My wife was searching online for a specialist to take care of a minor medical condition. While browsing, a certain ad caught her eye, so she checked out its website and made a phone call to get more information.
The receptionist was warm and friendly and gave her all kinds of advice and direction over the phone. Toward the end of the call, the receptionist recommended my wife come into the office to sit down with the doctor to discuss her options to take care of her issues. Great. The appointment was made and the doctor’s office called a few days before to confirm.
So my wife went to the appointment, had a consult and learned her options…options that basically equated to a sales consultation of all the different procedures this doctor would perform for several thousands of dollars.
At the conclusion of the appointment on the way out the receptionist said, “That will be $125.00 please.” This was a little surprising to my wife because in the two phone calls she had with the doctor’s office, there was no mention of a fee—and when she arrived, there was no mention of a fee or signage stating a fee. My wife had also filled out a tremendous amount of paperwork when she got to the office and at no point in the documentation was there any mention of a fee.
She figured that when she’s going to an appointment to be sold on several thousands of dollars in procedures, there wouldn’t be a charge—after all, you’d be paying to be sold something! Imagine if you test drove a car at a dealership and when you were done the dealer said,“OK, $125.00 please.”
When my wife hesitated to pay and questioned the fee, the receptionist and then the doctor began to belittle and degrade her, saying things like, “What would make you think this is free?” and “Do you not think the doctor’s time is worth anything?” And so on. Feeling overwhelmed, she gave them her credit card. Then she called me from the office.
When I got on the phone and questioned the billing manager, she pulled the same negative tactics on me as she did my wife. This, of course, got my Italian blood boiling as I began to tell her all the ways I was going to expose the doctor’s shady practices on social media and how I was going to write a blog post a day with the doctor’s name in it until all Google’s search bots would see was his name associated with my scathing blogs on the first 10 pages of search.
The billing manager apologized and immediately credited my wife’s card.
Honestly, that’s not how I like to do things. And it shouldn’t be how you do things either. Reduce your aggravation by trying these things first.
#1: Always check the fine print before you make any decisions. Ask the right questions and make sure there are no unwanted charges ahead.
#2: Know what you are buying. Whenever you cough up a credit card number to any retailer, whether in person, online or over the phone, make sure you are getting what you are paying for—nothing more,nothing less.
#3: Be aware of “grey charges.” Sleazy, scheming merchants tack on unwanted subscriptions or recurring charges capitalizing on the fact that we don’t pay attention to the fine print and often do not pay much attention to our statements.
#4: Sign up for BillGuard to watch your statements. It’s free, easy and effective.
Robert Siciliano is a personal security expert & advisor to BillGuard and is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen. See him knock’em dead in this identity theft prevention video. Disclosures.
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