Did Banfield Mislead Dog Owner Into Expensive Pet Care Contract?

Beware any service that’s sold to you with the promise that you can “cancel at any time.” Brian claims that he was misled into buying a $29/month “wellness plan” for his dog. He was told that he could cancel the plan after the first year with no early termination fee. That’s apparently not what the actual contract says, and now he’s stuck paying either a fee, or for another year of the plan.

We’ve been duped by Banfield The Pet Hospital that runs out of PetsMart. A year ago we signed up for their Pet Plan which is a year membership that gives you “discounts” on their services. For 29.00 a month you’ll see discounts listed on the vet bill however the non-member prices always seem inflated, and they commonly try to push services that several other veterinary clinics have told me are not needed. Anyhow our intention was to continue the plan through the first year then terminate it prior to it renewing. We were told verbally when we purchased the plan that it would automatically renew, but that after the initial year there was no fees to terminate the membership. It was our understanding that after the 1 year mark we could cancel at any time.

Fast Forward 11 months later we called the corporate Banfield 1-800 number to cancel our membership. At that time we were again told that we could cancel at anytime after the 1 year mark without a penalty. Knowing that we had some yearly shots coming up for our dog we decided we’d wait a few months and cancel after we received them. We got our yearly shots and our bill listing our membership savings (grossly inflated in my opinion) and then called the 1-800 number again to cancel our membership. At this time we were told that our yearly membership had been renewed and thus we could not cancel prior to the 1 year date without either paying out the remainder of the plan or paying back the “savings” we gained from the previous vet visit.

I was treated horribly on the phone by several associates. I was repeatedly told that I could not speak to a manager, that the previous sales associate we had talked to months ago did not in fact tell us that there was no fee, was told that I might be able to listen to a recording of the previous call to then later be told that that was not possible.

While I was not using any foul language I was reprimanded for my tone and placed on hold “until I could calm down.” When finally I was told I was being fwded to a manager they sent my call to the local PetsMart location rather than the Banfield Manager.

I feel as though we have been taken advantage of by misleading answers to our questions about cancellation, extremely poor treatment, and inflated “savings.”

Any ideas what I should do next?

Wellness plan contracts seem to be etched in stone, then laminated and sealed with wax. Not even the death of your pet will get you out of paying for the rest of the year. A concise but strongly worded complaint letter or e-mail about the misleading sales tactics and poor treatment by customer service reps might help Brian’s case, or at least make him feel better. Use customer service ninja tactics to get through to the executive offices.

RELATED:
Owner Still Has To Pay For Dead Cat’s Banfield Health Plan

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  1. spmahn says:

    We all love our pets, but I’m convinced that the Veternarian industry is a racket. As soon as you bring your pet in for even the most inocuous reasons, they immediately start upselling every ludicrous test imaginable, and then guilt trip you when you say no. I just can’t really fathom how some people go into hock paying for transplants, chemotherepy, and dialysis treatments for their animals. At some point you just need to let it go. Love your pets while you have them, but don’t waste your money on something that will proably only cause them to suffer more in the long run.

    • FuzzyWillow says:

      I think you need a new vet. I’m not sure this is an industry problem, although I encountered a vet once that insisted on selling us “Supplements.” Not only for the dog, but for the whole family !

      Needless to say we changed vets.

    • catskyfire says:

      My vet hasn’t guilt tripped me, and accepted when I chose not to continue various treatments. But a lot of people can’t bear to let their pet go without an extreme fight, and will pay for it. It isn’t easy to let them go.

      I will add that a lot of the tests are needed, simply because the doctor can’t ask the pet “So, what seems to be the problem?” I might be able to tell my physician that I get a pain on the left side, point to it, and tell them the circumstances I get the pain. That gives my physician a lot of information. The most we humans can do is say “He’s not eating like he used to…he’s hiding more than he used to…”

      • katarzyna says:

        +1. Animals are notoriously adept at hiding ailments. I had a cat who was diabetic for about a year before I noticed anything was wrong, and even then it was a vague “something’s not right here”. (Luckily he was treated in time and lived several more years before passing away at the age of 19.)

        • dragonfire81 says:

          That’s actually a defense mechanism. Even a domesticated animal retains many of its base instincts, one of the which is hiding pain so as to not show any signs of weakness to a potential predator.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      I agree with FuzzyWillow. You need to change vets. I’ve never had a vet try to upsell me on anything or attempt to guilt trip me on anything.

