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Everything Old Is New Again…Checking Up On The Bill After Your Next Check Up

Major credit card companies have Loyalty Point programs, airlines have Frequent Flyer miles, and even grocery stores have Super-Saver cards for regular customers.  Rewarding repeat customers has become a tradition in our consumer driven society. Whether you never leave home without it, or the more you buy, the more you fly, at least you feel like a valued customer. In reality, even though we are just account numbers to a big company, many seem to get the idea that if you appreciate your customers they will come back.  So it is surprising when local services fail miserably when they actually have a personal, face-to-face opportunity to build loyalty.  
 
A funny thing happened on the way to the doctor last week, and I don’t mean “Ha Ha” or that I hit myRxwithMoney elbow funny…When I checked in at the front desk, the receptionist pulled out a bill. I asked if this was today’s bill, and she snippily said, “No, it is from your last visit.” I explained that this was the first time I was seeing it, whereupon she basically accused me of lying about not getting the copy that was “in the mail.” After examining the charges and corresponding insurance gibberish, I did owe a difference. But as I was pulling out my wallet something kept bothering me (you know that feeling from your gut that chants, “something’s not right, something’s not right”).

I took a second look and discovered that they were charging me as a NEW patient, when in fact I was a returning or OLD patient.  I stated this fact and explained that the bill was $50- too much, and I was happy to pay the bill less the $50 NEW patient fee.  Not good enough…it seems they have a policy that if you haven’t been to see the doctor in over a year, then you are a NEW patient again and they charge you an extra $50.  HMMM…“So you are penalizing your returning patients for not being sick?” I asked.   

After listening to a lot of empty, nonsensical explanations about their “policy,” I then learned that the doctor went out of town on a conference and wasn’t even there for my appointment.  I took a deep breath, put my wallet back in my purse, got my keys out, and drove home.  It is almost a week and I am still awaiting a call from the office manager to resolve this issue.  

With so many choices available to consumers these days, and in this current economic slump, businesses and service professionals would do well to remember the old adage, “the customer is always right,” institute the belief, “it is easier to keep a regular customer than to get a new one,” and offer the simple phrase, “please come again.”  Next time you open your wallet, treat it like a microscope and examine the quality of recognition, appreciation, and reward for your patronage.

 

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Comments

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Luci Weston

Hi Janine & Suzyblujeanz: my good friend's mother has a saying about medical care, "You have to be your own detective." I suppose nowadays it means checking the administrative paperwork and the medical treatment. One way to cover all the bases is to bring someone to the appointment with you if possible...two heads are better than one, especially if one is nervous or sick!

suzyblujeanz

I think you hit on an important point, specifically about the medical industry lacking in that “personal touch.”

I recently went to the doctor who, after walking in the room, did not shake my hand, barely made eye contact and proceeded to sit down at a computer to type out his notes as I spoke to him about my problem. Then, when I was sent for blood work related to my ailment, the lab forms were filled out to test on a condition I had months earlier which was managed by this same doctor’s office and had already been resolved.

There is currently a large disconnect in the medical industry as doctor’s offices are too busy moving their patients through like cattle leaving us, the patient, exposed and undervalued in an industry that is based solely on the personal experience.

We entrust our practitioners and their staff to support our health, emotions and sometimes our very lives; a trust which, I feel, is not always earned.

Janine

Something like this happened to me about six months ago at a chiropractor. He tried to charge me $35- fee for pulling my file out of storage. The receptionist told me that the boxes are in the basement of his building!

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