I am a huge airmile supporter and a loyal Safeway shopper as a result. However, I use their pharmacy as a convenience not because of the airmiles. And being relatively healthy I don’t get a lot of airmiles from their pharmacy so it wouldn’t be a big issue with me. (I am more concerned about an earlier thread describing the difficulty of redeeming flights at specific days.)
On top of that, base points (e.g 1 mile for every $20) is not going to get you very far. You have to maximize the bonus specials and be very careful and selective of what you buy when doing so. The pharmacy offers 7x the base miles to encourage more customers.
I have no problem with Safeway encouraging people to use their pharmacy by offering their incentive. I don’t think it is an ethical issue. (The products that Mig is referring to may be an ethical issue but that is separate from airmiles.)
But here is where it does get ethical. When I buy my prescription medicine, I am rebated 80% at the till through my Blue Cross insurance. For a $100 worth of medicine, I pay $20 (7 airmiles) but I get airmiles based on the full $100 (35 airmiles). In other words my insurance company is paying for 80% of the airmiles I receive at the pharmacy. Shouldn’t Blue Cross be getting those airmiles and then perhaps using them to pay for flights for their insured clients who need to fly to get treatment rather than charging higher premiums to pay for the same service.
And still sort of on topic. While reading a news article on this issue, I found a link to this Blue Cross site (pharmacycompass.ca/) which gives consumers an idea of the cost of medicine in their area at various pharmacies. The site isn’t perfect. i looked up a couple of medications that our family had recently used. For one only Shoppers was listed but all of the Shoppers in the region. Interestingly, Terrace was more expensive than Rupert and both were more expensive than Smithers and Kitimat.
For the other medication, I was able to compare our Safeway to our Shoppers (in this case Safeway won) and to Terrace’s Save On which had the better deal.
My point here. Assume that our Overwaitea has similar pricing to Save-On. If I had bought my meds at the Rupert Safeway, even when the price was higher and I am doing that only because my insurance company is paying for a bunch of air miles, is that fair and ethical?