Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A horse bill left unpaid

I always pay the horse bills first -- the farrier doesn't leave the property without a check, and the first checks I write each month are for the vets, the boarding barn, and whatever other services the horses have used. I'm fairly compulsive about it, because I don't want to give these folks I depend on a reason to hesitate in caring for my horses.

The drama
But back in October, I received a vet bill -- not my regular vet, and not New Bolton for those of you who might wish to guess. It's a middlin' amount of money -- less than $500 but not by all that much.

I'm not going to pay it. Without going into detail, it is a bill that I feel strongly I am right in not paying. Bob was "on the sidelines" observing when services were rendered. He is a stickler about settling debts, and his credit rating is exceptional (so is mine for that matter). When I told him I didn't want to pay, I expected him to advise me to pay it and forget it. To my surprise, he shared my feelings. "I would rather let my credit rating take a hit," he said.

My communication
I had phone conversations with this business concern, and when I received the bill, I wrote them a letter. It was about a page in length, explaining why they would not be receiving payment, and it was sent certified mail. That was in October. I heard nothing, and I was just beginning to hope they had forgiven the charges.

Then this week I got a phone call. In the voice mail that they left, it was clear that they had not read, or chose not to mention, the letter. My experience with this business is that it's quite possible it was lost or misplaced. I faxed them another one, referring to the certified letter sent previously. Frankly it is a situation I'm weary of thinking about.

What is the right thing to do?
I have a stubborn streak when it comes to things like this. I work in customer service, I know when someone is getting jerked around. My workplace is not perfect but we try to give people a fair shake, and we admit when a mistake has been made. I want the same thing now, on the receiving end.

Update: A few days before Christmas I heard that the bill has been forgiven. What a relief, and I am grateful to the service provider in question for ending this so graciously.


  1. That's good for you. It sounds like you were right not to pay it.

  2. Good resolution to the problem.

    I can be frustrating dealing with bills. I'm still trying to figure out what's going on with the electric company and my solar energy. I'm hoping they have finally fixed the billing mistakes.

  3. I don't get the point of the post.
    You provide absolutely no information as to why the nonpayment for services rendered was justified.
    Perhaps it was, but if you were standing there while the service not worth paying for was rendered, why not raise the issue then and there?
    Color me confused.

  4. Anonymous -- If the purpose of my post was to seek your thumbs up or down, the detail would be essential. I'm not seeking a stamp of approval, just writing what's on my mind.

    Sorry you are confused.

  5. Since you've done the paper trail part, can you go in person and talk to them? With your documents in hand? Even speak with the vet?

  6. I had a discussion with the Primary Caregiver at the time of service, but Riley was too far along in treatment to go a different route. Later I took Riley to a teaching hospital. The surgeons there were fairly blunt about the problems RESULTING from the initial treatment. The admin/billing person told me that my letter was given to the Primary Caregiver back in October. Because I received no response, the billing dept decided to forgive the charges.

  7. Stacey, I have to comment, cuz we got another laboratory bill today with no lab results on it. HUH!?

    Going back, ever since bringing my horse to Germany, he has had eye issues. So our vet convinced us to bring him to the eye specialist in Munster. We did. And because my medical German is not so great, I asked the professor/doctor to send me a diagnosis by email. He agreed. A week later we got a bill. A bill with no diagnosis on it. Even the local horse vets here always type up the diagnosis on the bill, to help customers with recordkeeping.

    Weeks went by and I still did not have a full understanding of what is wrong with my horse. Finally, after several emails, my husband called the clinic and asked if they could ask the professor to send us a diagnosis. A week later he did. (Which said nothing conclusive, sadly.)

    We waited expectantly for the laboratory results. Finally, YESTERDAY, they came (6 weeks later?). They said nothing, it was just a bill. Huh? A bill with no diagnosis? My man immediately called the lab and said, "Yes, I'm calling for my wife, whom you've labelled on your bill as "Herr" (Mr). We would like to get the lab results, as we pay this bill."

    They said they usually mail the lab results to the doctor. OK, and what about us? The people paying? The ones with the sick horse? Can we please know what is bothering the horse?

    "Yes, we'll send that in a separate mail."

    (Agh, in the past when I had a blood panel run, the results came to ME, not the vet who suggested them.)

    Oh, I hope to see some lab results soon. My confidence in Tierklinik Hochmoor is not good, and they are supposed to be the top eye clinic for horses in Germany.

    ~lytha in Germany (NRW)

  8. That's great that they forgave the charges (that's what I gathered from your last comment). I probably would have done the same thing as you.

  9. Egads Lytha! I was once charged for four x-rays (digital) when two of them showed only the horse's foot in motion. They were beyond "not diagnostic" they were simply blurs, I could send them to a paranormal expert and claim I'd photo'ed a ghost. I paid the bill b/c it was my regular vet at the time, and I felt over the years he'd provided excellent service.

  10. I didn't expect you were seeking any approval on my part.
    It just seemed so random.
    The subsequent bit about "the problems RESULTING from the initial treatment" add a great deal to my understanding without being really any more specific than your initial post.
    Thanks, even if you don't care.

  11. Hi Anon,

    In trying to be non-specific I probably left a number of people confused :-) Thanks for bearing with me...

  12. Well, at any rate, glad it worked out.


Hi Guys, Your comments are valued and appreciated -- until recently I never rejected a post. Please note that I reserve the right to reject an anonymous post.