While reading some complaints about the wellness plans, I have decided that people are not being educated, and that is why there are SO MANY people pissed off. As a Banfield client AND employee (YES i pay full price), let me help break it down (and give you a few tips and tricks :) ).
1. No, the WELLNESS plans are not insurance. The purpose of these plans is to significantly reduce the risk of catching illnesses. You will incur costs for medications and other testing that is necessary to return your pet to Optimum Health.
2. Yes, they are for a year MINIMUM. As with every health plan, there is usually a fee for cancellation. However, in this case (though you may not believe it) Banfield employees are mandated to charge you the minimum cost necessary to cancel. You either have to pay for the services rendered and discounts (best option for pets passed away early, or early cancellations), or the months remaining on your wellness plan (better for mid-year cancellations).
3. Transferring your wellness plan is a pain for everyone, not just the client. This is mainly because Banfield had a plan (that seemingly was abandoned) to make your wellness plan good for all locations. Yes, the wellness plan needs to be transferred to a new location for a new year. Your records do not transfer automatically, though a receptionist has to fax whatever necessary records to the new location.
KEY TIPS: You need to follow up and make sure your OLD WP has been properly cancelled. Sometimes the employee with proper authorization to do so will not be there, and therefore not get the message. This would result in double withdrawal from your account, or collections calls in worse case scenario.
4. About renewal, you have the right to renew your wellness plan a month earlier than the anniversary date. The only reason I mention this is because sometimes your life is really hectic. Say you miss an appointment and need to pay for a booster vaccine, if it is passed a certain date from the initial immunization (3 weeks for initial, 1 year and 6 months after series was finished), Banfield's protocol is to restart the set. Eventually, you will have to pay out of pocket, and though it is discounted, of course you dont want to pay for it! I wouldn't! (Unless it's distemper, thats VERY important!)
Here's what you do:Wait until about a month before your WP ends, get an appointment, listen to the ramble about how your WP will only cover one, smile and nod. Get the vaccine at no cost. Make a two to three week appointment. Ask the receptionist or Office manager to upgrade your wellness plan early.
When it comes time for the set to be re-administered (a year after), wait until the wellness plan is up for renewal again, because it will be within the alloted 6 month time before you need to restart the series!
What you just did:1. Got your initial vaccine for free2. Made sure the booster is from the new plan, got that for free too.3. Started the WP items anew, promising some key tests and vaccines you may need a little earlier!
5. Regarding membership fees, they are first time only EXCEPT for one instance: you do not renew within three months.However, you can have this fee waived if you were sent to collections (no need to tack insult to injury).Also, sometimes the doctor or receptionist will waive this fee depending on the situation. Personnally, I find that out location is VERY forgiving regarding this matter. A CARING receptionist will always help you out. Being nice is always a good way to get discounts and free stuff!(EVEN IF YOU DONT MEAN IT, smile and scream obscenities in your head)
6. Use ALL of the services off of your plan, if you can. Yes, sometimes your pet's health will prevent you from using some services (dental prophy being the most commonly discarded, a 350$ procedure!), but you can ask to use everything. This not only makes sure you got everything you paid for, but also nothing was overlooked that could be a key factor in your pets health.
7: Sign up on the PRIMARY plan first! There is no need to pay for services you aren't going to use, until you actually use them! If you need a dental, but can't get an appointment for two months, at the Basic Plus rate of 30.95 versus the Primary of 19.95 for two months, you just paid 22 dollars you could have used for something else! This goes for puppy plans to. They dont need bloodwork until they get neutered, which is four to five months away, dont pay for a plan you wont use yet. Upgrade the day of your procedure, get all the services you need taken off and the rest discounted at a heavier rate.
THE ONLY CATCH: once you upgrade, you cannot downgrade until the wellness plan is up for renewal. Upgrade any time, can't downgrade until year is over.Also, you need to carefully watch the date of the neuter/spay versus the age of your puppy. If your puppy gets to be EXACTLY 6 months before you upgrade, then you will miss out on the puppy plan.Make sure you either call up to confirm the age once in a while, or schedule a few days before 6 months.
8. Yes, the staff at Banfield is VERY pushy about the wellness plans. I cannot speak for other Banfield hospitals, but there are a few reasons why we suggest them constantly.
From our standpoint: 1. It is easier to explain an invoice for 150, including bloodwork, vaccines, intestinal parasite exams, deworming, office visit, versus an invoice for 400+ for the same thing. You really do save money on PREVENTATIVE CARE.2. Even if you only need one thing off the plan, (like a dental cleaning) it would be cheaper to sign up on the WP, use what you need and cancel, than to use a neighboring veterinarian where they may not consider that item necessary and charge you astronomical prices.
From your standpoint:1. You have a regular veterinarian, who promises you free office visits, discounted items, and flexible hours. This eliminates the need to search for a vet, price search and possibly be dissapointed.
Now, I will HONESTLY answer a few concerns stated on this webpage, you can take or leave the answers below, and with all information, do your own research as well.
1. Yes, Banfield employees get a certain bonus from the number of wellness plans they sell. However, everyone gets a bonus from everything we provide, WP or not. Honestly, the bonus is nothing remarkable. For a whole year, and I sign about 6-7 wp's a day, I may have recieved 200 dollars all in all. That's not even enough to fill my vehicle with gas, lol.
2. Due to the sheer volume of clients per day vs the vets on staff, truthfully, people do not actually get their appointments on time unless it is a new hospital with a small client base. There is only one solution with this: hire more vets and expand the hospital. Personnally, I am very upset that I get paid chicken's feed to constantly hear client's concerns regarding their wait, and the other staff ignore them and me.
3. Frequently, mistakes are made in the computer. In defense to my fellow employees (who many of them have been in the field for YEARS), we have severely outdated program called PetWare. It is the bane of Banfield pet Hospitals everywhere. It cannot handle the number of clients, it is very restrictive in some parts, and very free in parts where it shouldn't be. It crashes frequently, and Windows doesn't even manufacture the program used to make PetWare (FOXPRO) since estimated 1995.
4. Once again, I cannot speak on the behalf of other vets (I believe the horror stories, trust me). The owner of my hospital also is the Head Vet. She is one of the sweetest people i have ever met, a little too sweet sometimes. One of the main reasons people put up with the corporate ***, long waiting times and small location, is because she may be one of the best vets in our area. She is very understanding, not pushy, and pets get better after she treats them.However, she is only human. Alone she may see 35-40 patients a day (Banfield minimum per doctor). Of course at the end of the day she is frazzled and irritated, she may be a little less understanding. I believe before you judge the vet, take note of how many people they see a day. Are they the only Vet? How long and often do they work? Do they have their license posted in plain sight?
Personnally, I would have a COMPLETE over-hall on the entire banfield system (except for diagnostic protocols because I am not a DVM, and cannot discredit). I mean, how hard is it to link all the locations? Upgrade system, including hardware, reassess the standpoint of the customer, maybe have a plan that includes a set price in medications?Maybe half price the vaccines if a set is overdue? Actually compete with prescription medication, instead of making set prices? Offer more frequent vaccine clinical hours for those non OWP customers, at a further discounted price?
All in all, the only thing that keeps me working is the pets. I love to see healthy pets and happy owners. I love to see invoices for 0.00 ( it's easier for all of us! ).
I appreciate an constructive criticism, good or bad.
Product or Service Mentioned: Banfield Pet Hospital Pet Vaccination.