I got a letter the other day that mildly annoyed me, but I guess it’s a sign of the times. It seems MedicAlert is discontinuing their life membership program and moving to a subscription fee system that you either pay per month, per year or every 3 years. I guess maybe this whole life membership thing would stop being sustainable, and they do have to pay people to answer a hotline and keep your records on file. I got the bracelet something like 20 years ago so I suppose I got a good deal while the getting was good.
The part that annoys me about MedicAlert is they have always seemed poised to cancel the life membership program, even for people who just got it. I got the bracelet, and not much later, I got a call saying that I should switch to a subscription plan. Back then when I had less money to throw around, I was having none of it, and said I signed up for a life membership and I think I should get more than a year or two before the program is yanked. The person eventually caved and let me stay a life member until now. So, I was already uneasy about calling them and giving into the subscription fee because I still remember that call. But I did it because I want the bracelet to be useful if I ever needed it. I haven’t yet, but there’s a first time for everything. So I called.
I updated my subscription plan and that was fine. Then they asked me if I wanted to get an extra bracelet if I lose mine or in case the engraving is going on mine. I understood that, even though I was pretty sure the engraving was supposed to be super durable, and my band was pretty strong so probably wasn’t going anywhere, so I said I didn’t need a second bracelet but thanked them for the offer.
But this is where I got irritated. They then said that “usually our subscribers have given a donation of an extra $60 and would I be willing to do that?” Nope. They hit the limit. I was already disappointed that a life membership was not life, and before they got off the phone, they were asking for more money.
I can’t quite put my finger on it, but there’s something off about looking to squeeze every dollar out of people who are using a service to be a life line in an emergency. Some people who need that don’t have a lot of spare money to go around, and the mail from MedicAlert already makes the recipient feel indebted to the service.
MedicAlert is definitely a valuable service, but I think their model is a bit off. If they’re going to ask for donations, do that in a different call or in one of those letters they love sending me. After I’ve already coughed up $150, it is not the time to see if they can get more money out of me. As for the “people usually donate $60” line, was that just another piece of script designed to squeeze more money out of me and nobody in their right mind just hands out random donations after paying for their subscription? Or do the people who do make the donations feel pressured to do it? It really makes me wonder if MedicAlert used to be a good service, but something has changed over the years and now they’ve turned into something less reputable than they used to be. I hope I’m wrong and I don’t find out the truth if I ever need them.