Thursday, September 19, 2013

Sometimes the Customer is Effing Wrong

Not sure how many of you have seen this article, but it's so well written and accurate that it needs to be shared.  It applies to most professions, I think, in this day and age.


First Do No Harm (Not First, Do Not Disappoint)



I'm posting this after getting a bad review online from an owner who didn't appreciate that I was honest about the behavior issues in his young dog.  He never trained him or neutered him or vaccinated him, (he was over a year old and had never been to a vet) and when he lunged at my staff and tried to bite them, our "restraint" of him for our protection was "too much".  (muzzle and 3 technicians)  Somehow we "caused harm" towards HIM.  Not his pet, but HIM.   The result?  Blasting us online.

(side note:  pet was not injured at all.  We know how to restrain idiot dogs.  But my techs got scratched and pooped on and pissed on.  We ALL know this scenario.)

I truly feel that there needs to be a backlash from MDs and DVMs.  We've taken enough.  We've had enough.  This isn't "the customer is always right" anymore.  It's turned into "if you piss off the customer they feel they can bash you and try to ruin your career because they had an experience they didn't feel was pleasant" even when the situation was entirely their fault.

Threw someone out of my clinic this week after this slime of the earth had the nerve to tell me how awful I was - to my face - because I  1.)  told her all of the things wrong with her pet  2.) told her many of the things could be easily treated and 3.)  suggested she actually consider doing something for the health of her pet.  Somehow that meant it was my fault and she started screaming at me and calling me names.   I guess she wasn't interested in hearing that extreme hair loss, severe oral disease and ingrown toenails (into the pads) are things we can actually, oh, I dunno, do something about?

So I kicked her sorry ass out, and I'm contemplating calling animal control on her for neglect.  (oh but then I might be accused of extortion.)

It's not worth it to have to defend yourself on a daily basis;  it's not worth it to be insulted every single day when all you're trying to do it help people.  We've given the "customer" too much power now, and a backlash against the public needs to be organized.

I imagine MDs have it even worse.

Dr. Grumpy, my hat is off to you. 

23 comments:

  1. I've had a post about this subject written for a while, just haven't put it up yet. I'll put it up sometime after the dust settles here.

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  2. I think this is a very serious topic. The pendulum has swung way to far in the wrong direction and I do believe that a backlash should be organized. There is a reason our profession has a high rate of suicide. It's damaging to your psyche to face each day wondering who is going to attack you publicly, and not just call you names (sticks and stones) but try to ruin your business, take your license, etc etc. Not to even mention the asswipes out there who blame everyone else for everything with absolutely zero recourse for their public outcries. We've taken confidentiality too far and as it stands now, I think we should be able to have a public registry where professionals can share information about abusive behavior from individuals. I know it won't happen any time soon, but something needs to change.

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  3. First off, thanks for this post, really needed it today. we had a client send a letter in the mail letting us know what low-down, incredibly greedy scum we are because we refused to see his pet. The refusal was based on the fact that he had no money to pay and could "try" to work something out to pay later. Credit card? Nope, all maxed out and didn't qualify for care credit. No friends willing to lend money, etc etc etc. He did get free advice over the phone (which took time away from our paying clients) but that wasn't good enough apparently. We hear these sob stories every single day as vets. But turn one down, ripped to shreds professionally on facebook or yelp or wherever. People need to realize that owning a pet is a PRIVILEGE, not a right. Just like a hobby, privileges must be paid for. If you can't pay for it, reconsider owning a pet. There is way too much thought in this country of, "Well, if I can't take care of something, someone else out there has to." Not with pets. From money for care to behavior problems and wellness care, the owner has to put on their big girl (or boy) underwear and TAKE CARE OF IT. We are not the ones to blame because your dog bites, you didn't think long hair dogs could get fleas, you don't think routine teeth cleanings are as important as we keep stressing, and the list can go on and on. But to berate and belittle your vet and try your damndest to ruin a reputation because of your own stupidity in most cases...rediculous. And one other reason I have been chewed out recently...an owner went off because I shaved her dog for a spay and Dr Google said we only needed a 2x3 inch square area shaved for a spay. When I tried to tell her why so much hair is cut in real life, she decided I was an idiot and she needed to go elsewhere.

