Owner Still Has To Pay For Dead Cat's Banfield Health Plan

Sarah Harper was surprised to learn she would have to keep making payments on her cat’s “wellness plan” even after the cat was dead. She was told that she had signed a one-year contract and would have to honor it. Though the service sold by Banfield pet hospitals is packaged like and sounds like insurance, it’s not, it’s a payment plan. The media kit Banfield sends to reporters explicitly says “wellness plans are not insurance policies.” The contract does say that owners will still have to make payments even if the animal has passed away. However, brochures provided to consumers don’t say anything like that, instead saying things like it’s, “”the best preventive care your pet needs to maximize its life,” and that after you enroll, “your pet is on its way to a happier, healthier and longer life!” Catveat emptor.

Up a tree over dead cat’s health plan [Chicago Tribune] (Thanks to David!)

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  1. mantari says:

    A question:

    Why are you still taking your pet to Banfield to begin with? My experience is that they are incredibly overpriced for EVERYTHING when compared to a regular vet.

    An Internet Friend in the vet business also tells me that, when treating a problem, they have to go through a cookbook of steps to diagnose the problem. Where a regular vet with experience would go straight to the problem, a Bansfield vet, so I am told, has to go through _X_ tests, before they do _Y_ or _Z_.

    My Consumerist horror story with Banfield, which was some years ago, was when my cat wondered into the street and got ran over. I took them the body of my dead cat (in a doubled trash bag) to dispose of. But the all-too-well-meaning receptionist was convinced that I had abused my cat to death and killed it myself. She kept calling my family’s number over and over (when I was not home) with questions in her attempt to get me prosecuted over her own cat rescue fantasy. She really added insult to injury, and I hate the place ever since.

    The woman still works there to this day.

  2. B says:

    That cat looks just like my cat. Now I’m sad. Also, Banfield sucks.

  3. If the contract they sign says that they have to pay even if the pet passes away, then it’s OK to break the terms of a contract if they don’t suit your liking? I hate to say it, but a contract was signed by Sarah. Just as Banfield honored their end and provided services as outlined in the contract, so does Sarah.

  4. littlealbatross says:

    I get the fact that they don’t want people lying and saying that their pet died to get out of the contract, but I think that if the pet is euthanized at Bansfield, they should make an exception. Granted, I’m biased (my dog was put to sleep 2 years ago tomorrow at Bansfield and I had to continue paying for the contract), but it just adds insult to injury.

    Also, in my experience, I tried 3 different vets and the people at Banfield were the nicest and, even before the pet plan, the prices were comperable. I’ve heard I was very, very lucky in this regard, though.

  5. Jaysyn was banned for: http://consumerist.com/5032912/the-subprime-meltdown-will-be-nothing-compared-to-the-prime-meltdown#c7042646 says:

    @GitEmSteveDave:

    At the same time, if the purpose of the contract was specifically to keep said animal healthy & it died shortly thereafter….

    I’d really like to see the actual wording of the contract.

  6. freshyill says:

    So could he get a new cat and put it on the plan?

  7. Here’s an example. I joined a “buyers club” for 29.95. I have the option to cancel the membership anytime I want during the year it’s good for. They will just give you the difference minus the months you have used. BUT, if the total savings you have saved exceeds the 29.95, you don’t get any money back.

    Sarah rang up over 350.00 worth of bills due to her cats illness. She is paying 273.40 for the contract. She saved nearly a hundred dollars due to the plan. Did she expect that she wouldn’t have to pay the vets bills if her pet died w/o the coverage?

  8. joeblevins says:

    This is another example of financing something then being upset when you no longer want/need it. No different then financing baby furniture for a child you were adopting and the adoption didn’t go thru. You still owe for the contract.

  9. K-Bo says:

    I’ve heard way too many stories of animals leaving Banfield in worse shape than they went in, some even dying after routine procedures. I would not take my cat to the vet at all before I took it there.

