My first clue was in not getting a call from my dentist to remind me of a semi-annual visit that I had in my calendar. At the time, I just dismissed it thinking I had a date wrong in my phone or something. It’s not unusual for me to put wonky dates into my phone. Plus, they have been pretty damned good keeping on top of things for the past 2 years. I’d get calls just to see how I was doing after an extraction. That is how good this dentist treated me in the past. So when I got no call to remind me of my apparent appointment, I just assumed it was my error.
Two days later, I clear the mailbox and see a letter from a collections agency advising me that there was a 6 month outstanding debt to said dentist.
… cue the jaw drop …
I have never in my life been delinquent on a bill. Never. If there is any indication at all of a possible outstanding debt, I bend over backwards to work it out. In fact, I spend a great deal of time up front trying to make sure that stuff like this does not happen.
The irony is that after my first visit with this dentist, there was a similar mixup with the insurance company and we were burning up the phone lines to figure out what had happened and why they hadn’t been paid. We sorted it out within a matter of minutes. Something about filling out a claim form to a new insurance company and in such a way that the insurance company dispatched a cheque to me instead of to them. We all had a good laugh, I asked them to reassure me it wouldn’t happen again; they did so. And as soon as I received the cheque from the insurance company, I drove it in to them (not mailed, drove).
In light of that, this was like a broad-side blow to the face.
First thing on Tuesday morning, I call my dentist to find out what the hell is going on. I hadn’t heard a peep from them in 6 months and the first I do hear from them is via a collections agency? What the hell kind of madness is this? Well, first thing I notice is that “Amy” wasn’t too happy to even speak to me. She advised me I had been notified of the unpaid bill and as far as she was concerned, I got my due. I tell her that I think this is weird because I would expect to at least get a phone call. She tells me it is not their policy to make phone calls about outstanding bills. (I find that odd, and I want you to take particular note of that statement, Dear Reader. Nevertheless…)
Her attitude was particularly shocking because I don’t think I sounded antagonistic at all. In fact, I think I sounded more confused and worried, than angry. Anyway, I launch into a somewhat incoherent explanation of my confusion in light of our previous relationship. And instead of listening, “Amy” gets even more belligerent. At this point, I am even more confused. Finally, when “Amy” doesn’t want to even listen and speak to me with respect anymore, I tell her to shove it and hang up.
Next I call the collections agency. Laura gives me their take on the matter. The insurance company hasn’t communicated with the dentist’s office at all and thus I am responsible. Fine; I can accept that – much as I hate to do so. So my next call is to the insurance company. They advise me they received a claim and disbursed a cheque in March … to me! (Gotta love USPS – I never got that cheque at all either.) So I ask the relevant questions. Turns out that’s how the dentist’s office filled out the form! Again!
Anywho, The insurance company’s records show the cheque was never cashed (duh!). So she cancels it and disburses a new cheque. Next I advise the collections agency that my cheque to them will be on it’s way as soon as the insurance company’s arrives here. We are all good. (Especially since they tell me this hasn’t yet hit our credit rating).
So, I decide to call “Amy” back and tell her she’s a damned fool. She in turn tells me how sorry she is because her further research shows her she “might have been mistaken”. I tell her she sure did “make a mistake” but since they want to deal with me through a collections agency and with disrespect, that is what they will get. She apologises profusely again, citing some nonsense about “the information in front of her”. So I advise her that maybe next time she ought to speak to the person on the phone because the “information in front of her” isn’t what is going to give her a bad name. I tell her they’ve lost me as a patient and furthermore I will be making an effort to discredit them rather than recommend them to anyone else. I tell her to have a wonderful week and hang up the phone.
At this point, I am amazed at myself. Not once did I resort to name-calling or expletives. I remained coherent, respectful, and eloquent throughout the whole encounter. My husband agrees by telling me that I am “awesome”. I was angry enough to burst, but I kept my cool. Yay me! As far as I am concerned the matter is settled. So settled in fact that I have already found a new dentist.
About an hour later, the dentist himself calls. Insists his computer system says I was called multiple times and sent multiple notices. I said I got no calls, no notices. He “doesn’t know what to tell me”. I make the point that I answered his call on the first or second ring without even recognising the number being from him. “Multiple calls”, then, just doesn’t wash because my number hasn’t changed. “We can still fix this”, he says. “As far as I am concerned, it’s already fixed. When the insurance company’s cheque comes through, the collections agency will get it”, I tell him.
I don’t understand … how can someone say they called me when they didn’t? I understand things get lost in the mail so I am not even going to fault them on that. But to say they called me when I’ve had NO calls at ALL? And believe me, I know that people “say” they get no calls all the time. Considering our history, though, it just doesn’t wash. I think I have proven myself to not be “that person”.
I think by the time I was done with Dr. Adams, “Amy” was out of a job.
The most ridiculous part of this drama? A day later, there is a bill from Dr. Adams’ office in my mailbox and for even more money. Ha! Not a chance, bud!
The best part of this drama? The second person I dealt with at the collections agency goes, “Hi Camille. This is also Laura; because we know you can’t have just one Laura in your life. We have two of everybody here.” That made me laugh.
(By the way: I make no attempt to protect the name of anyone in the dentist’s office in this missive. They have earned neither my protection nor my respect. This is not how you deal with established patients/customers.)