      • Julia789 says:

        The vets I’ve gone to have NEVER used guilt. They’ve always given me options, and let me decide what’s best for me.

        The only time I’ve seen a vet use guilt was on a man who wanted his healthy puppy put to sleep when it was discovered the puppy was deaf. Even after the vet explained the puppy could be trained with hand signals. The vet told the man he was a scumbag, told him to leave, didn’t charge him for the visit, and kept the puppy for himself.

        • JoeDawson says:

          My Dalmation was Deaf her whole life… She was just as good and well trained as a “normal” dog… just had to be careful not to sneak up on her when she was sleeping

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      Just to play devil’s advocate, the same could be said for your ailing parents/grandparents as well.

    • HokieVet says:

      Veterinarians are not taught to “upsell” and “guilt” pet owners. If that’s what they’re doing, then they didn’t pay very close attention in their communication class. As responsible medical professionals, veterinarians are ethically obligated to offer ALL possible diagnostic and treatment options, explain the costs and benefits, and let the owner decide what’s best for their pet. If they didn’t, not only would they be doing a disservice to their client, they would probably end up in a Consumerist article titled, “My Vet Didn’t Tell Me About a Treatment That Could Have Saved My Dog Because They Thought I Couldn’t Afford It”.

      As far as Banfield goes, I think they are a business doing veterinary medicine, not veterinary medicine doing business. There are many reasons why they have a tough time hiring and keeping veterinarians, and this article is just one of them.

    • aloria says:

      My dog had a histiocytoma on his ear. I took him in for his bordatella booster and the vet kept trying to talk me into a $300 needle biopsy “to make sure it isn’t malignant.” The dog is 4 year old French Bulldog; histiocytomas are very common for this breed and it’s highly unlikely a dog that young has cancer.

      I told her I didn’t have the money to do that right now, but I would keep an eye on it and if it looked the same after a month, I’d bring him back in.

      The thing fell off within 2 weeks.

      • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

        Our pug had one and I got it biopsied for about $60. It fell off the day after it was biopsied. I felt like an ass.

    • Miss Dev (The Beer Sherpa) says:

      I agree on this for 90% of vets (the same way I do for 90% of doctors). However, there is that 10% out there that just care about helping pets (and/or people) and don’t feel the need nor desire to upsell.

      I have been going to the same vet for the last 25 years and several pets. He not only doesn’t upsell, he is the kind of vet who tries every alternative to surgery, every alternative to crazy expensive treatments and drugs, before every putting an animal through unnecessary pain and the pocketbook through the same. When our husky had hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, instead of performing surgery (which is what another vet there was recommending), he use simple hydration and muscle relaxers. The possibility of relapse with surgery was 50%, with non-surgical, it was 20%. 9 years on, and she hasn’t had a single relapse. Surgery would have cost upwards of $5000. His treatment, including 3 days of her living at the office, cost $500.

      He’s a good man through-and-through. The key to finding a vet, and a doctor, is to find someone you trust, and the minute you smell and upsell, look elsewhere. Also, look to private practices over chains. You may think they are pricier, but you will get more honest vets and can often negotiate prices, which you will not be able to do in a more profit-driven (rather than customer-driven) corporate environment.

    • JulesNoctambule says:

      We took our little cat in to see the vet because she was doing poorly. Turned out she has cancer. The vet said that this particular kind of cancer, while always 100% fatal in every case, can be treated with chemo, radiation and surgery to potentially extend her life. I asked her what she would do if this were her cat, and she said that in all honesty, she wouldn’t pursue treatment and while she would provide treatment if we chose it, she wouldn’t recommend that we do, either. This is why I trust our vet.

      • tsukiotoshi says:

        Finding a trustworthy vet is the key. My veterinarian before I had to move earned my trust by checking out cat whose behavior was becoming manic and just generally odd and informed me he probably had a brain tumor. When I asked if there was anything to we could do about it she said, “Well, we could give him a cat scan (yes, this amused me) but in all honesty it costs at least $700, causes a lot of stress to the cat, and the likelihood we could actually safely remove a tumor if it is there is very slim anyway.” She advised me to simply keep an eye on him and we’d work it out if his behavior worsened or he seemed to be in pain. A year later my cat is still doing fine, he’s just insane!

        So, in conclusion, I agree it is important to find a good vet who isn’t going to try to screw you on treatments.

