Thursday, July 18, 2013

My son isn't a liar..... except for when he is!

A client and his adult son arrived last night to have their kitty evaluated after a cat fight. Dad let my staff know right away that his son had some mental illness difficulties and would be mostly outside during the evaluation for personal reasons.

The cat, Misty, had two bite wounds on the right thigh and was limping on the right hind limb, but was otherwise very stable.  I discussed the finding of the bite wound and recommended minimal wound care. We presented an estimate for wound treatment, antibiotics, pain medicine and an e-collar to prevent Misty from chewing or licking at the area.

Immediately upon reviewing the estimate, the client became irate.

"YOU HAVE UNETHICAL BUSINESS PRACTICES!"  he screamed at my receptionist.  "My son called three times and was told the entire visit would cost $80, and that's the only reason we're here! Now you're telling me that $80 only covers the exam and consultation?! We never would have come in! This is ridiculous!"

The receptionist tried to de-escalate the situation.  She knew that our exam and emergency consultation fee was indeed $80, but that none of our staff would imply this covers all care, nor would they give specific over the phone estimates.  It's impossible to know what the situation is for each pet without evaluating the problem in person. She excused herself and found the staff member who had taken that call.

As we suspected, the staff member who did take the call had told the caller that our EXAM fee was $80, and from there we would provide a written estimate for any testing, treatment or medications.  The caller continued to demand to know exactly how much the bill would be - WE CAN'T KNOW THIS WITHOUT SEEING YOUR PET.  So the staff member told him it could be "hundreds to thousands, there's just no way to know over the phone."

Armed with this information, I stepped into the exam room to chat with the angry client.

"Your staff member tricked my son," he yelled. "You told him it would be $80 for everything, and then we get here and that's just the exam fee.  You should tell your customers over the phone what they're going to spend. Otherwise you're just giving us the bait and switch."

I tried to reason with the angry man; explaining that first of all, he was NOT told it would be $80 for everything, that we cannot give specific estimates over the phone because we have no way of evaluating how serious or not a problem is without seeing it in the hospital.  Nothing would satisfy the angry fellow, and he continued to yell at me.  I offered to remove treatments from the plan, and let him know that he was welcome to decline any services he desired.


He stormed out of the room and approved only minimal care.

At the time of checkout, the man's demeanor had changed.

Suddenly, he apologized for his abhorrent behavior.  His son had finally admitted that he WAS told the exam only was $80, and then lied to his dad so that he'd bring the cat in to our clinic.

An apology does not excuse acting like a fool.


  1. Was he sure it was his son and not him that had mental illness issues?

  2. Whoa, way to freak out, man! Reminds me of when I worked in retail and people would freak out over an out of stock size or color. Ridiculous. I'm glad you still helped his cat, though, even after that behavior. You remind me of a veterinarian in Toronto that I knew before I moved to the states. He was pretty great, too. ;)

  3. Did your veterinary services work 24/7? That sounds so stressful and then I think it would be harder to save animals lives than humans cause you have so many different ones.