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Walgreens’ Screwy Vaccine Signup Process

In many states, signing up for a COVID-19 vaccine shot has been nothing short of a nightmare. The systems set up by some states like Massachusetts have been rightly criticized for creating a frustrating frenzy when new appointments are loaded into the system. It is like vying with thousands of others to get that hot concert ticket the minute Ticketmaster goes online with them.

Not to be outdone, Walgreens here has set up a vaccination appointment system that defies explanation. When you first log in with your account information and pass the screening questions, you may be lucky enough to get to the vaccinations available page after you enter your zip code.

Dose 1

So you pick a date for your first dose. Then, unlike any other non-pharmacy system we have seen, Walgreens wants you to pick a date for your second shot. And for days, at least in the Boston area, this is the next screen you saw.

*Mouse Print:

dose 2

What? They canceled your first-dose appointment because they cannot schedule a time for the second one? Because future deliveries of vaccines are so unpredictable, elsewhere it has become common practice to not schedule the second dose until the day you show up for the first dose.

We asked Walgreens if perhaps this was a glitch in their system not even letting people get the first dose on the date they reserved, and whether they are considering changing the system to fill requests for first dose only patients. A company spokesperson replied in part:

As of now, the vaccine scheduler is stable and working as intended… Eligible individuals can make appointments for both first and second doses at the same time…

We wrote back to Walgreens questioning the logic of their system.

The corporate spokesperson responded a couple of days later:

Earlier this week there were several first-dose appointments available in the scheduling system across Massachusetts locations, however, second dose appointments were not available. We resolved the issue by adding second dose appointments for future dates in order for eligible individuals to proceed in making appointments in the most effective manner. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Thank you, Walgreens.

Now it’s your turn. Feel free this week to use the comment section to tell everyone about your experience in making a vaccine appointment, good or bad, at Walgreens or at any other site.

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Credit Card Updater Services May Result in Unexpected Charges

When MrConsumer received a replacement Visa debit card from his bank because the old one was about to expire, there was a small note inside:

*MOUSE PRINT:

“Visa Account Updater: Your Salem Five debit card now includes Visa Account Updater. This feature automatically updates your debit card information with participating merchants you have recurring payment relationships with when your card is renewed or reissued at expiration.”

In other words, if you have certain bills like utilities, cable, or mail order pharmacy on “autopay” meaning they automatically charge your credit card or debit card every month for the balance due, Visa will tell those merchants your new expiration date or card number whenever the card is replaced.

This is good in many respects particularly for people who don’t want to be bothered having to contact each merchant with the new information, and to avoid bills not being paid on time because the card expired.

But it could also pose a problem for cardholders who deliberately give a company a soon-to-expire credit card number because they don’t want the plan they may have signed up for to self-renew. For example, you may not want your gym to keep billing you after your contract is up, or you took advantage of a free trial offer somewhere, and you don’t want them to keep charging your card because you don’t trust them.

Recently a Boston-area consumer thought the only way he could ensure that the bankrupt Boston Sports Club would stop charging her monthly fees for one of their closed locations was to change her credit card number… but he was wrong. The company transferred his membership to a new location and because of this credit “feature” they were able to start charging his new card the monthly fee again.

Some scam artists have even discovered how to use these card updater services to continue to defraud victims.

Visa is not alone in telling merchants about your new card. MasterCard has a similar program called “Automatic Billing Updater” as does American Express (“CardRefresher“).

My bank allows cardholders to opt-out of the automatic renewal notification service. (See how their Visa updater program works.)

If you don’t want your card issuer to automatically notify the companies to whom you have given your card number about updates to your card, ask if you can opt-out of that service.

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Subway Tuna Tested by Independent Lab

Two weeks ago we told you that Subway was being sued by two California consumers whose lawyers claimed there was no tuna in the tuna sandwiches sold by the company. [See original story.] Subway denied the claims and even launched an advertising campaign saying it used 100% wild-caught tuna.

Now Inside Edition decided to have Subway’s tuna tested by an independent laboratory that specializes in analyzing fish, Applied Food Technologies.



*MOUSE PRINT:

The results of the tests on three samples showed that indeed they all contained real tuna fish.

Below is the 2021 carton containing the actual tuna pouches that Subway currently uses (at least at the Queens location where it was photographed). The description on it perfectly matches what was on the tuna package displayed by a Subway employee last summer before this became an issue.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Subway carton
Subway pouch

At the time the lawsuit was filed last month, the consumers’ lawyers refused to provide the specific ingredients that their own tests revealed that formed the basis of their case. We asked the lawyers last week to comment on Inside Edition‘s test results and whether they were still sticking by their own analysis. The lawyers did not respond… but you can add your comments below on these latest developments.

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