I have begun to believe my mind is full of tiny little topics that act like pimples.

No one can predict the order they start to fester in, or when they’ll get ripe and burst.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

The Veterinarian Rip-off

My Vet Pissed Me Off, What Do I Do?

Of Thievery and Pets

Three years ago I bought my wife a Christmas present that backfired. I had no present for Patti and Christmas morning there was nothing under the tree from me so I went out early and bought her a cat. She has always had a cat or three and her last friend Pip had died of old age (17) about six months before. We had considered getting her another but decided against it. We’re a couple of old farts and we’d be dead long before it was. It soon became apparent to me that there was a great big hole in her life that needed filling. I had already considered the possibility of buying her one for X-mas but the empty hole in the tree changed my mind. I already Knew where to buy one, made a call and went shopping.

When I arrived I was admitted, took a chair and inspected a small circus of three Siamese kittens at play. I will never understand why but as soon as I sat down, one of them noticed me, stopped playing and came over in front of me, sat down and just stared at me. I stared back and it sort of turned into a contest to see who blinked first. It seemed a long time but suddenly she got up, came over to me, climbed up my pant leg and settled down in my lap. Sold! I paid the lady $200 and we left.

Patti was delighted. Sophie, as we named her, was good medicine for Patti but it only took four days for Sophie to just run out of steam. It became obvious that something was really wrong so off to the veterinarian we went. Sophie was in renal failure. She was there a week and the vet saved her life: he’s a damned good vet. When we came to pick her up the vet handed us a bill for $1000 and told us Sophie had CKD - FELINE CHRONIC KIDNEY DISEASE! It’s fatal! There’s no cure, she needs special treatment for and she could die in a couple of weeks or last for years there was no way to predict. There wasn’t much choice: you don’t kill your baby! We took her home.

Nobody owns a cat! Sophie decided she owned me and Patti was SOL. She was only a good friend and still is. At that point Sophie became my responsibility I love her, and for good reason. At that time I had no friends and I mean no friends left: either past history and out of contact, or dead. I was so lonely I was miserable. She changed my life and she became and still is, my best friend.


My Buddy Sophie at 6 months

The vet wasn’t kidding about special treatment. Special diet:

She is fed twice daily. At each feeding she gets a small portion of soft canned food with a gram of Epakitin (pro-biotic) and gets a capsule of another pro-biotic (Azodyl) rammed down her throat. She always has dry food available. She drinks a lot of water and her cat box gets emptied of a large clump of wet litter daily. The litter problem isn’t helped by a compulsory ride.

Every Sunday morning for the past three years: and we haven’t missed a day, Sophie and I take a car ride. I get a small blanket, grab Sophie and carry her down to the car and we take a ride to the vet where I give Sophie about 75cc. of water intravenously in the back of her neck.. It doesn’t bother her one bit. She doesn’t even flinch when the needle gets stuck through the skin.. She then just waits patiently for 10 minutes to fill up until it’s a hump like a large egg under the skin on her back. I carry her out to the car wrapped in a blanket, she leaks and we drive home. She knows her way across the parking lot to the driveway and up the walk and stairs. It doesn’t matter, rain or snow she has to sniff everything. This one day a week is the only time Sophie gets to be outside and smell the ground and leaves and paper and everything else. I let her take her time. It’s the cat’s equivalent of a day pass from prison in our apartment


About a month ago we had our day trip to the vet. I ordered some Azodyl. put Sophie in the car and went back into the office to pay for it. It was a pharmacy item from the fridge and had no price on it. For some reason she pulled out a new cost sheet from their supplier and accidentally let me see their cost. Not bad-mid 30’s, I can handle that. This girl didn’t know what to charge me so she called the vet to determine the mark-up multiplier. I was placed conveniently could see her calculator with the price loaded and was curious what markup would be. She punched 2.

I almost lost it. I said nothing, paid the $76 for the meds and left with a head full of  steam, feeling like a spear had been shoved up my ass. I felt betrayed, I like my vet, I trusted him and he’s good, but a two times multiplier is outright thievery. I know how to get to the bottom line and this was a pretty heavy sinker on the Bait.  I decided to change vets and I started doing a little comparison shopping. I got on the phone and I got the prices for all Sophie’s survival needs that had to be purchased from a veterinarian. I had Epakiten, Azodyl, and her two special low protein food, dry and wet. It didn’t take me long to discover that my vet was not the exception but the rule. There was very little variation in price anywhere, no place to go.

What to do? Sophie does not come cheap: Make them bid for my business!

2 Epakiten + 2 Azodyl + Wet and dry cat food adds up to approximately $150 per month or $1800 per year. That’s a lot of money on a fixed income budget.

I have always worked on the principle that a reasonable and profitable Gross Margin was 30% = a multiplier of 1.45. They are using 2.00.

I am a Senior citizen, and I am a repeat customer on a regular basis. A fair price at a 1.45 multiplier would cost me $1305 for Sophie’s survival for a year but on top of that the sons of bitches are going to add another $495 for fuck all but greed, no gratitude. I don’t know what to do about my vet yet but I’ll give him first shot at my business. He’s a good vet but I will not be robbed. I’m just going to drop off a printed copy of this to read and he can put it in my file for me to pick up the next time I bring Sophie in for a recharge.

I won’t demand he reveal his mark-up multiplier but I want a fixed price for all four products I need. He is entitled to a profit and he can start from a baseline of a 1.45 multiplier and go up as high as he wants. He has one advantage over the competition and that is that he knows I am going to look at only his quoted prices to make my decision where to go. If I take his quote to the competition he has to guess what they will charge and undercut them: lowest takes all. On the other hand if he quotes me a price that I feel is reasonable I’ll accept it and never ask the competition. It is now his decision and it is not an easy one.

He simply fills in his prices on the form that ends this and leaves it in my file. I will look at it and if it is acceptable put it back in the file. If it is not then I just take it away to see how it dances with the competition. I won’t go and talk to him until I cool down. I’m already pissed, I have a rotten temper, I’m loud and I’m profane and I might hurt his feelings.

So with that I quit and we’ll see how it goes

Blaine Barrett

P.S.: Now it’s up to you Doc. For a one year supply and my business.

Use a sharp pencil








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K/D Dry Catfood

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K/D canned Catfood

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