CVS Nightmare- Is it a national phenomenon?

The lunch break advice wouldn’t work at my CVS - the pharmacists put down the garage door/gate thing and are not accessible at all.

At our CVS, the drive through is backed up for COVID testing. No testing inside, all at the drive through - the same drive through for pharm pick ups.


I’ve been using Amazon pharmacy for more than a year. Easy and efficient. Two day shipping. They communicate with the doctors’ offices. Most of my prescriptions are generic and cost me $0-$2. For my one expensive med (for asthma) the Amazon price is cheaper than the price with my insurance. As I understand it, Amazon bought a company called Pill Pack because it had pharmacy licenses in all 50 states. It says it’s an approved pharmacy foe most insurance plans. If you don’t have a philosophical or political problem with Amazon it might be worth checking out.

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The CVS driveway through at my local store is almost always closed. They never seem to have enough staff to keep it open while dealing with customers inside. In addition, they do not answer the phone, which means there is simply no way to check on a prescription without venturing inside (because as someone else pointed out, the online/app seems to consistently say “in process” even after a week or more has passed).

My neighbors are required to use CVS due to their insurance. I’m glad my insurance gives me a choice.


Have you used this pharmacy before? If this is different than it had been before I have no explanation, but if it’s your first trip to this pharmacy then it’s just bad store management.

A local Walgreens in my area is terrible. The only way it could get worse is if they stopped dispensing and in all honesty it would take a while to tell the difference. I went there once in the pre-Covid era. It had all the trappings of a real pharmacy – a sign saying “pharmacy”, people in scrubs stuffing things that look like medicine into white bags, bins behind the counter that appeared to hold prescriptions ready to pick up. “Ready in an hour” should have been “come back tomorrow and see if you’re lucky.” The people in line and milling about waiting who were complaining about the service should have been a tip-off. The ironic thing is there is another Walgreens a mile away I go to now, top-notch and friendly service.

I renew all of my prescriptions as well as scheduling vaccine shots through website. When the prescription is ready to be picked up, I get a text message. When my Dr. prescribes a med, it gets sent to a Walgreens store of my choice, and I get a text message when it’s ready to be picked up. I only visit the store when my stuff is ready or to purchase something. Whether Walgreens or CVS, service quality is individually variant and not across the board.

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Uh sorry - I’m a bit off-topic, because my experience is with the local Walgreens down the street, not the CVS on a different block. FWIW, the Walgreens app does work well for me, I do all my prescription renewals and vax paperwork on the app/online, and I get a text whenever a prescription is actually ready for pick-up, I even prepay it with my HSA card, and get a QR code for “rapid pickup” (although that concept is an epic fail, because there’s never been a separate line).

It also lets me see when the pharmacist is out for lunch (meaning: no vaccinations). But in my local store they do have a staff of 2 or 3 assistants who will continue to handle the pick-ups during that hour.

Went to CVS for my COVID booster. Waited maybe 5-10 minutes, no sweat. Wife went same time of day, 2 days later and waited over an hour. Made no sense–maybe staffing issue?

Been going there for years. Never an issue. It is an issue at all CVS in our county, from what I can deduce from conversations with other poor saps in line. I know personally two others in our township are similarly backed up. As is the one local Walgreens. Seems to have started in September. They have a hand written sign saying they are short staffed. Hours reduced from 24 hrs to 8 hrs. Other locations have closed their drive through and also close early. There just aren’t enough pharmacy techs and supply issues are rampant.

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Then you’re lucky.

I’ve had that excuse from CVS at least every other month for the past 6 months. Can’t even count on them keeping basic antibiotics in stock.


Exactly what I witnessed today. Another customer in mine was picking up a prescription for her son, and they only had enough antibiotic for three days instead of the 10 days. They told her to come back tomorrow. Which means she has to stand in that line again. An older woman said she’s down to taking her diabetes medication once a day instead of three times a day because they have been out of stock for her meds and she can’t seem to get it regularly. Honestly, would love to have a concrete explanation of why this happened all of a sudden. Did they expand too quickly? Change upper management? Did they fire people because of vaccine status? Were their massive retirements by baby boomers in the Philly suburbs? Just can’t be volume. Too widespread. Going to try to transfer to different private pharmacy but we are forced to CVS if we want to use insurance.

It’s definitely an issue in the Philly ‘burbs. FB groups are all over it. My regular med has always been on auto-refill but this month i got no notice, no auto refill, nothing until I noticed I’d put the last pill in my pill holder. The tech told me they are so understaffed they can’t get to the auto refills, so they don’t fill them until you come into the store. I can’t understand why their computer system doesn’t have a way to let the customer know?

