Sycamore Animal Hospital

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Rude And Insensitive Practices Abound
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CINCINNATI, OHIO -- My elderly mother recently adopted a cat and scheduled an appointment at Sycamore Animal Hospital in the Greater Cincinnati area to have the cat neutered. When she arrived to drop off the cat, the reception staff were extremely rude and told her that she would have to pay before she could drop off the animal. They did not inform her of this when she made the appointment and she was on her way to work so this left her in a terrible bind. In an attempt to solve the problem, she phoned me and asked me if I would put the bill on my credit card and I agreed. The hospital, however, refused to take my credit card on the phone. Now, my complaint is not so much about the payment policies (although most of the other vets I have talked to in the area consider "services rendered" to mean AFTER the procedure has been performed and not before).

I can also understand their policy of not taking the credit card on the phone (although, again, charge backs can generally also be made if the card is presented in person with a signature). My problem was the way they treated her. Here is a elderly woman with a cat she loves and they totally did not appreciate or care about the bind they had put her in. She was only moments from being late to work, did not bring the money for the procedure because she was not informed that she needed to, and was treated insensitively, dare I say in an extremely hostile manner, by the staff. I phoned the supervisor who told me, basically, that I did not have the right to complain because I was not there. Thanks to modern technology, however, I did hear everything through the speaker feature of my mother's cell phone, The tone of the woman's voice alone would drive even the most patient and kind person to anger.

Again, their payment policies are not really at issue here, but given the circumstances they could have offered some sort of solutions. I would strongly advise everyone against using Dr. Stephanie Cable's Sycamore Animal Hospital. Fortunately, I was able to connect my mother with another area vet who has a kind and patient staff, knows how to handle elderly clients, and truly cares about animals.
     
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Anonymous on 07/23/2008:
I fail to see how pre-paying for a procedure is an inconvenience. The cat would have been picked up the next day (at the latest). Spaying and neutering are not expensive or emergency procedures. If 24 hours makes the difference as to affordability of a procedure, the client probably has 'cash flow problems'. No doubt this vet has been stiffed on payment and is being proactive in collecting fees up front. From the tone of the OP, it appears the staff reacted to, "I understand and agree with your payment policy as it applies to other. But, I want an exception to it because I'm special." When the staff failed to realize how special the poster was, they became 'rude' and insensitive'. Glad you solved the problem by going elsewhere for vet care.
Mrs. V on 07/23/2008:
Doc, if I read the OPs complaint right, the problem wasn't the "I'm special, do what I want" but that:

1) The OPs Mother did not have the money on her to pay 'at that time' because she thought that the bill would be due when she picked that cat up (a lot of vets used to do this).

2) The vet would not take the cat for the procedure 'until' the bill was paid first BUT, as stated, the OPs Mother didn't have the money 'right then' because she thought she would need to paid when the cat was picked up. So, she asked the OP to pay the fee over the phone.

3) The vet would not take a payment over the phone. OPs Mother is now late for work.

4) In all this the OP heard (via speaker phone) that the vet personal were being rude to her Mother (what the OP says she is really mad about).

5) OP had her Mother take cat to another vet that was not rude.

It's not always about the money (I know, a lot of times it is ^_~).
Anonymous on 07/23/2008:
Mrs. V, could not have said it better myself, thanks. (BA)
Anonymous on 07/23/2008:
I wish all issues/complaints were explained the way Mrs. V summarized this post. :)
Anonymous on 07/23/2008:
Way to go Mrs.V! (BA)
chris513 on 07/23/2008:
got to go w/ Mrs. V on this one.
Anonymous on 07/23/2008:
Mrs. V...Do consider: The time to discuss payment amounts and payment policies is when the appointment is made, not when showing up for medical care. "How much?" and "When is it due?" are pertinent questions when making a routine appointment. The OP bashed the vet because the mother failed to ask the right questions and assumed the vet conducted business like she expected. When her expectations were not met, it resulted in 'rude' and 'insensitive' behavior by the staff. Many places have policies requiring the physical presentation of a CC for payment. "Late for work"? Too bad...your failure to plan is not my emergency. Sorry.
Anonymous on 07/23/2008:
Where did she adopt the cat? Around here if the animal hasn't been spayed or neutered at the agency they will give you a voucher for the procedure and a list of vets that accept the voucher.
yoke on 07/23/2008:
Why did the OP keep referring to her mother as elderly, yet the mother can drive and has to get to work. That does not sound elderly to me.
The vet did have every right to ask for the money up front. I have a friend who works in a vets office and you would be amazed the amount of people who drop off animals and never come back to get them.
Anonymous on 07/23/2008:
Yoke, you do have a good point about leaving pet's. Our vet always pays when we pick up the animal but we have been with our vet for 20 years. There is a sign on the counter that says payment is due in full when you pick up your pet. So I think our vet is that way with everyone.