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  4. Google, Yelp and other "review" sites are equally culpable as they design algorithms to make it easy for the crap-flingers to "share their experiences," but make it onerous for business-owners to defend their reputation by either removing the slanderous or by bumping down the crap-stains by soliciting positive reviews from satisfied clients/customers.

    I've left responses to a number of slanderous, erroneous Google "reviews," only to find my responses removed. The deck is stacked against the productive.

    And I love it when these "review" sites call asking if I want to advertise with them. They're already taking my money indirectly, why would I voluntarily give it to them, as well?

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  5. I keep thinking there has to be something we can do about this... then I remember life isn't fair. And it certainly isn't fair for the productive, as you said above. Scary yet true.

    I can still dream of a central public page where we business owners can post true stories of the shit these people pull in real life and who then lie about it on the web.

    Maybe the MDs will pave the way for us. Dr. Grumpy if you know the ER doc who wrote that article, please give him a high five from us here at VBB and invite him on over.

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  6. AMEN! While I'm not aware of being publicly slammed THIS week, I did have a similar experience with a client. I discussed the findings of my physical exam, options for diagnostic screening based on the 25% loss of body weight, most likely diagnoses, treatment plans for those diseases and a recommended plan. The owner looked at me and said, "Oh, I don't believe in health care...you know...for cats." Why do we even bother?!?

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  8. I never read on line what people say about doctors or vets. I think I'm smart enough to know a good doctor or vet with how I'm treated and how much care the give my case. I'm just the school nurse but I get blasted by parents all the time. Hmmm , I hope there isn't a website to blast your school nurse. I had a parent come and tell me how the last school nurse let their kid sit in the health room with a fever for hours without calling them. It wasnt until they got to the pich up line and there kid wasn't there that they found out he was in the health room. They said very bad things about the nurse. When I read the notes they forgot some details. Like that they never turned in a health card even though it was sent home several times. So the nurse didn't have any up to date phone numbers or emergency numbers. That they never called the school and gave them up dated numbers. None of the numbers in the computer worked. But I guess that was the nurses fault. She should have gone to there home and got the numbers from them. People take no responsibility for their kids or pets. Ugh!!

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    1. Diana I can only imagine what you guys suffer through as school nurses. I have family members who are in the school system and they seem just as burned out as we vets because of what you are saying. People just don't seem to carry a sense of responsibility anymore, whether it's for their kids or their pets. My hat is off to you for what you do, and know that to many of us vets, you are a hero, taking care of our kids while we are out working with the public. Take care of yourself, too.

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  9. To commiserate... I once discovered an online review about myself from someone. I don't even know who or what it was, but could only extrapolate based on the time frame and what little information was given in the post.

    So, not only did these people claim that I was horrible, because they came in for a routine procedure, and I did something that I did not get permission for, and they've been suffering for two weeks now with their poor pet... but they never called to talk to me about whatever it is that I supposedly had done to them and their pet.

    After thoroughly thinking through the time frame, I could only come up with two possibilities.

    One, a cat that came in with a horrible necrotic abscess in its caudal abdominal fat pad. The owners signed consent for me to anesthetize, open the abscess up, and clean out the dead tissue. Once I got in there, it was deeper than it seemed, and I wound up having to put in a drain tube due to the amount of dead tissue I had to cut out. I still kept it on the estimate though! But never saw that cat back. Hopefully she did well. And someone, somewhere, removed the drain tube.

    The other, was a Japanese Chin that came in for a spay, and had horrid, horrid, horrid teeth. In the pre-op exam, I talked to the owners about cleaning her teeth while she was out for her spay procedure, and said depending on what the teeth looked like under the build up, we would probably have to extract several. They consented to both the spay and the dental/extractions. According to the other doctor I work with, they had come in repeatedly to see him afterwards, with complaints that the dog wasn't eating. After a few weeks though, she was "better than ever", as related to me the next time I saw them for vaccines, where they thanked me for pulling out the rotting mess that were most of her incisors and pre-molars. (They didn't state it that way, obviously!)

