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.

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