Not if you want to have a decent working relationship with them, that is.
1. If you cared about animals, you’d do this for free.
Vets hear this, on average, once a day. Many vets, like myself, are employees of a facility with no more ability to negotiate the cost than any other employee. That would akin to asking the ER doc for a discount on the OR fees at the hospital- even if I wanted to, I can’t give my employer’s services away.
Expressing concern about the costs of a service is one thing- money is tight these days, and that is understood- but the guilt trip doesn’t do anything except make me feel frustrated and give me flashbacks to my childhood.
2. $700?? Doc Hannaford down the road does that surgery for $15 and a can of Pabst!
Price shopping a procedure can be a dicey proposition unless you really understand the difference between the two estimates. Some facilities perform spay surgeries with injectable anesthesia and minimal pain medication; others use inhalant anesthesia, aggressive pain management, and close surgical monitoring. Shopping a knee surgery? Is the surgeon a board certified veterinary surgeon or a general practitioner? Are we talking a TPLO, TTA, or extracapsular repair? Does the price include post-op care?
I am happy to explain to you why costs are what they are here. We have a high standard of care and the costs, sometimes, reflect that. If you want the $15 estimate, that is your decision, but I interviewed at Doc Hannaford’s once… and yes, you get what you pay for.
3. Why are you sticking a thermometer up my dog’s rear? What are you, some kind of sicko?
Apparently I am. Now if you can get the dog to hold this under his tongue for a minute, I’d be happy to take it that way. Otherwise, hold him still and let me get his temperature.
4. If you don’t give me what I want, I’ll sue!
This type of threat always makes my hair curl. I can’t believe anyone would think this is a good way to create a good, trusting relationship with a medical professional. Sure, you will probably get your way- once. And then you will get a nice form letter along with a copy of your records, wishing you luck with whatever future veterinarian you end up using, because it won’t be me.
5. This is ridiculous! These x-rays cost more than they do at my own doctor!
Perhaps, if you are talking about your out of pocket expense, this is true. But if you’ve ever gone through an Explanation of Benefits from a hospital and seen the original charges, I guarantee you, human medicine still takes the cake. One time I took my daughter to Urgent Care for vomiting and it cost $1000 for the office visit and a Zofran injection. With insurance, I paid $30.
And one bonus statement- this is probably the worst thing you could say to any vet:
Why didn’t you become a real doctor?
If you have a masochistic streak and like enduring lectures about med school and vet school admission criteria, write that down and ask it at your next visit. Or ask your dentist that, just before a filling. I bet they like that question too.
If any of you other vet- types out there have something to add to the list, lay it on me. I’m sure there’s more.