I wanted my daughter tested for learning disorders. Upon meeting but prior to testing, Drake Institute believed she had ADHD inattentive type and prescribed a tentative treatment plan for her, involving 16-20 neuro-feedback sessions. They also suggested she'd benefit from an additional plan called Fast Forward, which mitigates reading problems. The typical treatment plan requires 32 neuro-feedback sessions, but my daughter's ADD was very mild.
Once tested, it was concluded that, indeed, my daughter only required 20 sessions. We agreed that, following the NF sessions, she would begin Fast Forward. At the time we signed, there was no more financing available, so Drake gave us a generous military discount if we paid in full for NF (neuro-feedback) sessions. After our tax refund, we expected to pay for only 16-20 sessions per the insights of the consultation, and appropriated accordingly. After the test, I went to pay for it and the 20 NF sessions, and was pressured by office staff to purchase the Fast Forward plan then, too, which cannot initiate until after NF is complete.
I explained I'd pay for the NF first, to which office staff pressured that I should have enough money in our account to pay for the NF as though we were paying for all 32 sessions, even though my daughter only required 20. I declined, repeating that I'd pay in full for the required NF first, and we would cross the Fast Forward bridge when we got there.
The office clerk was presumptuous, hard-selling that I should at least pay for 32 bio feedback sessions even though my daughter was only prescribed 20, and the difference would be applied toward Fast Forward once she completed all her NF sessions. She kept saying,"don't worry, Tricare will cover the difference of your Fast Forward programme later, and I know you have enough money because you should have anticipated that your daughter would need all the biofeedback sessions." I should add that I was 7 months pregnant at the time and had driven an hour-and-a-half and felt in no mood to contest them further. I acquiesced, and called my husband to tell him, while I was still there.
My husband had only earmarked enough for our daughter to complete the first, required phase. He asked me to go back and request that they reverse it because the difference we paid was to go to bills and food for the rest of the month, not as a down-payment on extra services not rendered.
I told the staff, and they seemed bothered by my request. They dryly asked me to go upstairs and talk to Maria, one of the counselors. Maria sounded angry, literally pissed at me, and said," I thought we agreed that your daughter needed the Fast Forward programme." There was also no contract signed that we would begin Fast Forward immediately after the NF sessions elapsed. I explained that I'm not declining the programme, but I'm only paying for one programme at a time, because now we have no money for food for the rest of the month. She was totally unsympathetic and unwilling to give us back the $1500 or $1300 - whatever it was - we put down toward a treatment we weren't even allowed to begin yet. She gave me the brush, basically made me feel guilty and like a horrible parent for even suggesting it, so I called my husband crying and drove home to the base.
He called immediately, and the office staff told him,"Sorry, you'll have to talk to Dr. Velkoff. He'll be in Sunday or Monday." To his credit, Dr. Velkoff is very kind and genuine. He called us on his Sunday, which we appreciate. He listened to us and we repeated that it was a mistake made under duress to pay toward an additional system we couldn't yet use, and that we would revisit it later. When we told him that the additional $1300 or what not was intended for food and that we had appropriated exactly what our daughter needed for her first treatment programme, he was so kind that we thought he would do the logical thing and say,"Okay, you've paid in full for the required programme at the agreed-upon price for the agreed-upon sessions; let me give you back the extra you paid."
He didn't. He assured us that once we begin Fast Forward, he would give us the home version so we would save money on gas. Then, he asked us to borrow money from family or take out a loan so we can eat and pay our bills.
Did he just ask that? Because he refuses to return a charge for a service we didn't receive? And did we even need to justify how we would have spent money we never needed to pay? My husband borrowed $500 from my father so we could eat that month. Here we are, a year later, and we cannot come up with the additional $1200 to start our daughter on the Fast Forward programme, even though she finished her NF treatments months ago. We must bill Tri-care ourselves, and they won't cover the charge if the primary provider saw no evidence of a learning disability.
We won't be able to afford it unless my husband uses 2013's tax refund, setting our daughter back another school year for treatment Drake pressured us to assume during 2012 summer. Drake agreed to have us start her off once we had saved $500 if we could pay off the entire balance of $1200 in a couple months. But we can't do that. And now we owe $500 to my father. We can't catch up until after taxes next year.
And in the fine print it reads that you will NOT receive a refund for ANY money you pay them, even if it is EXTRA, so, we can't sue in Small Claims court for the overpayment. It's our fault for succumbing to their hard-sell techniques. They weasled $1500 or $1300 out of us for free, for no services, and we still owe my dad $500 a year later. I pulled my kids out of public school and am home schooling them, and have been attending teaching workshoppes at CSUSM to hopefully help my daughter improve her reading. I called Drake Monday to inform them we wouldn't continue with them because we can't afford any more. The office girl became snooty and asked if Maria knows about this. I said she became aware a year ago and didn't care to return our money to us, or even a portion of it. We paid in full for the neuro-feedback. Did it work? I do see a definite improvement in my daughter's scholastic performance, behaviour, and focus.
I stand by the Drake Institute and Dr. Velkoff for efficacy. I do believe in the bio-feedback treatments. However, I found it sick that they hard-sold us into paying an extra $1500 or $1300 yet refused us the time of day when we politely requested it refunded or even a portion of it back so we could eat, and I found Maria's handling of my request to be unprofessional and unethical. Otherwise, she's a decent counselor. I also found the suggestion that we borrow from family or get a loan disgusting, as we just overpaid them more than $1,000 for services we wouldn't receive. They're welcome.
I do NOT recommend the Drake Institute because of the staffs' business ethics. Try to research other neuro-feedback centres first, and if you must use Drake, go with an iron will. DO NOT cave to their hard-sell techniques or suggestions for additional treatments. PAY ONLY FOR WHAT YOU WILL COMPLETE IMMINENTLY. There is no recompense for overpayment.