That Doesn’t Settle It!

| Right | July 27, 2017

(At the vet clinic where I run the front desk, we require payment at time of service. I understand that some human medical institutions will bill the insurance company and then, if there’s any out-of-pocket items, they have a separate billing department settle the remainder of the transaction. But this isn’t a large multi-winged hospital, and that’s not how pet insurance works. A woman has been calling in several times a week and even showing up without an appointment because her dog is “very sick.” She changes her story every time we talk to her, and once she brought her dog in (in a panic) because it had the hiccups. At first we thought she was just an over-cautious dog-mom, which we understand, but at this point we’re all tired of the run around and waste of doctor’s time and resources.)

Doctor: “Okay, have a good day. The front desk can take care of your invoicing.”

Lady: “Great! Thank you, Doctor! You’re the best; we love you!”

Me: “Hey! Sounds like [Dog] did great today! I can settle your bill right over here.”

Lady: *suddenly less bubbly and exuberant* “Ooh, is it ok if you bill me?”

Me: “Well, unfortunately, that’s not something we can do—”

Lady: “We have insurance for her, so it’s not like I’m trying to rip you off.”

Me: “Oh, of course, but that’s not the issue. You see, we have many postings indicating our policy: Payment due at time of service.”

Lady: “Well, it’s just until tomorrow. I can pay tomorrow; is that okay?”

(At this point, I just want to say: “No, so figure it out” but this is customer service, so I see if we can bend the rules… just this once.)

Me: “Let me ask the doctor if we can work out some promissory paperwork, okay?”

Lady: “Oh, really? Can I go?”

Me: “Just wait a minute, okay? I’ll need you to fill out some paperwork if she approves it.”

(After a brief talk with the doctor, she says that we can delay payment, but the lab sample we are shipping to the labs in Seattle will not be delivered until payment is received. Thinking this a more than reasonable compromise, I head to the front to inform the client.)

Me: “Hey! So good news, we can delay payment until tomorrow bu—”

Lady: “Ooooooooooooh, thank yooooou! I love this place; you are all so great!”

Me: “Well, thank you, but also I have to let you know that your lab sample won’t be sent out until we receive that payment.”

Lady: “What?! Ugh, well, I can’t believe that. This is totally unacceptable.”

Me: *stunned by the sudden shift in attitude* “Well, I’m sorry you feel that way, but the doctors provide a valuable service and—”

Lady: “I just thought you all would rather help a poor dying animal than get paid! Ugh!” *storms out without paying*

Me: “Yeah, and I guess colleges should just give out doctorates free of tuition, too…”

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