So this lady called back several days later, after our office manager had left several messages for her. Our policy is not to offer refunds unless there is some obvious, legitimate reason to do so. This woman did not have a legitimate reason. She and the OM played phone tag for a couple of days, and in her final attempt, she called during the evening (despite my OM telling her when she would be in building), and it just so happened to be my shift. I elected to talk to her. I was surprisingly nervous. Our OM handles most of our complaints these days, because they are rarely legitimate in the slightest, and it's just easier if she handles them. It reduces our stress. She also is incredibly smart and capable and knows a great deal about medicine. Armed with our medical notes, she can usually explain the medical details to the densest client.
At any rate, I got on the phone with this owner. The conversation lasted 20 minutes. I'll hit the highlights:
Crazy lady (henceforth CL): "You did nothing for me, I want my money back."
Me: "Ma'am, I replaced the stitches that your dog had torn out. Your dog had to be sedated for this."
CL: "He didn't have stitches. The spay/neuter clinic said they used glue."
Me: "Yes ma'am, they used glue in the skin. It cannot be used in the deeper layers, as it is inflammatory. Your dog tore out his deep sutures, which I had to replace to help stop the bleeding."
CL: "I don't see how that could be true. The spay/neuter clinic said they used glue. I *guess* if you say that, then I have no choice but to believe you." Pause. "But I don't, really."
CL: "I want to print out pictures of my dog and go stand outside the clinic to get it closed down."
Me: "Ma'am, the vets that work there are excellent vets. This is an uncommon complication of neutering OLDER dogs." (subtext that she is partially to blame for this) "They work very hard and do good work, and they do it at a significantly decreased price to help those in the community, such as yourself, that have financial constraints."
CL: "They should be closed down."
Me: "Ma'am, some of the vets that work there do relief work here, and I can assure you that they are great vets."
CL: "Ohhhhhhhh, I see." (Pause to allow me to grasp the implication of that statement) "Now, I understand..." (subtext: they screw up on purpose to generate income for the emergency clinic).
CL: "Why didn't you drain the hematoma?"
Me: "A hematoma is, by definition, a blood clot. That means that the bleeding has stopped because the blood has appropriately clotted. To go in there and remove the clot would be tantamount to ripping a band-aid off an unhealed wound. The bleeding starts all over again. Current recommended therapy is medical: cold compresses, cage rest, sedation, e-collar, and steroids."
CL: "Google says that you should have drained it."
Me: "Ma'am, where did Google go to school?" (Just kidding)
Me: "Ma'am, I am very sorry for your frustration, but I did everything in my power to help your dog. I sewed him back up, I prescribed appropriate medications for him, and recommended cage rest. We discussed that this will take a long time to heal, but this is normal and expected. I have treated 4 other dogs like this in 4 weeks, so I can assure you that I know what I'm doing. I really do care about my patients, and I was not trying to steal from you or cheat you."
CL: "Ok. I still want to get the spay/neuter place shut down."
This, coming from a woman who went to this business in the first place because she didn't have the finances to see a general practitioner. A woman for whom this business is designed to help and whose dog suffered a routine though not common complication. A woman who, if she'd spayed her dog at the appropriate age instead of waiting until he was 2 years old and 60 pounds, would never have been in this situation.
Thankfully, in the end, she seemed to at least understand that I had done everything I could have and should have. So she is satisfied with us and is no longer demanding a refund. At least...not yet. Give it a week.
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