At this year's North Atlantic Veterinary Conference, I was very excited to visit the exhibit hall where I could browse for much needed IV fluid pumps to upgrade my animal hospital. With medical equipment of this kind ranging from $500 to $5000 each, one has to be very careful about going unnecessarily high tech and paying too much for machines that will not offer return on vestment for years, vs resisting going too low tech enough and skimping.
AT one particular professional looking stand, I found two perfect IV pumps that I was impressed with for the price. One important thing about pumps is that they accept standard fluid set tubing, because many in the industry are calibrated to accept only fluid tubing made by the pump manufacturer, letting them have a monopoly on you to by keeping you necessarily having to always buy only their tubing - this is a lovely little scam, since used tubing is disposed of per patient, leaving us constantly having to buy new tubing. This salesman told me that standard tubing line are fine. I took him at his word and bought the pumps with my business visa check card.
Well, the pumps came, and the first time I tried to use them, I found that they were not accurate with the standard tubing lines that I had. I called the company tech department, who told me that they were not accurate because I did not USE THEIR TUBING! What's more, the pumps were also defective, not allowing a fluid rate higher than 100 ml per hour, making completely useless for any patients over 100 pounds.
Of course, I was rather displeased, having been lied to by the salesperson, who got on the telephone to tell me that I needed to send to pumps back to have them recalibrate for standard tubing, as well as have them looked at to figure out why they will not accept higher fluid rates. Having a little faith in this company at this point for having lied, sent defective equipment, and left my practice still in under strain without fluid pumps, I told him that I would send the pumps back, but for good, and to simply refund my money and let us part ways. At this the salesman told me that it is not their policy to take returns under any circumstances, that the only recourse was to provide me with a company credit to perhaps buy some other medical equipment from them - AS IF I HAD ANY INTEREST OF EVER BUYING ANY EQUIPMENT FROM THEM AGAIN!
One significant character flaw I concede is my propensity to have a bit of a temper. It takes allot for it to surface, but once it rears its ugly head, the flood gates tend to open. On the verge of losing my temper, I gave this salesperson one last chance to do business scrupulously, and asked him, "Is this really how you want to go about this? Because if it is, we are going to have a very big problem. I suggest you check with your supervisor [who happens to be the company's owner], and ask him if he would reconsider his position, given the fact that you misrepresented your products, and on top of that, are defective and useless for any patients that weigh over 12 pounds."
At this he left me on hold for 5 minutes, and returned with his bosses answer that he will not refund my money for the defective pumps that I purchased, but that I am again welcome to receive company credit to instead purchase other types of medical equipment from them. Temper now lost, I told him exactly where he can stick those pumps, and informed him that under no uncertain terms (perhaps spiced with a few colorful metaphors), that he will live to regret his decision.
While it hurts greatly to be out $2000 in a rough economy, and still have my practiced compromised without much needed functional IV fluid pumps for my practice, what appalls me the most about the actions of this company, is that they can act with such deliberate dismissal of ethical business practices, and proceed with such unethical, borderline criminal, behavior.
The very moment I got off the telephone, I proceeded straight to my bank with whom I have loyally kept all of my practice finances since 2004. I explained the situation to them and they advised me that I should send the pumps back immediately, after which they could provide me with a provisional refund for the cost of the fluid pumps, while they launch a dispute investigation against this company. While I have right on my side and am confident that my bank will find in my favor, I have to live for the next several days with the anxiety that I cannot be certain that the weasel who owns this company may somehow convince my bank to find in his favor. What's more, I have already out of necessity had to allocate that provisional refund to buy IV fluid pumps from another company that was highly recommended by a close colleague - not having IV fluid pumps places a big strain on a practice, and I had no time to wait. As such, I am in danger of essentially having $2000 essentially stolen from me, while even worse, having to live with the knowledge that a group of thieves under the guise of legitimate business men, got away with it.
Whichever way this turns out is in the hands of my bank at this point, so I have to move forward with the hope that they will honor my long and good standing relationship with them by doing what is right. No matter the outcome, however, my mission is clear: to share my story and expose this company for the bunch of unethical, immoral scoundrels that they are. For my readers who are veterinarians and physicians, the company is, Whittemore Enterprises, based in Rancho Cucamonga, California, and can be found at the website below:
Step one of my expose is this very blog, which I encourage all my readers, not just the vets and physicians, to forward this blog to any vets and physicians you know. My next step will be to start a massive letter writing campaign, beginning with all the major Veterinary Conferences that allow this company to have an exhibit, followed by letters and e-mails to every state veterinary board and every state veterinary medical association, starting of course with California. After this, I plan to file a complaint with the California Better Business Bureau, then start gathering as many veterinary hospital e-mails across the nation as I can to warn them about Whittemore Enterprises. As the icing on the cake, I will write to the editors of every veterinarian journal and publication so that they may spread the word that Whittemore is bad news.
To the owner Mr. Bill Whittemore, you have demonstrated that you do not engage what your website preaches as its mission statement, ". . . providing what the customer needs at an excellent price and then standing behind that purchase . . ." Quite the opposite, you showed me that you employ deceptive salespeople that lie customers into buying your equipment, then when it does not have features that were promised or even work properly, you try to hold the customer hostage by claiming a "no returns" policy.
You could have simply refunded my money, taken your miserable pumps back, free to sell them another day to some other unsuspecting poor soul. I would have been out of your life, and you would have never heard from me again. Through your deplorable actions, however, you will probably not ultimately get to steal my $2000, and now you will not be rid of me for quite some time.