    • Froggmann says:

      Sounds like you just need to find another vet. Honest ones are out there but you got to weed through them. I’ve been pretty lucky to not find one of the bad vets yet. I’ve even had a few that even suggested the “practical” choice before submitting myself to a bunch of treatments that will only garner a few months but take years to pay off.

    • kennedar says:

      You need to find a new vet! Our dog had a number of health problems in the first year we had her, including a cancerous lump in her breast tissue and allergies so bad she pulled all the fur out of her paws and behind. Whenever we brought her to the vet, we were offered all the services available from the cheapest possible option to the most expensive. We always ask the vet what they would do it if was their dog, and always are given the “middle” option, which is probably what we would have chosen anyways. We are never made to feel bad about not spending our life savings on her. We would never give our dog radiation or chemo, I think that is cruel, but having a lump removed seems reasonable to me.

    • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

      i agree with the previous posters. you need a new vet. i volunteer with a feral cat rescue organization and we deal with a lot of vets in the same city, depending on where the volunteers and foster homes are, and the vet services. like we see one vet for vaccinations and another for spay and neuter because of which ones offer discounts on what services.
      a friend of mine had a cat break a tooth and their vet said it would be $700 to get the root pulled, my friend couldn’t afford it. I was stunned at the cost because i know a vet that will do it for $200 regular price [not the rescue discount] and at all the extras her current vet tries to push on them.

    • JohnJ says:

      “but don’t waste your money on something that will proably only cause them to suffer more”

      My dog has Cushing’s disease. His meds have DRAMATICALLY improved the quality of his life. (And his med were made possible by my vet accurately diagnosing the disease.)

      My dog has an eye disease. His daily eye drops stop him from going blind.

      His treatment, and meds, are worth every penny that I pay.

      In addition to being very competent, my vet (not Banfield) doesn’t overtest, doesn’t overtreat, and doesn’t overcharge.

  2. Southern says:

    Never accept a verbal agreement when it comes to any type of contract. If it ain’t in writing, it didn’t happen.

    • Southern says:

      Here’s another consumer having the exact same problem from 2009.. even makes the same complaint(s).. (services are priced higher than normal vets, etc.)…

      http://banfield-pet-hospital.pissedconsumer.com/ripped-off-by-automatic-contract-renewal-20091231166237.html

    • Southern says:

      You MIGHT try the BBB.. They have a very low rating (D+), but they do have a history of addressing their billing & contract issues (just not necessarily their service issues)..

      LOTS of complaints about this place there tho.. That should have been a big red flag..

      http://www.bbb.org/oregon/business-reviews/animal-hospitals/banfield-the-pet-hospital-in-portland-or-78000503#ratingdetails

    • cosmic.charlie says:

      “A verbal agreement is not worth the paper that it is written on.”

    • Difdi says:

      Well, it depends. A verbal agreement tends to be overridden by a later signed paper, that’s true.

      But if a verbal agreement is all there is (say, they signed up over the phone and gave a credit card number to the phone rep), and no papers are involved…well, the burden in contract law is on the accuser. The company must prove there is a contract in order to enforce it at all. With no signature, that gets extremely difficult. About the only way the company could enforce a contract at that point is a lawsuit, and as soon as the OP tells the court that the agreement was verbal, no papers or signatures were involved, and the salesman promised the OP could cancel any time without penalty, that’s the end of the court case. The OP would win because the company can’t show the OP’s signature on a contract.

      On the other hand, only a complete idiot makes a verbal agreement, then signs papers that say something completely different, then expects the verbal agreement to override the signed papers. From the OP’s story, I can’t tell which is the case.

  3. Bativac says:

    My wife and I were “duped” into the same service (meaning my wife signed up for it without me reading over the information first, because our beagle was sick at the time).

    Their prices for everything are incredibly inflated. The whole Banfield thing is little more than a moneymaking scheme – the veterinary care is definitely secondary. (Of course I don’t begrudge anyone making money – but your service should come first, and it doesn’t at Banfield.)

    A strongly-worded letter might make you feel better but it didn’t help in our case, when we tried to cancel this past summer. We were told we needed to call back when the contract was up for renewal in November. So we did, and we were told it had already auto-renewed by then. A strong letter did nothing. We’re in the process of consolidating our checking accounts, though, so at some point that contract will be cancelled by default…..

    • Necoras says:

      The way I understand it Banfield is a brand that PetSmart runs, but the service is determined by the vets at each location. That is that the service may be great at a location near you and terrible across town. We have a wellness plan for our 2 dogs and have always had great service with the location near us. They get their checkups, vaccines, microchips, etc. and it’s always been very smooth.

