Being a both a consumer and a marketing professional for over 20 years, perhaps I’m not the typical “customer.” But like many of us, I have zero tolerance for businesses who take advantage of consumers by obfuscating the services they provide and how much they cost.
My teenage daughter lost her glasses, so I called Visionworks to get a quick replacement. She also needed more contact lenses.
“So you’re here for new glasses and to order your contacts, right? Because that will be two vision exams. Don’t worry, it’s all in the same appointment, but you will be charged for two separate exams, because that is our policy.”
Hmmm….this didn’t really make sense, but my insurance always covered my eye exams, glasses or contacts. I sat in on the eye exam to understand better what was happening. She read the small letters on the wall, doctor adjusted the lenses over each eye and established her prescription. He put drops in her eyes then brought in a box of contact lens samples. “Try these, see how they feel. There’s enough for 5 days in there.” She put them in, blinked, and said they felt great. And nothing more on contacts.
At the end of the visit, they ran my insurance card, and charged me a balance; the eye glass exam was covered but I owed them for a contact lens exam. I questioned it. We didn’t receive a contact lens exam per se. Oh, was that it? The part where the doctor gave us free samples?
I expressed my confusion. I never had to pay out of pocket for a routine eye exam before, neither for contacts nor glasses. Why are you charging me for a second exam? Here is the response.
If you want contacts, you have to have a contact lens exam.
If you want a contact lens exam, you first have to have an eye glass exam.
That’s our policy, you need two exams.
Your insurance company only pays for one exam.
They will discount the 2nd exam by 20%, so you only owe us $30.
I understand why you’re confused since you never had to pay that before, but I don’t know what SYSTEM your other doctor used.
So blame it on your system and your policy as you smile and take my $30! At this point, I started to come unglued, and pointedly asked the employee what incremental service the doctor provided to warrant the extra exam fee? Why was the doctor lining his pockets by double charging his customers?
“Perhaps you should call your insurance company if you have any more difficult questions!” That may be a futile effort; my insurance provider, Davis Vision, and Visionworks are both owned by the same company!
My daughter kicked me, apparently asking questions when something sounded shady was causing some discomfort for her and the sales person. At the risk of making a fool of myself, I was taking one for the team.
My line of work makes me a unique consumer, and forces me to think about the consumer while making marketing decisions. As business owners and marketers, we all need to reflect on the consumer perspective. But Visionworks doesn’t get it. We need to have straightforward descriptions of our services and policies that are fair and easy to explain to their customers. When there is a question or concern, we need to use the opportunity to build trust, mutual respect and ultimately… loyalty. In this case, Visionworks’ handling of the issue was a surefire way to sever our relationship after just one interaction.
Is it just me, am I overreacting? Please comment.
~Posted by Gail Paxson Murray, Marketing Consultant
West Chester, Pennsylvania