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I've just registered specifically to do this review on AONM who organise private lyme testing in the UK. They are partnered with Armin Labs in Germany and from what I can tell are very popular with patients in the UK wanting to get a private test done. I unfortunately have had a horrible experience with them.
My situation is very similar to others, I have been misdiagnosed for the past 6 years with CFS but displayed all of the symptoms of LD, plus a few more. After all the press coverage this past year on Lyme Disease I did my own research and went to my GP ... you know the story and so obviously I ended up having to look for private testing. I got most of my info from the charity Lyme websites in the UK, they gave a brief overview of the tests and I chose AONM/Armin because it seemed so much easier to use and organise. As a chronically ill person I wanted this to be as painless as possible. Also I had heard a lot of patient cases where they got a positive result from them and there didn't seem to be any bad reviews anywhere. Now I really wish these charities display customer reviews on their website because I had a terrible experience with them and to top it all despite the positive results no doctor will take them seriously. I have just seen an amazing infectious disease specialist who ordered all sorts of tests to be done and explained why he can't trust Armin's tests because their use of CD57 results to indicate Lyme is not medically correct. CD57 can be raised in some infectious diseases but low in some auto-immune diseases. There is a real worry that people are suffering from other diseases or coinfections that are responsible for that result but instead are treating Lyme's. I also voiced my concerns with a number of the Lyme charities in the UK and they confirmed the doctors issues. Infact one replied saying they don't reccommend Armin Labs at all and they are gravely concerned why AONM are promoting them so much and pushing patients to go there, particulary because of their high rate of positive results for LD. In summary Armin Labs don't use tests specific for LD, the tests used are not licensed for diagnosis of LD so no UK doctor will believe them and therefore unless you are willing to shed out more money for private treatment, incidently AONM send you a nice pdf of recommended private health practitioners that can help your treatment along with your results, that £400 was pretty much wasted.
I understand more than anyone the need for private testing, I'm young and the illness has taken away more opportunities away from me than I could have imagined. I had hoped that by getting a result I would atleast know what I'm fighting and can change my lifestyle to treat it accordingly. That's not the case and if it weren't for the new infectious disease specialist I have got to see I would be getting worse and worse. The £400 I had to raise for the tests was a significant amount like it is for most of you, my family sacrificed a lot and I did to including a place at university, AONM doesn't care about that however. Once they have your money they are not interested in providing customer care. I've summarised my experience below with them and I know this is already a long post so I won't take more of anyones time. This is also going to probably cause a lot of controversy because of their popularity for private testing. I am offering my opinion and review of them as a customer in the hope that others can make a more informed decision when they decide to test.
In two separate instances they failed to deliver my bloods to the labs in Germany through next day delivery. I had to get blood drawn twice and wait more than three weeks for results. They offered me no compensation or refund on the cost except for that of having to pay to get blood drawn. The first attempt of posting I checked the tracking of the parcel and had to make them aware that the bloods had not arrived a week after they were sent. They confirmed this and when the bloods eventually arrived they were 7 days old and nonviable. I had to get bloods again and send it off again, all organised by myself. Again the second time of posting bloods I had to make them aware that the bloods weren't picked up and when they were eventually they would arrive too late to be of use. The fact that this company is so popular for sufferers in the UK has not at all helped them in treating customers fairly and efficiently. They could not handle the situation when things went wrong and if it weren't for me constantly informing them of the situation I would never have received the tests. They take the fee from you directly for FedEx delivery therefore it is their responsibility to ensure FedEx is doing their job and not mine. They refused to accept responsibility for what happened and did not follow up the complaint to FedEx, I have never received a call or apology from FedEx which they said they had told them to do. Also when I complained to AONM they were more concerned that I was telling them they were doing a bad job than they were about how their lack of professionalism has affected my life. The huge amount of money and longer than expected wait caused stress, made me miss my university place and getting bloods drawn twice made me ill. They said sorry but made it clear it wasn't their fault and there was nothing they could do about it. As the company you're paying they are the only ones who can do anything about it. They were more than happy and quick to take my money off but as soon as there was a problem it took forever to sort out. I would advise anyone considering using these people to look elsewhere. I could forgive the first mistake but the fact it happened a second time and they had to be pressured to sort things out by myself makes me lose all trust in using them as a company. Many sufferers will have waited weeks, months or years to do this private testing, the tests are not cheap at all and the impact on people's lives are significant. This company is fine if nothing goes wrong but if it does, then there's no chance of you getting what you paid for unless you're willing to sit on the phone for hours and track the parcel 24/7. Their assurances of this has never happened before means nothing, things are expected to go wrong and it's how they deal with it when they do is what matters. They dealt with this horribly and the results although positive were not worth the struggle I had to go through. The whole point of private testing is the issues faced with the NHS testing and non-Lyme literate doctors, private testing is supposed to be easy and stress-free, that's what you're paying for. Don't use this company if you want reliable customer service. If they choose to use FedEx with its problems then that is there fault and it should have no effect on the customer using AONM, sadly this is not true and the only person it does affect is the customer. FedEx get their fee paid, AONM get their fee paid, the customer loses out.
As a single customer I have no way to force them to right the wrong they did and the effort needed to do so is far beyond my capabilities as a chronically ill person. Large companies like FedEx and AONM/Armin Labs exploit that inability of the single customer to really do anything significant about bad service, I feel like leaving a review of them and getting others to think twice about using them is the best I can do.
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