than poor service. The machine shop stole a machine from me and my barber died.

  8. Frank O'Neil

    It all boils down to customer service and, unfortunately in this information age; good service is hard to find. Phone answering by a person is a thing of the past & don’t we have trouble believing that our call is” very important” when we get put hold for many minutes? And how about our colleagues who carry their smart phones into meetings and cannot resist the temptation to check when it vibrates. I still try to provide timely, positive service to my customers; I know my score is not 100%, but hope to score in the 90’s.

  9. Emily


    I had the exactly same problem at Wendy’s. Completely raw chicken sandwich. I haven’t been back since either. Lesson learned.

  10. Jim Goerges

    Lloyd, you made a comment, “…if American pharmaceutical prices can ever be labeled fair.” I have done a limited amount of research here and have found this statement to be either uninformed or pure hyperbole.

    Would you agree that there are costs for overhead, research and development, government oversite and FDA approval for medicines? Consider this, for every drug that makes it to market, how many don’t make it to market?

    Let me ask you another question, how should those cost be paid?

    In a way, the copy catter’s (generic drugs) of the pharmaceutical industry, make costs higher for the pharmaceutical main brand companies, that is because the life cyle on the product line is shortened and doesn’t get the revenue to continue to reinvest into new drugs and absorb completely all the fixed costs, development, facility, ect.

    Now, look at product liability for half a second, how do you charge for the cost of future litigation for drug incompatability on a new product? Do you realize this and how do you account for this, who should pay for this?

    Product that doesn’t sell for the dumbest reason. For example, if a package of aspirin on the pegboard at Target has a crumpled corner, most consumers won’t buy it! Why does a bent piece of cardboard an inch away from the product make the product inferior? So it stays on the shelf and either becomes outdated or is returned to the drug manufacturer because the product is defective! WANNA BET? Who bears this cost? Who should bear this cost? Who is the one who determines enough is enough and too much is too much?

    We have the most liberal “for the people” judicial system ever in the history of the world. Look at the laws that are being passed. Now a case goes through the courts and goes through the system with judges and jury with lawyers yacking all the time. The judge makes a decision. Not guilty. Today, that isn’t good enough for a lot of people, most are uniformed, they don’t respect the process because they won’t learn about the legal system. Yet they and the media spew “feelings” and many of them think that is fact. And this lack of knowledge becomes a majority, hope and change is a good way to sum this up. So now you end up with more division and splitting of groups and justice WAS SERVED! I pray for the families of Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman.

    So do me a favor, do some research in your beliefs on the drug company’s costs and profits, understand challenges they also have, understand why costs are high and need to be reimbersed, understand there capital investments and risk exposures before you only comment about profit and greed. It’s funny how it’s always the other guy….

  11. Josh

    Why is it that in a completely unrelated post, people still need to bring politics into the debate? This isn’t about politics, I’m tired of the politics being brought into everything. Bad customer service? THANKS OBAMA! Come on, give me a break.

  12. Josh

    Also Jim you’re simply wrong, drug prices in America are ridiculous. Americans subsidize the drug prices for the rest of the world. The companies that sell you the same drug in America for 100$ a month sell the same drug in Europe for 10$ a month. A quick google search will provide plenty of evidence as I cannot post links here. And hey, guess what? I agree that George Zimmerman should not have been convicted either. The whole case was a mockery of the justice system and media chicanery.

  13. Robb

    I fired my haircutter after 16 years with the same gal, because they raised the price twice in 6 months without any notice. That made me feel as if they expected to lose a few, and calculated that they could get away with it. Guess what, I found another place without difficulty and at a better price for the same quality. I think they made a mistake in how the treat their customers.

  14. Teresa

    I would love to drop both Comcast and Direct TV. Neither company understands customer service. We’ve been without TV since the 4th and neither company could get service to us in less that 10 days. We were going to drop DTV and go with Comcast. Comcast made all the promises and then when their Tech showed up he was either uninformed or just plain stupid. He left without doing anything so we are still without. We’ve had conversations with approximately 10 different Comcast employees many of whom, based on their knowledge of our address and the availability of their equipment in this area, tell us that we are completely eligible to have their service at our house (this would include telephone, internet and TV) and yet because their incompetent service tech left they re-scheduled us out to the 25. Now we have a small company that we run out of our house and because they begun all the machinations to have our previous services discontinued the day after the original service call we’ve had to back track to be sure AT&T did not drop us. I need both my phone and our internet service to stay in business. So, we asked Comcast to please send someone out to verify that we are physically eligible to have their service run to our house prior to sending out another “Tech”. We just want to be sure that we won’t have wasted another week to be told once again that our address is “ineligible. And lastly of those 10 people we spoke with, 6 told us that they would call us back and only one did and two of the calls dropped and there are no direct dial numbers. They only call on toll free and when asked for a direct dial number in case our call dropped again, they informed us that they did not have numbers to give out. CAN YOU IMAGINE!!!!!! What customer service?

  15. Joe Landry

    I learned decades ago the most dissatisfied customers don’t complain, the just don’t come back.

    I am sure I have dropped the ball a few times in my career, but we do well through good and bad times by offering excellent service. I expect the same from my suppliers.


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