  10. peepytweep says:

    Same thing happened to me when my dog passed last August. We only had to pay 3 more months and they never debited the last payment, no big deal. Not solely because of this, but we take our new puppy to a private vet. We actually are spending less and receiving much better service.

  11. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    Hey, you realize this means that Banfield can actually kill your pet early in the contract so they incur no further expenses, but hold you to the full cost of the so-called “insurance”?

  12. theWolf says:

    I guess their wellness plan doesn’t work very well.

  13. MDSasquatch says:

    I can empathize with the loss of a family pet, I took my daughter’s cat to the vet last week because he was having trouble peeing. They quoted me $1000 to tune him up. I didn’t happen to have a grand laying around and unfortunately opted to have the cat gassed. Amazingly, upon hearing this, the vet offered another treatment option for $300; we got the cat tuned up and he has been fine ever since.

    I thought about getting insurance to make sure I was never forced to make such a difficult choice in the future, but the cost of insurance is more than I paid for the treatment. I have a dog, two cats, two gerbils and a fish. Insurance on the lot isn’t cost efficient for me.

    On a side note, if you want insurance, go to google and conduct a search, there are a lot of companies that perform much better than PetSmart.

  14. @Jaysyn: According to the article, the cat was diagnosed with epilepsy last year, and they put her to sleep in October. So it seems as though it was for about a year, and not shortly. Also, we don’t know the details of why they put the cat to sleep. I have known people who have put their cat to sleep due to diabites, and they could not handle all of the extra duties in order to give the cat a semi-normal life, and did not want the cat to suffer. I put one of my cats to sleep after she was stepped on by a horse. The vets could not insure that she would survive all of the procedures, and they would have had to taken her out of shock just to clean all of her wounds. She was not in pain due to the shock, so we decided that the most humane thing to do was to put her to sleep, and avoid any future suffering.

  15. @MDSasquatch: I had the same thing happen with one of my cats who was bitten by something, and had a abscess on the underside of her tail. I went to the Emergency vet(discovered the wound on a Sunday of course) and they quoted me a high price for amputation and a slightly lower price for cleaning. I was not employed, and I said, I’m gonna have to put her to sleep because I could not afford it. Price dropped a little after I said that, and I still couldn’t. The vet then told me that the cat would live and be fine for the next few days, enough for me to “shop around”. I went to my normal vet the next day, and for about $300 all together there, she was better.

  16. whirlybird says:

    Thanks for posting this. We were just about to sign up my girlfriend’s dog with Banfield. Now we know they are the “Best Buy” of the pet care world.

  17. swalve says:

    Hey look, it’s another “companies should do whatever we say and not hurt our feelings no matter what the contract we signed said” story.

  18. Mr_Human says:

    She knew what she was signing. I have no sympathy for her whatsoever.

  19. Mr_Human says:

    Oops, that post above was supposed to include sarcasm tags referring to typical Consumerist readers. Sigh.

  20. @joeblevins: Here Here. If I finance the car, and part of that includes routine maintenance, and also dealer repairs, and the car catches fire after a few months, can I stop paying the dealer, and keep all of the insurance money? I think not. I signed a contract. It didn’t provide health care for the car, just preventative maintenance, which WILL make both a car and a pet healthier in the long run.

  21. CaptainSemantics says:

    We made the mistake of taking our Siberian Husky, Tonka, to a Banfield once. (This was before I started reading the Consumerist. heh.) It was one of the most horrifying experiences I’ve had in my life.

    And by horrifying, I mean that the vet tech couldn’t find our dog’s vein. After waiting about 45 minutes for a simple set of shots, we finally got an inept vet tech that seemed surprised that we fed our dog beef or chicken every night. Yes, a bit too much, but after the pet food scare, we decided it would be best for Tonka. After she went through some automated touch-screen questionnaire, which confused her any time we answered the question with something that wasn’t on the screen, she left the office for ANOTHER 15 minutes, then came back. She was able to complete one test, the one where they test their feces. After that, she tried two times on his right front leg’s vein with no success. Then, she tried the other front leg once before we stopped the whole visit. Tonka is by no means a small dog (45 lbs.), so it is not hard to find his vein. We paid for the one test they were able to pull off and left. We were there for a total of 1 1/2 hours, and there were no customers ahead of us. We never even SAW a vet, nonetheless received help from one.

