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The Danger of Handshakes October 29, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Health & Wellness, People.

Woodstock-&-Snoopy3A few years ago, at the Suncoast Lifestyle Expo, we met Dr. Z who invited us to his office for a FREE consultation, chiropractic exam, and massage.

We accepted the invitation, went to his office, listened to his dog and pony show, and agreed to return in two days with the completed new patient paperwork for our FREE adjustment.

After considerable debate and two days sitting on the fence, we completed the paperwork and returned for the rest of the FREE consultation.

We spoke with Dr. Z and the woman responsible for billing about the cost of future adjustments and treatments and decided not to schedule further visits.

At check out, we paid for a reusable ice pack.

Two months later, out of the blue, we received a $257 bill for BFF’s FREE consultation and exam.

I called the office and Maria agreed that there had been a mix up.  She promised to clear BFF’s account.  I had her check my account too . . . sure enough, a bill was on its way.

A few days later, I called Maria back to make sure that the accounts had been cleared.  She said, “we’re “working on it.”

The-Pink-PantherIn due course, the accounts were cleared.

It’s good to trust others, but handshake agreements can be problematic.  Memories fade.  Mistakes are made.

Next time . . . I’ll get in IN WRITING!

Aah . . . that’s better!



1. suzicate - October 29, 2014

I’ve always wondered what they try to get you on in those FREE visits. I have friends who go on those FREE resort trips and listen to the sales pitch and walk away without buying…they say it’s the way to travel…I say it’s too much aggravation. I once had someone give my phone number at one of those things and it took much ado to get them to quit calling me.

nrhatch - October 29, 2014

With chiropractic care, patients aren’t brought into alignment with a single quick *POP* ~ the FREE visit allows them to meet the doctor, check out the office, enjoy the massage, and sign up for a treatment plan.

We had been thinking about finding a chiropractor so this seemed like a great way to check out Dr. Z’s office.

We have done a few of those resort trips ~ in Williamsburg VA and Atlantic City NJ. They popped up at times we wanted to be there and gave us a place to stay and a meal or two. At the time, we were considering buying a timeshare in Williamsburg so it made sense “to listen” . . . but if folks succumb to impulse buys and sales pressure, they are best avoided. :mrgreen:

2. valleygrail - October 29, 2014

I wonder if less savvy people actually paid similar bills. Good thing you know your business and rights.

nrhatch - October 29, 2014

We considered paying the bill because we both felt better after the FREE visit ~ my neck and BFF’s back. But I decided that might encourage future “mix ups” in their office for others.

So I kept on Maria to clear the books.

3. Jill Weatherholt - October 29, 2014

I’m glad everything was straightened out in the end, but what a pain. I’m typically suspicious of anything “free.”

nrhatch - October 29, 2014

Since most chiropractic care and massage involves repeat customers, it made sense to me that the office would offer a FREE “get to know me” visit in order to sign up new patients. And we’re not sorry we accepted the offer since we felt better & ironed everything out.

But next time (if there is a next time), I would definitely get a receipt showing that the visit was FREE.

4. Val Boyko - October 29, 2014

I like your perseverance and keen eye Nancy! Did the treatment help?

nrhatch - October 29, 2014

It did, Val. My neck felt better for quite a while after the visit and I considered continuing treatment with Dr. Z.

In the end, I opted for a chiropractor closer to home who uses a more gentle process of adjustment. That helped too . . . but real success came once we started with acupuncture this year.

5. granny19477 - October 29, 2014

They bank on people just paying….too much hassle to fight it.
Good for you that you persevered.

nrhatch - October 29, 2014

I expect you’re right in many cases, Kathy. Maria was nice to work with, always pleasant, etc. . . . so it may have been an honest mistake.

In any event, the mix up reminded me that “handshake agreements” aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on.

6. Don - October 29, 2014

I’m like a bloodhound, Nancy, with anything being pushed as free. Inevitably when something free does come along, I miss it. I agree with you – get it in writing. 🙂

nrhatch - October 29, 2014

We went to a free luncheon a few weeks ago at one of our favorite restaurants and enjoyed the travel program presented ~ no strings attached.

