Adventures in Customer Service

Published on September 1, 2010 by

For my allergies, every day I take a generic form of Claritin-D 24-hour. The Costco version of the drug is very cheap relative to elsewhere, so I generally buy a pack of 15 tablets every 15 days.

Unfortunately, because the pseudoephedrine in the decongestant used in the tabled can be used for making illegal drugs, federal law has set limits on how much a person can purchase.   However, purchasing a packet of 15 tablets every 15 days was never a problem at my local Costco in American Fork, Utah.

But when I was in California last week, I went to a Costco there, and the person behind the counter claimed I could not purchase any because that would put me over the limit of what they could sell to me.   The record showed I had bought 15 pills on July 28 and another 15 on August 12. Since it was August 27, he said I would have to wait until August 28, because it was illegal for them to sell me more than two packets per month.

I told him that I didn’t think that’s what the law said, and that I’d never had any problem purchasing a packet every fifteen days.

He said he could get me a printout of the applicable law.

I told him I’d like to see it.

So I waited. And waited. And waited. (And did a little internet research on my phone.) Finally, I asked him if he’d managed to get the printout.

He said he was waiting for it to be sent over from another store, and offered to mail it to me if I would give him my address.

I told him I didn’t live in the area, and that I’d looked up the law online and the limit was based on the amount purchased within 30 days, not within a month.

He passed me off to his manager, who used the monthly method to determine it would be illegal to sell me the medication before the 28th.

I explained that measuring by monthly dates was not the same as measuring 30 days, since July had 31 days. I even offered to show him using a calendar.

He said that, since it was obvious to him I was not a drug dealer (apparently drug dealers don’t dress all in black with an “I am not a serial killer” tee-shirt or don’t have goatees or something), he thought it would be okay to sell me a pack one day early.

I decided to take yes for an answer, rather than to try to further explain that his interpretation was wrong and therefore it was not one day early.

That was not the only customer service problem I ran into on my trip. On the way back, I went through a McDonald’s drive-through in California. At my local McDonald’s in Saratoga Springs, Utah, I get a large water with my order rather than getting a soft drink. The large water is free.

At this particular McDonald’s, though, when I ordered a large water, the employee said, “You can only get a small water for free.”

I don’t really have a problem with that. Since there’s a cost involved for the cup and straw (and a minute cost for the actual water and ice), plus the labor to provide it to me, getting water for free is actually cutting into their profits on the transaction. At a Burger King a few months ago, they charged me 25 cents for a large water, and I didn’t complain.

“So, how much is a large water?” I asked.

“We have to charge you the same as a soft drink, so [some amount between $1-2 that I don’t remember exactly].”

“Then I’ll take a small water. No, make that two small waters.”

And so I got two small waters for free, almost certainly costing the store more in materials than providing me one large water. And if the charge for the large water had been reasonable, I would have paid it.   So what idiot at that McDonald’s decided that a large water should cost the same as a large soft drink?

Filed under: General

4 comments on “Adventures in Customer Service”

  1. Yeah, buying pseudoephedrine has become an incredible hassle these days–but, as I’m sure you know, it’s worth it. Accept no substitutes.

  2. This ridiculous law that prohibits law-abiding citizens from buying necessary cold medication is ridiculous.

  3. Mike Miller says:

    The restriction should be on how many times you can eat at McDonalds…..

    I bet Micky-Dees has a bigger death toll

    Sorry, I\’m not sure where that rant came from….

  4. I think that McDonalds buys the cups from a distributor who charges them rates comparable to what the customers pay for the actual drinks. This is probably to keep the individual stores from drastically dropping the price (since soda itself is ridiculously cheap when bought wholesale), but I’m not sure. When you got a small, did you get it in a styrofoam cup or in a coca cola cup decorated with the logo? For the styrofoam cups, they just have to pay for materials, but for the coca cola cups, they have to pay the extra amount that the distributor charges.