I recently signed my animals up for a wellness plan at Petsmart. I have 4 pets, so as you can imagine the bills add up. Banfield's plan sounded like a dream come true. $15.00 a month (avg) would pay off all regularly scheduled appointments and tests. The plan also includes free office visits and 5% off of medications and grooming. I have Golden Retrievers and they tend to have little allergies and things that come up, a little rash I need to have checked out or hotspots that you want to get looked at. This plan seemed ideal.
My golden recently got an abscess in her mouth. I took her in, the vet, Dr. Withers was very nice to her and I liked him. He prescribed an antibiotic and sent me on my way. I got to the desk and was told I owed $95. Shocked, I paid the bill- certain I would find that they had accidentally charged me for the office visit and I could have the fee taken off and the bill would be acceptable. But no, the antibiotic cost $100 but they did take off my 5% (thank goodness for small favors). Either way I paid and left, what could I do? The dog is sick.
Out of curiosity I looked up the price of this antibiotic on Dr. fosters and Smith (an online pet catalog) I was completely stunned to see the price for the EXACT same medication to be $37.00.
I started by calling my old vet and asking what they would charge, "Around $40.00". Banfield called about that time to check on my pet (a nice service were I not paying through the nose for it). I told the tech what I had discovered, she said, "yes, I know it's high but Banfield Corp. sets the price and we have no choice". I also got to talk to the vet that owns the franchise(not Withers), he said, "I know my charges and bills, other vets cannot charge that little, this is an expensive medication but it is very good. Also, we cannot compete with online companies- they have a much larger audience" (aren't you a franchise? Don't you have huge buying power?).
I then called corporate to complain. The guy stated, "well, the vet doesn't have a choice, you can ask for your money back, but he probably won't give it to you since that is what he has to charge. I can forward this on to our pricing department and let them know". I said that was fine, he could do that, when would I hear back from them? He said, "Oh, they don't follow up calls so you won't". Basically, what I'm hearing is that I have absolutely no power here. Banfield corporate won't help, Banfield Franchise won't help.
I thought about what the owner said and started calling to local vets who work on their own without benefit of a franchise and corporate headquarters to back them up. While I did find varying prices for the drug, the highest price I found was about $67.00, no one vet was charging the $100.00 that Banfield charges.
In defense of the Banfield, they did say that they would call in the prescription and I could return the remainder for a refund. (I ordered the prescription, had it overnighted for $21.00 and I am still saving about $40.00). This is semi-acceptable. The problem remains though that I am now locked into a wellness plan with a vet I cannot trust to charge me appropriately. Abby should have her abscess looked at again but I fear they will request x-rays and make other ridiculous charges that other vets would charge 1/2 the price. I cannot get out of the plan unless I pay a large fee per dog. So I am stuck for at least a year.
I have found Banfield to be a company that lures you in with a great plan but then slams you with huge fees for medications. The plan might work great if your dog never gets sick. It's great for paying off those wellness visits monthly because that can be a big charge. But the price of medications has made this plan a big ripoff. I am so dissappointed and feel very taken advantage of. I would really appreciate my $150.00 enrollment fee back ($75 for each dog) and to be let out of the plan immediately with no extra fees. This is my request of Banfield.
I will happily pay the vet visit charge at a regular vet to know that I'm not being cheated. The vet just 2 blocks away would charge $47 for the medicine and about $40 for the office visit. I would still be saving money and wouldn't feel so stupid for being taken.