      I’ve not looked around to see what comparable prices would be at other vets, but honestly it’s nice to just have the $20 a month (per dog) charged to my credit card as opposed to having to pay a few hundred dollars a few times a year. That’s just a personal preference though.

  4. Dollie says:

    Wow. I’ve had wellness plans on a couple of my dogs, one of which was high maintenance and required 4-6 vet visits a year. The savings listed for me are semi-accurate as Banfield is the only place I can afford to take my pets where I live (grossly overinflated east-coast prices).

    When we had to have our dog put down, the wellness plan was cancelled that night before we even left Banfield and without asking for it. I also know that the plans can be cancelled. The new dog was much healthier than my baby that had to be put down, and I cancelled about 3 months into the 2nd year of the plan with no problems just this last May.

    I did this through the staff at the Banfield office, not by calling the corporate office. That might be the big difference here.

    • Julia789 says:

      I love my dog’s wellness plan. It’s saved me a lot. The contract cancelation policies are right in the paperwork. I pay for the full year up front though so I don’t have that problem, I don’t use the monthly billing. If my dog dies (and he will soon he is 10 years old) I’m OK with “losing” the $390 (I chose the higher level plan because my dog is sickly) because by the time my dog has final vet visits and is put to sleep or dies, I’ll still have gotten my money’s worth with the free office visits and 15% discount on all other services, free bloodwork, free dental, free sedation, free vaccines.

      I volunteer at a dog shelter, and meet a lot of low income people who have trouble paying vet bills (one of the reasons they give their dogs away). I have referred a lot of people to the Banfield wellness plan – they have a basic low cost plan, lower cost than the one I choose – and it has helped people decide keep their dogs instead of giving them to the pound.

      • Dollie says:

        Exactly! People can argue over the terminology (insurance vs wellness plan) and whether or not the prices are inflated all they want, but they’ll all have different experiences depending on the vet (and depending on their own attitude as well).

        I found Banfield after calling at least 2 dozen vets in my area when my cat needed surgery. Prices ranged from $400 to almost $1500. I went with the $400 (same price as what I paid for 1 hour at the kitty emergency room the night before) for financial reasons but worried about the level of care. Six weekly follow-ups were included, and the cat felt like a rock star (big fuss from them when he went in every Friday). I was so impressed I stayed with them and bought the wellness plan when our not-so-healthy dog started getting older. It saved me thousands of dollars over a 4 year period and gave him care I wouldn’t have been able to provide for him otherwise.

        Over the last dozen years I’ve gone to a few different Banfield’s. Some good, some not so much, and one of them extremely unprofessional, but am thrilled with the one where I’m living now. If people think the prices are inflated they should call around to see what other vets are charging. I did that and don’t regret it.

  5. Holybalheadedchrist! says:

    Sometimes i do wonder if the victim isn’t just a total jerk. I mean, that’s possible, right? Maybe when this guy walks it with his big gold watch and tight polo shirt, the staff is like “here come trouble,” cuz he bitches about everything, smacks his dog, etc. How do we know what he says is true? Anyway, assuming it is, bad customer service, something awful about big box stores, obligatory “why do you need this?” kind of rant. NEXT!

    • anime_runs_my_life says:

      It was only a matter of time before the “blame the OP” post reared it’s ugly head.

      • Holybalheadedchrist! says:

        I didn’t blame him–I just asked if we had proof he was not a douchebag.

        • LadyTL says:

          Unfortunately for you, it does come off as a kind of blame the OP attitude. If we start questioning if every person submitting things is telling the truth and don’t put it up because of that, there would be no site here for you to make stupid comments on.

        • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

          Now, sometimes there is cause to question an OP’s story, or scold them for taing the wrong actions in a situation. But really, nothing here even remotely suggests that this is a “blame the OP” moment in any regard.

          I mean given the evidence – namely your profile name and picture – the ass clown is more likely to be you than the OP. Just sayin’.

        • anime_runs_my_life says:

          Why do you need proof? If it’s not obvious from reading the Banfield it’s a scam then I guess you must live a charmed life and have never been scammed or lost your money in anything at all in your life.

      • Milch says:

        “Fast Forward 11 months later we called the corporate Banfield 1-800 number to cancel our membership. At that time we were again told that we could cancel at anytime after the 1 year mark without a penalty. Knowing that we had some yearly shots coming up for our dog we decided we’d wait a few months and cancel after we received them.”

