You’re Fired!

My Panama Canal cruise is paid for. Can I leave now? I relax as soon as I step — or, in my case, roll — onto a cruise ship. I sure could use that now: It’s been a bit frustrating lately.


As people with medical issues, don’t we have enough frustration in our lives already without having to deal with companies that don’t know the meaning of the word “service?”

One was partially my fault. I was down to the last two infusion sets for my insulin pump. The sets are needed to get the insulin out of the pump and into the person. It’s recommended that a set not be used for more than three days. As I was getting ready to pack for the trip at the end of December to visit with an old friend and with Dad, I went to the drawer where I keep my supplies to grab my last unopened box.

There was no unopened box. I literally was down to two sets. Oops!

On December 19, I called the company I get — er, make that “got” — my supplies from, explained the situation, and gave them a credit card number to pay for expedited shipping.

The sets did not arrive before I left on December 25.

The sets were not here when I got back home on January 1.

I called again. And again. And again. Turns out there was a problem connecting with the company that handles durable medical equipment (DME) for the insurance company.

But why hadn’t they called and told me there was a problem? Why hadn’t they e-mailed me? Why hadn’t they sent me some emergency sets? Luckily, I’d gotten some emergency sets from a fellow pumper, or I would have been in a melluva hess.

This is a company I had been with for a decade or so. To be honest, I had no idea it had been dipping into my DME allowance, anyway. I would get sets and then a bill would come, which my husband paid. I thought they were sending me sets and sending a bill for the whole megillah, not just my co-pay. I didn’t want to use my DME for infusion sets. I had a $2,500-per-year cap on DME and preferred to save that for more-expensive items. (Now, thanks to Obamacare, my DME has no cap. And my insurance premiums have soared.)

When I asked why I hadn’t been called and told there was a problem, nobody could give me an answer.

It’s been taken care of: I cancelled the order and called Tim Cady at Advanced Diabetes Supply, due to the many positive posts about him and his company on the Insulin Pumpers’ mail list over the years. I called Tim himself. He either answers his phone or calls you right back.

Which is more than I can say about the two other companies that have had me pulling out my hair.

Both deal with mobility products. One had an excuse.

When I bought my scooter, I chose the seller carefully. I wanted to make sure the company could service the scooter and would have either a loaner or a rental scooter for me.

Maybe it would be able to provide service. Maybe it would have a loaner or a rental. I dunno: My phone calls were not returned. My e-mail is still unanswered.

The other company? Phone calls were not returned, but it had a good reason: It had been evicted from its space.

Plan A — to take a rental scooter with me to New York — is a bust. On to Plan B: rent one while I’m there.

Why am I not using my own scooter? It doesn’t like cold weather. It basically sits there and says: “It’s too cold and I’m not moving. You can’t make me.” (Which begs the question of why does a company make a mobility scooter that won’t run several months out of the year unless you live in Hawaii or someplace like that? It expects us to roam freely when it’s warm and stay trapped in the house when it’s cold?)

There are classes of businesses where customer service is of vital importance. Those are the companies that we rely on for necessary equipment; equipment vital for our health, well-being, and accommodation. If we don’t get it, we need to say, in the words of The Donald: “You’re fired!”

Not related to any of that was an experience I had in a ladies room yesterday: I had opened the door of the accessible stall and was preparing to roll in on my scooter when a woman came bopping in, made a beeline for the stall I was about to enter, went in, and closed the door.

For once, I didn’t say anything: I was speechless.

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  • jim snell

    jan – lost for words? That must be a first.

    Remarks about customer service right on.

    Have a great vacation.

  • Mark

    I routinely call at least 30 days before I need a reorder for my diabetic supplies, and then call every 7 days afterwards until they are received. I have had at least 3 instances where they have taken 3-4 weeks to contact my doctor for an updated prescription and then get authorization from my insurance. The first time I waited 3 weeks and called and got a ” we don’t know what happened to it”. I would switch providers but I believe they have an exclusive deal with my particular insurance.

  • joan

    Glitches at any level do occur. As everyone realizes including yourself, we should plan ahead for our diabetes/pump supplies. Also, I do not order supplies to be sent during a holiday month. During a holiday season the phone never quits and emails pile ans schedules remain more fluid durng December.

    The AFFORDABLE CARE ACT is not at fault for the rise in cost of your insurance cost ans/or supplies. The fault lies with the management of company/Corp. attitudes; it is called GREED and taking advantage of those who have chronic health issues.

    Because of the curret Affordable Care Act, the S-Chip coverage for children continues, and in 2014 every person with diabetes will be covered without denial. There are 2.5 million collage age young people who can now remain on their parents insurance coverage. There are thousands of persons with diabetes who are denied health care insurance due to diabetes. The ACA will help all of them!

    Here is a link of explanation of what we DO have with the Affordable Care Act and what is to come.

    I wish you a much less hectic lifestyle in 2012.

  • Kathryn

    Isn’t that when you contact the president of the company, the Better Business Bureau, the company’s trade association, and if/when you get no response or a tepid response, name them publicly and shame them–AFTER you’ve gone with a new provider. As well as informing everyone you know, including your medical providers, that this is a company which provides lousy customer service and don’t use them. Oh yes, tell your insurance company they’ve got a contract with a company whose customer service isn’t.

  • Jan Chait

    Joan: Yes, I was at fault for not ordering earlier. Normally, when I get to the last set or two of my next-to-last box of supplies, I reorder. That gives me a month to get the order. This time I messed up because I BELIEVED I had another unopened box, but didn’t. Plus, I was going out of town. When you explain that you’re in an emergency situation, pay for expedited shipping, and then get nothing — not even a phone call — you cannot resolve any problems.

    As for who’s at fault for the increase in my insurance rates: The company my husband works for is self-insured. When it places an annual cap on a class of items, and is then told it cannot have a cap on that class, costs are necessarily going to rise and the company is going to have to cover those additional costs.


  • Ferne

    I would like to know if these are the same company that has caused me so much frustration. They promote their customer service which frustrates me more. I have even screamed at one woman who seemed clueless and where do they find these people that work for them. I am elderly and have hearing problems and have too many who can’t speak well enough for me to understand. I finally wrote to customer service but never received a response. I guess they don’t really care.

  • jim snell

    nibbled to death by ducks?

    I do not think if I was a lady I would jump Jan Chait in line for the ladies loo when she is a obvious disabled person entering that loo next.

    That takes real chutzpah.

  • Joy

    Having to deal with insurance company’s and supply company’s is really hard to do. I thain if we could take a vacation from it all it would be great.