    We will NEVER step foot inside a Banfield again. We received poor customer service, and the techs didn’t really care for the animals, just their paycheck. One bright note: we found a really great vet after that event. She saw Tonka that day, and the whole process took about 30 mins. And she can find Tonka’s vein. :)

  22. MightyPen says:

    RTFC

  23. IrisMR says:

    And here we learn the very important lesson of READING A CONTRACT.

    They may make it sound as if they are doing that out of good will for your pet but they don’t. Their job is to make money off you. Sheesh.

  24. whirlybird says:

    I have always gone to neighborhood vets, and always received excellent, personal service. Any company that has to rely on a contract to insure your continued patronage is guaranteed to be an uncaring, in-it-for-the-money ripoff.

  25. e_cubed99 says:

    What services does the contract require from Banfield? Perhaps you could request one of these services. When the services cannot be provided since the animal is deceased, you then have a breech of contract situation.

  26. startertan says:

    I have no experience with Banfield but I recently moved and asked my current vet for advice on who to go to in my new area. They gave me a magazine/brochure and said anyone in this book…that isn’t Banfield. ‘Nuff said.

  27. smitty1123 says:

    @mightypen: Yea, but that takes time and effort.

  28. bbbici says:

    Once this cat owner has taken his bloody revenge on the Banfield rep, he should continue on with the rep’s family, then friends, and so on. It’s only fair and right.

  29. PinkBox says:

    @GitEmSteveDave: You’d have your cat pts for a minor tail injury???

  30. phelander says:

    Serves them right for signing up a CAT for a WELLNESS PLAN in the FIRST place. Jeesh people, waste money much?

  31. ex_ea_slave says:

    Banfield is the devil. I took my cat there for 6 years because I liked PetSmart and thought Banfield was going to be good by association. They misdiagnosed my cat’s respiratory problems for years as “that’s just how Persian cats are, it’s genetic.” I never owned a Persian before so I believed them. When his breathing became raspy, I took him to a real vet who took xrays (what a novel idea) and discovered fibrous tissue throughout the cat’s lungs. At this point, there was nothing that could be done and the cat had to be put down. Several Banfields in 3 different states all failed to take the extra step of xraying my cat. I wish I would have been smarter. And yes, after I had Jonze put to sleep, Banfield demanded I continue paying on his “Wellness Plan”.

  32. deadlizard says:

    Banfield marketing practices are borderline deceiving and
    definitively unethical. All of you “you signed the contract” defenders
    forget these companies have tricks to fool you into a contract. These
    fools are the people who keep these crooks in business as there is real
    pet insurance that actually costs the same.

  33. I’ve personally never had a problem with Banfield and I’ve been taking my dog there for the last 2 years. The reason I went in the first place was because a friend recommended a particular vet at one of their stores (the vet was awesome, wasn’t big on the whole “banfield” thing, and made sure animals were treated properly without upselling, etc). For the first year it was worth it (for the $200, plus $20/month you got all the shots, spaying/neutering, and all the appointments you can handle) which worked well for this being my first dog on my own. The vet moved, and so did I, but it was very easy to move from one Banfield to another.

    My only complaint now is that it takes sitting in the office for 45+ minutes even though I have an appointment. But usually the vet techs are very nice/have a clue, and the new vet is great (I’m in a college town, so the vet techs all seem to be pre-vet/vet students at the university)

    Since the dog is a bit older, and I really only take her in for her vaccines, I will probably take her off the plan when it runs out this year.

    In my opinion, it’s like finding a doctor/dentist/etc: shop around. When you find someone you like, stick with them.

