How to piss off a customer

When it comes to customer service, the biggest sin you can commit is to not resolve a complaint after the first phone call. (Unless you’re an insurance company — they operate under a different set of rules. But I’m not angry with them today).

I am upset with two companies right now. And as hard as I’m trying to resist, I think I’m going to name names (I’ve already concluded, back in December, that they don’t like me).

Pain in the ass #1

First one tied to the whipping post is Bayer.

I do believe the Contour NextLink is an exceptional meter, even if the name is a confusingly awkward mash-up. Sure, I have a few gripes, but when my biggest gripe is with the case, that not so bad.

The Bayer Contour NextLink system, carrying case and all

Design flaw #1: The elastic/plastic strap around the screen and buttons

This TuDiabetes discussion shows that I’m not the only frustrated with the case. There’s been so many complaints, that if you dig through that discussion, you’ll learn that they’ve redesigned it, to now has a rigid plastic element that the meter snaps into (like the OneTouch Ultra Mini). Plus, it’s free for the asking! (free!). A few people have already called and gotten theirs. (They come in four colors, too — if you care about that stuff.)

I called the toll-free number and the offshore rep who lacked the most basic of training, was clueless. I explained that I heard that they were offering new, improved cases and that I would like one.

First, he checked to see if I was registered in their system. He asked for some identifying information including my ZIP code. “070xx.” I told him. (xx’ed for my privacy).

So he found my account. “Are you still living at [previous address], ZIP code 117xx?”.

No, you moron. I just told you my ZIP code. And you found my account by using it.

Then we spoke about the case: what was wrong with mine, why it matters that the stuff doesn’t fit right, and so on. Eventually he offered to send me another one, unsure if it would be any different than what I already had. But what he has doesn’t have any that fit the NextLink, only the Contour USB (which is identical in form). He couldn’t guarantee that it would fit. Nonetheless, he needed the model and serial numbers off of my NextLink to place the order. He said I should receive it in two to three days. The topic of color never came up.

That was on April 25, two weeks ago.

I posed the question on TuDiabetes, asking how long it takes to receive the replacement case, and was told two to three days via UPS. A second call tonight, with a slightly better-qualified rep and I feel more confident that I’ll get my case (in seven to ten days, by US Mail). Yes, it’s the newer “improved” case, but again designed for the Contour USB and not the NextLink. This time, I brought up the color issue (I despise all-black because of its camouflaging properties) and she was astounded to find that, yes, I had that choice. I also was able to get her to admit that there was “a problem” with the first order.


Pain in the ass #2

I generally stopped writing about these, because — really — how many times can you blog about a Medtronic Revel Motor Error? It gets old. Since my last pump-history lesson, Epsilon has been replaced by Zeta. And if you didn’t catch it in yesterday’s post, Zeta has Motor Errored during my lunch boluses on Monday and Tuesday. Another call, another replacement.

Carelink helps remind me when I last replaced a pump

CareLink helps remind me when I last replaced my pump

On my most recent call, I explained to the rep that I really didn’t want to go through the exercise of the empty-reservoir test and all that bull. I did it the day before, and that morning had just changed out my infusion set. I didn’t need the stories of magnetic fields, bumps, drops, the little recessed circle opposite the reservoir, the possible reasons for a motor error, and so forth. I know that, after two Motor Errors in a short time, the pump gets replaced.


My new (ahem, “refurbished”) pump arrived today. I uploaded my old pump settings to CareLink, just to be sure I don’t miss anything. They don’t let you download them to another pump, unfortunately, but the printed record helps make sure I don’t miss anything.

Then I popped a battery in the new/refurbished pump. Usually, a new pump will immediately prompt for a time and date; this one didn’t. (It did think it was midnight, January 1, 2007, but it should have known to ask). This one just sat there, happily delivering the programmed basal (which I verified to be zero) from an imaginary full reservoir. It hadn’t made a sound.

I went through a few menus to see if, perhaps, there were settings left over from a previous user (alarm history, basal rates) and found none, but the lack of a Welcome to your new pump message made me suspicious. I checked the alarm settings to see if it was set to be silent, as it hadn’t yet made a sound. It wasn’t — it was on the default “Medium beep” Setting — but since I was there, I changed it to Vibrate mode as I always do.

The vibration sounded and felt like an ’87 pick-up that was badly overdue for an oil change. Something ain’t right.

I need to call Medtronic, and get another pump.


But I just don’t feel up to it. I haven’t got the stamina, the strength, nor the will to argue with them for a third day in a row.

I should say that the Medtronic, as a company, is generally a pleasure to deal with. They’re quick to help out when called upon, and replacements come seemingly faster than the speed of light. Reps are always pleasant to deal with (much better trained than the ones I dealt with at Bayer), but they don’t always have all the answers. This was evidenced in Monday’s (Pump Zeta’s inaugural Motor Error) call, where I was going through the requisite testing and heard keyboard keys clattering and my rep’s voice mumbling “OK, let me see… what’s the next step…” in the background.

This time, I’m demanding a NEW pump. Not a factory-reconditioned/refurbished/harvested-from-old-parts pump, but a NEW one. I don’t know if I’m going to get it, but I’m gonna fight for it – because I’ve lost faith in the secondhand models. I’m sick of the motor errors, the pump replacements, the reprogrammings, and the headaches. Just as soon as I find the energy. I’ll return the one they sent me, and keep pumping with Zeta for now (I’ve still got pump Alpha, my trusty MM515 which lasted well past warranty without a moment’s grief, as a backup).

