Dear Suppliers: Please Communicate!
My experience with CPAP equipment suppliers has been...pretty bumpy. I’ve worked with 3 different companies so far, and none of them has been completely reliable. I doubt I’m the only one who’s experienced this.
It started with my very first mask. After I received my diagnosis and prescription, my ENT doctor’s office referred me to a local company they typically partner with.
Many suppliers, many choices
Something you quickly learn is there are tons of CPAP suppliers out there. If you’re commercially insured, they all want to work with you. Keep that in mind: you have choices. (If you have Medicare, you have choices, too, but probably fewer.)
Looking back, I wish I’d known more about the equipment before I arrived. For example, the sleep apnea team have provided some great tips to remember when choosing a CPAP mask.
Knowingly given the wrong mask size
My first supplier, let’s call them Company M, knowingly sent me home with a mask cushion that didn’t fit. I wear a full-face mask because I often have nasal congestion. The rep brought out 2 cushions for me to try. The large was too big; it gaped above my nose. She handed me the other one. This one was too small – I felt like I had to squish my nose and mouth together to cover them.
What about a medium? I inquired. There isn’t one, she responded. So, I took what I was given and made the best of it. Turns out the mask maker does make a medium-sized cushion. The supplier just didn’t have any mediums on hand. The rep could have said, “Hey, take this small for now, but some mediums are on order and I’ll call you when they get in.” Nope. I coped with ill-fitting small cushions for 6 months.
I learned about the medium size only by accident. Company M wasn’t returning my calls to order supplies, so I’d turned to Amazon in desperation. The cushion I received had a measurement tool in the package that sized me in a medium. Wow, was I irritated! I “fired” Company M.
Discovering the downside of contract companies
Buying on Amazon is easy, and the prices are sometimes better than those of CPAP suppliers. But your dollars don’t apply to your deductible. So, I went in search of a new partner. My experience with Company H started out great.
They had a website enabling me to order supplies online, 24/7! No more phone calls and voice mails waiting for a response. Here was a CPAP supplier operating in the 21st century. Company H also had Live Chat available during business hours. A pleasant rep helped get all of my prescription info transferred from the previous company. I immediately placed an order for the items my insurance would cover.
The waiting game
Then, I waited. And waited. And waited some more. After 10 days with no delivery, I went back to chat to find my friendly rep. Explained that I hadn’t received anything. She took down the info and promised to get back to me later that day.
Who dropped the ball?
Then, I waited. And waited. And waited some more. The rep never got back to me, and Live Chat was suddenly unavailable when I visited the site. It turns out that Company H is really a technology company, not a CPAP supplier - they contract with other companies to fulfill orders. It was one of those fulfillment companies that dropped the ball and forgot to mail my supplies – but it was Company H I had the relationship with.
Taking to social media
One month later, with still no supplies or answers, I took to social media to complain, something I rarely do. The owner of the company reached out right away and helped resolve the issue, but I’d had enough. I stopped ordering from Company H.
Finally finding the right supplier
Now I’m working with Company X — the company that forgot to order my supplies via Company H. Why? Because they did something important to me: They acknowledged their error and followed up to make sure I was satisfied. Then they started emailing me proactively to order supplies when they knew I would be running low and insurance would cover replacements.
Are they perfect? No company is. They’ve made a couple of other mistakes. But every time, they’ve also made it right. So, I’m willing to partner with them. It all comes down to communication.
Having the right equipment and supplies makes a big difference when you’re living with sleep apnea. Good luck in your own quest for the right equipment supplier!
What has been your experience getting CPAP supplies? Has it been easy or really frustrating? Register with our site and then share in the comments below.
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