Grass Valley, CA — Local CVS Pharmacy has a trick up its sleeve to let their customers know who’s the boss: a solitary betta fish displayed prominently on the counter. The male betta, or Siamese fighting fish is known for it’s aggressive behavior towards impatient, tired or downright rude pharmacy customers.
“The betta has been a great success in keeping customers from freaking out when their insurance refuses to cover their medications,” said pharmacy counter worker Kevin Nilbert. “So when I tell them that their heart meds are going to be $276 because Medicare won’t cover it, I simply step out-of-the-way and let them see the betta. Works every time.”
Betta fish have historically been the objects of gambling; two male fish are pitted against each other in a fight and bets are placed on which one will win. One fish is almost always killed as a result. To avoid this, male Siamese fighting fish are best isolated from one another. Males will occasionally even respond aggressively to their own reflections in a mirror. Though this is obviously safer than exposing the fish to another male, prolonged sight of their reflection can lead to stress in some people. Not all Siamese fighting fish respond negatively to other male fish, especially if not too many of them are present.
“I had the idea one night after getting into a heated argument with my wife,” pharmacist Jim Stanton said proudly. “Get a betta, stick it just behind the counter, and when customers start throwing tantrums, sick the betta on them.”
Pharmacy executives declined to discuss the aggressive customer service technique over the phone, but did issue this written statement to Gish Gallop:
“We value all of our customers, even those who are having difficulty paying for the medications due to government mandates and regulations, but also due to the insurance industry. The betta fish is a clever idea, and although not officially part of the company rules, we think it’s a creative way to keep the process orderly at the pharmacy counter.”
There is no word whether other local pharmacies will use this animal control method. However, insiders at Dokimos say they’re considering Rhesus monkeys hidden behind the counter in case of emergencies.