Scam Artist: Western Dental

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Folks who’ve been reading my blog know that I had a lot of problems with my teeth this past spring, culminating in having a molar extracted. It’s been six months since my last cleaning, so I called to make an appointment at the local Western Dental office. I figured the dental chain would probably have lower prices than a dentist in a private practice. When I spoke to the woman on the phone (who was not in the same town where the dental clinic I’d be visiting was, but at some corporate office), I told her I needed to have my teeth cleaned. She told me there was a special running, and I could get the cleaning for $39.99 with free x-rays and exam.

On the day of my 10:30 appointment, I arrived early, at 10am. I tried to confirm with the receptionist that the cleaning would cost $39.99. I told her that was the price I was quoted when I made my appointment. She told me the exam and x-rays would be free, but she couldn’t quote me a price until after the dentist examined me and recommended treatment. She said if I needed an extraction or a root canal, it would cost more than $39.99. I told her I understood that, but I wanted to confirm the cost of the cleaning. I told her I didn’t want to spend any time there unless I was going to get a $39.99 cleaning. She said they would get to my cleaning that day, and that the $39.99 special was still in effect.

Although I arrived at 10am for the 10:30 appointment, I  was not called to the back until 11:15. At 11am I asked the receptionist how much longer I would have to wait. She confirmed my name and then left the front desk to ask someone when I would be seen. When she came back, she told me I would be next. I sat there another 15 minutes before the x-ray technician called me to the back.

When the x-ray tech asked me how I was doing, I told her I had not expected to sit in the waiting room for 45 minutes.  She apologized and said they were down one x-ray tech,but  she didn’t know why. She also acted like I was an idiot to have made an appointment on a Monday, which she said is pediatric dental clinic day. I didn’t know that because when I called to make the appointment, I talked to someone at the corporate office. In any case, I am not a pediatric patient, so I don’t know why the pediatric clinic determined when I was seen.

In addition to every messed up thing that happened in the office, I am also concerned about the x-ray tech flipping a switch in the hallway, then sticking her hands in my mouth. How often is that switch cleaned throughout the day? Also, although the computer keyboard was covered with plastic, she touched it after having her hands in my mouth. How often is that plastic changed? Is it changed after each patient? I shudder to think she’d had her hands in someone else’s mouth, then on the keyboard, then in my mouth, then on the keyboard. Gross!
 
After the x-rays were taken, the tech tried to get me into a cubical where I would be examined by the dentist, but none were available, so she sent me back to the waiting room. I sat there over 30 minutes. When I asked when I would be seen, a different receptionist tried to tell me the wait was so long because I was a new patient. The x-rays are computerized. They didn’t have to be developed. I don’t know what was taking so long.  I think I was repeatedly forgotten.
 
In any case, five minutes later, I was called to the back and put in a chair. The dentist was soon there to examine my mouth. I told him I was there for a cleaning, told him I had a regular dentist in another state, but needed a cleaning now while I am in the area working. He looked in my mouth for less than a minute, but managed to ask me a question I had just answered, showing me that he was not paying attention to what I was saying. (I had just told him I was working in the area. The next question out of his mouth was, “So you’re here for a visit?) He told me he had to write up his observations, then one of the “ladies” would be along to do my cleaning.
 
Ten minutes later a woman came over. I asked her if she were going to do my cleaning. She laughed and said, “We’ll get to that.” She was there to explain the cost of my treatment options. 
 
She immediately started talking about dental implants, even though I had given no indication I had any interest in dental implants. (If I wanted dental implants, I would have that work done by my regular dentist.) She was kind enough to tell me which of my teeth had been extracted. I laughed at her and told her I knew which of my teeth were missing. She tried to explain the payment plan for the implants I didn’t want and hadn’t asked about, but I told her I had no interest in implants, that I just wanted a cleaning.
 
Then she told me I need a filling to the tune of $303! That seems exceptionally expensive to me. I told her I was not prepared to have a tooth filled, that right now I just wanted to have my teeth cleaned. (At this point, I was beginning to feel like a broken record.)
 

She told me the cleaning would cost $197! WHAT? I had been quoted $39.99 for the cleaning.  I think this was the old bait and switch. You know what that is, right? That’s when a business quotes a low price to a potential customer, only to require a higher price when the customer is actually in the store.

The woman claimed to know nothing about the $39.99 special I was quoted over the phone. Strange, the first receptionist I talked to didn’t tell me there was no such the special, she said that special was still in effect, but the second woman told me the first woman must have been “confused.” I think they tried to trick me into paying more than they quoted me, thinking after they wasted so much of my time, I would just go along with whatever they said I needed to do. I got out of the chair and didn’t let them do any work on me. When the woman asked me if I wanted to take the paperwork explaining the cost of the procedures, I told her no, because I am never coming  back here.

When I walked out of the office, I was so angry! I called the Lady of the House to let her know what had happened, and I started crying while thinking about all the poor people this corporation is taking advantage of. The company gets poor people in there with the promise of free x-rays and payment plans, then jacks up the prices after keeping people there for hours and wearing them down. Luckily I escaped.

I have an appointment for a dental cleaning with a dentist in a nearby town scheduled for September 14. The price is $59.99 for x-rays, exam, and a basic cleaning. When I talked to the  office manager, she told me the dentist might recommend a deep cleaning, depending on the condition of my mouth, and said a deep cleaning costs more. But, she added, it would be up to me to decide if I wanted a basic cleaning or a deep cleaning.

Imagine that. I get to decide what’s best for me.

About Blaize Sun

I live in my van, which makes me a rubber tramp. I like to see places I’ve never seen before, and I like to visit the places I love again and again.

I like to play with color. I make collages and hemp jewelry and cheerful winter hats. I take photographs and (sometimes, not in a long time) write poetry. All of those things make me an artist.

Although I like to spread joy and to make people laugh, my wit can be sharp. I try to stay positives in all situations, to find the goodness in all people. But I often feel compelled to point out bullshit when I smell it.

I like to have fun, to dance, to eat yummy food, to sit by a fire and share stories. I want to know what people hold dear and important, not just make surface small talk.

This blog is a way for me to share stories. This blog is made up of my stories, rants, and observations, as well as my photographs.

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