The letter I wrote this afternoon to Kevin Sayer, president of Dexcom International

Kevin Sayer
President, Dexcom International
6340 Sequence Drive
San Diego, CA 92121

Dear Mr. Sayer,

In February 2014 I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. Within 3 months my c-peptide reading was 0; my beta cells were completely wiped out. Even my doctors were disappointed at how quickly it happened—I guess many Type 1s “honeymoon” for months or even years, but I lost all function within about 100 days.

My diabetes is brittle. My blood sugar shoots up quickly and crashes punishingly. For the first few months of my disease, I was terrified to go to sleep. I’d read about Type 1s dying overnight because their blood sugar went too low, and after setting alarms for all hours so I could test at night I confirmed a big fear—I too frequently have nighttime lows. During those first nighttime tests, through the half-conscious haze of shaking and sweating, I developed a low grade, 24/7 anxiety that hasn’t lifted since.

As you might have guessed, Dexcom was a gamechanger for me. As soon as I learned what it was, I begged my doctor to set me up with one, and she obliged. By the end of June (after my February diagnosis), I was wearing a Dexcom, and it provided a layer of security and relief from fear that I truly cannot understate. I now think back on those 4 months that I wasn’t wearing one and wonder how I even made it through.

In the past, I’ve been so impressed with your company’s customer service. Because of my insurance (United Healthcare), I actually get my Dexcom supplies through Byram Healthcare—one of those intricacies of insurance bureaucracy that’s kind of baffling—but whenever I have a technical issue it’s always such a relief to call you guys directly. I’ve found your agents to be great—they seem to understand how scary it is to be without a Dexcom and immediately offer to ship me replacements for things as fast as they can.

Because of this, I made the mistake of assuming your company was governed by compassion, not capitalism. And that the agents I spoke to held my well being as their highest priority. I was wrong.

In September 2016 my Dexcom receiver broke. I called you guys and was informed by tech support that the receiver’s 1 year warrantee went through October 2016, so they would be able to ship me a replacement overnight. I was hugely relieved, as the process of getting new supplies through Byram is so lengthy and drawn out that I always give myself at least a month to start the process before I actually need the product. Whereas Dexcom has always seemed to understand urgency, Byram, wrapped up in prior authorizations and prescriptions and a thousand layers of departments, does not.

Within a day, I had a brand new receiver in my hand.  It never occurred to me that a brand new machine would inherit the warrantee of a broken machine. If your machines have a warrantee of 1 year, logically I should have been able to use my brand new receiver for one year.  Certainly no one in September told me otherwise.

This morning, my 5-month-old receiver died. It displayed an error message instructing me to call tech support and began repeating a very loud, piercing noise. When I called tech support, expecting to be treated with the same polite compassion that I’m always treated with, I was floored by the response. Your agent told me that this 6 month old machine was out of warrantee, that its warrantee expired 1 month after I got it, and that there was “nothing she could do for me.” If I wanted a replacement, I had to contact Byram, with its notorious miles of paperwork and weeks of waiting.

I explained to her that it never occurred to me that a new machine would inherit an old machine’s warrantee, otherwise I would have gotten it replaced immediately, to avoid this nightmare scenario. Already while on the phone with her my blood sugar tanked and I didn’t find out until I tested after hanging up. I feel nauseous thinking about going to sleep tonight without my Dexcom, but I feel so much worse about not having one for as long as it’s going to take for an insurance middleman to get one to me. (And yes, I immediately called Byram and was informed that the prior authorization on my Dexcom has expired, so it will take me at least 14 days—and likely more—for Byram to replace my receiver.)

I have worked in customer service. I know that there are always rules, and I also know that there are always exceptions. I have now called Dexcom three times today, and spoken with 5 different people, all of whom have apologized “for my frustration” and politely assured me that there is nothing they can do. (In every case, I responded that I wasn’t frustrated, I was terrified. I got no answer to that.) To my embarrassment, I sobbed—straight up, sobbed—with fear to every single one of the five employees I spoke with, and received only bland, vague apologies in response.

It is a punch to the gut to realize that your employees’ compassion only extends as far as my machine’s warrantee. My Dexcom has, I am sure of it, saved my life, and the thought of being without it for weeks as my prescription snakes through the web of Byram Healthcare’s faceless bureaucracy is terrifying.

One of your employees interrupted my crying to tell me I “should have gotten a replacement receiver in October” when the warrantee expired. (Even though no one at your company told me so at the time.) Another put me on hold for 3 minutes to “talk to leadership” and then came back and assured me there was nothing she could do, but she “tried as hard as she could” (for three whole minutes) to convince them to help me out. Many of them apologized for the misunderstanding with the warrantee, and even apologized that I wasn’t informed in September that the September replacement still needed to be replaced in October. However none of them offered to do anything for me.

Instead, every single one of them did their best to find someone else to transfer me to, until I finally wound up with Martha in tech support who patiently listened to me sob before continuously, politely insisting she was helpless.

