I've been a customer for several years, bringing several cats down for (mostly) dental cleanings, which have included pain meds, extractions, and pre-op bloodwork. It's been 225.00 until this year - now it's 260.00. The increase doesn't bother me, though - it's that, since moving buildings 2 years ago, they seem to be getting more exclusive about the sort of pets they want to help. I've seen this on a few bad reviews across multiple websites - if your pet has a condition they deem "chronic", they don't want to help.
That was true for Peter's colon surgery - though listed on their website - they weren't willing to do it. We had to pay 5 times what they would have charged for a surgery that had *none* of the complications they foresaw. Then when Ella allegedly bit someone under anesthesia (for a dental), they planned to turn her over to animal control for euthanasia unless I could produce a rabies vaccination certificate. But it was so early a.m. that her regular vet wasn't open for a few more hours. Fortunately I was able to get a hold of them so they'd release my cat. Their website *still* doesn't include suggestions for out-of-town owners to bring vaccination paperwork; or to submit it online ahead of the visit, which seems prudent at the very least. Many of their clients come from out-of-state and could find themselves in the same bad situation - what do they do then?
So I guess I should have connected the dots and not been surprised with this morning's fiasco over another cat's upcoming dental (Thursday), which they cancelled when *they* were the ones who called to confirm it!. Apparently it was a mistake to pass on the professional-courtesy request from my vet to obtain a urine sample while Miles was under anesthesia - they concluded he was too frail/had a condition - which made him ineligible for a dental procedure. This was ascertained from a brief supposed "consult" with a vet and the office manager, where I was not consulted at all!
They requested I have his vet records faxed over with a note from his vet ok'ing the dental; and then make a new appointment. Even though it takes months to get a new appointment; and my schedule isn't that flexible, in part due to the distance; and disability. Even though a simple phone call could've cleared it all up. Even though I have no assurances that looking at his records will allow him to be seen - they've pulled this stunt before with Peter's colon surgery. Even though they didn't ask ME, Miles' owner, what I wanted done - *before* cancelling the appointment. They took all my choices away before I could do or say anything.
Why would I trust that process now? Any part of it? Asking to speak to the Office Manager got me hung up on. Calling back and speaking to the Office Manager got me lectured about respect. Well, if you want respect, try showing your customer some, eh? And then lying to me and saying there's no one else I can talk to - you deserve to hung up on and called names at that point!
I can't help but think this is all-too-reminiscent of businesses that have reached their zenith - at a certain point most get too big and customer service goes to hell. Just look at Express Scripts for example: a huge pharmacy provider with at least 500 complaints on Consumer Affairs alone. Most businesses seem to follow a traditional Bell Curve over their lifetimes anyway - look at department store, for instance.
But more to the point, Helping Hands moved to a new building 2 years ago. Their prices have increased. You can now get an "emergency" appointment at $500.00 a visit, which gets you through the door faster. Staff size has increased with the new building. They seem to be increasingly picky about who they'll help and who they won't. Customer service is now in the toliet. Other pet owners across other advocacy/review websites have voiced similar complaints about them refusing to treat animals with "chronic" conditions. I expect this will increase if they continue to spiral downwards on customer service.
I'm angry, sad, confused, frustrated - and now can look forward to a large vet bill to get Miles' teeth fixed. Their slogan of " Helping Pet Owners Avoid Economic Suicide" is not true! They've let me down; burned their bridges with me; and now I'm writing a complaint when I'd previously praised them years ago (on Yelp), before they moved. Time to move on. Their "new" building was very hard to find anyway; and the waiting room/lobby cold as ice.
Later the same evening: Got an email from a supposed part-owner/manager Jackie who castigated me for my rudeness over the phone, threatened to "fire me" as a client unless I apologized in writing, and didn't take ANY responsibility for her staff's actions; or hers, basically casting me as the "bad guy." I responded defensively to her email attack- God knows why - and blocked them afterwards. Considering I recently found out several cats died in 2016 under Dr. Lori Pasternak's care (original owner/operator), we dodged a bullet. And now I don't have to make a long trip to Richmond ever again!
My beloved mini schnauzer has passed away now but thanks to Helping Hands, his quality of life was so much better. He needed over 20 teeth extracted and tumors removed and they were extremely gentle with him. They were also very affordable. Other vets wanted to charge triple or more. I am so grateful that we had an extra few months with our best friend. If you want an affordable place that is compassionate and competent, go to Helping Hands. They mainly specialize in dental surgery but they have a menu of services listed on their website.
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