Reporter's notebook: Walmart brochure ‘disparages’ providers

Friday, April 18, 2014

YARMOUTH, Maine – As far as provider Lisa Feierstein is concerned, businesses can do what they like as long as it’s legal. But she took umbrage with a recent marketing piece from Walmart touting its new line of “truefit” CPAP supplies.

The colorful brochure states that only 50% of CPAP users change their accessories as recommended. The reason: Because accessories have only been sold at medical equipment stores, they tend to be expensive and inconvenient for consumers to access, according to the brochure.

“I feel that is disparaging of our industry, which is being assaulted on all fronts for everything we do,” said Feierstein, president and co-founder of Raleigh, N.C.-based Active Healthcare. “Sell on your merits, not against somebody in a negative way.”

The products are designed to work with major brands of CPAP devices, including ResMed, Philips Respironics and Fisher & Paykel. Feierstein said her staff was trying to assess whether the truefit products were truly less expensive than what she offered to cash-paying customers.

Providers aren’t surprised to see CPAP supplies filtering into mass-market retailers. In 2012, Philips Respironics initiated a 30-day pilot project that put replacement supplies in seven Kroger stores in Ohio.

Still, providers say they don’t think even Walmart will take over the market for supplies.

“I think the differentiator is the red tape,” said Ricky Savage, owner of Preferred Home Medical in Tyler, Texas. “Their goal is cash and carry. Those that are depending on insurance to get what they want will still have to come see us.”



Most / not all cpap supplies have legends on them that say "No sale without proper MD RX"

How does wal mart and others get around this requirement?

Yes, Yes.... The first place I think of when it comes to helpful, informed staff to assist me with my CPAP Supplies is Walmart - NOT!  If you want cheap products and low prices, sure - But, Service? - Never has been much of what Wally World is all about.

They can say what ever they want in advertising, but when the "Rubber Meets The Road" in terms of day to day baseline customer service Walmart fails and fails everytime.  It is just not part of their culture.

Your best bet is to go over and introduce yourself to your various Walmart employees that deal with the CPAP Supplies - Heck! - Take them over to the Mickey D's by the front door and buy them a cup of coffee - Give them some of your brochures and maps to your store.  It will be one of your most productive sales calls of the year!  Walmart spends the money to gather up customers and them will send them to you for the help they can't find and Walmart can't/won't provide!

How does Walmart sell the supplies without a perscription? The mask  sold by the major CPAP supply companies have labels on their products that say Rx Only.

Ricky Hubbard, CRT