        After 11 months they waited a few more months for shots. 1 year plans are typically 12 months. Waiting a few more months after 11 seems to be over the 1 year mark.

  6. Copper says:

    We signed each of our beagle’s up for their first year because it also covers the neuter/spay among other things. IMO, it was worth it for the first year since we got them at seven weeks, but we didn’t have any problems canceling. In fact, they sent us a letter about a month prior to the end of the first year asking us if we wanted to renew or cancel. I called up and had no problems either time (one was in August 2008 and the other in January 2009).

    On another note, some Banfields suck, but some aren’t too bad. The one in Corpus was pretty nice and as of early 2009 the vets were a husband and wife team (haven’t been back since then). If you get a young puppy, it can be worth the cost because you’ll be at the vet a lot during the first year.

    • Grabraham says:

      We also received a letter explaining how to cancel or renew.

    • Julia789 says:

      They are franchises and the vets are all different just like vets in any regular old vet office. You can find out where the vet went to school and get references. I love my local Banfield guy. He has excellent reputation and history, and was a local vet for 20 years before getting a Banfield franchise – because his old office lease was up and he liked the idea of a new office with all brand new equipment Banfield provides their vets.

      The wellness plan annual sedation and dental cleaning (a must on older dogs) and the free shots and office visits, plus the annual bloodwork – all included – MORE than pay for the annual cost of the plan. Any savings on top of that is just icing on the cake. For my 10 year old dog with thyroid and liver problems, I save a LOT!

  7. anime_runs_my_life says:

    Banfield can say they’re not offering insurance plans all they want, but if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck…

    They can upsell all they wish in the exam room (which is where they try to get you to sign up), but if they can’t come forward and say they’re offering insurance disguised as a “wellness plan”, then they can keep barking up the wrong tree.

    • Grabraham says:

      uhm it is not insurance. it does not quack anything like insurance. if you read all the paperwork before you sign up it is exactly what it says it is. A discount plan.

  8. Blueskylaw says:

    Beware any place that offers to charge you less if you pay them????

    • Rachacha says:

      Costco/Sam’s Club/BJ’s Wholesale?

      Not all places that charge you for membership or give you a discount if you pay a fee are a scam. I have gone to auto repair shops that offer you service agreements that give you discounts on services they provide. In some situations it is a good deal (If you join our membership program for $50, you will receive $100 off today’s purchase and discount coupons for 6 oil changes over the next two years. In this situation, I am saving a net of $50 off today’s purchase and I have additional discount coupons I can take advantage of at a later date if I desire. These types of “pay for a discount” plans encourage customer loyalty and encourage the upsell, but if you are knowlegable and say “no” on the upsell, you can save some money.

  9. JoeDawson says:

    Does it seem to anyone else, that some times Consumerist will provide helpful advice, but mostly throw it out to the hive mind along with some “witty” remark?

  10. Julia789 says:

    I LOVE my Banfield wellness plan. My dog is old and has a lot of health problems, and I’ve saved over $2,000. The wellness plan for my dog is $390 for the year, and I get to bring him in for free office visits as many times as I need. Sometimes that is twice a month given his health. The included yearly sedation and dental plus free exams and shots pay for themselves.

    I hear people say the vets at Banfield are “second rate” but not where I live. My vet was a local and respected vet for 20 years. When his lease was up, he signed up at Banfield because it came with a new office and all new equipment. He is WONDERFUL and I trust him. Maybe the vets at other locations are not as good? Who knows. They are independent franchises. Every vet is different. You can always find out where your vet went to school and get references first.

    The wellness plan includes some services for my dog that other vets do not push (glaucoma testing, extra vaccines, yearly bloodwork) but I like having those things. The yearly bloodwork caught liver problems in my dog no one would have caught otherwise.

    I took my previous sick dog to several other vets before finding my Banfield vet, and I spent hundreds more.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      “My dog is old and has a lot of health problems, and I’ve saved over $2,000. “

      Are you sure it’s not like “I spent $5,000 to save $2,000?”

      • Julia789 says:

        I’m 100% sure. I had quotes from other vets for the surgeries and tests my dog needed, and they were higher. (I also had a second opinion to make sure the dog really needed these procedures.)

        Not only does the wellness plan for about $390 a year cover the annual sedation, dental, vaccines, bloodwork and unlimited office visits (which more than pays for the $390) it also gives a 15% discount on anything else you need. Plus after the surgeries I found a ton of the surgery charges were included in the plan already, in addition to the 15% discount.