But Yoke, we did get a nice little white Poodle about 25 years ago because she had been hit and the people could not pay the vet bill and left her. (this was another vet than the one we use now) The vet said she is yours if we just promised to see her through her healing and took good care of her.

She ended up being a great little dog for our daughter.
Anonymous on 07/23/2008:
Good catch on 'elderly', yoke! My vet once told me the same thing about 'drop offs'...people who won't pay for their animal's care...and abandon their pet at the vet's office. The sad truth is that nearly all of them are euthanized. Vets hate doing it. But, they don't have the time, money, or staff to function as animal shelters because the owner failed to plan for possible vet expenses when taking on the responsibility of having a pet...about $1400 over the lifetime of a dog.
CrazyRedHead on 07/23/2008:
Yoke, I have seen some quite 'elderly' people driving. They looked to be about 70. Isn't anyone over the age of 65 considered elderly?
Anonymous on 07/23/2008:
Craze- I think yoke correctly saw through the OP's repeated use of 'elderly' as currency for sympathy. The 'mean' vet coming down on the 'frail elder' who must get to work (where I presume she will have responsibility and make decisions) by driving (more responsibility and decision making)...but could not understand, or plan for, the vet's payment policies.
Mrs. V on 07/23/2008:
Doc - I do agree that the Vet has the right to set the pricing and that the payment is due up front. And that this 'should' have been stated at the time the appointment was set (by BOTH the vet and the OPs Mother).

*BUT*

As the OP stated, she was more upset at the 'treatment' of her Mother than the price problem (remember, OP also states that 'she' overheard how the vet staff was treating her Mother) and it was in a way she didn't like.

Yoke - My Dad is 81 and drives. He also worked until he was 79. He also gos to auctions in VA. He is also sickly at times and not always in the best of health. Has good and bad days. At 81 he has the right to be called 'elderly'. Just because someone can drive or work, does not make them 'young' (though that would be nice if it did ^_^).

yoke on 07/23/2008:
Mrs. V, my point was the op was trying to get sympathy by stating her mother was elderly.
Principissa on 07/23/2008:
I don't know much about vet bills/care since we don't have a pet, but their policy sounds like one that would be set up in a human doctor's office. You make the appointment and pay for the service, either co-payment or a percentage of the visit fee if you don't have insurance BEFORE you are seen in the office. I do agree that the staff was rude, and they should not have been, especially if it's true that the policy regarding payment was not stated up front. It doesn't matter how old a person is, nobody should be treated that way period. But if this particular vet's office has issues with people not paying/leaving their animals behind, then I can see why they would adopt such a strict policy. But that still doesn't give them the right to be rude.
ChuhBaca on 07/23/2008:
I don't understand why everyone is trying to "catch" the poster. Just because you have policies, it does not mean you have to be rude when you enforce them. If a company policy contradicts that customer's expectation, the appropriate way to enforce the policy is to first apologize, then explain the policy.

I include the apology because policy or not, the customer's expectations were not met. This is how you enforce policies AND keep customers.

The office I take my pets to is great! They obviously love animals. Refusing to treat an animal du to the risk of the owner not returning would be unheard of. I've even seen people bring in injured pets that they found somewhere, and they will treat the animal to be adopted.

Anonymous on 07/23/2008:
As always great answer ChuhBaca!
Ponie on 07/23/2008:
Principissa, am I reading your response correctly? I admit I may have missed something, but I've never heard of going to see a doctor and having to pay *prior* to completion of the appointment. I've always paid my portion on the way out. But, I may have interpreted your post incorrectly...
Anonymous on 07/23/2008:
I've heard around here a lot of the Doc in the boxes are requiring co-payments in advance. I'm with you Ponie I've never personally seen it.
yoke on 07/23/2008:
ponie, when my husband first retired from the Navy and his insurance from his new job had not kicked in yet I had to take my kids to the doctor, of course all 3 sick at the same time. Even though we had Tricare the doctors office made us pay upfront before we were seen. At the time we were offended, but I can understand where the office was coming from. They knew the insurance we had was not good at paying and we were told that if Tricare paid we would be reimbursed.
By not knowing the payment requirements the mother had to be new to this office. We are assuming the office was being rude since that is what the daughter said. Usually on this board when someone does not get it their way they always say the employee was rude. We are also assuming that the office did not tell the new patient that payment is expected upfront, which I find hard to believe. Since the mother was elderly she may have misunderstood.
Mrs. V on 07/23/2008:
Offices (like doctors) are all different. At some you pay your bill/co-pay when you first check in. At some you pay it before you leave.

