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Roby
November 6th 06, 08:40 PM
I provide data and hardware maintenance on a computer network
at a vet clinic. There have been no software upgrades since
1998, so the staff should be completely familiar with their
invoicing software.

Three years ago, I stumbled across several remarkably large
overcharges in a small and scattered group of invoices. In
each case, a single line-item had been invoiced at a huge
overcharge; generally $100+ above the standard price, sometimes
more. The largest was a $450 charge for an item that should
have been priced at $5. Every time, the client paid his bill
in full -- apparently without complaint -- and probably
found another vet.

It was easy to discover how these errors had happened. Data
entry is one line-item (service or inventory item) at a time:
the operator enters an alphanumeric code defining the item
and then the quantity sold. The program fills in a default
standard price for the code and quantity and puts it in the
next field, which the operator may type over to adjust. It
was immediately clear that these big errors happened when the
operator lost track of which field was being entered: I could
reproduce the error every time by just getting out-of-sync
with the program ... and not looking at the screen. The program
has no protection against such errors, even to the point of
silently ignoring non-numeric keystrokes into a price field.

I told the folks at the clinic what I found, demonstrated exactly
how it was happening, and gave them copies of the overcharged
invoices I had discovered. They offered cash refunds to some
clients, added credit to account balances on others. I wrote
a program to audit all of the invoices generated within an input
range of dates, found additional error of the same sort, and
continue to report errors as I find them, although I seldom
visit anymore. Most recent error: $270 charged for 7 Orbax tabs.

Two observations:

It is amazing that anybody can churn out invoices all day, every
day and not develop some sense of what the bottom line ought to be.

It is equally amazing that we who pay these bills just roll over
and let this happen, seemingly without noticing.

-L.
November 6th 06, 11:50 PM
Roby wrote:
>
> Two observations:
>
> It is amazing that anybody can churn out invoices all day, every
> day and not develop some sense of what the bottom line ought to be.

yep.

>
> It is equally amazing that we who pay these bills just roll over
> and let this happen, seemingly without noticing.

Yep.

Same thing at the grocery store. I was recently charged $8.70 for 11
heads of lettuce when I had purchased one. I caught it but the cashier
did not. I wonder how many people pocket or throw away their receipt
without even looking. I also once was charged twice for some vet meds
in a similar fashion. I had to provide proof of prior payment to get
it fixed. Overcharging is pretty common, IME

-L.

Richard Evans
November 7th 06, 12:48 AM
Roby > wrote:

>
>It was easy to discover how these errors had happened. Data
>entry is one line-item (service or inventory item) at a time:
>the operator enters an alphanumeric code defining the item
>and then the quantity sold. The program fills in a default
>standard price for the code and quantity and puts it in the
>next field, which the operator may type over to adjust. It
>was immediately clear that these big errors happened when the
>operator lost track of which field was being entered:

I had a similar experience when I worked in a hardware store years
ago. A customer paid by check and the cashier typed his account number
into the amount field. The result showed change due in the amount of
about $40k. The cashier never batted an eye, but started counting out
twenties on her way to $40k. The manager and I stood by in disbelief.
When the drawer was empty, she turned to the manager and said: "I need
more twenties."

Roby
November 7th 06, 03:07 AM
Richard Evans wrote:

> Roby > wrote:
>
>>
>>It was easy to discover how these errors had happened. Data
>>entry is one line-item (service or inventory item) at a time:
>>the operator enters an alphanumeric code defining the item
>>and then the quantity sold. The program fills in a default
>>standard price for the code and quantity and puts it in the
>>next field, which the operator may type over to adjust. It
>>was immediately clear that these big errors happened when the
>>operator lost track of which field was being entered:
>
> I had a similar experience when I worked in a hardware store years
> ago. A customer paid by check and the cashier typed his account number
> into the amount field. The result showed change due in the amount of
> about $40k. The cashier never batted an eye, but started counting out
> twenties on her way to $40k. The manager and I stood by in disbelief.
> When the drawer was empty, she turned to the manager and said: "I need
> more twenties."

Would you email me the address of that hardware store? I'll share.