If your goal is for your employees to rigidly obey the rules without consideration for the real human lives that your product saves and affects, then they all did an impeccable job. But if your goal is for them to go above and beyond to provide lifesaving technology to sick people regardless of arbitrary, bureaucratic warrantee status, then unfortunately I will tell you that that’s not happening.

At one of my previous jobs, I worked customer service for a makeup company. A woman emailed us, distraught, because a $30 birthday gift she’d ordered for her sister didn’t arrive in time. I felt awful; I could imagine the party and this woman’s anxiety at having to show up without a present. I thought of how badly I’ve felt in the past when I haven’t had presents in time for peoples’ birthdays. After checking with my boss, I sent this woman and her sister an upgraded gift – it was probably a $100 solve for a $30 purchase. We lost money on the transaction, but it was the right thing to do.

I’m so terribly disappointed with Dexcom.

 

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12 thoughts on “The letter I wrote this afternoon to Kevin Sayer, president of Dexcom International

  1. Hi there

    Amazing story – so well perservered! I am so glad you got the receiver in the end. I too have a problem with a Dexcom receiver. My son Henry (age 12) has type 1 diabetes and it too is brittle and totally hypo unaware when he is sleeping. We solely rely on his Dexcom CGM and multiple finger pricks over night to treat nighttime highs and lows. Without a CGM I don’t think he would be here today. We have just upgraded to the Dexcom G5 transmitter (paid for by our own money as we are in the UK and the NHS doesn;’t cover CGM equipment). I have heard that in the US it is possible to perform a quick software upgrade to the G4 receiver so that it can act as a receiver for the G5 transmitter. However in the UK, Dexcom tell me that the software upgrade is not possble and that I will have to buy a G5 specific receiver – even though we have a perfectly fine G4 receiver! With my own money! I think they are doing this to increase sales! So I too want to contact someone in Dexcom who will actually do something about this. I have spoken to customer service and tech support and got nowhere. Do you happen to have any useful contacts at Dexcom following your experience? Thanks so much for your blog!!

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    1. Maddening; I’m so sorry you’re going through that! Unfortunately I only ever spoke to Dexcom through their 800 number, and never got a direct contact to anyone. The best advice I have (unhelpful) is just to keep calling; that day I called over and over and spoke to a range of people. Keep asking to be transferred to managers or supervisors. And if you’ve had any luck with the iPhone app (I haven’t– it ALWAYS loses signal for me) that could be an option to serve as a temporary receiver, too. Good luck and keep being pushy!!

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    2. To all the worries patience and parents of …. HOW CAN WE FIX THIS PROBLEM WITH DEXCOM? Who’s is going to speak up for the people with this deadly disease ?
      I have been trying to renew our expired G6 for over a month.
      We have been calling since May 6th. Last week we spoke to one gentleman who told us “it’s been shipped out” we called back to have spoken With a women for over 2 hours who was trying to “explain that our paper work was messed up and they needed to send the info back to the doctor to sing off on it as well as their “specialist” to send the info to our insurance company …
      At the end of the conversation and me trying to explain to her that we
      Understand the hoops this has to go through .. She nicely said “Mam,
      We will ship you out a sensor for the time being it should be there by next week Wednesday or Thursday, and we will put all this paper work through to who it’s needs to go to ,through our “reorder specialist who is assigned to your account …..
      Well here we are Thursday May 30th, and no sensor !!!!
      We call back and the person on the phone says….
      The paper work has not been processed through your insurance company yet..! When we asked about the sensor they were supposed have already sent out for the time being … They never did..!
      We called our insurance company right away , THEY NEVER SENT OUT THE PAPER WORK…..

      ARE YOU KIDDING ME ….!
      What kind of company does this ?
      If you are a 285,000,000 million dollar company and growing but your customer service doesn’t understand customer service them maybe before your thinking of expanding and thinning yourselves out more and just growing your pockets … You should hire people who understand that THEY SHOULD NOT LIE! PERIOD

      If you can’t deliver them just tell the people upfront ..,
      This is not just a cold these people are dealing with.., it’s LIFE THREATENING ….

      It’s like showing these kids a piece of candy and then saying you can’t have it …! Oh wait they are already dealing with that too…

      Shame on all of you
      Maybe the Better business bureau
      Needs a phone call so that they will at least let the public know how complicated this all is every time you have to reorder your Dexcom..

      Sorry but….
      Angry Mom

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  2. I am very dissatisfied with the poor dexcom customer service. They cannot get a simple reorder process done quickly and correctly. Just terrible.

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  3. I am totally understanding why everyone is so disappointed with Dexcom customer service. There have been 2 transmitters that have died no replacement and now upgraded to a G6 and the supplies were sent but no sensor so my daughter has a G5 no supplies a broken transmitter and no G6 it is back ordered until Oct 20th. Not a way to treat anyone and especially with a device so critical to diabetics.