It's the same with Vet bills.

Most places that require you to pay 'up front' usually let you know this when you make the appointment, but not always :(
Principissa on 07/23/2008:
Both my doctor and my kids doctor want payment up front before your visit. If you have insurance it's the copay, if not it's 15% up front before they will check you in. I've never had that happen until we moved down here. With Tricare we didn't pay anything, and before Tricare we paid after the visit.
yoke on 07/23/2008:
Most dr's around here won't accept Tricare. They will bill Tricare, but they want you to pay first.
Mrs. V on 07/23/2008:
I just called the Vet, btw, and 'made' an appointment to have a cat neutered.

1) They didn't let me know that the payment would be due when the cat was droped off, I had to ask.

2)The young lady was a bit snippy and short but didn't do anything 'unprofessional'.

3)The BBB has 12 complaints in 36 months and a unsatisfactory rating.
Principissa on 07/23/2008:
I had no doubt in my mind they were rude. But if they expect payment up front the customer should not have to ask, they should be told before they make the appointment, not told as they are dropping off the animal. That is what upset me the most about this post, that they want payment up front, but do not tell you. They just expect you to read their minds and know.
Anonymous on 07/23/2008:
Thank Mrs. V. Did you tell them you were following up on a complaint posted on the internet about their clinic? I'm sure it would have gotten an interesting response. As I've said before, I place no confidence in the BBB. I wonder what the complaints were and if they were related to fees? I agree with ChuBaca...rudeness is never acceptable. I wonder how the other side of the conversation went? We'll never know.
Mrs. V on 07/23/2008:
I do agree with you there, Prin.

The Vet staff really should let people know 'when' the appointment is made that payment is due upon checkin and not when you pick up your pet(s).

I don't know if most people would even think that it would be do first>

And if you are a 'elderly' person (or even from a small town) that is used to the 'old' way have paying when you pick your pet up, there is going to be problems.
Anonymous on 07/23/2008:
My obgyn and my dentist expect full payment up front. My regular RD has me pay on the way out.

A few years ago, when I got my new kitten spayed, I was expected to pay up front. HOWEVER< I was told this when I called to make the appointment.

IMHO, the Op has a valid beef. Common sense would be for the office to let people know when they call to make the appt they will need to pay up front. A customer should NOT have to ask and should NOT be chastised for not knowing the policy.
cherpep on 07/23/2008:
Not one of my doctors (there are several, sad to say) requires payments up front. It would shock me greatly if they asked me to pay before being seen. When I first got my kitten and took him to the doctor, they did expect payment at the time of the visit. However, they outlined a plan for us which included the surgeries and shots and made it clear when the payments were due. This was not something that needed to be asked. I agree with most of the members here in saying that she should have been told upfront.
Mrs. V on 07/23/2008:
Doc - I did say after I 'made' the apointment that I wanted to cancel it. When asked why I told the young lady that I had heard a complaint about the Vet staff and wanted to see for myself.

She said, "Oh, OK." then a few seconds later, "Wait, what?".

I thanked her for her time and said good bye.
cherpep on 07/23/2008:
ChuhBaca, as always, nailed it by saying that rudeness is never acceptable, which does seem to be the basis of the complaint. The fact that the lady was elderly may be a minor point, but we should automatically respect our elders. Unfortunately, many people do not and instead treat them poorly, which makes it necessary for people like this poster to listen in, just to make sure her mother was getting fair treatment.
Anonymous on 07/23/2008:
Darn, Mrs. V...you should have stayed on the line and told her. You missed a great opportunity to fix the problem for another person.

My wife recently needed a dentist...hers was too far away. She asked the cost of a new exam, filings, extractions, and x-rays...every dentist happily provided the info and if fees were due up front (nobody was rude or snippy). BTW...a LOT of hospitals are asking for thousands of dollars upon admission. They're getting tired of being stiffed by insurance companies and by patients who believe health care is a basic human right (LOL).
Mrs. V on 07/23/2008:
Doc, I'm actually writing a short letter and will mail it off to the Vet ^_^

I didn't wish to discuss anything with the person on the phone because I didn't know who the OPs Mother spoke to.

