22 January 2009 0 Comments

The most expensive appointment you never went to

So you have an appointment scheduled with your doctor, therapist, counselor, dentist, or whatever – an appointment with an individual who provides a professional service. Someone whose time is just as valuable as yours, in some cases – depending on the specialist, they may perceive their time to be more valuable.

Regardless of the profession, lets say you make an appointment. Your calendars are reviewed, time slots are filled and your done. Off to go do whatever it is you do to fill up your time until the next appointment – snowboard, hang out with the kids, run errands, sleep, work, play with the dog, go for a ride, eat, pay bills, sleep, exercise, go out to eat, have beers, party, sleep, work, make deadlines, kids, etc. Life goes on, and you realize you just missed that appointment. Oops.

So you forgot the appointment, honestly. It slipped you mind – there was no malicious intent. So you call about twenty minutes into the appointment you were supposed to be at, to reschedule. No answer, so you call again, no answer, and then you finally send an email. ‘Sorry I missed the appointment, can we please reschedule’ (or something like that).

About forty minutes into the appointment you were supposed to be at, you get an email – not a phone call – stating that your appointment was missed and according to the contract, since there was less than a 24 hour notice you are being charged the full fee of, let’s use $100 as an example. And let’s say that he/she decided to use the numbers of your credit card (which was retained without your knowledge) to charge that no-show fee. Is that desperation, or just a strict adherence to a self imposed rule which undoubtedly leaves both parties at odds.

All of us have missed an appointment for some reason or another. Perhaps to no fault of our own, we’re not infallible. None of us.

Most if not all of the service related professionals listed above have a similar cancellation policy. Some go even as far as 48 hours. It’s understandable. But to charge the full fee – immediately after the appointment missed? What happened to three strikes? Or in this case, the first one? A partial fee maybe. But to even charge at all? If it was an oversight and you have every intention of rescheduling, why not empathize, reschedule and say “next time buddy, you will pay – oh you will pay”. That’s fair. But no warning?

I’ve talked to several doctors who have similar policies, and asked them if they have exercised their “cancellation policy”. The answer was predominantly “no”. The repeat offenders – the ones with great excuses for continuously missing appointments were charged and in the end went away. But they did not penalize their regular patients who may have once, maybe twice forgotten an appointment over the years. It’s about fostering relationships in a small community, not enforcing unjust stipulations. I suppose some people cannot see the forest through the trees.

Rant over and out.

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