A client comes into the hospital today and announces his “great victory” (my characterization) in finding a medication that I have put his dog for arthritis and that we have been selling him, for a “much cheaper price” (his characterization) elsewhere. He would just like to get a script from us or have us call it in for him.
This client had previously spent a total of $493.98 at VCC over three visits, including annual care and X-rays to determine the problem (arthritis) in one of his dog’s forelimbs. I actually aborted a planned surgery on that dog’s same limb, that was certainly “pushed for” by the owner…in other words “he kinda wanted surgery” before even asking for my opinion because he had already “decided” the problem and the remedy of said problem (surgery). I spent a lot of time in the exam room, just sitting there in my own silence, listening to the client brainwash himself into his beliefs without truly seeking anyone else’s opinion. He wanted to act like he was listening and contemplating my opinion and findings, but in reality, he didn’t care about those things and he really just wanted to think what he wanted to think without challenge, valid or not, of any sort. I could have performed that unnecessary surgery, gone through the motions, and generated an extra $400.00 to $800.00 in revenue for my practice without putting the patient at significant risk or harm, keeping the client very satisfied, and eventually arriving at the same ultimate finding/diagnosis and thus treatment. I did not do that because I consider such disrespectful.
My staff explained to this owner that we do not call these type of prescriptions in (because of liability and the consumption of my staff’s time to help send revenue out of my clinic and to a competitor) and that we would be happy to write a script out for him to manage himself, but we do have a prescription fee of $8.75 associated with such.
The client became disturbed and thought it egregious that we charge such a fee. “Other clinics certainly don’t charge such a fee.” My head technician then approached the customer and explained that he was welcome to drive down the road to a different veterinary hospital and get a script from them or he reiterated, “we can provide you with a written script for our fee”. The owner then asked why we charged the prescription fee.
“We charge a prescription fee to cover the lost revenue that you are directly removing from our practice by purchasing veterinary medication elsewhere. You are choosing to support and feed PetMeds or some other pharmacy instead of our practice.”
“No that’s not true. I like you guys…I like this practice. I just don’t want to get jerked around.”
“It is true. You don’t like our practice because if you did we would not be having this discussion right now. You would not be complaining so much about our policies and our pricing. I am not jerking you around in any way. That is why I told you that the fee is to replace lost revenue in our practice. If I was jerking you around, I would have come up with some bogus or hidden fee or unneeded treatment and forced that upon you with lies and deceit. I will be happy to print out your records for you if you want so that you can at least take them down the road and support a different animal hospital instead of the huge mega internet pharmacies.”
“Well, I’m not getting the medicine from PetMeds. It’s not like that, I am getting it from WalMart. I will just get the script from you.” and then the client proceeded to talk a lot more gibberish in a backing-off and softening-of-stance kinda way.
“WalMart is the devil.” and with his hand up to stop further conversation, my head technician walked to the back, got me to sign the script and returned it to the owner, before the owner left the building.
The owner had found some super-cheap version of a generic medication that I use/sell in my clinic. My cost to the client for a 60 day supply of that medication is $45.50. The owner can purchase this other mysterious product which is supposedly the same stuff for $27.46 for the same duration of time. That is a supposed savings of $18.04 over two months or $9.02 per month. This owner also drove up in a new car and I know for a fact that he has two houses, one of which is in Florida. He is a retired pilot and at some point was a major Delta top-dog supervisor at an airport in Texas.
This client certainly has the right to spend his money as he sees fit. He has the right to choose to perceive services and charges and prices and policies in whatever manner he desires. He has the right to ignore the fact that if I would have taken advantage of the situation with his dog and performed an unnecessary surgery I would have generated a lot of revenue that I instead lost as a result of my moral obligation and respect to him and his dog. If the client chose to purchase the arthritis medication from my hospital at the fair price that I offer it at, he would have to do so for 44 to 88 months (3.6 years to 7 years) to even equally balance the money I sacrificed and kept in his pocket through my honesty, skill and respect. The client has the right to ignore all of this and choose to believe that I am the shyster, and that “he likes us”, and that he is “just trying to save some money.” The client has a right to eventually suffer from the incompetent parasitic lost-leading un-empathetic monopolistic forces/entities that he supports and feeds in the market place, as well as the death of those independent entities that once, empathetically and expertly, nurtured and cared for his pet with the utmost respect.
Jeff Cribb DVM 2014