As humans, we make regular trips to our doctor for checkups and routine treatments. Sadly, many humans do not provide these basic services to their dogs. That’s where a program like Banfield Wellness Plan comes into play.
First off, I have to tell you what Banfield Wellness Plan is not. I talked about insurance in Pet Insurance – Good Idea or Waste of Money?and pretty much came to the conclusion that if you have a breed of dog that is prone to certain health conditions, insurance might be a very good idea. The Banfield program, though, is not insurance. It’s a health package that might work to save you money and enable you to get your dog basic care in key areas.
The Banfield Wellness Plan, at its most basic level, includes two physical exams in any given year, unlimited office visits, routine vaccines, and early screening for various illnesses. You can also customize your plan to include things like dental care and parasite control.
So should you consider signing up for a Banfield Wellness Plan that can be delivered through a Banfield Pet Hospital in your area?
The Jury is Out
Once again, I’m leaving this up to dog owners who posted at the Department of Consumer Affairs website, which is what I did in Is Nutro Dog Food Good For Your Best Buddy? In the Nutro post, I chose 10 reviews from each of the 5 star, 3 star and 1 star reviews.
I can’t do that this time around, because it seems as though Banfield Wellness Plan is very much a “love it or hate it” thing with not much in between. There were tons of 5 star reviews, tons of 1 star reviews, and only one 4 star review and a handful of 3 star reviews. So I’m just going to deal with the best and the worst, and a bit of what’s in between. And as I did with the Nutro post, I’ll mostly paraphrase for clarity and brevity, use verbatim quotes once in a while, and also offer my .02 when it seems appropriate to do so on the reviews. Here we go.
5 Star Reviews
K from Clearwater, Florida is a very happy Banfield Wellness Plan consumer. She’s been with them for four years, and says that she’s paying a lot less than she would if she sought out a veterinarian on her own. She loves being able to get all the vaccinations that her Chihuahua, Maggie, needs, appreciates the spay/neuter program, and also loves the phone app!
Colleen from Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, was a little nervous about taking her 10-year-old Chihuahua to a Banfield pet hospital, but she was resolved to have an open mind. She says that her vet was very professional and patient, and spent a lot of time talking with her an answering her concerns. She feels better, and so does her dog.
Michelle from Deer Park, New York, says that she pays for the top Banfield Wellness Plan – $52.95 per month. She figures that this isn’t much, and her plan also offers her a 20% discount for every visit. Her dog needed a procedure that would have cost anywhere from $2,000 to $3,000 at any other veterinary hospital, but once she added up her discounts, all she paid was $201. She can’t say enough good things about Banfield.
Sara from Minneapolis, Minnesota, says that she’s had dogs forever, but only recently experienced owning a puppy. Her experience was great with Banfield – her puppy got sick, and she was booked in immediately. She paid nothing for an assessment and treatment that she says would have cost a fortune elsewhere.
Joyce from Goodyear, Arizona, appreciates the fact that the Banfield Wellness Plan’s literature spells out clearly what is and is not covered. Her dog had dental issues, including abscessed and loose teeth. Eight extractions later, her dog was good as new, and it only cost her $400 – considerably less than if she hadn’t been under the Banfield Wellness Plan
J from Calabash, North Carolina, is a recent Banfield Wellness Plan enrolee. She reports that she had a veterinary emergency with one of her small dogs, who was bitten by a big dog and sustained a deep wound. She called her local Banfield Pet Hospital, and was told to bring her little guy in right away. She says that the staff was “wonderful…jumped through hoops to arrange other appointments and take care of our emergency.” She’s very happy that her baby was so well cared for.
Dawn from Farmingdale, New York has a dog that jumped out of her vehicle while on the way to a Banfield Pet Hospital for a routine checkup. Dawn was beside herself because her dog was bleeding and had a terrible case of road rash. The staff at the animal hospital got her dog in right away, and were kind and comforting to her while the dog was being treated.
Cynthia from Ozark, Missouri loves her Springfield vet! She and her husband recently took their dog, Loki, to Springfield’s Banfield hospital when he was extremely ill, and they were worried that Loki might have to be put to sleep. The staff took the situation in hand, calmed down Cynthia and her husband, and “took great care of Loki.” Loki was just five months old when that happened. Now he’s two years old, and healthy. Cynthia says “We will never take him anywhere else!”
Sean from Haddonfield, New Jersey, appreciates the fact that there are no hidden costs with the Banfield Wellness Plan. He also says that he’s never been pressured for expensive treatments when something that costs less will do. As a bonus, his Australian Cattle Dog loves the staff at the Banfield hospital, and they love the dog right back!
