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Saturday, January 11, 2014

Was I Wrong to Rant?

I am only an occasional blog-ranter, though I am my family's designated ranter in real life. I am pretty good at it, but it takes a lot out of me. Sometimes, however, I over-rant. Worse, I sometimes rant unfairly. These rants, I should say, are generally customer service issues and are not part of my dealings with my dear students.

My most recent rant. We tried to pay Miss Em's $200 dental bill by phone, but the phone was never answered. Eventually, we got through and left a message. Since we never heard back, we called the office a few days ago.

The receptionist/money person (who is not very competent, I'm afraid) said "Oh, we sent that to a collection agency. You will have to pay a fee." Mr FS reported this and I felt my rant coming on. So I called back.

My comments are in bold.

1. We CALLED to pay the bill two weeks ago. Response: we never got the message (the messaging service this dentist uses is also incompetent and we once did not receive a response to a semi-emergency. Dentist promised to change services.)
2. Did the doctor get a new service? Answer: No.
3. Why did you send this to a collection agency (the bill was recent!)? Response: Oh, "they" come in now and then and take all the bills.
4. We spent between $4000-$5000 over the past year, all paid for. Is it really worth it to send a bill representing a tiny percentage of that to a collection agency. Especially given the fact that the dentist has prescribed another $5000 in dental work for Mr FS????

I asked for the dentist to call me, since I am pretty sure she does not know what's going on at the front desk--most medical professionals remain blissfully and purposely ignorant of the money side of their businesses. She did leave a message.

Question: was I right to get upset over this? And, if so, why? I think #4 above is the most upsetting to me. I believe the office showed  a serious lack of consideration for a very good--let's face it--CUSTOMER.

The front-desk person called us also and said that she looked through the emails from the answering service and that there was an email about our call and that it was TOTALLY her fault....

Also, how can I make sure the Collection Agency did not put this on our Credit record? My in-laws had to pay a disputed $15 charge more than 20 years after the fact when they needed a bridge loan...

What should I say to the dentist when I call back on Monday? Mr FS said I was right in content but that my tone was probably too harsh.


tess said...

I hate these types of situations, very anxiety making, I would definitely insist on taking politely to the clueless? dentist, who after all, is the BOSS of all your tormenters and is ultimately responsible for their actions,

they should recall the debt from the collection agency

I have switched dentists myself because I did not care for the attitude of the people at the front desk, like I said I don't like confrontations

good luck!

Cornelia said...

No,no, you were absolutely right to rant....loudly. I had something similar happen, in that the dentist turned it over to a collection agency whilst we we were awaiting insurance payment. There is no excuse for such sloppy accounting. And dealing with a collection agency is no walk in the park.

Shelley said...

You are clearly dealing with sub-standard staff here and the dentist should be made aware of this. The thing about ranting is that people won't listen to you properly, they'll turn off the threatening input and dismiss you as a crank. If you have to deal with this instead of your husband, might it be worth practicing how you might say things? The thing is, I'm not sure what leverage you have should they not correct this situation. Complain to the dental association? BBB? Take your teeth somewhere else? Not sure what it would take to get it off your credit record either. Sounds like a really frustrating situation, but that there is still hope that it might be rectified. Best of luck!

Patience_Crabstick said...

Of course you are not wrong to rant! I could forgive the missed messages, but to send a recent bill to a collection agency, when you have already proven yourself to be a reliable payer? Inexcusable. I used to work as a clerk in a doctor's office and we used a collection agency only as a last resort, because it was a pain for us and because they take a portion of what we would have been paid.

I hope the conversation with your dentist goes well. I know if something like this is added to your credit rating, it can be reversed. Our mortgage was once nearly put into foreclosure because some idiot at their payment processing place was applying our payments to our escrow rather than crediting them to our account. We got everything straightened out in the end and the mortgage company rescinded whatever they had sent to the credit reporting agency.

dotsybabe said...

Time, I thin, to change dentists -- and let this dentist know WHY you are making the change. But first, If I were you, I would contact the collection agency toute de suite and pay the bill ASAP. Then ask the DDS to write a nice letter to the collection agency (copy to you so you can send it to the 3 credit reporting services) explaining that the bill was sent to collection by accident. Unfortunately, a lot of medical offices have very poor accounting (and accountability) systems. Many years ago I paid for an X-Ray that my health insurance had already covered about 9 months earlier. I did this so that the bill wouldn't go into collection. My health insurance had gone into receivership, and the records of paid bills were stored several states away. I was told by the state insurance commisioner I was welcome to come and search them myself in that pre-HIPPA time. The cost of gas, hotel, and time off work was more than the X-ray so I sent another check....)Arrgghhhh! It still rankles!

Kay said...

Call the dentist and talk to her politely. Thank her for calling you. Tell her you have always been happy with her services but this time, you were shocked by their very recent customer service.

Explain to her (just facts, not your interpretation/observation) of what happened. Ask her if she can recall the bill from the collection agency. If yes, ask that in writing, go over to office and pay the bill. Keep proof of everything. Monitor credit rating. Call credit bureau just to make sure this does not go on your credit history.

If she can't recall, see if there is any penalty to your credit trating if you pay a bill from collection agency. If yes, ask her a written official letter to credit bureau to sort out the 'mistake' caused by her office. Call credit bureau to make sure this doesnt impact your credit history.

If she's not willing to budge in any of these, find a better dentist who provides good customer service.

Frugal Scholar said...

@EVERYBODY--Thanks so much for the wise advice. I am creating a script based on these responses. The plot has thickened, unfortunately. See today's post.