Report: #202427

Complaint Review: Banfield Pet Hospital Of Traverse City Michigan

  • Submitted: Sat, July 22, 2006
  • Updated: Sat, January 12, 2013
  • Reported By: traverse city Michigan
  • Banfield Pet Hospital Of Traverse City Michigan
    2544 Crossing Circle
    Traverse City, Michigan

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I took my dog to Banfield Pet Hospital in Traverse City Michigan to have her ear checked. During the examination by the veterinarian, it was discovered that she had an ear infection and needed medication to clear up the infection. I asked the price of the medication and when I thought it was too high a price I said I wanted a written prescription in order to shop-around and possibly buy it elsewhere for a lower price.

A Banfield worker named Julie, whose title is "client service coordinator", told me that the veterinarian there would not authorize or write a prescription for medication to be bought elsewhere, and if I wanted the medication for my dog's ear I'd have to buy it there at Banfield Pet Hospital. I asked why that is and was told, again by Julie, that it was illegal to buy that particular medication (brand name of "MalOtic") from anyone that wasn't a veterinarian and then she told me since a pharmacist isn't a veterinarian then I can't buy it from a pharmacy. I told her that I didn't believe that was true, and I explained to her that I should be able to get it from any pharmacy that carries it so long as the veterinarian writes or authorizes a prescription for it. She insisted that that would be illegal. The box the medication came in says: "Federal law restricts this drug to use by or on the order of a licensed veterinarian".

It would seem to me that "on the order of" means I can purchase the drug anywhere I please so long as a veterinarian orders the drug. She still insisted that I had to buy the medication from Banfield Pet Hospital and I would not get a prescription to purchase it elsewhere. I asked her for a written copy of that policy, but she refused to give it to me. She became extremely rude and told me to take my business elsewhere next time my dog needs care (believe me, I will!!). But my dog still needed the medication for her ear so I had to pay $30.82 to buy it from Banfield Pet Hospital when I could have got it for $11.50 elsewhere if only they would have given me the written prescription. I was told by a pharmacy that carries the medication that Banfield forcing me to buy it from Banfield and refusing to give me a written prescription is a violation of Michigan law as well as violation of ethics set forth by the American Veterinary Medical Association. I certainly will be taking my business elsewhere and would advise everyone else to do the same.

traverse city, Michigan
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This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 07/22/2006 04:14 PM and is a permanent record located here: 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. Ripoff Report has an exclusive license to this report. It may not be copied without the written permission of Ripoff Report. READ: Foreign websites steal our content

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#1 General Comment

bansfield of traverse

AUTHOR: anonymous - (United States of America)

I  love my dogs, and if medication is 35.00 at the Vets so be it, to get all upset over your savings is nuts.

your dogs ear was fixed.  it may have been high for you, but you did not ??? the treatment.  We the vets nice/  when ,my dogs are sick, and I rush them to the Vet, I get great doc. care, and woud pay anything to make them ,well, not quabble over a few $$$.  Think about t, there there for your pet.  If you love your pet
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#2 Consumer Comment

Scott doesn't know what he's talking about

AUTHOR: Chris - (USA)

"They are under no legal obligation to give you a written prescription."

Really?  Where did you get your information?

Let's hear what the law says about it:

It seems that in Michigan, it is state law that vets must prescribe what they dispense.  From the same page:

"I did get a phone call and message on my voice mail today from Mr. Mike Wissel, from State of Michigan, Health Regulatory.  He said that it is considered a violation of Code 333.16221/Professional Responsibility, for a vet to refuse to issue a prescription or force a person to purchase a drug or service from somewhere they have a financial interest.  He also said that if we have any other questions that he can answer, to call him at 517-335-1769."

Ah, so it does seem they are under a legal obligation to give the OP a written prescription and you just guessed they aren't.  Don't give people advice unless you know what you're talking about.

To the OP:  I would take call Mr Wissel and report Banfield for violating state law.
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#3 Consumer Comment

I somewhat disagree

AUTHOR: scott91801 - (United States of America)

While Banfield may not have handled your situation well, they did not break any laws.  If they want to only give out medication that they sell, they have every right to do so.  They are under no legal obligation to give you a written prescription.  You could have just paid the bill for the visit and left with no medicine and went to another vet to get it. 

To go so far as to say you were ripped off is just ridiculous.  They still treated your dog and you should be thankful for that.  So because you had to spend an extra 20 bucks you feel ripped off?  How about being thankful they took care of your animal.  People like you shouldn't own animals.
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#4 Consumer Suggestion

Expensive Meds, But They Price Match

AUTHOR: Jenni1127 - (U.S.A.)

I know it's probably too late to convince you that Banfield isn't all bad - but for anyone else out there, I thought I'd try.

While their medication prices may be higher than others, they do offer a price matching service. As long as you can prove that you can get the medicine elsewhere for a lower price, they will honor that lower price. The even better part is that they will keep a record of the price match in your file and you will get the benefit of the lower price any time you should need that medication in the future.

I had a similar experience with my dog's skin medication from the Banfield in TC. They gave me the medication for about $35, which I purchased, and after the fact, I was able to find for $12. I brought in a print out from that particular place and they put it in my dog's file. They weren't able to help me with the prescription I had already purchased, but they did say they would honor that price if he should need the medicine again.

When I went in for heartworm preventative, I went armed with several prices from other places. The Banfield price was about $51, I got it for around $30. They didn't give me a hard time at all and were more than happy to sell it to me at the lower price.

