Friday, January 28, 2011

Hey, I'm the consumer here!

RHYS: I hope I'm allowed a Saturday gripe occasionally. Maybe I'm feeling a tad crabby because I've been trying to get work done with one hand that still won't rotate to face the keyboard properly. But also because I've had a couple of encounters with doctor's offices and labs in the past week.
When it was twenty minutes past my appointment I asked the receptionist if I had been forgotten. "No, he'll get to you," she replied off handedly. When I saw the doctor he asked if I'd been fasting for a blood test. "Nobody mentioned a blood test," I said. He checked the records and I was right. "Never mind, come back tomorrow," he said merrily.

So I left in not the best of moods. It is my time that's being squandered and you know what? I'm the consumer. Nobody is doing me a favor by trying to fit me in to an appointment. I am paying for the doctor's time.

We now live in a society that is so equal and pc that we don't want to offend anybody. So if the plumber is late and leaves marks on our white carpet we say nothing, scared that he'll walk out and leave us with a clogged toilet until we find another plumber who will charge a hundred dollars an hour and grace us with his time when he feels like it.

Same with airlines. We are spoken to like naughty children when we are paying the wages of those counter staff and cabin crews. I once pointed out to a flight attendant that she would be out of a job if I didn't fly and the rest of the passengers didn't fly and the only reason she was on the plane was to make me feel happy and secure.

Now that jobs are hard to come by, maybe we can speak out a little more. If I don't show up for a doctor's appointment, they bill me for the no-show. If they keep me waiting half an hour, there should be a way for me to deduct money for my lost time. If the plane is late because one of the crew members hasn't shown up, ditto. If the plumber is late, he should be told "don't bother."

It is time for CONSUMERS UNITE. Okay? Only I don't want to be the first one to tell a six foot five, four hundred pound man with stubble and a butt crack,wielding a wrench, that his services are no longer required.


  1. I agree with you Rhys, I hate to wait at the doctor's office. I do understand that emergencies come up...and that they need a certain # of patients to pay their bills...

    But when I was in private practice as a psychologist, I have to say I was hardly ever late. The patients were paying for my time and they deserved what they paid for.

    I think we should put Hank on this case:)...

  2. I tend to cut my doctor a little slack because I know someone before me may have booked a routine appointment for something that didn't turn out to be routine. But telling you to come back tomorrow because no one 'mentioned' bloodwork? I'd go in tomorrow armed with a letter stating you expected them to deduct x amount from the cost of that visit because of their incompetent and unnecessary wasting of your time the day before. Even if they refused to do it, you'd have made your point.

  3. Speaking of airlines... we got to the airport a few weeks ago to find our 5 PM US Airways flight, connecting through Pittsburgh to Boston, had just been cancelled due to a snowstorm. It happens. We lined up to rebook and the airline person offered to put us on a flight out first thing in the morning. I asked if she'd seen the weather report and thought that was a good idea, knowing full well that by the morning there was supposed to be a blizzard in Boston. She blinked at us, impassive... muttered something about how most passengers don't bother looking at weather reports, and admitted that we'd be better off waiting another day before trying to get out. Of course, if we hadn't asked, we'd have been booked on another canceled flight. So passive aggressive. New customer service motto: "Scr** the customer." By the way, this woman also told to us that she'd been in her job 14 years.

  4. Don't get me started on airlines, but I have a great customer service story. I went to my indie bookstore yesterday after passing Borders and B&N. I went to purchase my books. The lady that helped me was obviously on her way out. She had her purse over her shoulder and was probably off the clock, but she stopped and helped me with my books with a very pleasant attitude.

  5. Melissa- I work at B&N and have done the same thing a number of fact, most of the people I work with have done it. It's the way we'd like to be treated :o) But I digress. Rhys, did the doctor tell you why you needed blood work? It's possible you really didn't need to fast. Next time, ask him. Our clinic has one of those "If you've waited 30 minutes for your appointment, let us know." There's usually a good reason. Doesn't make it any more convenient, but at least I get to say something. :o)
    If I'm grumpy about anything (from a retail clerk standpoint), it's the customer who cannot put his phone down long enough to give you his full attention while you a) attempt to help him find a book or
    b) try to ring up his purchases at the register. And as a consequence really never pays attention to the total before he swipes his credit/debit card. Sigh.
    And Rhys, I hope your hand is better soon.

  6. Oh, Rhys, I am so with you on this one with the doctors. I try to book the first appointment so I’m in an out but the eye doctor is never on time. I get there and he isn’t even there yet. Then I have to wait while he unloads his stuff, takes off his coat, goes to the bathroom, and finds my records. The next time I had to wait for him to get there again and go thru the same thing except that this time he had my records. This next time, I had the second appointment at 10:30 a.m. because it was rescheduled due to snow conditions. I got in to see him at 11:20 a.m. If he wasn’t the best eye doctor around, I’d go elsewhere.

    The family doctor is just as bad if you don’t have the first appointment, he’s backed up and why does take a minimum of three days to get an appointment. When I left the hospital after spending three days in the cardiac unit, they told me to see my family doctor. With that history, it took me three and half weeks to get an appointment and that was with the first doctor available in the practice, not my doctor, that would have been a month or more. Oh and the last three appointments I made had to be rescheduled because they didn’t know three months ahead of time that he wouldn’t be there that week. You get to the point where you wonder who’s at fault, the doctor or the staff.

    Or the medication I was allergic too that I took to CT scan the gallbladder I no longer have. Doctor asked me if the testing facility knew that? My answer, "Well you did, it was in my records where you filed it in the back and you ordered the test." Boy, she had no clue what to say and I never went back to her either.

    Glad I don’t have to deal with the airlines.

  7. As to the plumber...close the butt crack with spackle and a putty knife...hand him a jelly doughnut and a napkin, because who cares if gets fatter as long as he unclogs the toilet, and after he is finished note the damage to your carpet on his bill and cheerfully ask him how much you should deduct for cleaning expenses. If he objects, offer to send the payment to his home...pack it in rotten greens, the slimier the better, in a plastic grocery bag with a hole in the bottom...have it delivered by a convicted vandal as part of his community service with instructions to get green, slimy juice on everything he can...or you could just write until your feelings of bring ill-used abate.

  8. Sorry you had such an aggravating experience, Rhys, but I'm afraid waiting is going to a staple of medical care as long as there's a shortage of doctors, especially in primary care. I'd suggest bringing a good book, a notebook and pen or a laptop and making the most of the time. Or maybe as writers we could ask to shadow a doc for a day and see where the time goes.