    But in neither case... did I get contacted by the people involved to ask questions, or talk to me, or even seek satisfaction of yelling at me. Instead, I was blasted online by one of them. The additional comments from people on the thread (before it was pulled from the board it was on), were comparing me (and any "bad" veterinarian!) to a child molester. The paraphrase was: Tell us where she works! You can't say 'avoid this vet', without telling us that! That's like saying someone is a child molester and not saying where they live!

    However... while there were some horrid comments... there were people on there who came to my defense. Some in the glowingly positive, others in the 'I prefer the other doctor who works with her, but she [me] is just fine too.', and of course, my husband who contacted the board this post was on and complained to the moderators of the board, saying that the person posting the original was basically committing slander since they weren't backing up their statements, nor contacting the veterinarian they were talking about, and the thread was needlessly damaging to a person's livelihood and business.

    Not sure if that's the reason they took it down, but my husband (my hero!) likes to think it was.

    Aaaanyway... yes, it is not always about customer satisfaction. In our field, it should be more about the pet and its health and well being. I've had more than one client at the start of the exam say, 'Don't talk to me about X (or Y or Z), I've heard it all before and I'm not going to do anything about it!'... I still mention X or Y or Z, because as far as I'm concerned, it's my job to do so. I don't always go into detail, but I do mention it. Because they still need to know about X, and Y, and Z.

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    1. K, I did have some friends come to my defense once, and it totally jacked with Google. :) Now, it's all messed up - apparently Google didn't like it that numerous people commented and reported the complaint as bogus, and now the reviews are just out of order, etc. Proof the system is absolutely stupid. Glad your hubby was your hero!!! We need more of that to fight back against hateful people with sad lives and nothing better to do than try to make those around them feel as miserable as they feel.

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  10. Wow, my sympathy. And my thanks for all you do for animals, and for caring enough to tell the person about the dog's suffering.

    Maybe she'll calm down and then go to another vet and actually help the poor dog. Maybe it will be the 5th vet saying the same thing that finally gets through.

    I'm going to go post positive reviews about my vet. It's a small thing, but it's something I can do.

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    1. Thank you Melissa. Your vet will thank you for it! Most of us - including our teams of techs and assistants - are kind hearted people who are genuinely hurt by these types of attacks. And, unfortunately, what Increasingly Calloused said above is accurate - the cards are stacked against all of us on these review sites and it's really a witch hunt without any due process, and more often than not someone "forgets" about half of the information which is usually where the truth lies. Any and all positive things that can ever be said about anybody often does more good than bad. I kinda see it like that belief that if you just smile throughout your day, your day will be better. I am constantly amazed at the different types of readers we have on this blog! Thank you all for your kind words.

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  11. I tell people that Dr. Google flunked out of vet school & had to get one of those Nigerian degrees. :P

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  12. At my last job a customer wrote a scathing review on Yelp, basically saying the office "refused to make it right" when things went wrong with her pet (which went wrong because she refused to obey followup instructions, removed sutures on her own, went to another vet and demanded free care) etc...

    When confronted on it by my boss when she came back (Again demanding free care), she admitted to his face that she had lied in the review. Her excuse was that she "was in a hurry". Oddly enough, she didn't remove the review or correct it in any way.

    Just yesterday I had a guy call 15 minutes after his appointment to ask if he could still come, and when told yes he then told us we "better be on point and get him in right away" because he was coming in a taxi and didn't want to have a big fare run up. I wonder how fast he'd have run to Google if we told him to buzz off (he showed up exactly at closing time, 45 minutes late...).

    Must remind myself every morning that I go to work for the dogs and cats, not the idiots holding the leash/carrier... but if I was qualified for another field that'd pay off my student loans, I'd have left vet med already (and I'm only in my 5th year out of school, can't imagine what it's like for those of you who've been out much longer).

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    1. I submit that this is one area where the public has learned they can abuse us: "She loves animals. I can treat my veterinarian like crap because she loves animals and will tolerate my rude, obnoxious behavior." They use our sense of compassion and good will against us, and it is getting old fast.

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  13. If I had all the money from clients who didn't pay me or got "free" care because of my compassion, I could take at least a year's sabbatical.

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  14. He only tried to bite because he knew the doctor wanted to hurt him.

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  15. My husband is a veterinarian in Ottawa. I have heard so many fun stories from the office.

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  16. Try being a psychiatrist who needs to know what street drugs your patient is stoned on.

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