Friday, June 17, 2011

Comedy of Errors: Insulin pump failure (x2) and UPS failure

At least she's got a working doorbell.
This has been a crazy week for me. It started off very exciting as I took on a new client. However, on Monday, I got out of the shower and my lovely insulin pump started vibrating. I knew it was the pump's alarm telling me it was time to check my blood sugar. I went on with drying myself off and then I was going to do it. When I looked and there was an error in the display: BUTTON ERROR. Uh oh. Either a button broke or when the pump was vibrating a button was pressing on something. (The pump is not on me when I shower.)

I clear that error, check my blood sugar and get ready to have lunch. I start the sequence to tell the pump how many carbs I plan to eat. Then, uh oh, the numbers keep scrolling and I can't stop them!!! Problem! I take out the batteries hoping a reset can fix it. Nope. Then I call Medtronic. The rep I got was friendly and talked me through what was happening. Her answer was something I didn't want to hear. My pump was broken and needed to be replaced. Okay, bummer, but I have a vial of Lantus (long-acting insulin) just in case of a pump emergency.  One day of that will be fine.  Plus, I don't have a choice.

She takes my info. I tell her that the doorbell in my building isn't working right now. My landlord has to get it fixed and he's off somewhere on a trip. Therefore, they've got to make sure the delivery company calls me when they're at the door. She says I'll get a phone call the next morning when the truck is en route. As promised, I got a call around 8:45am the next morning. It wasn't a person though (and she'd not promised it would be.) It was a message basically telling me the same thing you hear when you set an appointment for a home repair or cable installation. However, the window for this delivery was between 9am and 5pm. That's ridiculous, but no worries. I had nothing on my schedule for Tuesday.

I called UPS and explained the situation. I was told there was no way he could call as UPS doesn't provide their drivers with phones. Okay, I'd heard that before. I stressed this was a medical device and that I'd be home all day, so how could I get someone to let me know he was there or en route? She suggested I leave a note. Okay. However, the street I live on is like a wind tunnel, so I opted for a bright green box that I had sitting around. Here is a shot of that box that I put outside.

The note I left for my UPS driver which was, clearly, ignored.

One pic I didn't upload because it has my phone number on it. However, I think that says how important it is if I'm writing my number on a box and leaving it outside. I mean anyone, in theory, can come by and pick it up. That's why I asked the driver to read the part the arrows pointed to.

It ends up the driver showed up around 9:45am or so when I checked the tracking info online.  I was concerned. Did someone take the box and am I about to get a crap-load of crank calls? Nope. The box was there AND the driver had put the delivery attempt notice ON the box. I was losing it on the phone when I saw that or I would have taken a picture of it. You'll have to trust me on what I saw because I flew through the roof. I have TWO stores next to me. I think the one on one side doesn't open until 10am or so, but there is a general store on the other side that is open in the mornings. He could have gone there as asked them to call me. The message was CLEAR. I was at home, and I was waiting for my medical device.

I flip out. However, I realize that, thank GOD, I'll be at a conference the next day. I also tried as hard as I could to get redelivery attempt on Tuesday. I contacted UPS customer service, again.  I explain the situation.  The UPS rep puts my message through to the UPS hub. The hub calls me. They then contact the driver who said there was no way he'd be able to double back. Um, okay. So the UPS hub can contact him about this package but they were just UNABLE to find a way to let me know the driver is downstairs? I'm calling b.s. I mean had they even said "he'll be there from 9am to 9:30". It would have sucked, but I would have gone downstairs with my computer or iPad, sat on the step and worked from there. That UPS driver, from what I can see, made NO EXTRA EFFORT.  When you're providing a service, like it or not, sometimes you HAVE to put in some extra effort.  Well, correction, when you're providing a service and don't deliver packages for UPS you have to put in some extra effort from time to time.

I was livid and I started ranting on Twitter about it. Someone manning the @UPS Twitter feed saw it and replied. Great!  They ask me to email with the details. Great! There is someone there who is going to help me!

I do this and I get a reply hours later with info I already know: 1) the driver showed up (I won't say the driver tried to make a delivery because that's b.s.), and the package had be rerouted. Um, duh! I was the person on the phone for over 30 minutes to Medtronic! I KNOW IT'S BEING REROUTED.

I'm pissed. So I start updating Twitter with my blood glucose readings and with a sarcastic "thanks" to @UPS. Most of my readings were high that day and were high the next morning. The package did make it to the conference like I knew it would. However, when I got it, I noticed this sticker on the box:

How is this NOT clear?!!!  This sticker is CLEAR this is important.  Factor in the box I left outside and you'd think the driver might have bothered to make an extra effort. Well, you'd think that.

This part isn't UPS' fault. The pump I got was defective. Oh, it's another FAIL.

I'd left the conference and gone home to set it up. Ooops. On that one I got the 'Motor Error' alert.  Even though I cleared it, it would just loop back to that error.  ...sigh...

I call Medtronic. This time I get a promise that they're going to send me a new "new" pump this time.  The one I'd received was a refurbished one.  

A good two and a half hours lost of conference time. But, honestly, I was so distracted the first day of the conference that I really didn't get into it and wasn't too receptive when someone told me to 'cheer up'.

I did get the new pump yesterday, as promised.  It was brand new.  I set it up with a very helpful Medtronic customer service rep.  It seems to be working just fine now.  I thank Medtronic for that.  I mean I can even understand them sending me a refurb.  That's standard for big companies and they save money that way.

I do realize that ultimate responsibility falls on my landlord to repair the damn doorbell.  After this mess?  I'm confident that will get done.  However, this can't be unheard of.

The lack of effort by the UPS driver and the bureaucratic "that's how it is, but we're sorry" tone from UPS service reps just put me in a sour mood for a couple of days.  Saying "sorry" when it's an issue of someone's health and well-being simply doesn't cut it. I'll definitely give UPS credit in being responsive, but if the people you talk to can't do anything about it, well, that's just a frustrating sort of therapy.  You're mad, they take it, they say "sorry" and you're still out of luck.

Oh, I found this pic that starts off this post and the one below on Flickr today.  Clearly, I'm not the only one this has happened to.  In all seriousness, I do hope that UPS understands that this is a hole in their service.  Sometimes buzzers and doorbells break.  Have a way to work around it! This is particularly true when you're taking responsibility for delivering medical equipment.

Photo courtesy of adamjackson 1984 on

What's funny? I put in an order at a day or so ago.  I checked the tracking this morning and, dammit, the package has been sent via UPS.  It's not as stressful, by far, but I know I'm going to have to go through the same series of b.s. bureaucracy AND pay a fee to have it rerouted to a UPS store.  I'm halfway tempted to just ask them to return it because I didn't pay for shipping on this. I wonder if I could have ship it to me via another vendor like FedEx? (I had a similar delivery issue with them, but they just rerouted the package, for free and with no bureaucratic static, to the FedEx office nearest me.)

Oh, I just got a call from someone at UPS (name: Patti/Patty?)  Anyway, I tell her the story and like everyone at UPS that's been in contact with me, she says there is nothing else they could do. I stress that I'm not the only one as the pictures above indicate.  If they're going to take responsibility for delivering medical equipment they need to fix this hole in their system.

Her reply? Pretty much that's how it is and she'll forward this on.

Okay: publish post.


 The same post at (a great site for diabetics for community and advice).

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