  11. Hi_Hello says:

    This sounds fair though:

    this time we were told that our yearly membership had been renewed and thus we could not cancel prior to the 1 year date without either paying out the remainder of the plan or paying back the “savings” we gained from the previous vet visit.

    You are trying to use the 2nd year plan savings on the shots. If you had cancel the first year, you would’ve been out of the service and you would NOT have recieved the saving. So returning the savings sense fair even if you think the prices were inflated or not.

    They even told you it was a yearly renewal, not a month to month basis after the first year.

    • Julia789 says:

      Yep – it’s a yearly renewal, not a monthly renewal. It’s all in the brochure and paperwork they give you.

      Allowing monthly payments for the annual plan is a convenience they offer.

  12. Smudgepot_theATTackDonkey says:

    The unfortunate thing here is that you did sign a contract. And the more unfortunate aspect of the situation is that some contracts are worded in such a manner as to hook you automatically into another year once 12 months have passed and the 13th payment is drafted. I have learned the hard, BITTER lesson that state contractual law is most often NOT on the side of the consumer. Unfortunately if you stop the ACH or refuse to pay them they will go after you and you will ultimately incur more expenses and will take a hit on your credit. My advice to you is this. Suck it up, absorb the bitter pill and keep paying until you satisfy what you owe them. If you can pay a lump sum do it. Send a certified, return receipt requested letter terminating any future obligation once you have satisfied the monetary amount you owe them. Once the monetary amount is satisfied go to the bank. Tell your bank you have lost your debit card and get a new one. This will prevent any future ACHs from your account if they are drafting off the primary account number assigned to your debit card.

    Be smart. They will wreck you if they can and they’ll have fun doing it.

  13. spmahn says:

    I actually brought my cat to Banfield to get surgery to remove a polyp from her ear, and they were substantially cheaper than the other vet estimates I got. I had no problem with their service, although the polyp did end up coming back, but that’s just the nature of the surgery, not the fault of the Vet. Otherwise, the Cat seems to be fine, so I didn’t bother getting the surgery again

  14. LadyTL says:

    Actually if you go to Banfield they really will charge you the high prices if you don’t have the “discount” whatever. They actually will list how much less you would pay if you had it on sheet they make you sign for before you can even get any kind of examination of your pet.

  15. LightningUsagi says:

    I personally don’t like Banfield after the one and only visit I had there. My regular vet was out of town, and my pug had a large raw patch on her belly that I wanted a doctor to look at. I took her to Banfield and they took skin samples to do testing on, telling me that they’d call me back the next day with the results, but in the meantime, I could try this expensive cream to help with the itching. I looked at the ingredients on the tube while I was being rung up, and noticed that it was basically hydrocortizone cream. I decided against buying it, and went across the street to Target and bought a $3 tube of hydrocortizone cream and some children’s Benedryl.

    A few days later, I called to see what the results were of the tests since I’d never received a call. No one could find any info for me. In the meantime, I’d been putting the cream on the spot, and giving her Benedryl when she’d get too itchy. When my vet came back, I took Hikari in to see her and told her about the visit to Banfield and what the home remedy I’d used was. She said that I’d done the right thing, and it looked like it was just a bite that she’d scratched raw.

    I have VPI insurance on her now, and it’s less than $15 a month. It gets me a discount (usually a mail-in refund) on all vet visits and prescriptions. Hikari’s never really had any illnesses or injuries, but it’s nice to know that if something happens, that I have backup.

    On a related note, I will share a little tidbit that I recently learned after my Frenchie was elecrocuted. GE Money has a line of credit called Carecredit that can be used for expensive vet services. I was approved for $2000 interest free for a year, and it really helped in the situation (2 days in intensive care and follow-up visits). Luckily, the ER knew about it and gave me the application info so everything was settled before I left the first night.

    • momtimestwo says:

      I have CareCredit for our human dental needs, our dentist signed us up. We have dental insurance through my husbands employers, and like most dental insurance, it doesn’t cover anywhere near what dentists charge, so CareCredit helps fill the difference.

    • cash_da_pibble says:

      I originally got carecredit to cover the cost of a root canal, with the intention of canceling it once it was paid off. But when i found out it could also be used at my Vet, i decided to keep it for my four-legged garbage disposal in case of emergencies. Haven’t needed it yet, thank the gods.

