By: Jan Chait
It happens. After three and a half years and more than 10,000 tests, my meter screen displayed a glitch. So I called the company, explained to the rep what had happened and was told I would be sent a new meter.
And that’s all I got: A meter!
In the past, I had received an entire kit: meter, lancing device, case, some strips and a bottle of control solution.
What’s Happening Out There?
The trend seems to be that companies are giving customers only what’s necessary when a problem arises. My meter was having a problem—therefore all I needed was a meter. (Actually, I also needed a new case. An additional phone call explaining that my case was falling apart, too, was addressed quickly and politely.)
From what company representatives have been saying, a similar situation could occur when you call your meter company. So you’ll need to tell them exactly what you need to have replaced—rather than assuming that you’ll get a full kit.
A Cost Factor
It’s a cost factor, says Doug Kuzyk, director of marketing for Bayer Corporation, which makes the Glucometer Elite, Elite XL and DEX2 meters.
“It’s very expensive to send the whole kit when you don’t need to,” Kuzyk explains, adding that Bayer is happy to send any items the customer needs. “Why send the whole kit if the meter is all that’s needed?”
Valerie Trimble, corporate communications specialist for Roche Diagnostics Corporation, notes that the majority of replacements sent by her company are “sent as meters only—not kits. Other items sent to a customer by Accu-Chek Customer Care depend on the situation and the reasons for troubleshooting/replacement.”
Jeff Christensen says replacing only what is needed is something LifeScan—which makes the One Touch Ultra, Profile, Basic and SureStep meters and the InDuo combination meter and insulin delivery device—has been doing for at least 10 years.
“Specifically, warranty items—the meter and Penlet—are guaranteed items we will replace,” says Christensen, who is the communications manager for LifeScan.
With the replacement meter comes an owner’s manual and postage-paid packaging for returning the old meter.
“Ancillary things, such as the case and log books, we will replace as a courtesy,” Christensen adds. “If somebody calls in and says, ‘My zipper is worn,’ or ‘My case is worn,’ we will replace the items they ask for. We don’t send the whole system kit, because everything else is fine. Our overall view is that we do everything we can to take care of our customers’ needs.”
Christensen also cites cost factors as the company’s reasoning for not sending a full kit.
“All of the things that go into a system kit cost something,” he explains. “People pay us to provide a good product and good service around it. If you have a problem with one of our products, we have no problem replacing it.”
Package Contents Might Be Changing as Well
When you buy (or are given) a new meter set, you may not find strips or control solution—both of which are subject to expiration—included in the box.
“Removing the strips and controls from the meter kits removes all components which expire,” says Nancy Lonsinger, director of consumer marketing for Roche Diagnostics, which makes the Accu-Chek Complete, Active, Advantage and Compact meters. “This, in turn, helps the entire distribution channel (retailer, wholesaler, etc.) reduce the cost of returning and replacing expired products so that consumers do not purchase something that has expired.”
Retailers that sell meter kits “are in favor of” this change, Kuzyk reports, adding that not everybody is good at rotating merchandise to ensure that older kits are sold first.
Not every kit will be sold without strips and control solution, according to company representatives. For now, Bayer has removed those items from its DEX2 kits only, as a test. If this reduces the overall cost by preventing returns, Bayer will also remove those items from its Glucometer series of meter kits.
At Roche, “the strips and controls have been removed from the Accu-Chek Complete kit, and Accu-Chek Active was launched without strips and controls,” Lonsinger says. “Accu-Chek Advantage and Accu-Chek Compact kits do include strips and controls.”
While an Accu-Chek Complete set no longer includes strips and control solution, “it does include the Accu-Chek Compass software, which sells for about $69 outside of the kit,” Trimble notes.