Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Hello Medtronic My old friend

Note to readers - I originally wrote this on a plane trip last spring and thought that it was lost forever - I believe that this is a very important post and while Insulet Corporation may have addressed the technical problems from last year - that was only half the story.  I would have put up with a lot of problems if their customer service had treated me differently.  That said - I have 3 boxes of PODs that I am giving away (last chance Daniel) if anybody wants them.

and now the little treasure that I discovered today!  Enjoy!


If any of you have been in a relationship and really wanted to make it work in spite of what at first may have been a few little "problems" maybe even more of an inconvenience at first that then eventually morphs into irreconcilable differences and the inevitable parting of ways that leave you a bit sad at first until you realize that in spite of the perceived benefits of the relationship, the fact that it ended ultimately leaves you feeling like you came out better in the end,,,,, my story with the OmniPod is very much like that.
a couple of weeks ago, I used my last OmniPod, NO, I STILL HAVE SOME, but I got stood up for the last time.  I was in Bloomington, IN coaching my Little 500 bicycle team and a pod that I had started just a few hours before alarmed as we were finishing up the core section of our workout.
Needless to say, I had a busy day on my schedule and had a planned meeting with about a 15 minute buffer of time to get there back in Indianapolis.
So I made an unplanned, stop at my house on the way to my meeting, dug out my Medtronic Pump, put a battery in it, filled a cartridge, inserted a site and ..... it fired right up and has been working absolutely like a champ ever since.

I had written what I thought was a truly inspired post about the entire experience and why I am no longer pumping tubelessly when I was on a plane to Orange County, CA last week, It somehow got eaten by my Ipad, so this is my feeble attempt to fuse this back together with an earlier blog that I started on the subject.

Below is the rest of the story, but I felt that all of you deserved to know that I truly was in love with my OmniPod and the freedom it gave me at one point, and I am so truly devastated that Insulet Corporation has let one of it's staunchest supporters (me) down in such a monumental way :(


Procedure Every time you change, which should be 3 days, quite annoying if your 3 day usage window turns into 8 hours or less

So my saga with the "New Generation" POD continues.  Insulet continues to act like they are not having a problem. (I guess that means that I am the problem).  Funny though, I met a gentleman at the Monumental Marathon Expo at the JDRF booth I was working and he saw my POD and asked me if it was the new one and how I liked it?

I told him I liked most of the features, with the exception of how the PDM is a lot less user friendly, "In the name of Safety", more on that in a minute.  But I asked him why he asked?  He told me that he had been suffering a 1 in 3 failure rate just like I had. 

To be fair, the failure rate has significantly improved on my latest batch, but is still much higher than I think is acceptable with a medical device. More like 1 in 4 now.

In fact I was recently in Florida for a coaching clinic and took 2 PODs with me for a 3 day event with the idea that I would have to change once and I would have 1 POD for back up. Seemed like a great plan to me until I changed PODs the night I got there and the new POD failed less than 8 hours later.

I call Insulet, explain the situation, they told me that they are back to picking these up (kind of a misnomer and now I have to carry it and keep track of it back home from Florida...fantastic... not to mention having to make a special trip to a Fed Ex box to drop it off,,,, but WTH ... I have all kinds of extra time with nothing to do but jack with my Omni Pod)

I would like to take this opportunity to point out what delivery systems that I have used in 40 years with type 1 diabetes that were more reliable than this Insulet product, just to be fair..... every system I have ever used including the old Omni Pod which still failed more often than I really thought it should, but was much better than this one and yes #Insulet, I DO PINCH UP, I have lean body composition and I have had failures in every single insertion location, buttocks, thigh, back of the arm and back (I never wear it on my stomach) you would think that they could keep that sort of thing on record, but then again as I mentioned before, I have all the time in the world to drop everything, call Insulet, answer the same old questions, give them all the information and then take the defective POD to Fed Ex and drop it off (if they are going to make me send it back, why do I need to give them the Lot and serial #s over the phone?)
The rep that I talked to seemed very nice, but I expressed how I was very dissatisfied with my "new Omni Pod at this point and was considering alternatives. I was asked if I would like to escalate this to management, which I did.  That was last Friday morning at 8am Eastern Time........7 days later and in typical Insulet fashion....NO RETURNED PHONE CALL WHEN THEY OFFERED!!  Really? Glad you people at Insulet value me as a customer of 2 years that is not going to make it to 3.  If this is how you are treating all of your customers and depending on the "Status Quo Bias" to carry you through, good luck with that.

Yes this is getting real old and I have gone from a champion for the Omni Pod as a great medical device to a hater who is considering going back to shots, or at least a tube style pump system. 

Cutting to the chase, I finally decided that not knowing if a POD was going to last 4 hours or 3 days galvanized me into action so I called and cancelled my automatic re-order.  When asked why I was cancelling my response was , " I have lost all faith in this product and the company."  Didn't seem to ruffle their feathers or prompt a response. 
Fine, I put down the phone thinking that was that.  (this was the week before thanksgiving Nov 25 I believe.  Then on Dec 5 (10 days later) I get an email notifying me that my next shipment was on the way.

