Nightmare at the Dentist- Part One

I’ve been going through a bit of a dental nightmare for months now.  And it’s time to wake up. In fact, it’s time for us ALL to wake up. 

Dental procedures can be unpleasant, but today I’m referring to the money-side of the dental experience. I’m talking about when you go to the dentist and are told that you don’t owe anything for your visit because you have a “credit” on your account.  Credits are normally good things, right? Everyone loves a credit!

Multiple dental offices throughout the years have surprised me with such a “credit”. And each time, I’ve been so thrilled to leave without paying, that I haven’t taken the time to ask why there is a credit on my account, and more importantly, why this “credit” was never returned to me.

Recently, I dealt with a dental office that owed me a “credit”. And it was one that I had no intention of returning to, so I wanted to make sure they didn’t hold onto it. Here’s how that exchange went:

Week 1- “We will get that refund processed right away.”

Week 3- “We can’t put a refund back on your credit card but will cut you a check and call you when it’s ready.”

Week 4- “I don’t see where you’ve requested a refund. I’ll have the office manager call you.” (Same person I spoke with on Week 1)

Week 4.5- (In person) “The manager is in meetings all day and we can’t figure out why you haven’t been refunded yet.”

Week 5- “I am the manager and I’m sorry about all of this. We have many new staff. I will credit your card, today. You can count on me.”

Week 7- (Again, in person)- “The manager can’t come out to speak with you, but here’s a print-out showing that your card has been credited.” (The same card they said couldn’t be credited on Week 3, with a printed credit date and time of exactly 2 minutes after I walked into their office on Week 7.)

To say I was highly annoyed is being very generous. Not only was my money being held hostage, but I later discovered by calling my dental insurer, that this same office, during the 7 weeks I was awaiting my refund, filed a new claim for a different procedure that I’d already fully paid cash for the previous year. They were literally double-dipping. And do you think, when the claim is paid by my insurance company, that the dental office intends to return my money? I don’t.

I’m not anti-dentist, but I am pro-justice and information. This is my second such experience in one year. So, if you’re in the dental industry, please enlighten me as to why this occurs. Holding onto our money until claims are settled is one thing, but holding onto it forever…Why?

I have to believe that many others have “credits” on their accounts that they are unaware of.  And, I know the claim game is tricky, so issuing refunds isn’t something many dentist offices are apt to do.  But times are hard for many, and every penny counts.  So, my PSA for today is….ask your dental office what the accounts for you and your family members look like. See if you’re owed a “credit” that no one has told you about. There’s a chance you could pay a bill with what’s owed to you. My “credit” was $750.  What’s yours?

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