Do I have sucker written on my head or something?

My first dentist was a great guy, unfortunately he retired.

My second dentist was recommended by the first, He was a great guy who did great work but he was a bit pricey, likely because he had a weakness for expensive gee-whiz dental equipment that didn’t actually assist him much in the baseline “drill, fill and bill” mission. Still, price wasn’t the reason why I left. I’m no longer his customer because he had a bad habit of not filling small, one surface cavities, preferring instead to wait six months while my cavity – and his fee – grew. When I complained about the pain, he gave me samples of that awful tasting toothpaste for sensitive teeth.

When my third dentist got me in the chair and all numbed up, he promptly ground out my expensive crown without my consent. I got out of the chair and went to the front desk, all the while arguing about the cavity he didn’t fix, and the work he destroyed. While the dentist hid in the back, his staff refused to copy my medical records.

It was here that I first learned to hate the current legal system. In the “of, by and for the people” legal system of today – you know, the one that has been perverted by the lawyers, and the judges (who are mostly lawyers), and politicians (who are almost always lawyers too, oddly enough) – the type of claim that is only a few thousand dollars worth of damages was “small potatoes”, and not worth the time of people who bill at the rate of several hundred dollars an hour. I did have the option of filing in small claims, but I could never recover the value of my own time, and value of all the time it would take to educate myself on all those legalese terms I didn’t understand. Furthermore, the Lawyers Guild had it rigged such that I could also never recover a dime via Small Claims Court for the small amount of pain I endured, nor could I inflict any punitive damages on this sorry charlatan of a dentist to dissolute him from doing the exact same thing to the next guy he got in the chair.

My forth dentist is a fantastic guy with a wonderful staff. I voluntarily drive myself way the heck out to the small southern Maryland area that still has an Amish population just to go see him. I don’t mind the drive (and remember, time is money for me) because having a dental team that I can trust is very important to me. When I started paying for my health care expenses myself instead of through an insurance plan, I didn’t even quibble over the small price increase. (I actually don’t understand why they would charge customers more if paying by cash. Remember that I’m not forcing them to file a bunch of paperwork to get the 80% of the (lower) network negotiated fee. I’m also paying in full at the end of the visit, so there is no requirement that the practice even mail me a bill. In short I’m a much more profitable customer for the business.)

My happy relationship with the dream team dental practice all came to a screeching halt when this dentist’s billing manager tried to double bill me. I truly, honestly wanted to see this as an simple mistake, but after being politely corrected, she stuck her ground. She would not negotiate one iota. On a second visit, trying very hard to bring the issue up with anyone but this lady, but it ended up being referred to her. She agreed on an an “adjustment” but then outright refused to present me with an itemized bill. The short of the matter was that she tried to screw me a second time.

I’m currently in negotiations with the dude that has his name on the shingle outside. While I don’t think I’ll walk away taking too big a hit, It’s obvious to me that I need a new dental team.

What keeps bothering me is the thought that perhaps I should have ate that fraudulent $70 charge instead of making a fuss over it. The search for new dental services will be well over seventy dollars worth of hassle. The problem is that I’m kinda philosophically opposed to standing idle while being ripped off.

What would you do in a similar situation?

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One Response to Do I have sucker written on my head or something?

  1. Woog says:

    Here’s hoping the guy with his name on the shingle takes some of his (expensive) time to help settle something with a (hopefully) good customer.

    I feel your pain, and concur with the hassle not being worth $70, but I would have most likely behaved the same, given the details in your version of the story.

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