Laura from West End, North Carolina, took her Golden Retriever to a vet in Southern Pines and was given a diagnosis of bone cancer. The medication was horribly expensive, so Laura asked that they try to find ways to assist her with the cost. She was told that they didn’t have time to do that, but oddly enough the clinic worker that she was talking to did have time to talk with her co-workers about what they were going to order in at lunch time. She went to a Banfield hospital and found them very accommodating, and far more concerned about her dog than they were about what was on the lunch menu.
3 Star Reviews
John from Lone Tree, Colorado, was generally happy with the service he received under his Banfield Wellness plan, but it kind of went sour when his dog died. Then, he was told that the plan was actually an annual contract, and he was going to have to continue to make monthly payments for a dog that had died, or do a buyout on the contract.
Debra from Jacksonville, Florida, points out that you have to be sure of what you’re signing. Your Banfield Wellness Plan is not transferable from one pet to another. If your dog dies, you still have to pay for the rest of the year. She feels that the death of a pet should be a good reason for stopping the plan, but she admits that she should have read the fine print, or at least have asked questions before signing.
Anonymous from Ferndale, Washington has mixed feelings. She says that her dog has been a Banfield pup for six years. She had a bad experience, though, when her dog was given a vaccine and had seizures. It turned out that the vaccine was known to have caused problems in small dogs, and Anonymous feels that she should have been informed of this before the vaccine was administered.On the positive side, though, Anonymous says that staff responded quickly, saved her dog, and were compassionate and caring throughout the whole mess – that’s why she stuck with them.
1 Star Reviews
TG from Dallas, Texas, says that Banfield Wellness Program is “a rip off!” He had a dog that had two veterinary visits, and then he gave her away because the cost of the services was more than the cost of the plan. He also had to pay out-of-pocket for stool samples, and he claims that the cost of services is inflated. I don’t presume to know whether the cost was fair or not, but I do question the credibility (and the morality) of someone who gives a dog away because it’s costing him too much.
Sheree from Vancouver, Washington, doesn’t like Banfield Wellness Plan because they wouldn’t let her cancel before the end of the calendar year. She also dislikes the fact that she was never able to see the same vet more than once. I don’t know if she ever asked to have a regular vet, so I don’t know if this complaint has validity.
Randoph from Phoenix, Arizona, says that Banfield Wellness Plan is the bastard child of “big time scammers!!!” He has an issue that’s similar to Sheree’s – he says that he wasn’t informed that the plan would automatically renew year after year. He also says that he can’t get appointments that fit his schedule.
Erika from Walnut Creek, California, says “Banfield is a huge scam. You agree to a wellness plan yet every time I take in my Pomeranian Ruby for any concern I ALWAYS pay out of pocket, and never less than $100…They steal your money. Don’t take your family (pets) to Banfield.”
Heather from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania says “If I could give zero stars I would! We had issues with our [credit] cards that we were using for the plan being compromised. When we would get a new card, we would call and update. Two days later I’d get calls saying we never paid. Multiple times the card info was taken, no payment made, as well as also having a payment taken and not applied to the account. The last payment of our plan was just made and of course we get a call saying we owe them still. The money has been taken from our account.”
Maria from Woodland Hills, California, says “My Tank died on March 20th from Lymphoma and back in December she required special care that Banfield could not offer so we could not use their services. I tried cancelling the plans that I had today that we had for 7 years and apparently even after your pet is deceased these people will take your money.”
Maria from Santa Monica, California, says that her West Los Angeles Banfield Pet Hospital ended up being closed due to complaints and poor service. The receptionist had an “attitude problem” and she was sent to another Banfield hospital where the service wasn’t much better. Her dog had rectal bleeding, and when she brought the dog in, the receptionist was rude, and even though her dog was in “horrible pain” he was treated “like he was a bag of potato.” To make matters worse, when Maria asked that her dog be treated gently, she was told “If you are not happy with how we handle things, you are welcome to take your bleeding dog back home.” Instead, she took him to another veterinary hospital.
Doral from West Jordan, Utah, says “The wellness plan is excellent, for them and their bank account. You are far better off just paying for the services as they are performed. They make it beyond difficult to cancel and require you to jump through countless hoops to do so, all the while smiling all the way to the bank charging you $35 a month. It took us over two months to successfully cancel, and conveniently the cancellation was approved two days after they took another non-refundable payment. They also allow minors to sign contracts but then use that as an excuse to not cancel the plan because you will need to provide various types of proof that the person who signed it is in fact a minor. Long story short, it’s a great business model. They collect hundreds of dollars per year and provide minimal service for the plan. DO NOT SIGN UP FOR IT. Unless you like to put money in the pocket of a shady business without getting any value in return.”
The Final Word
It looks to me as though the Banfield Pet Wellness Plan has stellar reviews and bad reviews, and not much in between. Nobody ever just says “Meh, it was okay.” I guess it’s buyer beware, but I do think that much of the satisfaction or dissatisfaction has less to do with the plan itself than it has to do with individual facilities and workers.