It does take some extra effort on your part, but if you want to save money - there's nothing that says you have to buy the medication right away - so take the time, do the research and go back the next day with your proof of a lower price in hand.
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#5 Consumer Comment

Just make sure you are dealing with a licensed pharmacy

AUTHOR: Ember - (U.S.A.)

Yes, there are some legit online pharmacies - Dr. Foster & Smith is one... you can find their WI pharmacy license number online.

There are some that are not legit. It is my understanding (at least when I was working at a vet clinic about 4 yrs ago) that 1800PetMeds is not a licensed pharmacy. If this is changed, I can't tell - nowhere on their website or catalog have I been able to find a pharmacy number. When I worked for the clinic I remember an in-house seminar we had with one of the pharmaceutical companies (talking about new products) and someone asked him about the online pharmacies. He said that they did not sell to 1800PetMeds and they were not sure where they were obtaining their medications from.

Bottom line:

Yes, you can have a Vet write you a prescription to buy medication from another pharmacy or another Vet clinic (they may charge you for the prescription). This is legal.

Yes, there are legit online pharmacies, but make sure you are dealing with a fully licensed US pharmacy before you buy. You don't want to end up with something that will harm your pet.
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#6 Consumer Comment

online pharmacies are legitimate

AUTHOR: Jen - (U.S.A.)

There's no evidence (that I'm aware of) and thus no good reason to believe that online pharmacies aren't legitimate operations with perfectly good medication. All this talk you hear of "black market" and fake or low-quality meds is just scare tactics employed by companies that have a financial interest in inflated prices. I used to deal with a wonderful online pharmacy in Canada for my own prescription medications which would have cost me triple the amount here...that is until the big pharma manufacturers in the USA lobbied the congress to disallow Americans buying medication from Canada, but that's a rip-off report in and of itself.

Back to Banfield, the worker (Julie) at Banfield even backpeddled on her statements when I talked to her later (I went back to get a copy of the treatment authorization I signed) and now claims that they would have given me authorization for a prescription (I noted that she says that AFTER I already paid their high price and can't return it, state law doesn't allow prescriptions to be returned) for anywhere but a couple of specific online pharmacies including 1800petmeds. When I asked her why she insisted that "pet meds is black market" and "Banfield will not condone that by giving a written prescription if it will be bought online". Ehem. I have a right to have a written prescription, period. I also noted that originally I never told her where I wanted to buy it from and it shouldn't matter to them.

It is not up to Banfield to decide where I will buy the medications, that is my concern not theirs. I asked her for evidence to support her claim that they are "black market", but she couldn't provide anything except more assertions that they are black market (saying it over and over doesn't make it true, sheesh). I haven't found anything negative about the meds that that pharmacy sells and they are operating in Florida, not Mexico. Drs Foster and Smith also have the same medication for $14 (compared to Banfield's $31). Even with shipping costs it wouldn't be nearly as much as Banfield charged me.

I have no doubt that Drs Foster and Smith are a legitimate operation with real medications. Drs Foster and Smith are operating in Wisconsin, not Mexico. I even searched this site for reports about them and found nothing. Until there is actual evidence that online or mail-order pharmacies are fly-by-night operations with fake or low-quality medications, I refuse to believe the hype.

The simple fact is that Banfield is inflating their prices and locking people into to paying them by holding the prescription order hostage. They also charged me $4.85 "medical waste fee" to throw a cotton swab in the regalur trash (in other words, it's not medical waste like needles would be, yet they charged me for it anyway)
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#7 Consumer Comment

veterinary meds are available at legit pharmacies

AUTHOR: Jen - (U.S.A.)

That is simply not true. There are legitimate, even big name chain, brick-and-mortor pharmacies here that carry a variety of veterinary medicines. They even advertise that fact. Prescription veterinary medications are not restricted to *sale by* a veterinarian. They can be sold by any pharmacy *on the order of* (that is, with a prescription by) a veterinarian. It works the exact same way as when you go to a human doctor, get a prescription and take it to a pharmacy to have it filled. Just because vets have managed to get people used to buying it from their in-house pharmacy, some (like Banfield) at excessive prices, doesn't mean there's any rule or law that says you have to buy it from them. It may even be against the law for them to force that on people, which is why I filed a complaint with the attorney general.
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#8 Consumer Comment

Veterinary medications

AUTHOR: Peter - (U.S.A.)

Veterinary-specific medications cannot be purchased at an ordinary pharmacy, and so you must purchase them from your vet whether you like it or not. Having your vet write you a prescription would do you no good since you would have no means of obtaining the medication in a legal manner. If you are insistent on getting the medication cheaper, you can probably get it through an online pharmacy operated in another country (i.e., Mexico), but do keep in mind that the purity of medications in other countries is rarely up to American standards, and you also take a risk in not even receiving the correct medication since there is no way of knowing where it actually came from. Sometimes being cheap is NOT a good thing, especially when the health of you or your pet is at stake.
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#9 Author of original report


AUTHOR: Jen - (U.S.A.)

Just wanted to note that I also filed a complaint with the Michigan Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division.

I also wanted to add that I got sucked into using the Banfield vet because their office visit prices are lower than most vets in the area. Unfortunately they more than make up for this by charging considerably more for tests and medications, which they won't let you purchase elsewhere. And they are extremely rude. It's just not worth it, people.
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