Thursday, November 1, 2012

Tired Eyes

A few days ago, I called my eye doctor to make an appointment for a checkup. I've only been to this eye doctor once before, switched reluctantly when my old eye doctor, who I'd seen for years, retired. The old eye doctor, and her office, and all the people who worked there, were beyond eccentric. Someday I will write about that place and those people but not now. Their operation was extremely inefficient, and you could pass a few hours in that waiting room while things came together--between the just plain waiting, and the waiting with drops in your eyes, and all the rest. All the while the staff at the front desk gabbed away (as if no one could hear them) about all manner of bizarre and personal subjects. Anyway . . . all that is over now. My doctor was in her 80s, I think, with very bad back problems, and she finally just couldn't do it anymore. So I switched.
     The new place is the polar opposite, multiple doctors, multiple levels of people to guide you into rooms and move you along, and it's the ultimate in efficiency, but almost completely without character, or characters. At any rate, I'd received two reminder cards from this new office, so I finally called to make an appointment. The first time I called, it was a Friday afternoon, which I discovered, is one of the times during the week that they are closed. So I called again the next Tuesday. The phone rang more times than one would expect for such an efficient operation--and a professional office--so I began to suspect that maybe I'd found another time that they were closed. But, no, someone finally answered, and when I said I needed an appointment, she asked me to hold, which is not such an unusual thing to be told, so I went along with it.
     But then the recorded voice came on, telling me that in our "youth-centered culture," tired-looking eyes can age a person, and then the voice proceeded to tell me about the many procedures this doctor could perform to overcome this problem. That was the point at which I hung up.

There are so many things wrong with this message that I barely know where to begin: (1) why should I have to be exposed to their advertising when I am being held captive so that I can make an appointment at their office? (2) why do they think that this is how I would want to spend my time? (3) aren't they even a little bit ashamed about the insulting ageism? (4) if they are afraid their patients may not know about all the wonderful services they offer, how about a brochure in the waiting room, so a person can choose to learn about his (or not)?
     I was really mad, and it seemed like a good reason NOT to go to this doctor, but I decided to be assertive. So a few hours later, I called back, and when the receptionist answered, and I told her I needed an appointment, I also told her that I did not want to be put on hold, and I did not want to listen to their advertising, that I have other things to do in my life, and if I have to be on hold, I can do without the soundtrack, and if she put me on hold, and that advertising came on again, I would hang up again, and I would find another doctor. She said okay, and somehow, she managed to make the appointment for me herself. When I go in next week, I am going to give the doctor some feedback on his marketing practices.
     Someday, all of us will look like that lovely young lady in the top photo, and no one will look like that gentleman in the second photo. And someday, every square inch of our world--visual and auditory--will be used for commercial purposes. Everything will be a brand. Everything will be branded.


Anonymous said...

We have seen the same doctors since we moved to the Phoenix area 16 years ago. Yesterday we got a notice from the health insurance company that all the doctors - probably about 20 - in the practice have joined with Banner Health Insurance as of July of this year. We got no notification from our doctor. When I called to get more information, I was told that the insurance company made the choice for them, so they were not obligated to notify patients. The insurance company clerk said the company had nothing to do with this decision and to contact our doctors.
Nothing like putting your life in the hands of a doctor who doesn't have to courtesy to let you know your choices have become even more limited. And no list has been provided of the doctors taking the new plan.
Your comments are business as usual where I live. There is no shame. There is no courtesy. Our doctors' office does not provide toilet seat covers!
Taking it a step further, call Barnes and Noble where you will listen to an ad for their e-reader before finding out they probably don't have the book you want. Isn't there something strange about a book store selling e-readers?
It's all about the money and making usually kind people like us as angry as merchants are greedy.
Having worked in a number of offices and having been yelled at on the phone for something over which I had no control, it's important to realize that often the listener may feel like we do, but has no choice but to follow instructions.

Susan Messer said...

Good points all around. Lots to be angry about in this world; important to remember how to manage and channel it.

Anonymous said...

One more comment about the medical business in the Phoenix area. After my last teeth cleaning, I made the next appointment at the office and was given a card with the date and time. Yesterday I received a post card reminding me of the appointment - January 30 - and requested to call the office to confirm my appointment. Shall I ask that they send me another post card confirming that I called?
And the beat goes on.......

Susan Messer said...

Well, at least you'd be helping the post office stay in business.

Jim Poznak said...

Susan, your point about the place lacking character and having no characters is the saddest part of your tale. I hope it does not portend the future.

Susan Messer said...

Oh, me too. What would we do without character (and characters)?