life on the funny farm

Thursday, January 31, 2013

I Need Therapy Thursday: Unethical Vet Practice Manager!


Steam blowing out of my ears.

I took our sweet old kitty Mamfy to the vet yesterday morning, as scheduled, for the extraction of an abscessed tooth.

We had planned it last week, but I was never told how much the procedure cost.

I won't lie, I was SHOCKED when I dropped her off and they reviewed the cost of the procedure. Over FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS!

But hey, all the costs looked on the up and up when they showed me the itemized invoice, and I knew she HAD to have the procedure, so what was I going to do? I gave them the required deposit of $150 and left her in their hands.

When I went in last night to pick her up, I asked if I could pay another $150 at that time and the balance next week.

The secretary checked with the practice manager (by phone) and told me I could pay half of the balance at the time, and leave them a post-dated check for the rest, but if I did that,


So wait, I said. You're telling me if I don't pay the balance in full, right here and now, you would send my elderly cat home, after just having several teeth pulled, with NO antibiotics or pain meds?

Well, yes. We did review the charges with you this morning, and you signed off.

Yes, and I'm not disputing the cost, although quite frankly I think it is exceedingly high. I'm just asking if I could pay a part of the bill next week.

We can't do that.

Are you aware that I have been a client here for over ten years, and that I bring roughly a billion animals into this practice?

Yes, I can see that you have quite a number of animals.

And my account is in good standing? We've paid you thousands upon thousands of dollars over the years, always on time?


And yet you're going to tell me that if I don't pay you every cent right now, you will send my cat home without medicine? Do you have any idea how unethical that is?

I'm just the messenger.

Yeah, I know.  How about if you messenge back to your practice manager that this is sickening? I am truly disgusted right now. I am not disputing the charges. I am not asking for a reduced fee. I am simply asking for you to allow me to pay you some today, and the rest next week. But you're going to hold my cat as ransom. This is not how a vet's office should be conducting business, especially not with a loyal client with an excellent payment history.

Of course, this whole conversation is paraphrased, but that's the gist.

And of course I paid them every red cent.

They may be comfortable sending an animal home post-surgery without meds, but I'm not.

Guess the kids will have to make their peace with Ramen till next payday.

I don't know, am I out of line?

I mean, I could see if I just walked in the door and they didn't know me from Adam, but shouldn't my history with them count for something?

We would keep them in the black if all they saw was just my lab Sunny, but for those of you new here, I have six dogs and four cats, plus farm animals that they see.
I spend a small fortune in this practice. For all the small animals, I pay in full at the time of visits, the farm animal visits are billed to me and we pay when we get the bill. In full.

Tell me I'm crazy.
Or tell me the practice manager is unethical.

Your call....


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  1. Unbelievable! That is whats wrong with our world today. We have gotten away from the good ole community love and support.Can you go back and request a meeting with the officer and manager AND include the vet. And what kind of practice is this that they would send an animal home with out pain meds?

  2. Holy cow, that is terrible! You were not out of line at all. Plus, the cost of the tooth extraction seems really high. I don't think it would cost that much for me to have my teeth pulled, and there's probably a greater risk of me biting the dentist than of the cat biting the vet.

  3. That's disgusting!!! I would ask to speak to the manager personally. And while you're at it, post a review on yahoo or yelp about your experience.

  4. As one who has been in the position of the "messenger" and who have witnessed the same treatment on human's, I will feel very safe in saying that in all probability the Veterinarian would be appalled at the treatment you received. It is always better to air on the side of his or her defense, and to make sure you talk to him or her as soon as possible. I will be willing to bet that the "messenger" will be sweating as they experience the take down and wrath of the Dr. And you will spare some other person the same experience you had. Unbelievable. Always ask to speak to the Dr. And do this as you say it with conviction, and a killing glare in your eyes all whilst you slightly smile....messengers hate this!

  5. Yeah, The economy really sucks right now, but with most Vet practices, there is ONE head veterinarian, and if they are aware of this kind of behavior, than I would not go back. If they are unaware, then you should inform them. I would know, because my Father-in-Law was unaware that one of his secretary was doing exactly this at his practice (he is a vet). And he fired her when he had become aware of this. And yes, the secretary had been working with him for years. No honest to goodness Vet would ever hold an animal for ransom, or their medication. This is a direct result of the staff that they have chosen to surround themselves with. Same at a hospital, they will not hold your child for ransom if you can't pay the bill. I honestly think you needed to ask to talk to the manager right then and there, and usually the vet who owns it is notified. They run a business and they want their clients to come back. It is a reflection on the secretary, not the vet. Remember that.

  6. As an office manager for the past 13 years and a Certified Veterinary Technician for over 20 years, I can tell you that there are several issues with what happened to you. For starters, an estimate should have been given to you by the veterinarian that diagnosed your kitty and explained it to you in detail. If cost was an issue, your options should of been discussed then and not at drop off. Secondly, we offer our long time clients a similar payment option. HOWEVER, withholding an animal's pain medication because the entire bill has not been paid is not only BS but unethical. I told my entire staff your story and we were all in shock! However, being the messenger myself, I can tell you that I don't make any financial decisions about the practice without being schooled my the owner(s) of the practice.Someone makes those rules and it isn't the practice/office manager. We just convey them. Should I had made this call myself, I would be terminated.

    Also, unfortunately, it is not uncommon that this procedure costs $500 plus. In the Chicago area where I live it can be over $1000.

    I hope your kitty is feeling better!

  7. Wow, I agree with you. That is completely unethical! And it's the poor animals who are going to suffer.

  8. I absolutely agree with you and I think you need to add the name of the vet to your blog so we can all avoid this place...word of mouth is no good unless we hold these unethical institutions accountable. I bet you don't plan to go back there any time soon anyway. If they have a problem with it just remind them they 'signed off' on this bad publicity when they put their finances above the welfare of animals.

  9. Thanks, guys. I didn't think it was me, but I was wondering if maybe I was "too close" to see things clearly.
    I spoke to the manager this afternoon, and will speak to the vet in charge and/or practice owner as soon as that person calls me back. The practice mgr? I OWNED her a** in our debate over the phone. Stayed relatively polite, I didn't cuss her out or anything, but let her know in no uncertain terms how despicable and unethical her actions were.

  10. You can ask for a deal or partial payment but that doesn't mean they owe it to you just because you're a regular customer; many will ask these things of vets and of those working with kids, but they normally wouldn't go into a grocery store and tell the cashier, "I want all the groceries, but I can only pay you half for now. Listen, I've been coming to this store for years you know and have spent thousands of dollars here. I have supper to make". We don't because we wouldn't get away with it. But people try to shame vets (Don't you care about animals!) or people who work with kids (You mean you're actually charging me for being late!). To have my dog's teeth pulled, it was a very complicated procedure because of the position of the tooth. I paid three thousand dollars and it was worth every penny because my dog came out of it okay and the vet was very competent. That being said, I think it was wrong to withhold antibiotics (they should have just given them to you and billed you). There are unethical people everywhere, but I also think customers and clients can become entitled. Vets have to make a living, just like everyone else.



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