But I’ll be more careful to get a “paid” receipt for anything like this in the future.

7. katecrimmins - October 29, 2014

Most of the time free offers end up annoying in the end. I don’t do them even if I’m curious. The time spent in annoying follow up calls and such usually offsets any value. A receipt for the visit would have helped.

nrhatch - October 29, 2014

For us, it depends on the offer ~ i.e., whether or not we’re going to be fed (or feted). 😛

This was a first for us ~ a “paid” receipt provides peace of mind.

8. ericjbaker - October 29, 2014

I’m highly skeptical by nature. I run screaming from anything that sounds too good to be true. Maybe I’ve passed up on great opportunities, but I still have both my kidneys!


nrhatch - October 29, 2014

If I can see the rationale behind the offer, I’m less skeptical ~ in this case, I could see that it would be a great marketing vehicle to expand his practice if even 10% of the patients signed up for further treatments. And I still think the bill was an honest mistake and not a planned scam.

But, in the future, I will have them give me something in writing while the deal is still fresh in everyone’s mind.

9. Behind the Story - October 29, 2014

A good reminder: follow through; pay attention; write things down.

I think it’s a common practice for chiropractors to give you a free introduction to their service. I tend to think it was just a mistake. Good for you for paying attention and following up.

nrhatch - October 30, 2014

We met 3 chiropractors at the Health & Lifestyle Expo and all were marketing their “wares” by giving away free intro visits or offering a percentage off a series of adjustments. I do think it was a mistake, Nicki. Maria was very nice about working with me to clear the books.

But not having a thing in writing to show that the first visit was free reminded me to be a bit more cautious.

10. Grannymar - October 30, 2014

I’m old-fashioned, I like details in writing. Glad you sorted out the ‘free’ billls.

nrhatch - October 30, 2014

Me too! But the visit was worth the extra aggravation since it did provide relief and made us more willing to give acupuncture a try.

11. Three Well Beings - October 30, 2014

You hit a nerve…I absolutely know that I come across sometimes as so suspicious and cynical when dealing with people in business, but I have a host of similar stories from over the years, and I just know the “screw up factor’ seems to be always in play. I just know what’s said behind my back…I can live with that. It’s the time it takes to undo errors that gets to me!

nrhatch - October 30, 2014

Most of the time, we’ve been happy we accepted the offers we did (and passed on ones that smelled “fishy”). This, I believe, was an honest error on their part . . . not an intentional scam.

But, as you note, the time to undo errors can be costly. It pays to ask questions to make sure things are in line with your comfort level and values . . . even if you seem “suspicious” and “cynical.”

BTW: Those are NOT the adjectives I would use in describing you. More like ~ “interesting” and “curious.”

12. diannegray - October 30, 2014

Lucky you’re savvy, Nancy. Some people might just ‘automatically’ pay bills without even looking. I was going through bills with MiL and FiL the other day and noticed they had been charged twice for the same thing. I asked MiL and she said, ‘he always does that’. He’s a solicitor and I suggested they get another.

nrhatch - October 30, 2014

I’ve said this before ~> your MIL and FIL are lucky to have you on their side, looking over their shoulders.

13. jannatwrites - October 31, 2014

I’m glad you got it straightened out. I avoid those ‘free’ things because there always seems to be some kind of strings attached and I don’t have the time or patience to find them 🙂

nrhatch - October 31, 2014

I expect we avoid 4 out of 5 such offers (or maybe even 95%), but sometimes it seems too fortuitous to pass up.

Most times, we get exactly what we pay for! 😛

14. NancyTex - November 2, 2014

Oh dear. That certainly would have left a less-than-pleasant first impression for me. Glad you got it sorted out eventually.

nrhatch - November 2, 2014

On the grand scheme of things, it was a minor glitch ~ a blip on the radar ~ a lesson learned.

But I’m glad we didn’t have to pay $257 x 2 to learn the lesson.

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