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  4. I am another Dexcom victim. Elderly disabled women who also cannot get my medical supplies from Dexcom. Every month it’s the same fight. This is unacceptable cruel and inhuman treatment. Dogs get more mercy than Dexcom gives to Medicare patients. I feel like Dexcom just says ha ha ha. We have it but you can’t get it.????? Why???? This should be illegal. Esp when I pay more than 600 monthly for insurance premiums only to get “almost insurance “. Withholding medical supplies to treat something as critical as insulin dependent people just like me who also have other medical conditions just leads to ER costly unnecessary very wearing and trying times for the patient and their families. Shame on you!!!!! Maybe my death will bring the 1st of many wrongful death suits to be filled because Dexcom chooses to withhold durable medical equipment that we depend on. It seems to me the only way to get through the red tape is through their pocketbooks. After all at the end of the day it’s really ALL about money.

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  5. I am finding myself in the same situation! I have spoken at least 6 or 7 times just to get my Dexcom transmitter shipped after the last one expired. I have had the Dexcom 5 for about 9 months and the last transmitter and monthly supply’s have shipped with no problem. Now they’re telling me my last shipment was stopped because my doctor’s name and the doctor who is the head of the practice are conflicting and that needs to be resolved. This is after I was given a date that I would receive my transmitter and it didn’t come. No one contacted me to tell me the shipment had been cancelled. I called again, and after many unsuccessful attempts to make it clear how long I had been waiting that there was ‘nothing’ that could be done. I asked to speak to a supervisor and after a 10 minute hold, a gentleman named Ruben Hernandez came on the line. He was very apologetic and said he would have someone contact my doctor’s office (who is very responsive) that day, get the correct paperwork and get the issue resolved. I asked him to commit to me that no matter what happened to please call me and give me some status. I said if my doctor’s office doesn’t get back to them asap, to please let me know. A week later, no call from Mr. Hernandez. Called customer care again and had to leave a request for a callback. Called Mr. Hernandez at his direct number and received a ‘ring no answer’ and didn’t go to voicemail. Someone called me back from Customer Care and said a Benefits Investigation was still in the works and nothing she could do. I told her that was the original problem 6 weeks ago and that in subsequent conversations with Dexcom, that was no longer the issue and the problem was simply the name discrepancy. She was very close to just blowing me off when I once again asked for a supervisor. I was put on hold and 20 minutes later, I was still on hold. I’ve tried to get the number for the CEOs office to lodge an Executive Complaint to no avail. They really don’t want you to find them!!! So another day gone by! I’m a brittle diabetic with only 20 pct. of my Pancreas and maybe 10 pct. working. I explained that that not having my CGM was affecting my ability to treat myself. This has been going on now for over 6 weeks!! Unbelievable!! Originally, I was impressed with Dexcom Customer Care and technical support. It now feels like they’ve outsourced CC to some 3rd party who could care less!!! If I get through to Mr. Sayer’s office, I will be happy to post the number!!

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  6. Hello I’m trying to find a way to write Mr. Sayer number one your customer service people are rude and your sales men after they get it and say if any trouble call me that is not true they become rude
    Now with the monitor I would love if they would give me what I spoke to them about in the first meeting. They sent me a g5 when all we spoke about was. G6 then when I call to ask why they are rude and says oh Medicare patients get the old one until we run out then they get the g5. Oh I called Medicare and they wondering why is that I pray you see this Mr. Sayer because your little folks trying to ruin you I’m unhappy with not having my monitor.

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  7. I’ve been having a heck of a time lately with Dexcom and their support. It turns out they’ve cut all the US jobs and have outsourced their entire support department. I love my Dexcom system but I’m not certain I want to continue to support a company that puts profits over people. Particularly a medical company.

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  8. Reading the above comments have really helped me understand the problems with the decline in the Dexcom product line and customer service. I knew the quality of their products have declined greatly since last year, and I knew they were in a mass production mode for the Medicare mother load, so it made sense that they vastly increased production and vastly decreased quality control. I wondered how many more productions sites they added and WHERE they were. So cutting the US jobs and outsourcing would be the only way the CEO’s could keep their 3 million dollar salaries and still keep production at a break neck pace. I have had problems with 5 sensors since the 1st of 2019. The margin error of a sensor is nil as the needle has to insert in the interstitial space exactly. Their quality control went down the drain with the other products as people who manufacture these have to have the experience and knowledge to know what and how to do it exact. I have stopped using Dexcom products and even had to stop using my insulin pump because the sensors were always faulty. I suggest filing a complaint with the FDA regarding their malfunction of their products. Kevin Sayer’s e-mail is listed as President@Dexcom but I don’t think that will really help us because he makes his 3 mil a year no matter what. If enough patients complain to the FDA and we can get the word out on media outlets, it might help, but probably not at this point. Advocating for a different company with similar products might be our only outlet. And getting the truth out there posted to the internet. After all, if I hadn’t seen the letter to the CEO of Dexcom, I wouldn’t have known the truth is out there either.

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