Roby

November 7th 06, 03:20 AM
Roby wrote:

>
> It is amazing that anybody can churn out invoices all day, every
> day and not develop some sense of what the bottom line ought to be.
>
> It is equally amazing that we who pay these bills just roll over
> and let this happen, seemingly without noticing.

I tried a more local vet a few years ago. I had to do mange treatment
for my dog every 2 weeks for 3 months. The price went up and down based
on the clerk. If it was the office manager, I was always charged more.
In that case, I did question it a couple times and got the roundabout
for a reply. Since I needed to finish the treatments, and I had to pay
for the whole bottle of medication, I finished it out and then never
went back.

My regular vet has never overcharged me. I do check the bill everytime,
but I have always had some idea of what things will cost. Meds will
vary, but I always have an estimate in my head when I go in, and I make
sure I have more than that in my bank account.

Once, when I knew I needed a bunch of tests, I stopped at the bank on
the way and got a quick advance loan to add $350 to my bank account.
That way, I could make decisions based on what my cat needed, and not
on my bank account balance.

I have had some pleasant surprises. My vet charges a lower fee for
rechecks, so when Kira was sick, each return trip had the lower checkup
fee. And the cbc panel was only $38, so I was surprised when the first
bill with that was so low since the full panel was $117.

I did ask about teeth cleaning costs as I knew it would be more, and I
wanted to make sure I was prepared. They said $160 for a normal
treatment. Up to $400 if she needed teeth pulled. If it is something
like that that I am unfamiliar with, I do ask.

Richard Evans
November 7th 06, 06:25 AM
Roby > wrote:

>> I had a similar experience when I worked in a hardware store years
>> ago. A customer paid by check and the cashier typed his account number
>> into the amount field. The result showed change due in the amount of
>> about $40k. The cashier never batted an eye, but started counting out
>> twenties on her way to $40k. The manager and I stood by in disbelief.
>> When the drawer was empty, she turned to the manager and said: "I need
>> more twenties."
>
>Would you email me the address of that hardware store? I'll share.

They have since gone out of business.

T
November 7th 06, 06:56 PM
In article >, [email protected]
address.net says...
> I provide data and hardware maintenance on a computer network
> at a vet clinic. There have been no software upgrades since
> 1998, so the staff should be completely familiar with their
> invoicing software.

A few years back I used to sell, install and set up point of sale
systems which is what many vets use these days.

When we'd install we'd be sure to show end users how to maintain items,
pricing and inventory in the system. It was a bear to set up but once
you'd set it up, it would export to your general ledger with no
problems.

But you're right - many places just don't maintain data.

kitkat via CatKB.com
November 7th 06, 07:19 PM
but sometimes it's just expensive period. I was at the vet for 30 minutes
last week - it cost $260. I checked my itemized list of expenses and talked
to the vet. lone behold the couple tests they ran cost $75 plus the
ultrasound and basic cost of the visit.

what are you going to do. kids and cat have something in common - they're
expensive.

There are so many good vets out there just trying to help animals - it's
always a good idea to ask the costs of tests etc before allowing them to take
place.

--
Message posted via http://www.catkb.com

November 8th 06, 12:28 PM
> what are you going to do. kids and cat have something in common - they're
> expensive.
>
> There are so many good vets out there just trying to help animals - it's
> always a good idea to ask the costs of tests etc before allowing them to take
> place.
>

Yes, there was a time when I was getting tests for my dog. It turned
out that her heart was larger than it should be for her body size and
losing weight removed the symptoms. But during the testing phase, I was
concerned that the tests might exceed what I had available to me. I
asked about the costs, and he told me we would start with the cheaper
tests. If we needed to do further testing, we could set up a payment
plan. I know most vets say full payment due day of service, but if you
have been going to the same vet for years and years, they will accept
payments. They just don't want to get stuck with unknown people who may
never pay their bill.

I did get lucky. The x-ray showed the enlarged heart, and his gut
feeling was that the heart was healthy, and this was a result of
breeding the dogs down in size. He recommended a diet, and do a new
x-ray in 6 months. If the weight loss removed the symptoms, and the
heart stayed the same size, then there was no reason to test further.
He was right, and 9 years later, she is doing great.

But it was nice to know that he was happy to start with the cheaper
options, doesn't push for unnecessary testing, and will accept payments
if necessary.