I read a story in my local paper yesterday entitled Internet gives angry consumers new power, which began with a story about a man named Sterling Bishop who was unhappy with the work Pep Boys had done on his car. Mr. Bishop made a video showcasing the shoddy work, put it out on You-Tube, and finally got Pep Boys’ attention. The point to the story was that the internet can be used as a tool to balance the vendor-consumer equation because it allows the “little guy” to take on the vendor-goliath in a very public way.
As I thought about it, I realized that is just what William LLoyd Sheely is doing. Mr. Sheely contacted me several weeks ago to make me aware of his blog about his mother’s death from cancer when, Mr. Sheely claims (and provides proof with scans of documents on his blog), nobody ever acknowledged that his mother had cancer.
Mr. Sheely’s blog is a rant against the doctors and facilities that treated his mother. And he names them all. There’s no question about who the offenders were. Doctor’s names. Hospitals names. Right there in black and white.
There are some real commonalities between Sterling Bishop and Lloyd Sheely. Except for one thing. And that’s the advice I’ll provide for you today.
Having a clear goal for your online complaint can make all the difference in outcomes. In the case of Sterling Bishop, he knew what his goal was — he wanted his car fixed correctly and he wanted Pep Boys to make it right. Before he went public on the internet, they had been unwilling to do so. Now, it seems, the car is fixed.
Mr. Sheely doesn’t have a clear goal, and as a result, he won’t receive the same satisfaction. Is his goal to put the doctors and hospital out of business? I hope not, because too many others who are being helped by those doctors and that hospital would be hurt. Is his goal to get them to acknowledge their errors? Even apologize? Perhaps. But I can’t find that request anywhere. Does he think he should be entitled to money? Or forgiveness of bills? In his heart, he probably hopes it will bring his mother back to life, but of course, that can’t happen.
I wrote to him and asked him what his goals were, but his reply to me wasn’t much clearer. Perhaps his blog is simply a catharsis. Hard to tell.
Again — that’s the point. If you feel like your health or that of a loved one has been wronged by a healthcare provider or facility in some way — by all means — complain! But be clear about your expectations of those you complain to. State your goals clearly so they know what it is you want them to do. They can’t read your mind, and you can’t expect them to read between the lines either.
Stating your goals is also a way of managing your own expectations. If you don’t, you’ll never find the satisfaction you seek and your frustration and anger will never be resolved.
That’s good consumerism — and — it’s sharp patienting. It’s Patientude* at it’s finest.
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*Patientude: the attitude and skills that get you the health care you deserve