San Jose, CA
I took our two year old indoor cat Tigger to the West Valley Pet Clinic on 2/18/11 as he was not feeling well lately. He was not eating and drinking much for a few days so we were concerned, in particular my wife and our two daughters. The clinic we visited was close to our house. It has been around for many years, so I thought it should be reasonable. I called to make an appointment and was told it will be $53 for the exam but could be more depending on what needs to be done. An estimate will be provided before treatment, as I understood.
They said since I was a new customer, they gave a $10 discount.
Tigger and I arrived at 9 in the morning and waited for ten minutes or so, then were directed to a room. We waited inside the room for another five minutes or so then a nurse came in. She asked some general questions about Tigger and entered the data to the computer and left. Another five or ten minutes later, the Dr came in.
She checked Tigger and said she was somewhat dehydrated but see no major problem.
The temperature and stomach were fine, everything appeared ok. She gave Tigger an ear test and found no problem. She later said she would do a blood test for further analysis. She then took Tigger to the back room and directed me back to the office. In the office, I was handed an itemized bill and the total
was $361.71. I stared at the bill and was shocked. There were nine items on the bill. I did not know what to say. We love our cat and wanted to make sure he was fine but this was way too much. I looked at the bill over and over again and can??t believe what I was seeing. After a few minutes, I asked about the Chem Panel item ($179) and was told that was for the blood test. They said the Dr will call me when the result was ready. I felt helpless and sick. At this point, I did not know what to do other than give them my credit card. After I paid, they bought out Tigger and we left at 10 or so.
I gave Tigger the cat food we bought from the clinic and he started eating some. Later that evening, I told my wife and daughters when they came back home that Tigger started eating some and they were happy to hear that. Later we talked about the bill and that was another story that I did not want to get into here. However I??d say that was not pleasant.
I did not sleep well that night. I felt pretty stupid for being ripped off.
Why did I not ask for the estimate? What if the test was not $179, but $500 or more?
How could a thing like this happen in America? Am I in a third-world country or something?
Aren??t they suppose to provide an estimate first as I was told or at least ask if I??d like to know the cost first? Or Am I just being nave and this was totally my fault?
Here??s the bill:
Discount- Website coupon - $10.00
Comprehensive Exam $43
Exam-Record Origination $10
Cystocentesis-US Guide $33.76
Fulid Therapy Subcutaneous $20
Office Inject-Antibiotic $39.76
Chem Panel $179
Hill??s A/D Can$12.25
Discount- Website coupon -$10.00
Net Invoice $361.71
I planned to talk to Michael Finney at KGO. He hosts the Customer Talk program and may be he would have some ideas. Also, I might file a report to the California Veterinary Medical board about the clinic??s practice. Have you heard something similar?