Banfield in Watchung NJ acted negligently in the care of my dog. The Doctor and staff departed from the conduct expected of a reasonably prudent person acting under similar circumstances. They misdiagnosed, mistreated, and mishandled my pet. Sending me away with over a hundred dollars in charges (above and beyond my wellness plan coverage) without treating my pet at all. I carried a sick animal, bleeding profusely all over himself and me out of Banfield and out of Petsmart without anyone seeming to notice. I took him to a private vet and found that with an infection, two open sores and a fever of over 105 he was near death. In fact the private vet wondered how he was still with us. Recently, after many calls to Banfield's customer advocacy team 1-888-500-2288 I was contacted by the NEW manager of the Watchung location. She was very pleasant and like everyone else I talked to she seemed sympathetic. [continued below]....
..... She told me that there were so many problems/complaints about that location that corporate stepped in a took it over. I suppose they could see the negligence lawsuits coming and were trying to head them off.
Silly me, I thought I would give it one more try and went back to the original Banfield I had been with in Bridgewater NJ. I went after the infection/sores had healed and that was no longer a problem. My visit was a simple question of whether or not my dog had an eye infection. The Doctor who I liked up until this point was very brisk. She told me this had to be fast because she needed to pick her kid up from school. I asked about the eye and WITHOUT examining my dog or doing any tests she said ok its infected and told the tech to give me some drops. He came in and handed me a small container of drops and said that was going to cost over $40. I asked if that took into account my wellness discount. He confirmed it did. He then told me that it was the same medicine used by humans with pink eye and I could go to my neighborhood pharmacy to get it with a prescription from the Doctor. I called from the exam room and my pharmacist told me the drops would be $11. I asked if Banfield would match that price or at least lower their price some. No, we don't do that was the answer. I asked for the prescription so I could take it to the pharmacy. The tech said it would be no problem but the Doctor had already left and he would have it ready and waiting tomorrow morning. I didn't want to wait but since the Doctor didn't seem concerned about my dogs eye I figured a few hours wouldn't make a difference.
I went to pick up the prescription and was told there would be a $15 fee for the Doctor to write one. I asked the woman at the front desk about the charge and she said very plainly that they make a lot of profit off the meds and if they can't sell me something they stock they loose money so charging for prescriptions is how they make up the difference. I had never heard of this and thought it very unfair. I told her to forget it and took my dog back to the private vet that very day.
The private vet did a few tests, looked at his eyes closely and then prescribed a completely different eye drop. She explained what was going on with his eyes and why she chose that particular medicine. I asked at that point if the medicine that the Banfield Doctor wanted to give me would have been effective. She said that in her professional opinion it was not the appropriate medicine for the problem. I prepared myself for another expensive eye drop but found to my delight that her price was very fair. How did I know that? I sat right there in the exam room and googled it on my smart phone. She was in line with most online pharmacies. She saw me looking up the prescription cost and asked if I would rather have a written prescription to take to my pharmacy. I said no I would take the drops from her. I did ask how much she charged for the service of getting a written prescription and she looked at me like I had two heads. She said she doesn't charge anything and she had never heard of a doctor that did charge.
It was at that moment that I realized I couldn't trust my pet to any of the Banfield pet hospitals and would switch to this private vet. I called the customer service center and asked to end my Wellness coverage. I was told that would be fine and I owed over $400, how would I like to pay. What? I have to pay to cancel? They explained that even though I had originally signed up for the plan in July (2004?) I had been switched to a higher cost plan in December so my dogs blood work would be covered. And since they had done hundreds of dollars of work on my pet since then I would have to pay the difference. I said I never saw the blood-work and more importantly the charges that they were asking me to pay were for negligent treatment of my pet. I explained in detail what had transpired and I establish that the failure of the Banfield Pet Hospital and its Doctors to act as reasonable medical professionals, not only didn't help my dog but actually caused him injury.
I graciously requested that I would like to cancel my wellness plan without penalty and in return I would not pursue reimbursement for all the private vet costs that I incurred correcting the mistakes that were made by Banfield. I received no response except that the request would be addressed and if nothing happens in three days it would be moved up to a higher level person. So ever week or so I'd call and they would say "Oh no one called? We'll move the complaint up to the next level." Now it's been over a month and I called today only to be told that my case had been closed due to non-response on my part. I told them that I had been waiting for them to get back to me with their "higher level person". They reinstated the case and now I'm back to waiting. In the meantime I am getting Banfield Wellness Plan bills and I'm sure the next thing will be collections. I am very frustrated and the next step will have to be getting some legal advice.