Thursday, September 22, 2011

Letter to my Optometrist

Dear Dr. N.:

On the off chance that you're curious why neither I nor my children are any longer frequenting your office, I've decided to share my reasons with you.

As you know, I've been a patient of yours for twelve years, since I first moved to Ottawa. I have never had the slightest issue with your friendliness or professionalism. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for your front counter staff, particularly the one older woman (I'm sure you know who I mean). I'm not sure why I put up with the customer service I've received here for as long as I have - I suspect it's a combination of laziness and the fact that I only come here two or three times a year.

I've worked retail myself, and I do realize that it's a bit much to expect staff to invariably act like 'the customer is always right'. However, it is a somewhat baffling customer service model I've experienced here, one which seems to dictate that 'the customer is a blithering idiot and not deserving of the slightest courtesy or respect'.

This individual has made several mistakes such as calling my house to confirm an appointment for my mother (same last name, different address and phone number), obviously having confused two patients. However, it's more the fact that she acts like I am an intrusion and an annoyance every time I call to make an appointment that I find more vexing, as well as curious; did she not know when she took the job that patients would have to call to make appointments to see their eye doctors?

I would probably still be subjecting myself to this sort of treatment, if not for the incident which occurred in July of this year. I started bringing my children to your office when they were old enough to require eye exams, even though the office is twenty minutes away from where I live, because I have been satisfied with your services as an optometrist and I believe in customer loyalty (I know - how charmingly misguided). A few weeks ago I booked eye exams for my children and wrote the appointments down on the calendar for Wednesday July 6 at 1:00. However, when I received my confirmation call, the individual in question clearly stated that she was calling to confirm appointments for Thursday, July 7 at 1:00. I was a bit confused, and I considered calling to clarify, but then I thought that presumably she had the appointment calendar in front of her while she was calling, and that perhaps I had thought our calendar week started on Saturday instead of Sunday and wrote it down wrong.

At any rate, I showed up in the office on the Thursday. When I gave her my children's names, she couldn't find them. I said that I hoped she hadn't made a mistake when she called, since the appointment I had originally written down was on the Wednesday. She checked, said "yes, it was yesterday. And I don't have anything for today," very brusquely, then looked down dismissively and moved her chair over. I said rather tartly that it would be nice if she would be a little bit more careful about her reminder calls, and asked to make another appointment (because why wouldn't I want to keep coming back for this kind of treatment?). She made it, with fairly bad grace - when I asked if I could look at a calendar she simply said 'no'. When it was done, before leaving, I said it would be nice if she would make some sort of expression of regret for a mistake that had caused me to drag my kids out of the sandbox on a summer afternoon, dress them up and drive them half an hour for an appointment that now had to be rescheduled. She remarked somewhat incomprehensibly that "we always call and say the date and the time", whereupon I said "that's what I'm telling you -- you said the WRONG ONE". She retorted "well I didn't do it", which is really not the point (although it was, in fact, her - she has a very distinctive voice). Totally bemused, I asked her if she WAS at all sorry that we drove out here for nothing because of a mistake on her end, and naturally she said "I don't know that we made a mistake." Really? Really? All she had to say was "if a mistake was made, I'm sorry." That's in the COMPLETE IDIOTS guide to customer service. She was so clearly more concerned with being right than being polite or the least bit professional, I would have been amused if I wasn't livid. I had the impression that she knew she had made a mistake and just wanted to get rid of me as soon as possible. She turned what should have been a minor inconvenience into a deeply unpleasant experience for both me and my children.

I believe that by leaving this individual on the front line of your business, you are doing it a disservice; however, after delivering this letter I don't intend to commit any further headspace to the matter. On the drive back to Barrhaven I came to the obvious yet incredibly liberating conclusion that I don't actually have to drive twenty minutes out of my way and pay good money to put up with -- and be treated like -- total garbage.

Very Sincerely,

Allison McCaskill

21 comments:

Marilyn (A Lot of Loves) said...

I would so love it if you sent this to your eye doctor. She sounds like a horror. I wonder how the doctor can tolerate working with her.

Nicole said...

That is some seriously bad customer service. How do people like that still have jobs? You should totally send this to your optometrist.

Nan | WrathOfMom said...

Good for you! What is that old adage? It takes four muscles to smile, 17 to frown and 48 to adjust that stick you have pushed up your ass -- something like that anyway.

