Pet hospital charges South Florida man for dead pet’s health plan

(WSVN) - Losing a pet is hard enough, but a South Florida pet owner says having to continue to pay for his dead dog’s health plan is making things even worse. 7’s Karen Hensel investigates.

It is never easy losing a best friend.

Back in April, Laszlo Ambrus had to say goodbye to his 16-year-old wire fox terrier.

Laszlo Ambrus, Shuti’s owner: “We called him Shuti. It means ‘Cookie’ in Hungarian.”

When Laszlo adopted Shuti, he signed up for an Optimum Wellness Plan from Banfield Pet Hospital.

It’s an annual health care package that costs $53 a month and could be cancelled at any time.

Laszlo Ambrus: “Pretty much covers basic procedures, give us discounts on vaccines and pills.”

When Shuti passed away in April, Laszlo called Banfield’s 800 number to cancel the wellness plan, but there was a problem.

He says no one picked up the phone.

Laszlo Ambrus: “Tried to call them, nobody was answering the phone, tried to email them.”

Laszlo’s dog died just as the coronavirus forced businesses to close.

He tried to cancel the plan before the next automatic payment in May, but no one responded, so he decided to cancel the credit card.

Laszlo Ambrus: “So that’s when they started calling me. I told them the dog passed away in April. They said, ‘It doesn’t matter,’ that I have to pay for the remaining of the year.”

Laszlo was told he would keep being charged until the plan ran out in November.

He has now missed seven months of payments totaling more than $370, and his account was recently sent to collections.

Laszlo Ambrus: “They said actually, ‘Sorry,’ but also, ‘Sorry, they cannot do anything about it.’ I have to pay.”

Banfield’s website says “Optimum Wellness agreements may be cancelled at any time” unless there is a balance owed for an unpaid service.

Laszlo says he didn’t have any unpaid services.

We contacted Banfield’s corporate office to ask why he was still being charged.

They told 7News that they would look into it, and a few days later, we got this email from Laszlo: “They just called to let us know the balance is zero and cancelled the collection as well. Thank you.”

Banfield also emailed 7News saying, “As with all of our clients … we work directly with the family if there are any concerns. We’re glad that we were able to find a mutually agreeable solution … and we sincerely apologize for the inconvenience this caused.”

Laszlo Ambrus: “He liked to hunt for lizards in the garden. He loved apples, best friend I ever can have.”

Laszlo still misses Shuti, and despite this issue, he says he would consider buying the plan again if he ever gets a new pet.

CONTACT 7INVESTIGATES:
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