  16. Banfield The Pet Hospital says:

    To the author of this complaint,

    On behalf of Banfield, we do apologize that your experience at one of our hospitals has left you feeling this way. Regarding the issue of your Wellness Plan, the plan is structured as an annual plan with convenience of monthly payment, as outline in the contract. It is true that you can cancel at anytime. However, if services are provided to a client, we simply require that the client pays for them. Since you did receive services early in the second year of your plan, then you are still able to cancel, but the cost of the services need to be covered by you. If it is more convenient, or less expensive, to pay the full year of monthly payments, then we certainly welcome you to do that. Otherwise, we just ask that you pay the cost of the services rendered.

  17. Lindsay says:

    Thankfully, the Banfield I use is staffed by Vets and techs that do a nice job both in caring for my critters and providing customer service. I use the same service, and recommend it to the other pet owners in my area -because- of this wellness plan. Where we live (Thank you, upstate NY) their wellness plan makes vet care reasonable. We ran our own numbers based on the figures we had from trying to find a good vet around, and the wellness plan works out for where we live for basic care.

    When we were told about the service, it was marketed as the full year of our pets’ expected care (shots, exams, tests) being billed at once. From there, we could either pay it in one lump sum or pay that bill in installments of $xx.xx per month. The staff really drove home that we’re not buying a subscription plan for care – it’s buying an “item” with a payment plan for that item. It’s a little difference, but it made a big difference in our decision to buy. The contract I signed describes it that way, as did the associate I bought it from.

    That said, if you have a Banfield in your area it’s just like any other vet. The staff makes the difference. The Rochester one has treated me and my pets really well in the past 2.5 years. Those are the staff I trust to tell me what’s going on – not some rep on a 1-800 number. I worked on the end of one of those numbers to know that 95% of the time, the rep you get doesn’t understand what they’re told to tell you. This one sounds like it needs a sound kick in the seat, and corporate too.

    • FrugalFreak says:

      I wonder if you pay above retail on unnecessary car repairs too. convience above cost for you it seems.

  18. DollyLava says:

    The OP used the 2nd year benefits so he has to pay for the 2nd year.
    In my time at Badfield, I never saw a client get out of a wellness plan, so good luck with that.
    It was easy to get the overwhelmed new puppy owners to buy wellness plans but when you have an adult dog/cat, you should have a better handle on what vaccines your pet needs and how many times a year they actually go to the vet.
    Badfield encourages vets to use their standards protocols. Pet comes in vomiting, order up X,Y,Z no matter what. Then send in the nurses (vet assistants) to get the client to agree to all of the treatments. This usually makes people hate the nurses because they appear to be the one trying to get your money but the nurses are the most likely to break down the package protocols into what you actually need.

    • FrugalFreak says:

      well how do you not use it when they won’t let her out at 11 months. Is there some magical hour slot she must call and perform a ritual? she shoulfd have been able to cancel paying the years fees.

      • coren says:

        The problem is the OP used services after their contract was up (at least that’s what I’m getting out of this post) for the first year, and had started for the second. It seems like, theoretically, if they hadn’t, they’d be able to cancel. Moreover, from what I can tell Banfield just wants them to pay for whatever the cost of what they had done after year 1 was over.

  19. jesirose says:

    Nitpicking – it’s PetSmart.

    Banfield is always sucky.

  20. Jason says:

    I will never return to Banfield again. Last July, we woke up to find our cat of 15 years (we got her when she was 2.5 so she was 17.5 years old) was unable to make it down the stairs. She had a brown ooze coming from her mouth. We knew it was time. Having this my first pet I got the day I moved out of my parents house, I was a bit clueless as to what to do. I knew I need to take her to a vet. Being new to the area, I did a quick google search and found most vets don’t charge for putting a pet to sleep, and if they do, it is a small fee $25-$45. I called Banfield as that came up for my area in a google search and they quoted me a $90 rate. I was a little shocked, but made the appointment. I packed up my cat, arrived at Banfield 10 mins later and was promptly seen. They were very nice and understanding. I signed some forms through many tears and I said goodbye for the last time. I waived all the expensive stuff like cremation, setting her up in a viewing room as I read that is more painful to the cat as they have to do the injection a different way. I walked out of the room and was presented a bill for $292.xx. In addition to the putting to sleep was disposal, office visit, check up, exam, and the cocktail they give the cat to kill her. I argued the checkup as I saw no need for that but they wouldn’t budge. I have since found a local private vet that assured me no cost the next time my pet reaches that time.