And when I see my endo at the end of the month, I’m seriously going to ask for his thoughts on the Animas/Dexcom combo.

Returned before first "Prime"

Gone before its “prime”

Posted on May 9, 2013, in Diabetes, Personal and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

  1. Sounds like it’s time for a change. I just pulled out the NextLink in the last day (I know, I know) and my first thought was “This case doesn’t feel quite right for all this stuff”. Good luck.


  2. Your experiences are EXACTLY why I left Medtronic. In my last year on warranty I went through ELEVEN pumps. that’s almost one a month! When I lost my warranty the sales calls were NON STOP, and nobody wanted to answer me as to what I should do in the interim of saving for a new pump, with a pump that motor erred upwards of 10 times a day.

    I lost my patience and switched to Animas. I will never look back, my service there is amazing and THEY DO NOT REFURBISH PUMPS. FYI: the Vibe is going through the FDA right now if you can wait it out for a little while anyway.

    Godspeed my friend. I know all too well the frustration you feel.


    • Eleven pumps?! That’s insane!

      The latest Medtronic was pushed into the FDA machine a year before the Vibe was, so if there is any consistency, then I expect it to come out with an approval about a year before the Vibe does (meaning: a long time!), Unless, of course, there’s some sort of flaw that’s holding it up.

      Were your eleven pumps Veos (with Low Glucose Suspend), by the way, or old fashioned Paradigms? If it was the Veo, then I’ve lost all hope on the next-gen working better. I’m just hoping I get a NEW, non-refurbished pump when I call tonight.. I’m thinking there might be something to the whole refurbishment theory. My first factory-new pump was returned because of a crack in the case, not a Motor Error.

      By the way — I’m still wearing my twice- (now thrice, as of about an hour ago) Motor Errored pump. I wonder if that’s a good idea.


  3. Well, I’m a newb Animas/Dexcom-er. Been on my Ping for 3 days now (blog to come later today). I was a previous MM pumper, however I never had their CGM so I can’t speak for that. I decided to leave MM because I had 2 pumps break within the span of a year and was just frustrated. This shouldn’t happen, these things are our lifelines! Granted, MM did everything they could to make it right by overnighting me “new” pumps, but the aggrevation and headache was enough for me to walk away. Plus, I wanted to try something new. Maybe I’ll go back to MM someday, maybe I won’t.

    That being said, since I’m obviously a professional Animas user, you know, being on day 3, I will say there are a few features that MM offers that are pretty slick. There is a lot more button pushing for Animas, filling the reservoir is much more hands-on, I can hear when insulin is delivered if I’m listening closely. And the reservoir is smaller, so more site changes (which isn’t neccessarily a bad thing). I also like how MM will deliver your BG results to the pump, but with Animas you have to dial it in. Probably my biggest gripe, so far.


    • Yes, I do have to say that Medtronic’s customer service is top-notch. Their features (which I’ll discuss in tomorrow’s blog post) are quite up there as well, which is why I stick with them. I’m convinced the problem is somewhere in the manufacturing process.

      By the way, I heard somewhere (again, unofficial and unconfirmed) that the Veo/Enlite combo has completed the product-evaluation stage and the FDA is now going to visit the manufacturing facilities. I wish I could learn of their findings. (BTW, I seriously have no idea if this is true or not. I’m not just saying “unconfirmed” because I need to cover myself from spreading news prematurely)


  4. How frustrating!! I feel your pain. I hope everything gets resolved soon. I am happy to hear that the Bayer contour next has a new case, that was one of my biggest complaints too. You can’t see the number with the strap in the way. I hope I’ll have better luck than you did at first.


  5. Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. (Those are for the MM pump. The meter thing is just a single whoa and an added pfft.) You have a lot more patience than I do because I would have been nuclear by the third pump. We pay for pumps that work, not pumps that work some of the time. We pay though our insurance premiums and our supply copays. This is ridiculous. Tied hands, much like the idle hands, are the devil’s playground. Get playing. (And if you need playmates, just shout.)


    • Pumps are categorized as “Durable Medical Equipment”. But so are infusion sets and test strips (under my insurance plan, anyway). Should I really expect one to be MORE durable than the other two?


      • Considering that at times, some of my test strips rise from the ashes like phoenixes in the oddest of places- and still work even though they’re “expired”, I’d say… yep.


  6. oh man, I was just about to pick up the phone today, really today!! and order a MM Veo (in Canada)… you are making me rethink my choice. Actually, i’ve rethought the decision so many times that I finally went for a random draw to decide, but this new info might take me back to the research stage again…..
    Thank yo us much for sharing your experience!


  7. Sorry, man. Sounds like you’ve had a total PITA time. Good luck on asking your endo about the Animas / Dexcom. 🙂 I’ll have to say that Animas has a great pump and I rarely had any issues at all with it. Hope things work out for you.


  8. This shit pisses me off big time. Like… seriously pisses me off.
    The yadda yadda with Medtronic. The morons at Bayer… all of it.

    Diabetes is like a finger wagging teacher that forces us to “be nice” to everyone involved. It forces us to BE the customer service rep.

    I feel your pain dude. Literally.


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