  34. adrock75 says:

    News flash: Your pets do not need wellness plans and insurance. What a total rip-off and really all it does is make the owners feel better about their little snowflake angel pet that they treat like a family member or child. Take your pet to the vet every year (or two!) to get checkups and shots.
    The vets want you to do it way more because they make a lot of money off it.

  35. Copper says:

    Both my dogs go to Banfield. We signed up with the Wellness Plan because it saves you money. If you start off with a puppy on the first visit, you pay $350 total for one year’s worth of care. That’s all the puppy vaccines, dewormer, etc. and a neuter/spay. This is a great deal and I’m glad they have it. For my older dog, this plan paid for itself in a few visits.

    I have no sympathy for this woman because she didn’t read the contract.

  36. Copper says:

    @adrock75: It’s well worth it if you have a puppy. They need shots every three weeks for a few months and that’s expensive.

  37. youbastid says:

    @GitEmSteveDave: First of all, it’s “Hear hear,” not “Here here.” Second of all, a car is not a living thing, but if your car did catch fire, you would (or should) have *insurance* to help you pay for the incurred damage. Furthermore, she didn’t finance the cat, she financed the *insurance* aka “payment plan.”

  38. csdiego says:

    @GitEmSteveDave: Yeah, yeah, yeah. But if this provision of the contract weren’t buried in the fine print, chances are nobody would agree to it. That’s why Consumerist and the Chicago Tribune are providing a service by exposing sleazy provisions like this. It’s too late for the family with the dead cat, but I hope that this story will do at least some damage to Banfield’s sleazy business model.

  39. hn333 says:

    Never have pets, waste of money.

  40. ekthesy says:

    I have sympathy for this couple because they lost their beautiful cat. The money lost is secondary, and perhaps was unavoidable; we would have to see the parameters of the contract to discern that with any confidence.

    Pet insurance, on the whole, is probably a moneywaster for 99% of pets; however, in my situation it would probably make sense. One of my cats is asthmatic and requires an inhaler once a day; the inhaler itself cost $50 (one-time) and the medication is human medicine (Flovent inhaled steroid) and I get dinged for $150 every other month. If pet insurance covered that, I would consider it.

    Then again, in that scenario, my cat would have a better health plan than I do, as I have to satisfy a huge deductible before my Rx co-pay kicks in.

  41. dcartist says:

    Sympathies about the cat.

    The issue of the contract payments all depends on whether they mislead you on what the contract entails.

    I don’t think that its categorically wrong to charge you after the animal’s death if this was really a “payment plan” and not a monthly insurance service.

    “It says monthly payments could be required “if the total amount of services rendered by Provider prior to cancellation (valued at Provider’s full retail prices) exceed the sum of monthly installments retained or recovered by Provider.”

    The company shelled out $350 in veterinary bills, and looks like he’s just being asked to pay for it in installments.

    If you take out a loan to buy a car, you certainly have to keep making the payments after it’s wrecked.

  42. bkpatt says:

    WHEW!

    I’m sure glad I clicked the actual article to read, because for a second I thought that picture was of Sarah Harper! YIKES!

  43. miburo says:

    Banfield is the worst!! At the end of one of my plans they scheduled an extra appointment for my dog. When I came in I asked specifically if it was covered under the current one. They said yes and I went ahead. After that I tried to cancel my plan and they told me since I accepted the checkup it automatically renewed 2!!! months earlier than the normal renew date.

  44. SacraBos says:

    I just got the Petsmart link! I took my dog to Petsmart once to get groomed. When I went to go pick him up, he wasn’t there – he was at the Vet (Banfield)! Appearently, my older dog had gotten so freaked out that he got a nosebleed and they had to take him to the Vet part to get sedated. They didn’t charge me, fortunately, but I never took him back. He’d never done that before, and he’d been groomed at our neighborhood vet several times (and afterward, with no ill effects).

    He’s since passed a couple of years later, I fully believe due to complications with the heartworm shot they pulled from the market a couple of years ago.

