Solara Medical

Hey all,

I just had an AWFUL experience with Solara Medical, a distributor, trying to get my CGM sensors refilled. Just thought I’d pass along the letter I sent to them as a “buyer beware” to anyone considering using them as a distributor:

It is not often that I take to public forums to complain about a company. I generally give customer service reps and those at companies like this the benefit of the doubt. I mean, hey, customer service is HARD. You have to deal with irate customers, many of whom are acting unreasonably.

But the experience I just had with your company just left me in such a fit of rage that I had trouble getting back to work. I’ll explain:

I order(ed) Dexcom G4 supplies through your company. I had a choice between using my insurance to go directly through Dexcom or using my pharmacy coverage to go through Solara. Even though Solara inexplicably could only fulfill one month supply at a time rather than three months, it was (slighly) cheaper to go through them, so I gave it a shot.

About 2 weeks ago, on my last sensor, I called for a reorder. See, I’m leaving on a 10-day vacation this coming Friday, so I figured 2 weeks would be more than enough to have the shipment sent in time for my trip. I was told that I needed a new certificate of medical need from my doctor’s office, but that they had all the info, so they could handle it and ship it out. Great! I’ll have my sensors in time for my trip. You see, as a Type 1 diabetic, I rely on a lot of different tools to make my life easier, ESPECIALLY on a much-needed and much-appreciated vacation, where the sensor really allows me to enjoy the sun and sand without constantly checking my blood sugar. I can eat and drink adventurously, and really enjoy my vacations more. That’s an example of something that makes my difficult life easier, as opposed to your company, which piles on the complexity and makes my life considerably harder. But anyway, at least I’d have my sensors for my big vacation, right?!


A week later (last Thursday), I hadn’t received any sensors or received any calls about what was going on. I called Solara, only to be told that “We faxed the form, but hadn’t heard back.” No follow-up with the doctor’s office, no call to me to update, nothing. I guess if I hadn’t called myself, Solara was content to let my prescription fester in the fax ether rather than fulfill their promise to me to handle getting me my supplies. As it turns out, you had some random fax number. It had something like a 686- area code. I don’t even know where that is. My doctor, like me, is in Philadelphia. I have no clue where you would have gotten that number, but regardless, I called my doctor’s office, found what should be the correct fax number, and gave it to you. I’ll have you note that nowhere in this process, so far, has anyone offered to actually call my doctor’s office for me, or really help me along with this process in general, but rather, I get a sense from your company that, “well, we tried, and that’s about all we can do!”

That was Thursday. By Monday, still nothing. No shipments, no call from Solara, and no call from doctor’s office. Monday, I called both entities. Everyone was blaming each other. “We haven’t gotten the fax,” my doctor’s office said. “Our fax may have been down. Here are two other fax numbers to try.” Your company told me they had faxed it, and never heard back. That’s it. No follow-up call, no call to me, nothing. I even made sure to let everyone involved knew the now-pretty-urgent situation regarding my trip this weekend. Again, I feel that, if I don’t take time out of my busy day to be the middle-man, absolutely nothing will be accomplished.

Come Tuesday, I still hadn’t heard from your company. Another hour or so worth of calls back and forth reveals that yes, you’ve faxed it a few times, and no, you haven’t gotten it back, and no, the doctor’s office hasn’t received any faxes regarding the prescription. This is starting to get really frustration. The only assurance I have from you that anything will be solved is “yes, we know this can be frustrating.” No, you don’t know. I’m told it is being refaxed, and, at some point, someone mentions they are going to look into waiving the cost of overnight shipping since, it is now dangerously close to my departure date for my vacation.

So now it is Wednesday. I prepare myself for another few hours on the phone with both you and my doctor’s office, once again the middle-man. Finally, though, this morning, I was finally able to confirm that the fax went through, and it was received by your office. Success! Only there’s still the little problem of the sensors needing to make it to me on Friday, otherwise this will have all been for nothing, and I’ll be waiting til I get back for my sensors. After putting me on hold and speaking with her supervisor, Michael, your customer service rep assured me that, as a one time courtesy, you’d waive the overnight shipping fee and get them to me tomorrow. That’s great and all. I can never get back the hours of my life spent dealing with this mess, but at least I’ll have my sensors by the time I leave, and I won’t be stuck paying for an overnight shipping charge that never should have occurred in the first place.

But we’re not done! I get a call from Michael, the supervisor, who says that HE spoke with HIS boss, who said they can’t waive the fee, and I’m going to be charged. I’m irate. This isn’t even about the money (although, that’s $51 that would be really nice to have on my vacation). My anger, rather, is about a few other things:

  1. Your complete lack of ability to take responsibility for your actions, your patients, or your employees’ actions. Your reason for denying the complimentary overnight shipping is that the problem was with the doctor’s office fax machine, and thus you are completely absolved of sin. See, it is really easy to blame other people. But you still have an obligation to your customer to follow through on things. It’s not enough to fax a form off into the ether, hope it gets returned, and shrug your shoulders when it doesn’t get done and say, “Well, we did enough!” Because you didn’t do enough. It is not apparent that at any point you made any effort to actually get in touch with the doctor’s office. Instead, you relied on your customer to be a middle-man for you and do all the heavy lifting, despite the fact that your are GETTING PAID to do this. For a living. This is your livelihood. Act like it. A culture of blame leads to a lack of responsibility for, and accountability to, your customers. This ties in with the second point…

  2. Your utter disregard for the consideration to call me, your customer, and see if maybe there was a wrong fax number, but (a) we are looking into it, or (b) you need to look into (again, the middle-man, see number 1 above). If you’re going to make ME do the heavy lifting and make endless phone calls in a circle of despair and frustration…well, I can’t even get that far unless I know there is a problem. Not once until I threatened to take my business elsewhere did you make any effort to actually contact me, and even then, that was only to let me know that you wouldn’t be covering the overnight shipping costs. That’s not good business. And there is little doubt that this is a systemic issue at your company given how often it appears in complaints on your Facebook page.

  3. Now, I’m going to start assuming things, but here’s what I think is going on: You don’t care, because you think patients don’t have a choice. YOU ARE WRONG. I do have a choice. As I mentioned, for slightly more money, I could direct order from Dexcom. This is a luxury I will take at this point in order to never have to deal with you again. But this lack of caring about the customer USUALLY comes from the complacency of a perceived monopoly, or a perceived lack of customer choice, and you are losing big time here. I will not be using you again. And, in fact, the second I actually receive my one month supply of sensors, this letter will be posted to your Facebook page, on the Diabetes Hand Foundation’s social network, and any other venue I can get it on to make sure that as many diabetics as possible know about your complete lack of consideration for your customers.


Adam Kaye, MD
Physician, Type 1 Diabetic, and Former Solara Customer

I think it is shameful the way some suppliers treat their customers. I have been lied to and cheated and there doesn’t seem to be any recourse or way to hold them accountable.

UPDATE: So I did successfully get my sensors on time, 1 day before my vacation. (My vacation was EXCELLENT, by the way).

I got a call from Hector at Solara, who is one of the managers. He was very apologetic, and I definitely appreciated the honesty and openness with which he explained their side of the story. I did get the sense that Hector wasn’t just “yessing” me to death, or giving me the old “We take customer complaints very seriously.” I got the sense the company was pretty regretful about the situation, and is also using the experience as a training tool to make sure similar things don’t happen again. In fact, he said it sounds like there was no mechanism in place there to “flag” a situation that might require escalation, but they are moving to a new electronic documentation system that will help in this regard.

So, thanks to Solara for an honest discussion about the situation.