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Walmart pharmacies are the worst?

When it comes to speed and accuracy, helpfulness and courtesy, knowledge and personal service, the pharmacy at Walmart ranked dead last in a survey of Consumers Reports subscribers that appears in the May issue of the publication.

While it certainly doesn’t look good to be ranked last on a list of 33 pharmacy retailers, especially when Walmart got the worst marks of any company for speed, accuracy and personal service, the results are not as bad as they might seem. For starters, Walmart had some good company at the bottom of the list where it is within five points of CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid and Giant Eagle, so clearly there is a correlation between the volume of prescriptions filled and where a company was ranked.

However, readers of the publication who dig into the fine print will discover the rankings are essentially meaningless and were produced by a flawed and inadequately disclosed methodology. For example, Walmart’s scored 78 out of a possible 100. To put that in context, the publication notes that a score of 80 meant readers of the magazine were very satisfied while a score of 60 meant they were fairly well satisfied. So even though Walmart was last in the rankings, it was very close to the mark indicating a high level of satisfaction.

The highest ranked retailers were also the least busy. Independent pharmacies with a score of 93 followed by Health Mart and Medicine Shoppe pharmacies at 92. These places would appear to be doing a better job of satisfying their customers based on the Consumer Reports readership study, but there is only a 15-point spread between their ranking and Walmart’s 78. Consumer Reports says a difference of five points isn’t meaningful, which begs the question of whether the survey has any meaning at all and why a magazine best known for thorough testing and objective reviews of products persists in publishing survey results that are highly subjective, incomplete and distorted by the fact that they are derived from a readership base that is not representative of the U.S. population.

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