For many years, we took our family cat to the Banfield Pet Hospital in Boulder Colorado for veterinary services. For several years now, we have purchased a wellness plan which includes a fixed set of services. For the first couple of years, it was probably me who signed up for the plan. This latest time (4/2014) my daughter was the one taking the cat to the vet so the plan got renewed in her name.

While in college, I provided a MasterCard credit card to each of my kids for education related expenses. My daughter specifically called me to see if she could charge the renewal on the MasterCard. As the cat was as much my pet, I said yes. What I did not know at the time is that she was not given a choice to pay up front but instead told she had to sign up for monthly charges to a credit card. It is not clear whether the contract was adequately explained, particularly that it would be automatically renewed one year later. The entire contract was in electronic form. We never received a copy.

I recently went to Banfield Pet Hospital in Boulder and requested to have a copy printed. The Optimum Wellness Plan contract covers 3 pages and is cumbersome to review even when you have a physical printed copy. The cancellation terms say the customer can cancel at any time but is responsible for paying the difference between the cost of services rendered and the total of monthly payments made so far. It also says, even if the covered pet dies or is lost, Banfield reserves the right to keep any payments made even if no services were rendered in that year. Although this is documented in the contract, it is NOT mentioned in the cancellation terms listed in the FAQ section of the Banfield website.

Keeping payments made without providing any services is unethical and perhaps fraudulent. Our cat had advanced kidney disease and was euthanized in January of 2015. We did not remember to cancel the policy until later in 2015 when I discovered Banfield was still charging the family credit card $25.95/month. To make matters worse, the Plan was automatically renewed in April 2015. No services were rendered by Banfield from April 2015 to October 2015.

Both my daughter and I have called and written the Wellness Plan Relations department several times.initially on the phone, I was told the representative would not discuss the problem with me because I was not listed on the plan. I was told to have my daughter call and give them permission to speak to me. She did exactly that within verbal and written correspondence, Banfield continues to refuse to work with me. My daughter then sent the same email requesting the automatic charges stop and that we get a refund for payments made without services being rendered. Eventually she got an email saying "sorry about the loss of your cat" and that automatic charges would cease. There was no reference to a refund.

Both of us have since filed complaints with the Oregon Better Business Bureau. My complaint was of course answered with the same "you are not on the contract" even though Banfield has been given permission to speak to me. The bottom line is we were charged for services never rendered. Im willing to let 4/14 – 3/15 go. However, renewing the plan without my knowledge and charging me $25.95/month for services that were never rendered is at the very least unethical. And given the way the electronic contract was executed but never given to the customer, I would say this borders on fraudulent business practices.

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