    • sprybuzzard says:

      Holy crap. I have had two animals put to sleep and neither were over $100. I’m very sorry about your cat, I know the pain too well. Our vet sent cards after each of my pets passed.

    • muenginerd says:

      Sorry to hear about your cat, you definitely got scammed on the deal. No vet should ever charge extra for you to be with your animal when they are put down. I saw another vet in my area try to do this was just sick about it. When we had to put our family dog down, she died in my arms. I held her the whole time (actually at the vet’s recommendation as it’s more soothing for the animal) and the vet was able to run her lines just fine. For a 15lb dog, all fees totaled about $80 for putting the dog down with group cremation.

      For your new pets find a vet you really love, ask friends or neighbors for recommendations, or shelters. These are the vets that will really be there for you when it matters. When our dog was dying, I was out of town, the vet actually opened the office after hours (no extra charge) so I could come home and be there with the dog.

    • wellfleet says:

      I am so sorry about your cat. That’s awful and the treatment you received on top of that… I can’t imagine. When I had to put my cat to sleep, she died in arms, and even my vet was crying. They also sent me a handwritten card a few days later… I hope you found a vet that is a *&^%$#@! human.

  21. VeganPixels says:

    Banfield is to veterinary medicine as discount medical plans are to human health care in the US. That is all.

  22. arualflower says:

    I have the wellness plan for my cat and it has saved me a TON of money- in the thousand dollar range.

  23. muenginerd says:

    Having to pay $29/month for animals and expect that to reflect a savings in vet bills seems outrageous to me. What are your animals getting into that you are having an excessive vet bill that necessitates paying $348/year for savings.

    My dog is more high maintenance then most with horrible allergies, and even with our latest visit to the vet for steroid injections I ended up paying only $33. We do monthly imuno therapy treatments at a cost of $30/month. I’ve even had emergency visits requiring dogging sedation, suture panel, blood work, pain killers, and antibiotics all completed for a grand total less than $250.

    The trick I learned is to find a simple “working man’s vet”. I live in the city so it’s pretty easy to find, but I would recommend calling your local animal shelters, either ask who they use or who they can recommend for families on a budget. Our’s is amazing, they’re open 9am-9pm Mon-Sat. No appointments, just walk in. No office charges for any vaccinations, injections, or surgeries. The vets seems more knowledgeable and friendly then most other vets I’ve tried. They’re actually willing to take the time and talk about options with me, and recommended pulling my dog off vet prescription food for OTC remedies. Just changing vets easily saved me over $400 a year in food alone.

  24. eetonaee says:

    Just wanted to say that we signed up with Banfield for our two dogs 6 months ago and according to their accounting we have already saved over $1800. Even if it is an artificaily inflated amount, we are happy with the service, the vets and their staff and the quality of care our Yorkies get. I think a lot depends on the branch you use.
    We even drive 90 minutes and cross an international border to get to our nearest branch.

  25. gregnva says:

    You need to investigate VPI Pet Insurance. We have it on all three of our dogs and they are pretty fair and I’ve tracked the costs and we are getting a benefit from them.

  26. FrugalFreak says:

    2 simple rules-
    1. Only believe what is written on paper.
    2. NEVER trust verbal statements unless rule number 1 backs it up.

    It sucks that we as a society can’t be trusting, But unfettered capitalism has led to these type situations as a rule rather as an exception..

  27. vipergtsrz says:

    Same thing happened to us for our cat. We are still paying it…

  28. seth says:

    I can see how this person feels out of control, because they don’t notify you before the automatic renewal and will call to get you in for a visit (“covered under your plan”) without pointing out that this assumes that the plan is automatically renewing.

    However, my experience was that this Wellness Plan was a pretty good deal. I first went to Banfield when I wanted my dog’s teeth cleaned. The cost of the cleaning under their program was significantly less expensive than my previous vet. The Wellness Plan let me spread the cost of the cleaning over an entire year…and get two checkups, vaccinations, etc.

    I wasn’t thrilled that I had to carefully listen to figure out when my plan renewed and that I didn’t use services from the next year’s plan without making a conscious decision to renew, but as a general rule…I thought it was a very good offer and encouraged me get more regular visits for my pet…like I do for my kids!

  29. Bionic Data Drop says:

    “However, if services are provided to a client, we simply require that the client pays for them.”

    You forgot the “at twice the cost of any other vet.” at the end of your sentence.