Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Big Business of Lasik (OR More Kvetching)

I knew going into the Lasik thing that Laser surgery is big business. In fact, I had a recommendation from a close friend for a perfectly respectable single practitioner instead of a larger, more business-like "eye center" that I probably should have taken. But, I chose the more convenient route and went with one of those places whose ads you can almost recite from memory because you've heard them on the radio so many times.

The biggest issue for me came after I went through all of the pre-op procedures (except for taking the Valium they provide) but before the surgery. I'm sitting there holding the little blue surgical cap that I'm supposed to use to cover my hair and they called me up to "finish the paperwork." This means pay the remainder of the fee. (We had put down a deposit.) So far so good. But then, the woman said something cheery about their current special promotion of $1,000 off if I donate $100 to a local charity.

Now, I'm all for donating to charities, but the deal I *thought* we were getting was $1,200 off. I reminded her of this. She said that the deal had expired. I told her that the person I spoke with said as long as I was scheduling it in the month of November, the rate would still be applicable. She frowned and "looked it up" on the computer. She agreed that I had made the appointment within the allotted time period. But, oh, what do you know?! Their rates have gone up exactly $100 an eye since then. How convenient!

I bitched complained a bit about how it would have been nice to know about the price increase before the day of the surgery, but by that time I *really* wanted the Valium. KIDDING. By that time, I had already gone so far down the road I wasn't about to turn back and I'm sure that's exactly what they wanted.

The good karma news is that a man sitting nearby overheard and offered me his extra $1,200 off coupon. I tried to use it and the woman did her best not to laugh in my face. She said I couldn't use two offers at once (expected and reasonable), but that the coupon had expired anyway and she grabbed it from me faster than she grabbed my American Express.

Don't get me wrong. So far the outcome is fantastic. I can see without contacts or glasses -- something I haven't been able to do since high school. The ten minutes (maximum) that I overlapped with the surgeon went really well. He seemed like a great guy. Did a heck of a job with the laser too.

It's just that the whole thing felt more like buying a car than than a medical procedure.

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