    @hn333: Gotta disagree with you on this generalization.

  45. wesrubix says:

    @GitEmSteveDave:

    Agreed. An agreement is an agreement.

  46. DanR2 says:

    Yes, if you take out a loan to buy a car, you certainly do have to keep making payments after it’s wrecked, but you don’t have to keep paying for insurance and tuneups if the car is totaled and sitting in the junkyard. The CAT was paid for.

    I like the ideas some of the Tribune readers suggested: keep the dead cat in the freezer and take it in once a month for a checkup until the contract period is over.

  47. dgcaste says:

    I have a story on Banfield: one of their vets diagnosed my dog and gave him a medicine. his symptoms just got worse and worse, until the dog started pooping blood and having seizures. when I came back, they upped the dose, and it almost killed him. when I paid for a real vet he immediately realized that my dog was prescribed a medicine that was used for other symptoms, and it was overdosed to boot. The Banfield doctor was fucking killing my dog.

  48. Snarkysnake says:

    Sucks that your cat died. However…

    con·tract Listen to the pronunciation of contract
    Pronunciation:
    ˈkän-ˌtrakt
    Function:
    noun
    Etymology:
    Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin contractus, from contrahere to draw together, make a contract, reduce in size, from com- + trahere to draw
    Date:
    14th century

    1 a: a binding agreement between two or more persons or parties; especially : one legally enforceable b: a business arrangement for the supply of goods or services at a fixed price.

    The whole reason that the “contract” idea came into being is the fact that people (like you) would make an agreement at noon and break it at two if thats what was what you wanted.Hate it for you,but pony up,big guy…

    BTW -thanks to Websters Online for the clarification.

  49. @causticitty: They wanted $1400.00 dollars to treat the wounds and ~$1700.00 to amputate the tail. I was un-employed, and had NO access to that amount of money, and the same vet had turned me down 6 months earlier for a $200 loan when I didn’t have any cash on me at 1am. It was an open abscess under the tail at the base and was around ~1.5 inches wide, and you could see the bone. As soon as I said that I could not afford it, and I would have to put her down because I couldn’t, that’s when they started changing the prices. I was a little emotional at the time, and there was no way I could have treated it myself. Like I said, I went to my local vet, explained my situation, and they took care of me for a good price. They also gave me the tools+knowledge+drugs to continue taking care of her after I left, so it was good.

  50. @youbastid: If you read the post, I said that you would stop paying the dealership, thus leaving them with a debt that you agreed to pay, and kept the insurance money for yourself. Yes, she didn’t finance the cat. She financed the care they gave the cat. So does that mean when the cat dies, services already performed don’t count?

    @csdiego: What is fine print? Contracts have terms, and consumers should READ those terms before they agree to the terms of the contract. Should we forgive everyones debts because even though they said they understood, they really didn’t. What if the tables were turned, and the vet didn’t provide the services being paid for? Where would your indignation be then?

  51. @dcartist: Actually, they are being asked to pay ~$275.00, which is the cost of the plan according to the article, for the $350 dollars worth of services rendered to them. They saved almost $100 with the contract.

  52. dgcaste says:

    @snarkysnake: “sucks that your cat died. however…”? what’s wrong with you? what if this were life insurance for someone’s daughter, would you say “sucks your daughter died. however…”???

    what’s the idea on paying for something that you don’t need? a contract is in place to protect both parties. it wasn’t created with the idea of one party oppressing the other.

    I’m going to go ahead and call you a moron, and I don’t think I need to go to Webster’s to get that definition, since everyone knows what it means. just like the word “contract”. do me a favor, though, and pull up the one for “pony up”, is that something about buying a horse? what about “big guy”, are you saying he’s fat?

  53. csdiego says:

    @GitEmSteveDave: If you truly don’t know or don’t understand the concept of fine print, then I think we’re done here.

