LifeAfterDx--Diabetes Uncensored

A internet journal from one of the first T1 Diabetics to use continuous glucose monitoring. Copyright 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016

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Location: New Mexico, United States

Hi! I’m William “Lee” Dubois (called either Wil or Lee, depending what part of the internet you’re on). I’m a diabetes columnist and the author of four books about diabetes that have collectively won 16 national and international book awards. (Hey, if you can’t brag about yourself on your own blog, where can you??) I have the great good fortune to pen the edgy Dear Abby-style advice column every Saturday at Diabetes Mine; write the Diabetes Simplified column for dLife; and am one of the ShareCare diabetes experts. My work also appears in Diabetic Living and Diabetes Self-Management magazines. In addition to writing, I’ve spent the last half-dozen years running the diabetes education program for a rural non-profit clinic in the mountains of New Mexico. Don’t worry, I’ll get some rest after the cure. LifeAfterDx is my personal home base, where I get to say what and how I feel about diabetes and… you know… life, free from the red pens of editors (all of whom I adore, of course!).

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Where did we leave off? Oh, yes. I was chatting on the phone with the woman from the Solutions Team of the Helpline at San Antonio Medtronic. Hence forth, I’ll call her Agent 99.

Agent 99 wanted me to know she’d been assigned to me as my personal point-of-contact for any trouble I might be having whatsoever; so long as the trouble was happening between Noon and 9pm Central time, Tuesday through Saturday.

Apparently, Agent 99 is not a morning kinda girl.

But once it was clear that I was fine talking with her (and believe me, no one on the planet wants to get to the bottom of these pump problems more than I do—well, maybe Catherine M. Szyman might want to get the bottom of it a little more than I do), Agent 99 had a laundry list of things to discuss with me.

But first and foremost she wanted me to know that all new pumps do have 30-day warranties, and that someone at the Helpline was going to be re-trained and transferred to Medtronic’s offices in North Eastern Kyrgyzstan for sending me a used pump.

OK. I made up that last part. If Med-T was the United States Air Force, then the “guilty” party would be on a plane for North Eastern Kyrgyzstan faster than you could Google it to see if it’s a real county, or if I made that up, too. But Med-T is not that kind of outfit. That said, I’m told there’s going to be some retraining of Helpline folks so this doesn’t happen again.

In their defense, Agent 99 told me, sending four pumps out in a month is such an unprecedented event that perhaps her staff can be excused for not knowing the protocol. And the official protocol is this: if your original pump fails you for any reason within 30 days, it’s replaced with a new one. And if that pump fails within 30 days, it’s also replaced with a new one. In fact, if you had a pump failure every 29 days forever (God forbid), you’d get an infinite number of new pumps.

On the other hand, if your original pump fails beyond 30 days it’s replaced with a re-built, recertified one. Agent 99 tells me the FDA requires rebuilt pumps to be up to the same standards as brand new ones. And actually, a failure isn’t necessary required for pump replacement. I hope I don’t get her fired for repeating this, but Agent 99 told me Medtronic will actually even replace a pump if for no other reason than you are sick of the color, and wish you’d chosen a different color from the outset.

On paper, that’s damn good customer service.

Furthermore, as to the issue of rebuilt pumps, she also told me that if any customer is uncomfortable getting a rebuilt pump if theirs fails after 30 days, they can request a new one, and Med-T will comply and send out a new one instead.

That also sounds good on paper, well, over the phone. And I hope that’s what actually happens in the trenches.

But while that sounds all fine and good, what about the fact I was well within 30-days of my original pump start when pump number three came down with a bad case of motorerroritis? How did it happen that the folks at the Helpline thought I was outside of the 30 days in the first... ummmm… second… no, third place?

It turns out that the current system, which is being “reviewed,” is that the 30-day warranty starts on the day of insurance approval; which is fucking insane. Most pumpers probably don’t see their pump trainer for the first time for weeks after insurance approval. (My insurance never approved, but my trial system was entered into the Med-T computers as if I were a “real” customer, and when I call the Helpline, unless who ever answers is a reader of mine, they don’t know I’m anything other than any other customer. And if Helpline people do read me, they’ve never let on, or said anything at all to signify they know who I am.)

Agent 99 tells me that Med-T is looking to adopt my “suggestion” that the clock start on your official training day. In her carefully chosen words, I think she said they were “reviewing a change of policy on warranty start dates.”

Of course, I have no way of knowing whether or not they’ll follow through on that or not. I’m sure by now my customer file is flagged with big red letters, flashing lights, and sirens. So my advice to anyone who has a pump fail within thirty days of training: make a big stink about it and demand a new replacement. And if that new replacement fails within thirty days, make a second big stink about it.

So, I guess we can chalk this up as a victory for both me and the poor guy who has Blue Cross of Southern Bum-fuck Egypt. Although, perhaps a hollow victory, as the policy was well intended in the first place—but merely poorly executed by the Helpline in practice.

Next time: Wilthoven’s Symphony No. 5 in C minor


Blogger Mike Hoskins said...

Somehow, Agent 99 is a comfort in knowing that at least someone is there willing to work with us when needed. That's reassuring, above and beyond all else that may be up to par or not.

10:00 PM  

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