Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Assclownery Becomes An Art Form....

Unlike their human colleagues, veterinarians expect to be paid at the time services are rendered. They can (and will) refuse to treat if they aren't going to be paid for it. Payment plans are a rarity, and if they do happen, it's an exception made for a long time client.
I'm sure we've all been there when we have a sick pet or other urgency that needs immediate attention when we have no money. So we're scrambling to borrow, or max out a credit card, or neglect a couple of bills to take care of it.
There's a great deal of variation in the cost of vet care. In past posts I've gone over some of the reasons, so no need to reiterate them. The majority of the phone calls I get are people calling for price quotes. Things like vaccinations, and spays/neuters are no problem, and I can even "ball park" price things like ear problems and dentals, and c sections. On other issues, I always encourage the caller to come in for an exam and give the exam price, and tell them Boss Man will provide an estimate.
We have a good number of people who are established clients at another vet but come in for their pet's spay/neuter, or those who use us for all vet work but get their vaccines done at the local shelter. We've done exams for estimates and had the client go elsewhere, and we've done second opinions and had the client use us. We're seeing this much more in this economy, and it's all part of doing business. I do this with my horses: for lameness, I call Dr. X, who's a wonderful "leg man"-he can see where the problem is practically without looking. But he can't float teeth worth a crap, so for that and other things I use Dr. Y. It's nice to be an established client with two excellent doctors who know both me and my horses when I have an emergency (which usually happens after business hours).
What I can't do in my job is diagnose a problem over the phone. I'm not a vet (and a vet won't do this), nor am I a psychic (if I was, wouldn't I have seen my future as a middle aged woman picking up shit for a living and gotten a better career?). Still, the assclowns will try.
Today I get a call from a very demanding woman. Demanding is a bad thing to do with me, as my rebellious nature instinctively means I will do the opposite, or at the very least make things very difficult. This woman was in another vet's office, and got a quote for a "sore on my dog's back" and wanted me to do a price competitive quote over the phone. Despite me telling her several times we couldn't do something like that she was very persistent.
"Ma'am, from what you're saying, it sounds like a tumor removal, what is the diagnosis for your dog?"
" I told you what is wrong with him, he has a sore on his back!"
And then she proceeded to read me the itemized list that the vet had given her. I repeated that we couldn't quote something like that over the phone, and offered to give her an immediate appointment for a second opinion and told her the exam price.
I don't know if she hung up on me or the phone spontaneously combusted in her hand she was so mad.
I do understand sticker shock, especially when you think it's a simple fix and it isn't. If it's not an immediate emergency, you do have the time to get a second opinion or a price quote. Many people are afraid of having to pay for some things twice, but things like blood test results, x-rays and records can be faxed over to the next vet. It's done all the time.
I've seen some interesting stunts in this business, but this was a new one. I'm thinking she was trying to get me to quote as a negotiating tool at the vet's office she was at. This was beyond tacky, it's a new level of ass clownery.

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