Just got your letter; thanks for sending. You don’t know this, but I’m actually getting married next week, and the thing about planning a wedding is that it forces you into a thousand-and-one interesting, challenging, and at times excruciating social confrontations. There’s the people who don’t RSVP to your wedding who you have to track down and confront, the nay-sayers who have bizarrely strong opinions about your ideas who you have to talk down and confront, or the folks who don’t understand what an enormous undertaking planning a wedding is who you have to educate and confront. Needless to say, I’m feeling…confrontational.
So I’m writing you a letter, Animas. To thank you for your letter to me where you informed me that you intend to discontinue the manufacture and sale of insulin pumps. There were so many things I loved about your letter that I have to tell you about — mmm, confront you — with all of them.
- First and formost, thanks for addressing the letter “Dear Valued Animas(R) Customer.” It’s cool that, in a letter of this magnitude, you didn’t even bother to type my fucking name. Instead, I’m “Valued Animas(R) Customer” which is awesome because in your goddamn generic salutation, where you couldn’t be bothered to input my name, you DID bother to include the registered trademark symbol of your discontinued pump, which feels critical to my understanding of the letter as a whole, and our interaction as human<->corporation. [Because I actually am inventing a pump and was going to name it Animas but when I read how you addressed me in your letter I noticed that registered trademark symbol so now I’m not going to name it Animas. So it was super useful.]
Oh, also, my fiance who used to do admin work informs me that a simple mail merge would have meant that you actually wouldn’t have had to even type the 11 letters that make up my name, you could have just pressed a button and it would have been done instantly for this and every other letter you sent. I’ve never done a mail merge, though, so I’m going to have to take his word for it.
- I also like your first paragraph. Where you said “We understand the trust and confidence you place in our products and company, and we recognize that you rely on our products to provide critical care and maintain your day-to-day health,” and then you outlined that, you know, you’re shutting your company down. What’s cool is the way you framed it as though you’re being a hero by sending me a letter to tell me this news. PS, assholes, I have the internet and I found out about this information when it was in the news, on October 5th. You wrote your letter 5 days later, and trumpeted it with this declaration that you’re God’s gift because you bothered to send me a letter explaining that you’re discontinuing the insulin pump I’ve used for the past 3 years. How bout a phone call? How about an actual human being calls me with this, you know, not-exactly-insignifcant news? And maybe compassionately explains what the fuck is going on?
- I also liked the part where you told me the decision to close Animas was “extremely difficult and comes following an extensive exploration of all other viable options for the Animas business.” I get it. I read in the news you only made $421 million dollars last quarter. ONLY 421 MILLION DOLLARS IN THREE MONTHS?! How will the executives of your company put food in their childrens’ mouths? OBVIOUSLY it makes perfect sense that you fuck over your 400 employees and the 90,000 chronically ill people who rely on your insulin pump; who made a careful decision to choose your insulin pump, one of the few empowering decisions one can make as a person with diabetes; one of the few ways one can have control in fighting a disease that is relentless, unforgiving, and potentially lethal.
- I like that you explained to me that you’ve selected Medtronic as a “partner-of-choice to facilitate a seamless insulin delivery system transition period.” I also like how you explained that ONE of the reasons you chose them is because of their strong track record of care and support. I’d love for you to explain the OTHER reason, the presumable fact that of every company you shopped your list of 90,000 customers around to, they offered the highest price for it, literally putting a dollar value on individual human beings. How much money do you get if I switch to Medtronic? Shouldn’t, you know, I be entitled to a cut of that? Or can you literally trade me like a poker chip?
- I like where you expressed gratitude to me for my trust, confidence, and loyalty. See, normally when someone offers you trust, confidence, and loyalty, you don’t respond with the proverbial middle finger in your actions, and think you can get away with it by 1 line at the end of a letter. This is a textbook “actions speak louder than words” type of lesson they cover in grade school. (But
JessieValued Animas(R) Customer, you’re gonna say, it’s business! Yeah, the overlap of healthcare and business is awesome youfuckingassholesohmyHOLYFUCKINGCRAPHEALTHCAREISSOBROKEN)
- Finally, I love the way you signed your letter “Sincerely, Animas Corporation.” Because you know, including the names of the human beings who made this decision might have invited patients, like myself, to reach out directly to them to express our frustration, fear, and disappointment. I can’t imagine who exactly made this decision, but when I was digging around on the Johnson & Johnson website, looking at the smiling faces of your management team and board of directors, I came across a fabulous quote by Sandra Patterson, your “Global Worldwide Chair.”
She wrote: “I remind my team to ask: ‘Why are we doing this?’ 100% of the time, it is to better serve our patients, consumers and customers.”
I love the spirit of the quote, Sandra. Love it. Would love, love, love, LOVE you to explain to me the “why” of this decision. How it better serves your patients, consumers, and customers. Mostly it seems like it fucks your patients, consumers, and customers, but serves your bottom line.
Jessie Former Valued Animas(R) Customer