I'm including the url of this site so that may be the head Vet can see what has been said and change the policy(s) to help stop any other problems ^_^
Principissa on 07/23/2008:
I think that's a great idea. Hopefully they will see how their policies/attitudes are affecting their customer's and maybe make a change for the better. :)
Anonymous on 07/23/2008:
Bless you, Mrs. V!!!! We may not agree on all of the issues in this post. But I think you took the high road by mailing an anonymous letter. Bravo!!
Mrs. V on 07/23/2008:
lol Doc, I never mail anonymous leters ^_^

It has my address if they want to talk to me ^_^
Anonymous on 07/23/2008:
My esteem for you went up several notches. My 'onliest' worry (for you) would be if the vet posted your letter and address...for all the creeps and crackpots lurking in cyberland. OTOH maybe you DID win the Nigerian lottery! ;-)
Mrs. V on 07/23/2008:
LOL! ^_^
CrazyRedHead on 07/24/2008:
I would have asked up front when and how is the payment expected, but then that is just me, I don't like unexpected monetary surprises.
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Sycamore Animal Hospital Boarding
Posted by on
CINCINNATI, OHIO -- Recently, I boarded my 3 dogs for 2 nights with Sycamore Animal Hospital located on Montgomery Rd. out of Cincinnati. I was horrified when I returned as someone in the clinic had cut several inches of hair on my dogs tail very bluntly. What would I have done if my dog were entered in a show? There was no reason for this action what so ever! Upon arriving home with the one dog, I went to pat her back and she screamed in agnozizing pain! Boy, I wish she could tell me what went on there) I did call the clinic and the vet saw her for no charge but she was so frightened when he touched her back she didn't respond. The vet told me that they didn't cut the hair on her tail but obviously, someone did! Now, about a week later all three of the dogs have kennel cough. (all the dogs are up to date on all vaccines) Believe me, this boarding experience was terrible! I honestly believed my dogs would be safe with my vet but I was sure wrong! Please, consider another alternative to boarding your beloved pets!
     
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Skye on 08/07/2009:
You do know you are supposed make sure your dogs get their bordetella shots every six months, so they do not come down with kennel cough?? A very common and contagious disease dogs get when they are boarded, and have not have their bordetella's. They can catch kennel cough without it.

I'm sorry you had such a bad experience. So what happened to the dog with the painful back?? You did seek other treatment didn't you to make sure nothing is wrong, I hope.
Nohandle on 08/07/2009:
Skye, what the rip is a bordetella shot? My dog has all her annual vaccinations but I don't ever remember a shot being required each six months. My dog has not been boarded in years, I pay someone to come in if needed, but is this information we all need to be aware of should an emergency arise and we have to board?
old fart on 08/07/2009:
A bordetalla shot is what you give your dog to prevent doggie VD...
Anonymous on 08/07/2009:
then shouldn't it be a bordellotalla shot?
Nohandle on 08/07/2009:
OF, I'm going to give you a helpful (and I normally don't announce that for anyone) because by golly you can be witty. Try it some more. You might just have some possibilities in you.
old fart on 08/07/2009:
Thanks NH and Ken....
NH.. I've always had a warped sense of humor... once in a while it shows..
madconsumer on 08/07/2009:
"What would I have done if my dog were entered in a show?"

is your dog a show dog?

kennel cough can happen even at the most costly of kennels,
Skye on 08/07/2009:
NH, Bordetella shot is given through the nose. It's a quick spray mist. I have many scars on my legs and ankles from the dogs that try to get away from the position we have to restrain them in, so that we can give it to them. It prevents them from getting kennel cough. My dogs get it every six months. It's a safety precaution. Any dog can get it from another dog who may have it. It's treatable. Bordetella prevents it. We never board our dogs, but better safe then sorry.

Hope that helps.
Skye on 08/07/2009:
OF, doggie VD, you kill me :)
Nohandle on 08/07/2009:
How far in advance has this to be given to be effective Skye? My dog is given everything recommended at the vets for her annual and it certainly isn't inexpensive. Some things many have never thought of. None of us know if an emergency might arise and we have to board our pet.
Skye on 08/07/2009:
As soon as its given, it kicks right in. We never board only because my sister will take them, and we take hers.

But your are correct, in an emergency, they would have to be boarded, if we all had to leave town.
Skye on 08/07/2009:
It's just a squirt in each nostril. They hate of course. It startles them more than anything.
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