My "prinsip-prinsip seorang ahli farmasi teladan" are simple enough:
- Every decision I make is with the customer's benefit and well-being as priority,
- I would not recommend the customer to do / get something that I would not do / use myself, and
- I would not sell the customer short or try to take advantage of the customer for the sake of profit.
So what made me so mad today??? This customer came in with a medication he was dispensed with earlier, which he had paid for, and he demanded to know why he paid a higher price than that stated on the sticker. The price stated on the sticker refers to the amount paid by the patient that would contribute towards the safety net amount, which is a limit to the amount of money a patient has to pay in a calendar year for government-subsidised medications. Once the safety net limit is reached, the patient pays a much lower price for each government-subsidised medication. Amounts contributable towards the safety net amount do not include "extras"; for instance, a brand price premium of a few dollars paid by the patient to the manufacturer of a market-leader brand (the brand that first come out into the market) as "royalty" for the research and development of manufacturing a market leader.
It sounds confusing enough for me to explain it, what more for the customer to understand it. I have tried a few times to explain a brand price preimum to customers, and sometimes I get the customers so flustered I often wonder why I bothered in the first place. So when this particular customer told me he didn't understand what I was trying to tell him, I almost empathised with him. ALMOST I say. Why is that??? If the customer had one ounce of decency to tell me politely, even impatiently, that he didn't understand, I would have been more than willing to try to explain it a little better. NOOOOOOOOOOOO... he had to act as if he was starring in this HK TVB series, as if he's haggling prices of ikan masin at the pasar, complete with the confrontational hand gestures and imperious tone (I have money ah, I want to buy your salted fish for $3.23 dollar less, you REFUSE ah??? Then you don't sell salted fish lah... I DONATE the $3.23 to you to sell your stall and take up residence in some rumah atap in the kampung you came from). He even accused me "You mark-up the prices gah???"
Seriously, my pay is so bad and I don't get extra from extorting the measly $3.23 from you, what makes you think that I would derive any sick pleasure from robbing you of your hard-earned "coffin money"??? I also thought to myself that why raise your already high blood pressure over something so trivial when we would have settled this calmly??? Seriously some people just don't know how to take better care of themselves.
You've got your principles on how to settle a dispute like an ahli kongsi hitam, and I've got my principles to treat customers with respect, even when they can't seem to tell the difference between respect and something floating in the sewers.
I then told him that he could get the cheaper brand of the same medication for $3.23 less, provided that the doctor had not indicated that brand substitution was not permitted. His eyeballs nearly fell out of their sockets when he asked me "You mean the doctor said that cannot change brands???"
I was on the edge of my patience. I checked his script, and told him the doctor has allowed for brands to be changed, and I asked him if wanted the cheaper brand. He asked if they were exactly the same. I said yes, and he said, "Well, what are you doing to do about it?" More hand gestures.
DEEP BREATH. "I am going to change the brand over. It will take a few minutes.". He even thought that I was going to just refund him the $3.23 but let him keep the branded medication. I really had to take ANOTHER DEEP BREATH before repeating that I had to swap the more expensive brand over to the cheaper brand before I could refund him his money.
With him obviously satisfied, he sat down and good-naturedly chatted with his friend whilst waiting for me to fix things up. Oh ho... so we could be friendly and amiable to our friends, but when it comes to the pharmacy graduate, we need to show her who's the boss, do we? We need to display hand gestures as if we're ready to take the graduate down with a parang if she refuses to refund the money, do we?
Well, I wish him all the best in his future undertakings with the victim he makes of the next pharmacy graduate he crosses paths with. It most definitely would not be me.