  54. JiminyChristmas says:

    Regardless of the specifics of this particular case, I think this ‘a contract is a contract, too bad’ thing is getting out of hand. It seems like every time you make a purchase of any significance these days you’re handed a multi-page adhesion contract printed in 4pt font. Then, if the seller manages to get something over on the purchaser in the contract it’s too bad for the purchaser.

    For purchases like real estate, sure these are complicated, so the contracts are complicated, so people should understand them. Likewise, if you’re party to a contract wherein you actually got to negotiate terms (imagine!), by all means you’re responsible for what you’re getting into. But why do the terms of a $300 purchase have to be so obfuscatory that people get ambushed by fine print?

    As long as purchasers are going to be subject to the scourge of adhesion contracts require them to be understandable. There’s no reason someone should have to spend 20 or 30 minutes reading some corporate legal department crap in order to avoid getting screwed on a commonplace transaction.

  55. @csdiego: I am asking YOUR definition of what fine print is? I admit I haven’t seen a copy of the contract Sarah signed. Since you seem to have, please describe how this was fine print. I would appreciate a link to the agreement, or to the scanned copy of it, so that I can understand it better.

  56. Consumerist: Thank you for not posting dead cat picture this time.

  57. @dgcaste: Given your example, if that person agreed to pay a yearly premium in installments, and his daughter died, then he should not have to pay the rest of the premium, even though the insurer provided the services as per their side? As I said earlier, let’s say the person paid up front for a year of insurance in one payment, and the insurance company decided that they didn’t want to fulfill their end. Would you be saying “Have a heart for the insurance company”?

  58. kc2idf says:

    @GitEmSteveDave:

    If the contract they sign says that they have to pay even if the pet passes away, then it’s OK to break the terms of a contract if they don’t suit your liking? I hate to say it, but a contract was signed by Sarah. Just as Banfield honored their end and provided services as outlined in the contract, so does Sarah.

    Correct. It is also Sarah’s prerogative to let the world know about it so that Banfield loses business accordingly, because it is a stupid idea.

  59. captbob says:

    A contract is a contract. The owner should have continued taking the cat to the vet, as long as her contract was still in force. After all, the vet only “put it to sleep” right? “Hey Doc, ever since you put Fluffy to sleep, she seems a little listless and smells funny. Do you mind taking a look at her?”

    Over and over. Until it makes sense for the contract holder to get out of the contract.

    If the “contract” was a “payment plan,” then they should say that up front, in big letters, not fine print. From what I’ve read here so far, it feels like deceptive marketing to me.

  60. @kc2idf: I agree. Paying things in installments is stupid. Not reading you contracts is stupid. If she had paid the ~$275 up front, would this have been a problem? According to the article

    “Banfield sees its wellness plans as a way for pet owners to manage the fixed costs of regular checkups and routine treatments. Payments can be made annually, but the company says most people opt for monthly installments.”

    This is where my frustration comes from. If she had paid up front, then I don’t think there would be all of this outrage. But they chose to pay it off in installments. B/c they did that, now the company is evil. If they had taken a loan to pay off the plan up front from a bank, would the bank be stupid because they wanted the loan repaid?

  61. @captbobalou: OK, will someone please show me the copy of the contract everyone has seen where all of this “fine print” is? I admit I had to really search, but in looking at this page [www.banfield.net] , buried DEEEEP in the third paragraph, they do say that it is not insurance, and that it can cost as little as $.40 a day. And I’m sure they give you an option when you purchase the plan to either pay all now, or pay in monthly installments.

  62. dcartist says:

    @GitEmSteveDave:

    Agreed. Seems fairly black & white. They even let you cancel, but they only ask that you pay for the services you actually used. Malpractice or poor care is a separate issue, which there is not enough information in the article to judge.

