Medical alert systems are generally very effective and helpful. They’re not for everyone, but when they are necessary, they can be life-changing and even lifesaving.
But as with every other consumer product, these systems are not without their issues. If you look through customer reviews for the biggest providers, you’ll find plenty of complaints and bad experiences.
The bad news is that these negative experiences exist for all brands and all products. The good news is that they are in the minority, and if you know what to look for, there are ways to contextualize them. In this guide, we’ll highlight some of the most common issues and show you how to avoid them.
Expensive Payment Plans and Cancellation Issues
In combination, these two issues account for a large number of the total complaints made against medical alert companies, and they often go hand-in-hand.
Some companies in this industry will tie you to a long-term contract and charge you large fees if you ever try to leave. They will also try to make it difficult for you to cancel, knowing that if you don’t cancel before a certain date, you will be charged for another payment period.
Companies like to insist that they don’t intentionally make it hard to cancel, but they do. They know that if it were possible to cancel with a simple click or text message, their profits would drop. So, they insist on routing you through a dozen customer support agents, all of whom try their best to make you stay.
You should avoid working with these companies at all costs. If they try to sign you to a long-term contract, look elsewhere.
Don’t be scared of activation fees and other setup fees, either. They are not ideal, but they’re charged as a way of covering the equipment cost and are often used in lieu of a long-term contract.
A company that makes a big deal out of not charging these fees will often ask you to sign a 2-year contract and then require you to stand on one leg and hop to the tune of Saturday Night Fever before you can cancel.
If you’ve already signed up and they are making life difficult for you, go straight through your bank/card provider and cancel the payment on their end. Just make sure that you follow the company’s terms and conditions in regard to returning the items and notifying them of your cancellation.
If you have missed the cut-off point and have inadvertently signed on for another year or 2, you should contact them and make it clear that it was a mistake. There may be a grace period in which you can cancel the contract. If not, and they insist that you’re trapped and don’t offer you any support, try to go through their complaints department.
A good company should operate on the basis that their customers want to be there and need that service. Their goal should be to acquire customers by offering good services and great products, and not simply trapping them in a long-term contract. Many won’t care and won’t heed your complaints, but some will, and if you’re not happy with the level of service or the way your complaint was handled, you can always take it elsewhere.
As noted in our “uncaring customer support” section below, sometimes the best way to get their attention is to vent your frustrations on a third-party platform.
Installation problems are by far the most common issue with medical alert systems, and they seem to be more common with some companies than with others. These systems aren’t all that complicated to install, but if they’re offering to install it and you’re paying for the pleasure, you most likely expect it to be installed!
In such cases, make sure you get a fixed date when the item will be installed and triple-check that it works before you let them leave. If they don’t install it on that date, then you shouldn’t be charged for it, and if they continue to waste your time, then ask for a refund and go somewhere else.
Most medical alert companies will offer you a refund in the first 30 to 45 days, and it’s always worth taking them up on this offer if they spend that time frustrating you and breaking their promises. If they refuse a refund and they are also refusing to supply you with the service that you paid for, it’s time to contact your credit card provider.
A company doesn’t need to be an elaborate scam for you to initiate a chargeback. If you paid for a service that wasn’t delivered, you were essentially scammed. It doesn’t matter if they plan to deliver it on “XYZ date.” What matters is that you paid for it to be delivered/provided on a specific date, the terms weren’t met, and you weren’t happy with the alternative arrangements.
Uncaring Customer Support
The bigger you get as a company, the more you lose track of your customers and the things that matter. Most medical alert companies are massive and while they pride themselves on customer support, they can’t offer the sort of dedicated service provided by a smaller company.
It’s one of the unfortunate facts of dealing with these companies, but there is a way around it. You simply need to turn from a pleasant and unassuming customer into their worst nightmare.
Look at it this way:
When you’re dealing with a small company, such as your local hardware store, they can afford to spend more time on every customer. If there is an issue, or even the suggestion of an issue, they will deal with it and ensure you end up happy.
When you’re dealing with a big company, they don’t have the means to provide all of their customers with a high level of service. Sure, they might create systems and procedures that guarantee a swift and problem-free purchase, but if you have an issue, you’ll only be added to a long line of customers.
Everything is automated and organized, and while that works for sales and basic troubleshooting, it doesn’t work for highly specific complaints. The result is that you find yourself with other angry customers in a line, at the front of which the company is dishing out apologetic smiles, offering free coupons, and providing absolutely no assistance whatsoever.
The only way to make yourself heard is to appeal directly to the people who can help you, which means going through complaints procedures, leaving reviews, and writing to sites like the BBB. The first-tier customer support staff might not give you a personalized level of care, but the team trained to deal with complaints most certainly will.
By all means, go through customer support first. That should always be your first move, but if that doesn’t work and they’re either ignoring you or answering questions that you didn’t ask (often because they’re copying and pasting responses), then it’s time to take things up a level.