The Undeniable Ruth Rotating Header Image

If You Waste My Time, I’m Sending You A Bill

I hate going to the dentist. I’ve lived in Phoenix for over eight years and I have yet to find a dentist that I like as a person and an office I don’t dread going to. I particularly hate dentist offices that have the open setting where each patient has their own chair and equipment but you’re in a big room or a room with only three walls and you can hear and see a lot of what’s going on with other people.

Watch Coin Tails by SkrewTape

Watch Coin Tails by SkrewTape

My new dentist is no exception. I arrived about 10 minutes before my appointment time, signed in, and they ignored me for about 10 minutes before asking me to fill out the new patient paperwork.  I filled out the paperwork and waited another 15 minutes before being called back. When I made the appointment, the receptionist said each patient got a separate room – wrong! I got a bay with three walls. The dental assistant took my x-rays which aren’t fun for me and my small mouth and said it would be 5 to 7 minutes. No problem – I popped on my iPod to pass the time. Five songs later, the dentist still wasn’t there.  I took out my earbuds and chatted with the assistant for another 10 minutes.

When the dentist finally came in, he didn’t use my name, shake my hand, or look me in the eye. I was pissed. He spent about 5 minutes with me and said they’d have to schedule my cleaning for another day. I was livid. It was at that moment I decided that I need to have mutual agreements with all my providers that state we won’t waste each other’s time and if we do, we can send the other a bill. Seriously!

I will agree to be on-time for all my appointments, do any requested prep work, and fill out any paperwork they send me in advance. I expect to be seen by a provider within 10 minutes of my appointment time and not to be left waiting more than 5 minutes if I’m seeing multiple providers in a visit. If I’m made to wait more than this amount time, the clock starts ticking at I will bill them at $100/hour in .1-hour increments. If I’m ever late or unprepared, you can bill me at $100/hour in .1-hour increments if they have to wait for me. The invoice will need to be sent within 7 calendar days of the service and payment must be remitted within 30 days of the invoice date.

That seems fair, right?

For my legal eagle readers, this is a valid contract if I draft it and the provider accepts it, right? I’ll be totally upfront and send it to the provider in advance for their review. At first I just wanted to bill them for wasting my time, but I figured the billing needed to go both ways to get consideration.

I understand that sometimes things happen and people run late. Unfortunately, that’s how some people run their lives and their businesses. If you work in a service industry, you have an obligation to respect your clients’ time. I don’t know about you, but I’m busy. And I’m not just picking on dentists – this is for all service providers. If you’re going to waste my time, I want to make it worth my while.


  1. Grant Stedman says:

    Hey, Ruth –

    I definitely can understand your anger at the rudeness of the dentist, as well as the false advertising to get you in. I can just see you seething in that chair, in anguish and discomfort. However, I just don’t a dentist or any other professional service representative signing such a contract. The professional will simply deny service to you. Good luck to you, though.

    1. Ruth Carter says:

      I doubt any service provider who provides bad service will sign such a contract, but it doesn’t change the fact that I wish I had such a contract in place.

  2. This story makes me appreciate my awesome dentist even more! Everyone I’ve referred there loves them, in a way that’s almost scary. Like who *loves* their dentist?!? But they’re actually fantastic. And, not surprisingly, very busy.

    1. Ruth Carter says:

      I’m so glad to hear not every dentist sucks. I have a follow up appointment soon for my cleaning. If they make me wait more than 15 minutes, I’m going to tell them that they have to pay me if they want to waste my time.

  3. Sean says:

    Here’s a thought: the world doesn’t revolve around you. Every person has their own family, their own problems, their own bills to pay, their own bad days. Quit being such a bitch.

    1. Ruth Carter says:

      You are correct – the world does not revolve around me. I think businesses have an obligation to provide good customer service to all customers. If something happens that puts a business behind schedule, they need to apologize to their inconvenienced customers.

      I read a great article years ago that said if a business is 20 minutes late or more, you should inform the receptionist that you can’t wait any longer as it would interfere with your obligations and make them reschedule you without any penalty. I think that’s a good rule of thumb for everyone and that businesses should respect their customers’ time.