    -

    And not to cast blame or anything, but the family is telling a sob story about the emotional upset of having to pay after losing a cat… yet the family was willing to write off the cat’s life after less than $400 workup of the seizures. Doesn’t sound like they went “full court press” to save the thing, try out an array of anticonvulsant medications, or maybe even a CAT scan (sorry :P) to find the cause…

    -
    ARTICLE:

    …monthly payments could be required “if the total amount of services rendered by Provider prior to cancellation (valued at Provider’s full retail prices) exceed the sum of monthly installments retained or recovered by Provider…

    …ConsumerAffairs.com, a popular consumer-advocacy website, includes numerous complaints about Banfield, ranging from overcharging to alleged malpractice. Other sites make clear that the company’s wellness plans are often mistaken for insurance.

  63. @dcartist: Well, I could understand them doing it if the cat had epilepsy, and required constant supervision. If they both work, had no one to watch the cat, and there was a chance of the cat having a seizure and either suffering injuries or even dying, it’s almost humane to let them die while in a good way. It’s a quality of life issue. As with my cat S’mores, she was in shock from being trampled, and just to clean the wounds fully, they would need to anesthetize her. It would have entailed bringing her out of shock w/o too many pain drugs because she was weak, getting her strong enough to handle the anesthesia, putting her under(which alone could kill her), cleaning the wounds out, and then bringing her out of the anesthesia(which could also kill her). Then the hard surgeries would follow(leg amputation, repairing internal injuries, repairing bones), and they could not give good odds on her living a “nice” life, let alone surviving. She had a great life, was happy, and not feeling any pain at that point. That’s why we decided to let her go then.

    As for the complaints, losing a pet is hard, and I think people try to blame others during their anger phase/denial/bargaining phase(s). Unlike people, it’s hard to know exactly what an animal is feeling or where it hurts. Complications are common, and people need to find someway for it to make sense that their pet died. I tried blaming the horse I believed step on my S’mores, but I realized after that it just happened.

  64. magus_melchior says:

    @Jaysyn: You’d probably find a mandatory binding arbitration agreement in there somewhere. Companies like these love to protect themselves, but couldn’t give a rat’s ass about their customers.

  65. dcartist says:

    Well I think you touched on an excellent point… Guilt (over not going ‘full court press’) is really a major issue when it comes to letting pets go, and I think that amplifies the anger/denial/etc. stuff for blaming others.

    It doesn’t sound like $375 is much of a seizure workup, but it’s a reasonable choice to NOT investigate further.

  66. Munkeyhatecleen says:

    [www.Banfieldsucks.net]

  67. Jordan Lund says:

    So, wait, Banfield is a national chain? I always thought they were local because we have a freeway called “The Banfield Freeway”… Such an odd name for there to be no connection…

    Huh, I guess they just started here:
    [www.banfield.net]

    “Banfield, The Pet Hospital® was founded in 1955 with a commitment to making human quality medicine accessible to Pet owners. In our hometown of Portland, Oregon, Banfield became known for its legendary client service and life saving veterinary medicine.”

  68. Zanpakuto says:

    Banfield is terrible, took my cat in with failing kidneys to be put down, he was 12 years old, he’d had a good run. Was informed that they weren’t ready to do that yet, $1200 later I had to take him into the humane society which I should have done in the first place.

    Lesson learned: If you have an old pet and it’s time to walk them down the green mile, hard as it is, don’t take them to Banfield. Either take them to a trusted local vet, or take them to your local humane society, you will save yourself a lot of heartache from lost hope as well as a big chunk of change.

  69. deb35802 says:

    @CaptainSemantics: Banfield has a lot of complains lodged against it. (Do a search on “Banfield Horror Stories”. They tried to rip my neighbor off on a teeth cleaning for her tiny dog. They told her that it would be $100.00 when she
    went to pick up her dog the bill was over $800.00. (I kid you not I saw the bill! It looked like a hospital bill for a human). They tried charge her for stuff that she hadn’t authorized AND falsified what had been done on the dog (such as it being given blood and EKG.) She finally got them down to $120.00 cause her
    dog needed antibiotics for a tooth infection.