You should send this to the optometrist -- he/she may be looking for a reason to fire this woman.

Kerry said...

You totally know that's your optometrist's family member, right?

Magpie said...

You sent it, right? You'd better.

collette Antaya said...

If I were the optometrist, I would want to know about this..although if she has been there for at least 12 years- you have to think, he must have some clue. I bet other people have complained. Maybe, he's stuck with her- maybe she's his mom-in-law or aunt-in-law..maybe he's waiting for just one more complaint so that he can tell his wife that he can't have her around anymore- "we agreed that 500 complaints was the limit, and this latest one puts us over the top!". I think you should send it..anonymously...from a mail box nowhere near where you live.....

Betsy B. Honest said...

I need to know whether you sent this or not.

Julie said...

please please please pleeeeaaase tell me you sent this letter. with "confidential" on the envelope so that old stick up her ass doesn't open it and throw it out before the dr. can see it.

NoisyBluebird said...

Just find his home address and drop it off, shouldn't be too difficult to figure it out. Also, I think you should include an area in your blog with form letters of this sort that people can use for various customer service agents. Like 'For the school principal that's ticked you off one too many times, For the parents of the classroom bully, For the girl at Tim HOrtons that never stirs my coffee'. You have a real talent here.

Gwen said...

LOL! I've been there. I feel like I LIVE there. I feel the need to point out how others can improve their behaviour. It's a free service I offer to society. You're welcome.

Mom of the Perpetually Grounded said...

Please tell me you sent this! I think she has a relative working at our dentist office.

SuziCate said...

I hope you actually did deliver the letter. It is a shame for professionals to lose patients/customers and not know why because the front desk person is the guilty party and they never deliver the message. I can't believe she did not allow you to look at a calendar and was rude. In positions like that one must learn to swallow pride and serve the public. I hope you find a wonderful doctor (with a competent staff) close by.

Bridget said...

That was seriously some bad, bad customer service!!! Definitely a letter that deserves to be sent.

I had appointment for my ENT in what I thought was June. Called the day before to confirm the time. Drove the 45 minutes to the appt. only to be told it was in JULY. I was not pleased, but at least they were nice about it and apologized...

clara said...

Lame. You would think, with so many choices for optometrists, they would try a *little bit* harder to be civil.

I had a doctor once whose receptionist was the bitchiest, non-smiliest woman I had ever had the displeasure of dealing with. But then one day I realized she was Botoxed to the hilt and physically couldn't smile. She tried once. It wasn't pretty.

So maybe your optometrist's receptionist has botox of the SOUL?

theycallmejane said...

Apparently, you were dealing with a collosal idiot (not a complete one) so she wouldn't have read that manual.

Love, love, LOVE this letter. I hope you send it!

The Maven said...

Ever wonder how these people get hired? There must be several applicants for a job like this, and I'm quite sure I would hire the friendliest one. After all, it's easy to teach someone how to use a computer or file something or make a phone call. It's not so easy to teach them how not to be an asshole. I mean, it's possible, but not easy.

Rachel Cotterill said...

I hope you find a more friendly clinic closer to home!

Shan said...

Wow. Like everyone else, I hope you sent this.

Gene Pool Diva said...

Dear Biblomama, clearly she missed her calling. I suspect she harbors the latent hostility that airlines treasure in their flight crews.
Hey, wait a minute, not me. I, I ...

I'm Nic. said...

My fave quote ever, courtesy of my Dad: "If you think there is good in everyone, then you haven't met everyone."

I'm now combing my brain for every "Dr. N" OD I know in the city because I can't help myself. I'm an optometric assistant....*grin*

Amber said...

My husband had the most bizarre medical-customer-service experience this summer. He asked our regular doctor for a referral to a specialist, and we didn't hear back. Then we went out of town for a week, and when we got back there were two messages on our answering machine - one calling to confirm his appointment for the following day, and another on the following day asking where the heck he was, anyway.

He called the office back to explain that he hadn't received information about the appointment, and that he had been out of town, or he absolutely would have shown up. The doctor himself answered the phone, questioned my husband's story, and then refused to see him. He checked the guy out on Rate my MD or something similar afterwards, and apparently he's kind of difficult to deal with. At least it saved Jon 12 years of bad customer service?

I hope you find a much better eye doctor, in your very own neighbourhood.