I see tons of complaints here against Banfield Pet Hospital, and I'd like to add a little insight. As a former employee, I see what happens from both sides of the spectrum.
It is hard sometimes to see where the problem lies. When I see people complain about the "Banfield credit card," I have to wonder if they weren't listening or if the person they spoke to was not explaining correctly. Banfield does not offer a credit card. They allow you to apply for a card called CareCredit, which is a separate company that provides a line of credit for health expenses (yes, that includes human expenses). Employees are given no information or training on how to present this option to clients. They are not even required to read the same brochures that they hand out to clients.
As for Wellness Plans, there is good and bad. The company has a "Points of Interest" sheet that explains the contract in layman's terms; the Banfield I worked at handed this out to clients before they signed up on a plan. We explain that the Wellness Plan is a one year contract, a legal document--and while many people complain about being "duped" by the Wellness Plan, not once in the ENTIRE time I worked at Banfield did a client request a copy of the contract to read over. For that matter, I never saw a client stop to read the terms of the contract before signing off on it, even when I suggested to them they take a moment to read it over. We would give the client a copy of the contract to keep and we still would have people call up and ask what the contract covered--even though all of the included services are listed on the exact same page they signed. While I'm sure many Banfields are at fault for not explaining the terms of the contract in depth, it also is completely ridiculous to sign a legal document without even attempting to read it, then complain about being "ripped off" by a company.
That said, there are certainly many problems that negatively affect the clients, and most are related to how poorly the staff are treated.
Banfield vet techs are paid significantly less than those who work at private practices. This is often because they hire people with little to no experience and train them on the job. Some people rise to the challenge and do an amazing job, while others...not so much. In this respect, it is really the luck of the draw who you get.
The staff is unbelievably overworked. Where I worked, we saw over 40 patients per day. FORTY! The average private practice veterinarian sees maybe a quarter of that number of patients. This is why the wait times are so long and why the staff can seem disconnected. Each vet tech you speak with is trying to manage at least 5 cases at the same time: bloodwork, ear swabs, ear cleanings, all other sorts of things are blowing through their minds as they are trying to take care of your dog.
Another reason for the long wait times are emergencies. The Banfield I worked probably had hundreds, if not closer to a thousand, regular clients. It was a VERY rare occurrence when we had a day without an emergency. The whole staff drops what they are doing to treat an emergency, which can set regular work back for hours.
Banfield can be a grab bag when it comes to prices. One of the doctors at the place I used to work at was very shady, and would add all sorts of unnecessary fees. The VTs feel horrible but can't contradict the doctor's estimates for fear of losing their jobs.
I felt very uncomfortable working there. We were not denied half hour breaks, but the hospital was never staffed well enough to really allow for it. We all got along and felt guilty taking a break since the hospital was so busy that every pair of hands was needed not to fall behind. The front desk staff and VTs were constantly verbally abused by clients who were unhappy with the estimates, but since the doctor MAKES all the estimates there was nothing we could say or do. If we gave rough estimates over the phone we were yelled at; Banfield trains their employees to tell people to come in. If we tried to give any sort of medical advice we were yelled at. To be honest most days we had to choose between making a client angry or making management angry.
With a staff that is overworked, underpaid, and constantly being berated on all sides, it's no wonder people get bad service. Almost everyone I worked with was miserable, and they passed that misery on to the clients.
Product or Service Mentioned: Banfield Pet Hospital Pet Medical Service.