Hoffman's Houston
drawing the line

Ken Hoffman draws the line against nosy customers at CVS — and wins

Ken Hoffman draws the line against nosy customers at CVS — and wins

News_Christmas Day Shopping_Dec 09
Hoffman is sick of people eavesdropping in the pharmacy line.  Photo by Rachel Handley
Ken Hoffman CVS sign please wait
His simple solution: a sign. Photo by Ken Hoffman
News_Christmas Day Shopping_Dec 09
Ken Hoffman CVS sign please wait

On rare occasions, I win one. For several years, I have complained about (and to) my neighborhood CVS not having a sign asking customers waiting to see the pharmacist to stand back from the counter to ensure other customers' privacy.

Customers in line, crowding the counter, could easily overhear other customers giving their full names and birthdates to the pharmacist. That's not just an invitation for identity theft, it's practically a how-to instruction guide. The pharmacist might as well ask you to say your ATM password (mine's "Bosco") over the store loudspeaker.

Also, I'm pretty sure that not providing privacy for customers at a pharmacy may be a violation of the HIPAA law, which guarantees the security of medical records.

More and more, pharmacies are becoming mini-doctors' offices, giving shots, and checking out injuries. Privacy is essential. If all that weren't enough, this CVS installed a magazine rack directly in front of the pharmacy counter, which invited even more customers to overhear the pharmacist asking personal medical questions of customers.

It was a ridiculous, uncaring, rude, and possibly illegal setup. When I repeatedly complained to pharmacists, I was told, "We don't like it, either, but the store manager says no."

I said, "If it's a cost factor, I'll bring a piece of tape to put on the floor for customers to stand behind." Again, nothing was done. They obviously don't recognize sarcasm — and anger.

At one point, a CVS spokesman told me how much the company values the privacy of its customers. Blah blah. Nothing was done. Thanks for wasting my time. Another time, a spokesperson said a customer can request to meet the pharmacist in a private room. Yeah, that wouldn't be too embarrassing for the customer.

The final straw was a couple of months ago, when I was getting a prescription filled and a guy in back of me was standing so close, I could feel and smell his wheezy breath on my neck. I turned and asked him to back off. Maybe "asked" isn't the right word. A discussion ensued. Like I was the bad guy?

Finally, I was in my neighborhood CVS earlier this week, and there it was ... a sign asking customers to stand back to provide privacy to other customers. Check out the photo — a pharmacy that cares about its customers.

Now, if I can just get CVS to limit its receipts to 10 yards long.


If you share Ken's disdain for pharmacy encroachers and welcome this sign of the times, let him know in the comments or on Twitter