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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Law

Don't make this harder than it needs to be


A list of the time and effort needed to order Guardian 4 sensors and a replacement Medtronic 780G pump

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.


Confirmation email for replacement Guardian 4 sensors
No sign of these sensors yet

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.


Twice.


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.


13 Comments


sgh0379
Apr 22

The 780 itself is great! Problem is, as everyone else has stated, Medtronic’s supply system is atrocious and the sensors are a constant problem. I had used Freestyle Libre before. If one of them failed, they sent you a new one AND a postage-paid box so you could return the faulty one. Apparently they “autopsy” the faulty ones to see what went wrong. Medtronic just sends you a new one and says “Oh, well……”. They seem to have no interest in solving the problem.

The supply situation is a clown show. Place an online order, get an “Order has been created” email. Few days later you check online fir status of the order, many times it’s just disappeared! No record…

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Thomas Renda
Thomas Renda
Mar 28

3/28/24 I am at the end of my second week without Guardian 4 sensors. The order was placed in time to keep me from running out, but I was told the sensors are on back order. Medtronic told me they would be in stock by 3/20 when they did not ship I was told they would be in stock by 3/27. When I called on 3/27 I was told they expect them this week. I can't have faith in that. It seems obvious that Medtronic is not being truthful about this shortage or when it will end. Overall I like the 780G and Guardian 4 system and have had good success with it. No matter how good a system is,…

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drmaryflynn
Jan 02

As a health care professional living with Type 1 diabetes for 24 years, I’‘m finding the Guardian 4 sensor failure hugely disappointing! I switched from using DexCom with my Medtronic pump when I upgraded to the 780 pump with closed loop sensors. with no warning all sesnsors I have used have failed within 2 - 6 days - the majority at 4/5 days. The need to rip off all the tape required to hold sensors and transmitter in place, clean residue of tape from transmitter and then wait for over an hour for the transmitter to recharge is a massive step backwards in terms of enabling people with Type 1 diabetes live a full life. After the transmitter is charge…

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Michelle Law
Michelle Law
Feb 20
Replying to

I so relate to how hard this is, the sensor changeover process is the worst part of the system. The new generation sensor (the Simplera) is going to be a huge improvement, hopefully not too long to wait for that. Apparently it takes less than 10 seconds to change over and can be done with one hand and no overtape required!

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Rupert Bogarde
Rupert Bogarde
Dec 08, 2023

This is the second time I'm writing of the (4) sensors failing to reach their 7 day span. The last four have fallen far short, lasting an average of 4maximum 5 days. I am following all the fitting advice but this is a real problem, meaning costs are far greater for complete cover than claimed by Medtronic. This is not a rant. Just fact.

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Michelle Law
Michelle Law
Feb 20
Replying to

Hopefully things will improve with the new generation sensors (the Simplera).

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Rupert Bogarde
Rupert Bogarde
Nov 24, 2023

I have had the same problem when it comes to the Medtronic 4 sensor not lasting long enough.. In spite of taking every precaution when fitting it, three times out of four my sensor conks out around three days before it's 7 day maximum.. It's actually quite exasperating and leaves me with long gaps before the next delivery comes along.


Notice that when your sensor fails your pump no longer tells you how much time was left on that sensor. This morning my pump told me the sensor had 60% battery and 4 days left to run, yet by this evening it failed. Hmmm. Not sure I am convinced by the seven-day claim. My experience is that Four or five…

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