Don't make this harder than it needs to be
When you live with type 1 diabetes, you often find yourself buffeted around by things outside your control.
It doesn't matter how hard you're trying or how organised and on top of things you are.
Sometimes things are harder than they should be. Simple things that end up adding unnecessary time, brain power, money and stress to managing diabetes.
Here's a run down of what's been going wrong lately.
Medtronic aren't delivering
Although I'm getting good results from the tech, it would be a huge understatement to say that I haven't had a great experience dealing with Medtronic lately.
For the last two months, Medtronic have failed to send me my automatic monthly subscription of Guardian 4 sensors. Last weekend my pump cracked. I've had 5 sensors fail early.
I have made 13 phone calls taking over 2 and a half hours, sent 6 emails and placed 5 orders for replacement sensors. You'd think that would be enough to sort it. You'd be wrong.
At the time of writing this, I have ZERO Guardian 4 sensors in my possession.
So, three things that went wrong that weren't solved in a timely manner. Let's break them down:
Problem 1 : sensors aren't automatically shipping any more
I am now in my second year of being a self-funder of Guardian 4 CGM sensors to use with my Medtronic 780G insulin pump. In the first year, the monthly orders happened automatically and the payment was taken automatically from my credit card when the boxes were shipped.
Now it's all gone wrong.
In May, an order was automatically placed in the system. Great! The estimated delivery date came and went and the sensors hadn't been shipped. Not great. Nobody from Medtronic got in touch with me and there was no notification that the shipment would be delayed.
I phoned to investigate. It took a few goes, speaking to different people each time, and I was eventually told that they hadn't been shipped because "you haven't paid for them". You have to speak to a different department to make the payment.
I gave my card details over the phone (even though I know that Medtronic has them on file) and waited for the shipment to arrive. I had no sensors left and Medtronic don't deliver on weekends (why not?!!!), but I did eventually receive a box at the end of May, just in time to take them on holiday.
Anxious not to have a repeat of the experience, I was assured that the automatic orders would be fixed. I asked for an email to confirm it was sorted but never received one.
Guess what happened in June? I didn't get any sensors AGAIN!
An order hadn't even been created. I sent an email, then a chaser email, then after 3 days I got a reply to say they were sorry, didn't know why the order hadn't been placed as a subscription plan had been set up, but they would get an order out the following Monday.
THAT order didn't arrive either.
I phoned to chase, and again I was told they hadn't been shipped because "you haven't paid for them". I gave my credit card details AGAIN. I've asked for confirmation it's been resolved. Apparently the sensors are being sent next week.
This is a long way short of the promise on the Medtronic website that there will be automatic deliveries before my supplies run out:
As it stands I have no sensors. It's getting a bit ridiculous.
Maybe it's just my bad luck but Medtronic really need to sort this out.
Problem 2: failed sensors aren't being replaced on time
The next issue I've had to deal with is replacing failed sensors. The Guardian 4 sensors are supposed to last 7 days, but in the past two months, five sensors have failed early.
Medtronic are very good at saying they will replace any failed sensors, and it is really easy to place an order when one fails - you can do it through your "We Care" account on the Medtronic website or now through the Medtronic Penny app.
I placed my orders and each confirmation email says they will be processed in 3-5 working days. That sounds good!
Except now it's 11 days later I still haven't received any replacement sensors.
When I phoned Medtronic to chase these up I was told the single sensors were out of stock.
Did they let me know about this? Keep me in the loop? Manage my expectations?
I'm afraid they did not.
But they did come up with a workaround to cancel my individual replacement orders and send me a whole new box instead. Apparently this will be with me next week. We will see.
Problem 3 : product support not available at the weekend
The final Medtronic time drain happened last Saturday.
I noticed a crack in my insulin pump so phoned the product support helpline to order a replacement.
Medtronic says that their product support helpline is available 24/7, 365 days a year.
I phoned them on a Saturday.
I waited for a total of nearly 2 hours for my calls to be answered and NOBODY ANSWERED THE PHONE!
In my frustration I tried to reach Medtronic on Twitter last Saturday but had no reply.
In the end I gave up and called back on Monday. My call was answered quickly and the whole thing was sorted in about 20 minutes, with a replacement pump sent out 48 hours later. I am truly grateful for this.
I was, though, slightly surprised to get a call from a Medtronic person at the end of the week who said "we saw your post on Twitter and we want to make sure you get a replacement pump" - when I'd already got my new one.
It's not filling me with a lot of confidence about my next three years with Medtronic.
It doesn't matter how good your diabetes technology is if you can't get the basics right.
**UPDATE as at 15th July**
After publishing this article, Medtronic management got in touch with me to assure me they are taking the points I raised seriously. I have now received both boxes of sensors and I have been promised that this won't happen again for my future regular shipments. Thanks to them for their proactive and open response to my constructive feedback.