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!).

Monday, April 16, 2012

Typhon Wil. Or is it just a tempest in a teapot?

I was pissed off as soon as I saw the box. Well, mystified and pissed off. Mystified because the box was the wrong size. And pissed off, because it was clearly too small to have pump number four in it.

But low and behold it was pump number four. In a tiny box. With no original packaging. No manual. In fact, the box looked identical to the one I used to send the first two dead pumps back to Med-T in. That’s strange, I thought, not at all like the first three. For a heart-dropping moment I thought UPS had screwed up and returned to me one of the dead pumps that I sent back to Med-T. But when I tuned the pump over to check the serial number, I saw that was very much older than my other three. I looked at the invoice, it was labeled as a “loaner.”

Ah ha.

This is a used pump. Well. Well, well, well. Crap. And WTF?

I mean, not that it matters, I guess, the whole rig is “loaned” to me in the first place. There was no reason at all for them to loan me a new one. But Med-T choose to loan me brand-spanking new gear in the first place, and they have chosen to replace it with brand-spanking new (but malfunctioning) gear in the second and third places: Why sloppy seconds now?

I called the HelpLine for the hell of it, just to see what the thinking process is: I mean here Med-T sends me three defective pumps in a row. Or pumps that are too delicate to survive shipping from Louisville, Kentucky to New Mexico. And now I get a used one, instead?

And the HelpLine, who don’t know I’ve been loaned the system, apparently, explain to me that the policy is to replace a pump with a new pump if it fails within 30 days, and to replace them with used pumps thereafter.

And the woman went on to actually tell me that Med-D had already been more generous with me than was required. And to be honest, she said it in a rather shitty little way, with a tone that implied I should be grateful that I’d already been sent three malfunctioning brand-new pumps rather than complain about getting a used one.

No more new pumps. You’re outside your original 30 day warranty.

But shouldn’t each new pump get thirty-days? I asked.

No. Apparently each diabetic gets thirty days.

Is there anything else we can help you with today?

I would have thought that any company who had any faith in their gear would give EACH new unit its OWN 30 days. For God’s sake, they’ve sent three brand new pumps that their own tech support declares unfit for duty. If I had paid for this machine I’d be outraged. Hell, I didn’t pay for it, and I’m still outraged.

I didn’t even know what to say. No point at venting on someone who’s just doing her job. But my blood was already beginning to boil. I hate when I act this way, but I left her with a parting shot. No, there’s nothing else you can do today, and I know it’s not your fault, but I think your customer service sucks.

It wasn’t until I huge up the phone that I realized that Med-T must be using one fucked-up calendar. I counted the days since my official training and hook up, using a paper calendar. One… two… three… four…

It’s been 25 days since my initial hook up.

Even using their absurd 30-day since you start rule—rather than giving each new pump thirty days like September, April, June and November all rate—I should still be in new pump territory.

I suspect that they’re using some sort of ship date or something. But my trainer was overseas and couldn’t come train me and hook me up for a full two weeks after the gear got to her (it wasn’t sent to me). Now I know that most times Med-T ships directly to the customer. But you’re also supposed to swear on a stack of bibles that you won’t hook up until you’re trained. But trainers are busy. We’ve got another guy at our clinic that’s starting a Med-T pump, and it will be several weeks before the local trainer can make it up to our part of the woods.

Not pinning the 30-days to the date of pump start seems like heaping cheating on top of cheating to me. It’s chincy. Dis-ingenious. In a word: Wrong.

I’m liking mySentry so much I was very seriously considering switching. But after three failed pumps, forgive me for being a little gun shy. I figured maybe if number four worked I could arrange to buy it. You know, a proven survivor.

But damn if I going to buy someone else’s rebuilt problem and wear it for four years.

Sentry. Awesome. Revel not so much so. Med-Ts support of their products: one hundred thumbs down.

They also sent me a second Next Day Air box that had reservoirs and infusions sets. The wrong size of infusion sets. But I guess it’s the thought that counts.

Well, I gotta go now. I’m going to go enter my settings into to number four. The one from the fucking used car lot.

Then I’m going to email every single person I know at Med-T plus any other person who’s email I can find, right down to the night watchman, and give them a piece of my mind. This is not right. This is not the way we should be treated. Our very lives depend on this gear and if they can’t get new units to us that will work for thirty days without spitting out errors, apparently from manufacturing problems, then they shouldn’t be in the insulin pump business.

Actually, I guess I don’t need to email them at all. I got a funny feeling they’ll get the message loud and clear. And the message is: I want to see this policy changed. Not for me. If I squawk enough they’ll send me another new pump. But I want this policy changed for the next guy. For the guy who has Blue Cross of Southern Bum-fuck Egypt, with a 50% durable medical goods co-pay, and who just choked out four grand out of pocket to become a pumper.

I don’t know if I’ll be joining the Med-T family or not. But I damn sure want to know that for me, and for everyone, that this policy gets changed. It is unacceptable. Every new pump needs to prove itself in the field for thirty days. Every pump. If you can’t guarantee that, you’re guarantee isn’t worth squat.

And I’ll harp on this and cause a ruckus and stir up the peasants with their pitchforks and and whatever else it takes until this policy is changed.

My bottom-line message to Med-T: Stand behind your products or stand down from the diabetes gear industry.


Anonymous Laddie said...

I don't think that it is just Medtronic replacing defective new pumps with furnished pumps. In her March 23, 2011 post, Kelly Booth on her blog, Trials and Tribulations Of being a Type 1 Diabetic, wrote about her frustration with Animas sending her a refurbished pump. I think that she only had 3 pumps in 8 months, so she's not close to your 4 pumps in a month....

7:40 PM  
Blogger Mike Hoskins said...

Applause. Standing ovation.

8:00 AM  

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