Why Your Vet Won’t Give You Credit – Part 2
When I wrote my blog last week explaining why vets will rarely give credit to their clients; I had NO idea it would strike such a chord. It has had over 200,000 hits so far, so THANK YOU very much to all of you have shared it and supported me.
Although on the whole the response has been positive, it has had it’s detractors. Of course, everyone has differing viewpoints and opinions, however, a few points have been raised which I think I should answer.
Firstly, and I have already said this but it is clearly worth repeating as some readers appeared to have missed it, we DID treat the dog. Without going into too much detail he had a problem which we medicated on the day (with no payment available at the time) but didn’t give any on-going therapy until the owners were able to settle their account. This is perfectly reasonable; the dog wasn’t suffering or in pain and had his owners returned, the issue would have been resolved. Unfortunately, they chose not to. They also chose to ignore the fact we spent much longer with them than the allotted consultation time explaining his condition, the different options for treatment and our payment policies. Sadly, it is not unusual that the cases you put the most time and effort into, are the ones which cause the most trouble!
I have also been accused of ‘compassion fatigue’, which misses the point spectacularly. I would not, could not and in actual fact, am not legally allowed, to refuse to treat an animal who was in pain or suffering. However, there is a BIG difference between relieving immediate distress and treating on-going conditions.
The issue with most vets is that we have too much compassion. We are animal lovers. It is why we do our job and our instinct is to help every pet who is presented to us. In cases where funds are unavailable this leads to very stressful situations; trying to balance treating animals in need with running a business. Also, we can tell the difference between the ‘thoughtless’, ‘irresponsible’ owners (terms some took umbrage with) against genuine, caring people who, for whatever reason, struggle to pay our bills. We will always try to work with our clients to find a way to make their pets better. There are usually different levels of treatment, and costs, available. Also, I have spent countless hours on the phone to charities asking for their help and, like every vet, have done pro bono or discounted work. However, what I don’t respond well to are threats, abuse or emotional blackmail.
It has been suggested that vets should invoice for our work rather than request payment at the time. Certainly a lot of businesses do, so why don’t we? The main reason is cost. The administration of invoices is very time consuming; collating them, sending them out, chasing them up and, in a depressing number of cases, referring them to debt collectors. These extra costs would end up being passed back to our clients and our bills would have to go up. There is also the issue of cash flow and it being significantly delayed with invoicing and non-payment of fees.
Every day vets face criticism for their charges; from the aggressive, upset client, to the constant snide, off-hand remarks about consultation, vaccine and other routine prices. It is hard to hear when you are an animal lover (and don’t earn nearly as much as people think!) and I wrote this article to try to get that across. I really hope it has, it certainly has had a lot of attention and if I have helped owners to think ahead to the benefit of their animals, then I have done my job!