OF COURSE... It was after hours for Insulet of course by the time I see this and so I go to their website to find an email to report this transgression.  Naturally there is nothing that matches up with shipping, complaints, etc... So I email their PR dept a sternly worded email, as follows:
You do not offer an email for dissatisfied customers - I am sure that you have quite a few at this point if my experience in the last few months is any indication.
You can count me in that number in fact so much that I will go back to shots before I will use the POD again.
I have wasted way to many hours on the phone with customer service due to PODs failing since going to the new POD. Not to mention insulin (I know that I can waste more of my time writing letters and chasing down receipts to get that reimbursed - now I am compelled to waste more time because I am being shipped more PODs since I canceled my auto ship last week.)  OMG you are sending me unreliable product and now you guys can't even handle a simple cancelation?
I have left messages on 5 occasions now and am yet to ever get a call back, I'm sure that you can imagine my frustration with this. (includes 2 requests to speak to someone in management - obviously they couldn't be bothered)
Your product is has become unreliable in my eyes, your company seems to not care about this unreliability problem.
I do not want another 3 boxes of this junk (25 - 30% failure by my count are you kidding me)
I used to be a huge supporter with the old product and talked it up in the T1D community and convinced a lot of people over the last 2 years to give it a go, but now I am totally disgusted with your company and this horrible product.
I need this shipment either diverted or picked up after it gets to me.  BTW I am also tired of making extra trips to the FedEx box to return this failed junk.(I am in the musical import business and if we had any product that had this high of a failure rate, it would be discontinued immediately) Your company has wasted way too much of my time.
yes, I am very upset
Michael Schwab
Believe it or not, I actually got a follow up call,,, the next day even.  The gentleman that called was apologetic and then gave me a number to call for FedEx, should they deliver and not offer me an opportunity to refuse this package and tells me that "I can schedule a pickup with FedEx & they will come get the package" 
So I call the number provided by the helpful gentleman today and am told that they can "schedule a pick up" no surprise.  After wading through the Fed Ex maze of phone menus no pick up.  I'm back on the phone with Insulet, wading through their phone menu, only to be told, that I now have to spend more of my time returning a package that was not supposed to come to me in the first place.
The quick list of what happened
  • Insulet switched me over to the new Improved version of the OmniPod back in June of 2013 - it's 33% smaller (the only advantage) the PDM is changed so that I have to verify my identity every time I check my blood glucose.  Nice to have one more step if I am already low and trying to figure out what action to take.  I realize that if I am in a room full of OmniPod users that this would be a handy feature, to insure that I didn't get my PDM mixed up.  Great idea geniuses
  • Speaking of great new features - this new PDM is just packed full of them. When I change a POD, it give me 2 extra steps in the auto insert process and then reminds me to check my BG an hour later even if
    • I just checked it 59 minute in
    • I just inserted a test strip to check my BG
      • So I insert my test strip
      • confirm my identity
      • cancel the reminder
      • let the test strip spool up and auto code
      • then I can finally put my blood on the strip - nice to have all these steps if I feel low to begin with
  • Immediately on switching over to the new system, I start experiencing a high rate of failure. (between 25 & 30% is my best guess - but let's say it's only 1 in 10 just for argument's sake) I sell inexpensive imported musical gear for a living and have for almost 20 years... just like these Made in China OmniPods.... If I had for example a $15 retail item that had a 10% defect ratio, we would be discontinuing that product.  That's just a musical accessory and we are talking about a medical device here for the love of God! 
  • You try jamming a paper clip in this thing to stop the alarm when it fails,,,PITA
  • When I call, I have a long wait on the phone "due to the high demand for the new smaller, less dependable OmniPod" I've said before, this volume is due to problems.  How about a little less hype and some more transparency.
  • Even though I have already been using POD products for 2 years, I have to go through this list of what I do when I put a new one on.  As if they can't keep these answers in my file and have it clicked off on the screen that I have already answered all of these questions correctly.  I guess they figure that after they have already wasted a bunch of my time a few more minutes won't matter. They also act as if they cannot see all of the failures I have had with their product.
  • If you don't want to wait for an hour on the phone, they will eventually give you the option of leaving a message for call back, that does not get returned
  • When you report your failed/alarmed POD you then get to read all of this tiny print to them on the phone
    • lot #
    • serial #
    • Alarm Code - after scrolling through the menu to find it - the reason that you should call in on every one and sit through the phone menu, so that you can find that alarm code and make sure you get the right one matched with the correct POD
    • All of this seems reasonable, except that it is a PITA when you are trying to
      • go to bed
      • just waking up
      • trying to get to work
      • trying to make it to any activity at all
      • doing it mostly when it is very inconvenient
    • As if that is not enough, they then will frequently want the POD back and so you must hang on to the offending POD until they can send you a return kit - I had one that went south while I was in Florida - not only cutting my margin for defective PODs but then I had to keep track of it all the way home and I think  TSA might have snatched it because it disappeared (Sorry TSA if you were not to blame for this and FYI, I would rather deal with TSA any day of the week over Insulet)
  • Finally fed up and canceled any future deliveries of PODs only to have them ship 10 days after I canceled them.  The lady I talked to today said that it really is canceled this time... we'll see. So unacceptable failure with substandard customer service, definitely a company that I want to deal with in the treatment of my T1D.
  • Just to let you know how fed up I am with Insulet, I had 2 more PODs fail in the week following my cancellation and decided that It was no longer worth my time to deal with these fools. So I didn't even bother calling and reporting this.  Never the less, I still have to take the Un-ordered box of PODs to a Fed Ex Drop Box and I still had to waste another large chunk of my time dealing with a problem caused by Insulet Corporation and their employees.

How exactly am I supposed to do this with a POD attached to the back of my arm?

Sorry this has turned into a bit of a novella, but I just don't think friends should let friends use OmniPod.

I would like to  request that any of you who read this, please share it with your Type 1 friends so that they do not make the mistake that I did of attempting to work with Insulet Corporation, the makers of OmniPod. This company has problems that go much deeper than producing an unreliable product and people should be warned!