Banfield The Pet Hospital — wellness plans cannot be canceled
I have taken our two dogs to Banfield in Countryside, IL since we got them (13 years and 8 years ago). We got wellness plans on both. The service at the pet hospital was initially very good but has become just average, with increased wait times in particular. We never questioned the quality of the veterinary care our dogs received, including when one dog had skin cancer. Today we had to have our older dog euthanized ($117 including cremation) after a brief and somewhat puzzling decline that seemed to be a urinary infection (and was treated as such for three weeks, at a cost to us of over $500) but led to a rapid decline over the past two days. Today he was unable to control his bodily functions, unable to walk, unable to drink any water or eat any food, and did not seem to recognize us. He was also in pain and trembling. We knew it was time to euthanize him, in spite of the vet's offer of more tests (an ultrasound). So we lost a companion today.
My main issue is with the Optimum Wellness Plan. I had hoped that the store staff members (who were the ones, after all, who signed us up all those years ago) could cancel it for us. Instead, they gave me an 888 number to call. When I finally got a rep (after 20 minutes), he informed me that the OWP cannot be canceled. The reason he gave was that I supposedly “owed money to the store” from services provided under the plan. He said it’s not insurance and is instead an installment plan. His explanation was not at all satisfying, although I’m sure the fine print that we received somewhere along the line in all those years of automatic renewals and price increases must have said somewhere that we would not be given any credit for a dead dog. However, the store staff who sold us the plan clearly indicated that it was a discount plan for veterinary services, particularly preventive services; and each bill we got said “your wellness plan saved you $1, 000 today” or whatever unbelievable figure it happened to be. Well, how can the plan “Save” us that money if we can be dunned for that amount (that is, the difference between the out of pocket costs we already paid and the unbelievably inflated prices that we would supposedly have paid without the plan) after our pet dies? Anyway, the upshot is that we have to pay for our poor dog’s “wellness” until August, even though he is dead. The last three months can be “waived” which also does not gibe with the rationale I was given, which is that we really incurred the total amount in November and the monthly payment was just a way to finance it.
Obviously, the company has me over a barrel legally and there’s nothing I can do. They have my bank account information. But in the aftermath of losing a pet, it leaves a very bad feeling. I asked the rep not to renew our other dog's plan in November (which is the soonest I can get out of HIS plan) and we will take him to our old veterinarian in town whose fees are at least transparent and reasonable. And we can get the same vet each time instead of getting the luck of the draw at Banfield.