  70. sharp says:

    Just to clarify a few things…ALL our vet bills were paid in full before we left with Pete after each visit. Pete was almost 7 years old, and we adopted him from the Petsmart shelter (on Elston) when he was 1 1/2 years old, and at that time (5 years ago) we signed up for the first wellness plan since he had been neutered and updated on shots through the Petsmart shelter/Banfield. Last summer (2007) Pete started having seizures, so we took him to Banfield, where they could not explain the cause of the seizures or clarify whether or not he had epilepsy, which is treatable with medication, because they did not have the resources to do any of the tests. So, we had to bring him to a veterinary neurologist in the suburbs where they conducted the tests to determine the reason for the seizures-the cost of this vet was NOT part of the “wellness plan.” So, the majority of our costs were out of pocket. After a few months on the epilepsy medication Pete stopped eating and drinking, so we took him back to Banfield where they let him sit in his carrier for a couple hours before telling us that they could not do anything (i.e. they did not have the resources to run any of the necessary tests AGAIN), and we should take him to his neurologist. So, the neurologist ran more tests to check for other problems, like cancer or thyroid problems. Unfortunately, after spending more money the neurologist still needed to run more tests, and were unsure if they would have a concrete answer for Pete’s problems. After discussing the situation numerous times, my husband and I determined that Pete had been poked and prodded more than enough and we could not put him through any more stress. So, we decided to bring him home for our last goodbyes and made an appointment at Banfield to put him to sleep. Despite having not eaten for two weeks (except an IV at the neurologist) and barely having the strength to walk, Banfield insisted on giving Pete an sedative prior to the anesthetic that would put him “to sleep.” So, despite what a lot of people think…my husband and I did not profit from the plan, we in fact, despite being part of a wellness plan paid a substantial sum of money for Banfield services that did not treat his problems. Interestingly enough, after Pete’s death we received a sympathy card from his neurologist-the only thing we have received from Banfield (and they were the people who put him to sleep) was the monthly charge. We did not volunteer for this article to be released from the contract, but to bring attention to the fact that the wellness plans are nothing like pet insurance or a membership discount plan (think Barnes and Noble) and are really payment plans. It is our belief that many people purchase these plans thinking they are saving money on their pet’s healthcare and that the plan will be terminated if their pet dies, which obviously is not the case. Banfield’s policy does not allow owners to transfer plans to other Banfield locations (if you move) or transfer the policy to a living animal if the animal under the plan dies. CAVEAT EMPTOR!

  71. jbohanon says:

    I would dig up the cat and bring it to them, forcing them to work on it and honor their end of the agreement.

  72. @jbohanon: Well, pretty much the only work to do on a dead cat is to cremate it. Most places won’t let you bury it.

  73. littlealbatross says:

    @GitEmSteveDave: I don’t have a copy of our contract anymore, but we were told flat out when we signed up that it wasn’t waived at death and it wasn’t like insurance. My dog was a puppy when I bought it, so we didn’t think the death thing would apply to us before the contract was up (my dog died of a genetic issue that Banfield couldn’t really have done anything about). :P I guess that was just another example of our location being better than average.

  74. woodstock says:

    I work at Petsmart and one of my cats died a week after getting his teeth cleaned at Banfield. He never came out of anesthesia right and the day I had to have him put to sleep I had to rush him to the emergency vet because he was having such violent seizures. The day after he died I get a call from Banfield saying that a test came back saying he had cancer. They did the test before surgery. I guess it wasn’t important enough for them to check results before they went about killing my cat. I’ve heard many other similar stories of people saying they will NEVER take a pet to Banfield either from loss of a pet or failure to find an easily-curable problem to just plain gross overcharging. Please, don’t take your pets there. Ask neighbors and friends where they go, go in just to talk to the vet, “interview” them. They won’t mind if they’re any good.

  75. @woodstock: I’m not sure I see the connection here. Your cat had a reaction to anesthesia, and eventually had to be put to sleep. Do you think the blood they took caused it?