LOVELAND, Colo. — When you buy something online, you usually know the price. However, Contact Denver7 has learned that's not always the case when it comes to prescription drugs.
Shelley Johnson said Express Scripts, her pharmacy plan provider, listed one price online for her medicine, but her credit card was later charged double.
"I went online, and I checked the priced to make sure that I could afford it and what they were going to charge," said Johnson, who takes a regular medication.
She said last month, the Express Scripts website listed her prescription price at $54.13, but her credit card was charged $114.98, with no notification of the price increase.
"My husband's retired. We have to budget and plan what we spend," said Johnson. "I just think if you bought something on Amazon, and they told you a price, and then they shipped it and they charged you an extra $200 or an extra $100, that would be illegal. And I don't understand why this isn't illegal."
Contact Denver7 found Johnson is not alone in her complaints about similar practices.
The Better Business Bureau has had such a high volume of complaints about Express Scripps, it has issued an alert about a pattern of complaints, ranging from delays and poor customer service to billing issues.
"So Better Business Bureau is just advising consumers to use caution when considering doing business with Express Scripts," said Sarah Wetzel, a BBB spokeswoman in St. Louis, Missouri, where Express Scripts is headquartered. "We have seen a pattern of complaints, and consumers should at least just be aware of it if they are planning on doing business with this company."
In a statement to Contact Denver7, Express Scripts said, "While we cannot comment on the experience of any individual customer, what we can say is that the price of prescription medications can vary based on a number of factors. We strive to resolve any issues for our customer quickly and have expert pharmacists available 24/7/365 to answer their questions.”
Johnson said she was told by Express Scripts that her generic medication had been replaced by another generic that was more expensive. After weeks of complaining, she said she received a "one time" refund of the additional cost, but was warned that online price listings are estimates and can change before shipping without notification.
Meanwhile, Johnson points out she could have bought her medication for significantly less at other pharmacies without using her insurance.
"I could have gone to Walmart, Walgreens, Safeway, all cheaper than my insurance, and that would have been just a cash price. It's $80 at Costco," said Johnson. "They need to keep their pricing updated. Find a way to make that consistent, and if it changes, maybe they need to call you, send you an email... The whole charging without letting you know the price, I just think is criminal."
Editor's note: Contact7 seeks out audience tips and feedback to help people in need, resolve problems and hold the powerful accountable. If you know of a community need our call center could address, or have a story idea for our investigative team to pursue, please email us at email@example.com or call (303) 832-7777. Find more Contact7 stories here.