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Monday, January 13, 2014

More Distress from the Dentist! Advice Solicited.

Thanks to all who provided a script for dealing with the Collection Agency issue I wrote about. I was going to call the dentist to recount the story today, but did not have the energy. Good thing, because I had some of the facts wrong.

Mr FS called the office to pay. He did so, by giving our card number. AFTER he paid, the receptionist/manager said "I sent this to a collection agency. I will try to get the extra fee removed." (!!!!!) So--she took the payment after the bill had been sent to the Collection Agency.

I had assumed that Mr FS had not paid BECAUSE we were told the bill had been sent to the Collection Agency. I am hoping the receptionist tried to get the bill back. But I am concerned because we are entirely without leverage of any sort now.

I will use some of the scripts and advice provided by my most helpful commenters. Many, many thanks. Any additional tips or advice?


Miser Mom said...

I'm with Kay. Call the dentist's office again. Be as polite as you can be. You could (politely) say that you know it's a bad idea to schedule the next $5K of dental service with them if can't get this bill resolved, and so you'd like to work with them to make sure that happens quickly.

I would also call the collection agency to ask them for advice. Many years ago, I had an auto insurance company wrongly send my bill to a collection agency. The agency said they had no choice but to try to collect, but they gave me a number of a government agency I could then file a complaint with. What ended up happening was that I got back all my money and then some.

Of course, write down everything. Write down times of telephone conversations and who you talked with. All sorts of psych studies show that keeping good track of the details helps your case (surprisingly, even if the details aren't pertinent to whether you're right or wrong).

Patience_Crabstick said...

Oh ugh. I am sorry, I don't have any advice, but I think that what Miser Mom said is sensible. Good luck.

dotsybabe said...

Miser Mom has good advice. You need to have time and date that Mr. FS made the payment (and amount and how made -- CC, check, etc.) with the DDS, and then call collection agency. I used to work for a collection agency (file clerk in HS -- and eye-opening experience) and the DDS staff should NOT have take a payment once the bill was turned over to collection. However, armed with dates, etc., the conversation with the collection agency should also be very polite and patient -- a lot of these agencies are boiler rooms full of staff armed with scripts charged with getting as much $$ as possible.) This conversation should focus on getting the bill (now paid -- see here's the date paid, etc.) out of collection. However, be aware that once the bill is in collection, there is an actual or implied contract between the DDS and the collection agency -- and no longer with YOU. If you can't get redress this way, WRITE a letter (stating facts and figures) to the DDS and demanding (in the nicest possible way) that they get the bill REMOVED from collection without the fee as you'd hate to end your relationship and cancel $5K of pending dental work because of this misunderstanding, etc.

Shelley said...

I don't have anything to add to the excellent comments already made. Given the facts, a) your payment history; b) the hasty and irregular manner in which accounts - yours in particular - were sent to collections and c) the fact that you were told AFTER you made payment that it had gone to collections, a reasonable dental office would sort this out for you. One thing that occurs to me is to wonder if the payment has actually been made. The staff member took the credit card details but did she put the payment on the card and then realise it had gone to collections? Or did she realise it was with collections and not use the credit card information? It's a nit-picky question but when I imagine this scenario that question popped into my head. If they can't figure out how to sort out the collections fiasco to save the extra fee, I'd go so far as to patiently suggest that the dentist might wish to refund the extra fee to your credit card as well as write the necessary letters. I know it's sometimes inconvenient to stop doing business with a familiar place, but I think it's worth the piece of mind that the same place won't have to opportunity to abuse your trust again.

Frugal Scholar said...

@MM, PC,DB,Sh--THANK YOU ALL. You provided me with many elements of the script I used with the dentist.