ED Magedson – Founder
PetSmart Banfield Vet3335 Cobb Parkway NW Acworth, Georgia United States of America
I am a twenty-three-year-old military spouse, fulltime student and soon-to-be first time mother. Today, I also realized that I am a victim of misrepresentation and fraud.
Outside of my other endeavors, I am an avid pet parent. I have a yellow Labrador Retriever that I rescued over two years ago and, recently, he began to suffer from seizures. As it turns out, this is a common ailment for his breed but I called my mothers vet for some advising. I was told that there wasnt much that could be done, he would just need a prescription, so I took him to PetSmart, to their Banfield vet, on June 17th, 2010, and asked the receptionist how much said prescription usually runs. [continued below]....
That morning, we were seen first by veterinary technicians who took Tanks vitals, a sample of his blood and his basic information as far as we could provide. Shortly after, the actual vet, Dr. Chase, came in and had her own personal look at him. She saw a raw place on his paw and asked about infections so we told him he had previously had a yeast infection in his ear. She swabbed his ears, recommended changing his food to see if that caused the allergy, did a brief physical exam and told us what might be causing his seizures. Dr. Chase explained that many labs suffer from them and not necessarily due to head trauma and that it was tentatively treated with Phenobarbital, a medication for humans that, in low doses, can treat dogs. However, she said that it can cause liver problems so he would have to return in three weeks for a follow up after that amount of time on 90mgs twice a day.
At this point, my husband and I expressed to her our concerns over what a long-term treatment might end up costing us. Due to him being unemployed as a civilian and in the Reserves for the Air Force and me being unemployed and in school full time, as well as expecting our first child in December, we knew that our income of $300.00 a week was stretched dangerously thin already. She said she could tell that our pet was important to us so she brought to our attention Banfields Wellness Plans. As listed out by the pamphlet, many of the things that Tank would need repeatedly in the near future, such as ear swabs, blood samples and internal organ function screen (including liver), were included in the basic plan and Dr. Chase advised us that, instead of paying hundreds of dollars every visit, we would get unlimited free office visits, plus everything listed, for a one-time membership fee of $34.95 and then monthly payments of $24.95, the first of which was due that day. We were sold because, for that first visit, she said wed be over $200.00 and we preferred $60.00, plus whatever prescriptions because we knew they were not covered. However, when we reached checkout and had already been given our contract to sign, we were presented with our first bill.
Instead of $34.95, which was told to us by Dr. Chase to be half the regular price as a one-time reward for signing up, we were charged $69.95 to sign up, plus the $24.95 first month payment. We also paid for the prescription she recommended to treat his ear infection, though we had been told that changing his food should help, and we purchased flea treatment, totaling $157.82. Though it seemed like a lot, it seemed to save us $50.00 from the price she had quoted us and we thought wed be getting off easy the rest of the year with our poor, neurologically-challenged Tank so we paid and left quietly without half of our weeks income.
Once home, we started our dog on his medication routine of seven drops and 90 mgs of Phenobarbital twice a day. Immediately, we noticed a problem. Because of the pills, which side effects include dizziness, he could hardly walk, stand or hold his head upright. He was forced onto the floor for hours and I panicked so my husband called Banfields office for advice. They said, if he was having trouble, to drop it down to 60 mgs. We did so and it was still too much so they advised dropping to one pill twice a day and see how that does. While it still makes him a little wobbly, we decided it was better than having seizures with what the vet warned us could end in brain damage or other problems. For three weeks, this was our routine. Finally, on July 9th, 2010, we returned for our follow up.
Before our visit, we were presented with a rough bill of almost $200 that my husband asked about before he signed. Melinda claimed it would be adjusted off with the Wellness Plan, we just needed to know the procedures ahead of time so we signed. Once again, Tank was weighed and placed in an exam room (exam room two this time). A vet technician I had never met before came in, took his vitals, swabbed his ears and took his blood and, shortly after, a vet I had yet to meet, Dr. Callier, came in. She cooed over our beautiful dog a bit, checked his eyes and his feet and told us a little more about what we were looking at with Tanks health issues. She said that she would call us with the results of his blood work but she thought that the lesser mgs of the Phenobarbital would affect his liver only over the long-term (making us wonder why we needed checkups every three weeks then). And, if we had kept him on the 90 mgs, would we have had to bring him back multiple times to get the dosage adjusted, if we hadnt thought to call? Also, she mentioned that it would take 12 weeks for the food to have an effect on Tanks allergy, which is what the previous vet believed caused his raw paw and ear infection, but that she thought it could be a pollen issue just as easily. So why had we been charged $42.33 the previous visit for Baytril Otic, which are the drops we were told would treat a bacterial infection in the ear if given twice a day?
Once we were cleared by Dr. Callier, we headed out to checkout where we were once again slapped with a huge bill and a pile of excuses. First, we were being charged for them having to do another ear swab. I asked Melinda about it, telling her it was included in our Wellness Plan, and she dropped the bomb that only ONE per year was included in our plan. Also, we were charged for an internal organ function screen, which was also included in our plan to my knowledge and the vet wed have to have at our follow up. We complained about how no one, not vet or vet tech, had told us that there was more to the plan than was included in the pamphlet or the vets pretty speeches so she said they would comp just the ear swab out of professional courtesy. My jaw dropped because we were charged $82.75 for them to run a Phenobarbital-RefLab (what I imagine is a levels check), bringing my total to $162.79. I was livid. I asked if we could pay half because, even with my plans to do my research and bring this fraud to everyones notice, I knew we werent going to be able to leave without paying. She said no so I used the last of our weeks income to pay the bill. At that point, my husband asked if we could go ahead and cancel our membership but she also said no. She said we were locked in for the entire year.
As soon as I got home, I pulled out my contract, bills and Wellness Plan pamphlet. Low and behold, nowhere does it say that ear swabs are limited to one time only (however, they are limited to only the first year of having the plan), nowhere does it say that internal organ function screens are limited to only one freebie and my contract says that I can cancel my membership anytime (minus what wed already paid)! I have in print that the vet knew when she sold it to me that I would need repeats of the same tests that I am now being told are not included in my Plan. In the two visits since Ive signed up for this huge savings plan for my very sick dog, I have paid more than what I am paying for the year but I am still locked in for a year ($299.00), according to what they told me. This is a complete scam with rules not included in ANY of the paperwork to take advantage of people in financial straits who simply want to have healthy pets around their children and loved ones.
This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 07/09/2010 11:36 AM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/PetSmart-Banfield-Vet/Acworth-Georgia-30101/PetSmart-Banfield-Vet-Banfield-Wellness-Plan-is-a-Complete-Fraud-Acworth-Georgia-621744. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.
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