Trust & Medical Device Companies – Mutually Exclusive?

I should start this post with some disclaimers… I do work in customer service, and have done customer service training and audits – I take it pretty seriously. I know that the customer isn’t always right and consistency of service and fair application of rules/ procedures are important. I should also acknowledge that I’m pretty emotional about this interaction, while I know for the company it is just business.

Our daughter’s pump had been out of warranty for maybe 6 months or so when we started getting calls asking us if we wanted to replace it. We hadn’t had any problems with the pump and we have vaguely thought about switching to another pump at some point so I wasn’t in any hurry. Finally though, the calls accelerated and when the pitch turned to how quickly a replacement pump can be sent while under warranty (overnight) as opposed to when out of warranty (get doctor’s orders/request, submit to insurance, etc, etc), requiring our 8 year old to go onto injections while waiting – I started thinking about school starting soon and how hard it would be for us to deal with injections, and decided we better go ahead with the replacement.

Date of service on the new pump: June 26. The Bear went off to Diabetes camp in August for a week. (so amazing… see previous post) At the end of camp, we saw a representative from the pump company at a diabetes fair at the camp. Surprise! Just the day before, their newest pump was approved by the FDA — with new features that we are actually interested in, and with changes to the integrated CGM that would have convinced us to change from the CGM she currently uses to theirs. The rep said that even though we were outside of the 30-day “return” period, it was very close and we should definitely call to see if we could return the new pump and make the switch.

We all got kind of excited — which we probably shouldn’t have. There were several things that it seemed would make a big difference in the Bear’s management and even quality of life – And it seemed like we had gotten the replacement pump so close to the launch of the new one that we should be able to work something out; after all, we’ve been customers for more than 5 years, we just sent them $500 out of pocket, and we would be switching to their CGM.

But, it turns out that rules are rules. The customer service person I spoke with on the phone was very brusque. She explained that there would be an upgrade program at some point for anyone who had gotten their pump after 1/1/2016 and the cost with trade-in would probably be around $1,000 but they didn’t have any specifics on that yet. When I countered with the fact that we just paid $500 (plus the insurance payment), she just repeated that there would be an upgrade program at some point. She also said that there were only “so many” available since production was just beginning, and those were prioritized for those with out-of-warranty equipment or new customers.

So basically if I had waited another month before looking to replace the Bear’s out of warranty pump, we would be one of those prioritized customers. And, I moved ahead with the replacement when I did because this company was calling repeatedly and made me feel nervous about the pump she had with the talk about the difficulty and slowness in getting a replacement pump since ours was out of warranty.

I get it. They have to draw a line somewhere and we fall on the wrong side of that line. I don’t think that the situation would bother me at all (or at least a lot less) if a couple of things were different:

  • If I had initiated the request to replace the pump without phone calls (multiple! and frequent!) from the company urging me to do so
  • If the rep we saw at the diabetes fair hadn’t made it sound so likely (easy, even) that there would be wiggle room
  • If the customer person I spoke with had seemed even a little sympathetic or understanding

Instead, I feel kind of taken advantage of, unappreciated as a customer, and a bit betrayed by a company that we have been trusting our daughter’s health to since her diagnosis. It certainly has soured the relationship which is too bad since before this we have been relatively happy. We’ve paid for our share of this replacement pump and we’re lucky to have insurance coverage that allows us to have this technology. So, we’ll continue on with the pump and the non-integrated CGM as we have been and I’m sure we will get some good years out of the pairing. But, I doubt we will replace this pump with one from the same company.

In any area of our lives, we prefer to buy products or services from businesses we like and trust but it is essential when it comes to a medical device that my daughter’s life literally depends on. I really wish that this company’s reps could have made me feel like our experience mattered to them. Even if the situation couldn’t be resolved any other way, that would have helped. Diabetes is hard enough to live with and I expect better from our medical technology providers.

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This entry was posted in Diabetes Tech, Getting it Wrong, Living with Diabetes, Pump Management. Bookmark the permalink.

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