Sometimes I really am ashamed of my industry. No, I am not talking about the dental profession per say, it is the dental tourism profession I am referring to. We had a patient in the Antalya dental clinic this week (Peter) who had been overseas twice for dental treatment but returned back to the UK without treatment. You are wondering… Why?
After the fluffy and informative emails, the patient sending his dental photos and dental X-Rays Peter had his dental quotation and finally booked his time away from work to travel for treatment.
After Peter arrived in the dental clinic the cost of his treatment dramatically increased. Personally I take my hat off to him for walking away and not feeling pressured into paying the increased amount, I wonder what the general response is?!
In this case, it happened not once, but twice!!! Peter was so worried about travelling abroad again, we spoke about this issue at length (more than the treatment itself) before somehow I persuaded him that we were different and the dental treatment and associated costs in our clinic was ethical.
The prices quoted by his local dentist were far above his budget, therefore he was left with no choice other than to book his third dental holiday and have his long awaited treatment completed.
Peter was appreciative of everything, the hotel arrangements, the pick-up service, the dentists and team but most of all he said he appreciated the honesty and the fact that it cost him exactly how much we said it would cost him. Instead of making me feel proud this actually made me feel disappointed. Not in ourselves but in the industry we are a part of. The fact that the bill is as you explained is not something to be appreciated, it should be standard procedure and not a selling point!
When I think about the ‘hidden costs’ topic it really does make me wonder, how many patients have had the same experience as Peter? More importantly, how many of these patients decided not to walk away and proceed with treatment at the increased cost? If clinics use the ‘hidden cost tactic’ to convince patients to travel, it can only be because this tactic works in some cases. I am hearing more and more stories such as this. It really is making a mockery of the dental tourism industry. These are the stories that stick in my mind and I am sure they will stick in the minds of other patients considering their dental treatment abroad.
I do not know why some clinics still think they will win by stretching the bill as far as they can: sending patients home ultimately unhappy. I can understand if the clinic have not seen a recent X-Ray so they cannot make a clear treatment plan but in these cases they should be alerting the patient before they travel that the price can increase following their arrival and a full examination. If this continues to happen it will ruin the reputation of the dental tourism industry that is already fighting to prove clinics abroad can operate professionally and ethically.
Not only am writing this blog post but I am also writing a letter to the two clinics concerned to voice my opinion from one dental professional to another (cough!). If I receive a response I will write again but I am not holding my breath…