Breaking Up with Bad Businesses

Little Girl Angry on Her Dad
EPIC stink face! (Photo credit: khanmehmetozdemir)

I am reclining, engrossed in Denzel Washington’s preternaturally calm face as he flies a plane upside down. The massaging chair kneads my lower back. It has been aching of late and the rotating balls feel pretty good.

So, why am I absolutely infuriated?

It is 12:55 pm and I have just 5 minutes to get back to work. My mouth is full of cotton and dental tools and my dentist is nowhere near finished with my fillings. She asks me, belatedly, if I have to go back to my job today. I nod a little and hold up my left hand, fingers spaced apart. “Five minutes?!” She kicks herself into gear and tells me that she will have me out in 20. I fume silently, held hostage with my mouth propped open like a guppy.

My appointment should have started at 11:00 am. After waiting about 25 minutes, I asked the receptionist, a little disingenuously, if I had come at the wrong time for my appointment. I knew full well what time it started; I just wanted her to be aware of it. I wanted to leave but I had already paid for the visit. She confirmed the time. But the dental assistant did not come for me until 11:50 am, at which point I was past irritated.

I told the receptionist that I would not be able to get the second procedure done due to my job, and she blithely said, “Oh, the first one won’t take too long. You’ll be out by 1:00 pm, just like we scheduled.”

Staring at the ceiling-mounted DVD screen at 1:05 pm, I am angry. But my anger doesn’t boil. It simmers. I plot. I scheme. They ask me if I am okay, they apologize for being late, and all I say is, “Mhmm.” Nawl. I am debating whether or not it is time to quit my dentist, whom I have actually grown to like. She has cool things like movies and massages and head-circling x-ray machines, and I don’t want to give that up.

English: Greenbelt, Maryland. Dr. James McCarl...
Poor kid probably wants to run away, too.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But I hate awful customer service. I am patient to a fault, but when people take advantage of said kindness, I feel helpless. Like aliens are experimenting in my mouth with sharp tools and I dare not move, lest I get cut–while every cell in my body yearns to escape. They hold my time hostage. Waiting, it infuriated me that I had 1) already paid and could not leave without raising a stink to get a refund 2) warned the lady there was not enough time and that I would be late returning to work and 3) that I did not want break up with them based on one bad occurrence.

I imagine walking up to the receptionist and saucily requesting that my January appointment be cancelled because I’m switching dentists. But she isn’t sitting there when I leave. I storm out with a thundercloud over my head and numb cheeks, so I can’t smile even if I want to.

The only leverage I have against this ever happening again is withdrawing my patronage from their practice. I absolutely cannot stand businesses abusing my time. Generally, they give good dental service and are friendly. I like that the practice is black women-owned and operated; I try to support minority businesses when I can. An hour late, though?! Grumble, grumble, grumble. I’m still mad!

But should I give them another shot? What would you do?

7 thoughts on “Breaking Up with Bad Businesses

  1. The stereotype is that our businesses suffer from poor customer service, and if that is true, it won’t improve until the customer’s kick up a fuss or vote with their feet. It’s no mistake that the receptionist was not at her desk when you left – she didn’t want to hear your complaint. You should give them another shot, but for something routine – a normal cleaning or a check-up – and use the opportunity to tell them how much “better” this visit was than “the last one.” Go on to tell them that you’re glad you decided to give them another try. Then they’ll be officially on notice that you considered letting them go but decided to give them the benefit of the doubt and maybe you’ll see some improvement after that.

  2. YES! I HATE when this happens! Don’t toy with my fragile customer heart. If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s bad customer services.

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