I found a coupon online on PetSmart's website for a free checkup and exam at a Banfield Pet Hospital so I thought I'd give them a try with one of my three cats, a less than two year old female who was almost due for her annual exam. My wife made the appointment and while doing so made mention of the coupon we wanted to use to the employee that she spoke with. I arrived for the appointment and showed the coupon to the veterinary assistant before she took down the initial information about my cat. Now I will be honest here as I was with the veterinary assistant; my cat is very docile at home but she is rather psycho with others - hissing, scratching and biting is common.
I was assured by the technician that they could handle her without a problem and could even trim her nails, for a fee of course, while she was in for the exam. I agreed to the nail trimming however I was then told there would also be a $16.95 "additional restraint fee" (???). O.K., so I agreed to pay the fee (although it seems a bit ridiculous) as I didn't really expect to get out the door for free and I really wanted to get her the checkup and the nail trimming. The technician then strongly suggested I do a round of vaccinations that this cat isn't due for on one until late August, and on the other in September, so I declined. She was a little pushy about it but I politely declined and advised her that I'd want to check with my wife first and would return at another time to do so.
The technician then picked up my cat's carrier and takes her into a back room and as the door closes behind her I realized that this facility treats animals out of sight and away from the owners view. I don't know why this is as I have made over a dozen and a half trips to different veterinarians with various pets throughout the years and have never once seen this. While waiting for my cat I was feeling a bit pressured with regard to the vaccinations so between that and the mystery treatment scenario I had just about made up my mind that this first visit was also going to be my last.
Just a few minutes after she left the technician left the room only to return to suggest the vaccines again saying that they had just started trying to get my cat out of the carrier and that based on her temperament it would be easier on everyone to get them done all at once. I declined, again, only to have the technician leave the room and return to suggest them again. I declined for the last time and then while I sat in the waiting room and they had apparently gotten her out of the carrier, I could hear someone, I assume the veterinarian, struggling with my kitty and sounding very frustrated and impatient. I overheard this person say "this is ridiculous, and he's not even doing the vaccinations", and after about a minute of hearing them struggle with my cat this person exclaimed "I'm done".
The technician then returned to the waiting room a few minutes later with my cat to tell me that they weren't able to do anything, not the examination, not the nail trimming, nothing. I said O.K. and asked what they suggest I do. The technician stated that the veterinarian was writing up an estimate for me to have her come back and be sedated to be examined and to perform the nail trimming. At this point, after they have given up the technician informed me that the coupon I had was not valid as they are not "part of the chain" and that I'd be expected to pay $56.90 for the visit; $39.95 for the exam and $16.95 for the "additional restraint fee." I told the technician I disagreed and that I'd like to see this mystery veterinarian. As aggravated as I was I kept my cool and heard the veterinarian out on how she proposed to treat my cat should we return. The explanation came down to $425 worth of services which is absolutely ludicrous, even for an aggressive cat such as mine. I knew this was not happening so I asked what the cost for today's visit was and was told the same amount.
I questioned why this was and was told it was because the coupon could not be accepted and that she had already contacted the owner and confirmed this. I stood my ground and just flat out said I was unwilling to pay for a free exam that they didn't even perform. The veterinarian left the room and came back with a story about how she'd instead charge me just a $19.95 "service charge" for the visit and explain it to the owner later. Let's just say my best recommendation to anyone reading this who was considering visiting this or any other Banfield Pet Hospital would be to rethink that and steer clear of this place. While my experience may be limited to this location, something tells me based on the sense I got from this place that they are to veterinary care what McDonalds is to gourmet food. Find yourself a good local veterinarian who loves pets and isn't only concerned with making money.
Product or Service Mentioned: Banfield Pet Hospital Pet Vaccination.