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Another Kind Of Anti-Vaxxer

, , , | Right | November 11, 2021

I work in a vet clinic. Whenever we set up an appointment for a new client and their animal, we ask what clinic they went to previously so we can transfer their records to us. This may seem like common knowledge, but it proves not to be in this case. At the very least, we have to have vaccine records, especially if the client is looking to spay/neuter their pet. Legally, we cannot do ANY surgery without vaccine records; if clients have no records, they have to start the vaccine sets all over again with us and then we can book surgeries going forward.

When talking to new clients, I explain all of this. Most understand and some even have prepared these documents ahead of time, which makes the veterinarian’s job much easier. But sometimes, we get clients who just cannot understand that this is how things are done.

This conversation takes place over the phone.

Me: “Thank you for calling [Clinic]. This is [My Name]; how can I help you?”

Client: *Sounding irate* “How much would it be to neuter a thirty-ish pound male dog, and how soon can I do it?”

Me: “I can certainly check for you. Have you ever seen us before?”

Client: “No, I just moved here from Ontario. I haven’t taken him to a vet yet down here. I need to get him fixed.”

Me: “I see. So, for his weight range, the surgery estimate is around [price]. I’m just going to ask for some information and we can look at booking the surgery from there.”

I assume the client has her vet records and proof of vaccines, which turns out to be a mistake. I ask for the client’s information so I can start a file for her. She is blunt with all her answers and seems vaguely mad for some reason.

Client: “Why are you asking all these questions?!”

Me: “I’m sorry this is taking some time, but I need your information so I can put you in our system. Once I do that, I can start booking your appointment. You said you moved here recently? Do you happen to have a copy of your previous vet records?”

Client: *Huffs* “No! I had an emergency move from Ontario so I didn’t think to get them!”

Me: “I completely understand. However, in order to book your dog for surgery, we do need those records—”

Client: *Cuts me off* “I just said I didn’t have them! I had an emergency move from Ontario!”

She pronounces “emergency” very slowly and condescendingly.

Me: “I do understand; but by law, we require at least his vaccination records, because he needs to have his core vaccines and rabies up to date before we can do surgery.”

Client: “Well, I don’t have them. We got him vaccinated in Ontario years ago, so there’s no problem.

This is absolutely a problem.

Me: “I’m very sorry, but we need these records to move forward. Is there any way you can contact the clinic and have them email the records to you?”

Client:Excuse me? I just had an emergency move from Ontario! I don’t have time to do that!”

Me: “I see. You can discuss this with the vet—”

The client cuts me off again, speaking with a snarky laugh.

Client: “So, tell me, are there any hidden fees I need to know about?”

Me: “I’m not sure what you mean? There aren’t any hidden fees. Before we do the surgery, I need to book you an appointment for an exam with the vet, and once we’ve seen your dog, we can book the neuter.”

To be fair, it is my fault for not saying anything about the exam beforehand, but I also thought this was common knowledge. After all, you wouldn’t call a human doctor and ask for surgery without seeing them, right? But apparently, this was the completely wrong thing to say.

Client: *Yelling* “So there is a hidden fee! I knew it!”

I’m pretty fed up with this person, so I decide I will no longer try to please her. My tone is still professional but firm.

Me: “I’m really sorry, but this is not a ‘hidden fee’. If you switch vet clinics, no matter where you go, they will first book your pet in for an exam with a vet before doing any surgery. The exam fee here is [price] before taxes. I can get you booked in for this appointment in the next few days if you’d like to come in soon.”

Client: “Well, can we do the exam and the surgery on the same day?”

I’ve never had a client ask to do this. I know for a fact that we don’t allow this, and it also makes no sense as we have not seen her dog before. I respond as politely as I can.

Me: “I am sorry, but we are unable to do that. This is the process in order to book a surgery: we book you in for a first exam and the vet meets you and your pet, and then, once we have your records that confirm he is up to date on his vaccines, we can book the neuter. This is standard practice and is not only clinic policy, but the law, as well. If you’d like to proceed, I can give you a few upcoming dates to book the exam and you can let me know what works for you.”

Client: *After a few seconds* “Fine. I guess if I have to, then I’ll do it. When can I bring him in?”

I silently exhale in relief and go over some dates and times with her. I tune out her ranting and complaining, and as soon as she takes a breath, I thank her for calling, say her appointment date and time once more, and hang up the phone.

Coworker: “Do I even want to ask?”

Me: “Nope. I’m writing a note about everything she said so [Vet] knows what he’s getting into.”

I write out a few paragraphs in the file to document our conversation so the vet will know what’s going on. Unfortunately for this client, I booked her appointment with our vet who can be particular about the people he sees: he hates it when clients are late, and he doesn’t take any bulls*** from them, either. I didn’t book her with him on purpose, but oh, well.

The day before the client’s appointment, I call to confirm but she doesn’t pick up — thankfully! I leave a message and go on with the day.

The time of her appointment comes and goes and she is not here. The vet comes up to the front desk as I am about to call this client.

Vet: “If you’re about to call her, don’t bother.”

Me: “You don’t want me to?”

Vet: “I just read your note; I wouldn’t put in the effort. She’s made no effort to be on time and respect our time, so I wouldn’t do the courtesy of calling her. If she does show up, just say we have to reschedule as she’s missed her appointment. I’m in no rush to see people like that.”

Me: “All right, will do.”

The client never did show up or call us that day, to no one’s surprise. I marked her as a no-show. Luckily, the other receptionists and I have not received a call from her so far.

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