The CVS pharmacies in Target are closing or having reduced hours. A couple of free standing stores have abruptly not had pharmacy hours recently, leaving a lot of people in the lurch.

I’d love to transfer to our local owned pharmacy - I keep using CVS because if we were ever on the road, there was always a CVS nearby to get refills at, but at this point, it is just not worth it. I’d rather do a little homework or get Rx ahead of time.


So far, I’ve had pretty good luck with my CVS, though the website can get wonky for me when doing refills–it seems to work okay on my phone but not my laptop.

My H had a non-CVS issue. He has been getting an extremely expensive, hard to get qualified for, med for a fairly serious condition he has. We switched insurance recently, and the new one and Walgreens (where he goes–I switched from them because their lines were impossible), could not work out the process for authorization for this drug. He can’t take the standard ones for a particular reason. Walgreens messed up the authorization process over and over, and he was eeking out the pills so as not to run out. His specialist finally sent the prescription to a small, boutique pharmacy, no where near us, but they got the authorization fixed, were a dream to work with, and send the refills by private courier, for free.


The local CVS tends to understaff its pharmacy for the volume of business. It has 4 or more times as many customers as the other one but only one pharmacist and slightly more staff. They are now allowing pharm tech to give shots, so that’s helping slightly.

I’ve always been afraid of running out of meds, so I always get a refill at the earliest possible time and get a 90-day supply (it’s cheaper for insurer & me that way).

These shortages sound awful, especially as it’s making it difficult to impossible yo take r as prescribed. When we were having high covid case #s, I was having my Rx mailed to me from cvs pharmacy at no extra charge. Sadly, last 3 pack of nasal sprays came a week after being mailed in a puddle of fluid in the plastic envelope. It was so sodden, the glue came apart for the cardboard boxes. I took photos and filed a usps claim and was shocked 2 weeks later to receive a check for $100! I’ve decided to pick up my Rx in the future rather than trusting usps.

I’m not used to having drama connected with getting maintenance Rx refilled. It’s definitely unpleasant. If your insurer requires you to use cvs (or whatever pharmacy chain), you can make a formal complaint with the insurer, how will be very interested in your getting your proper Rx in a timely manner.

I’ve been getting messages to pick up Rx and go to pharmacy only to find out it’s a rogue message and they have no Rx for me. Very irksome. I now always call to confirm before going.

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I had a friend who used to work as a pharmacist for CVS. They were a horrible employer, which probably explains why they are short staffed.
We needed a rather cheap antibiotic while we were on vacation once, and we did not have American insurance, so CVS wanted to charge $50 for it. Knowing it was an old and cheap drug, I said no, went home googled the price and found another pharmacy charging $17 within driving distance.
How much longer will America put up with such a broken health system? Why are prescription drugs cheaper in Europe? Because people need to start putting their foot down.


The CVS at our local Target has had huge waiting lines according to people on Nextdoor. I’ve waited a long time at a nearly Walgreens too.

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Was just in two CVS’s, 1 pm - 2 pm SoCal local time, and neither had a line at the pharm counter. No one waiting for jabs. Just saw one family sitting for the requisite 15 minutes after a jab, but that was it.

btw: I have no dog in this fight, but perhaps some stores are understaffed bcos CVS can’t find employees to work. (There are millions of open jobs across teh country, so Pharm should be no exception.) That said, if CVS can’t find enuf workers, the obvious solution is to raise their wages.


Our local Costco is amazing. They publicize the lunch hour so you don’t get the “oops we’re closed” phenomenon like you do at CVS, they don’t seem to ever run out of anything (from what I’ve heard) and although it’s a longer drive than the local CVS’s which are on virtually every corner, they seem to be on top of their game with as many techs and pharmacists on duty as they need.

I tried getting a flu shot two years ago at CVS-- they told me they had the vaccine but had run out of needles a few days earlier so couldn’t give me the shot. I asked 'Why do you still have a “get your flu shot” sign sitting on the sidewalk?" and the tech told me “Corporate makes us keep the sign up even when we can’t administer the shot”.

Costco for me every since then! How long does it take to get needles- this was before Covid!


And maybe not have 12 hour shifts and maybe give them decent breaks and a lunch hour….I don’t know what they do with them now, but it ain’t working.


Because people always fear “rationing” when the subject of health care reform comes up. Yet here we are with actual rationing. If lots of insurance companies effectively give their insureds to a CVS monopoly, is it surprising that CVS is overloaded and may not actually care that much for customer satisfaction?