Confession: I Purposefully Didn’t Pay A Bill

Now, I’ve not paid bills many times over my life either because I didn’t have the money or I just plain forgot but only once have I purposefully refused to pay.

Here’s the story.

A few weeks after Noah was born I was up all night with horrible tooth pain. So the next morning I found a dentist nearby that could see me. After explaining that I was in horrible pain the dentist examined my teeth and even took x-rays. They determined that I had a small cavity that needed to be filled but nothing was urgent. They scheduled my filling for 3 months from that day. 3 MONTHS.

The rest of the day I continued in pain and had another sleepless night. Joe insisted I see a different dentist because obviously something wasn’t right. Of course it was Friday so most dentist offices were closed but luckily I found a dentist that could fit me in. After explaining to the doctor that I had seen another dentist the previous day and was still in horrible pain he was shocked that they would send a patient home in pain. He examined my teeth and took x-rays to find that my TOOTH WAS CRACKED IN HALF. He was befuddled as to how the other dentist could have missed such a huge problem. Even though his day was full this doctor worked me in so that I wouldn’t go home in pain. He gave me a temporary crown and did whatever magic dentists do to make the pain go away. A few weeks later I returned to get my permanent crown and everything was glorious.

At the time we had dental insurance that typically require we pay upfront and then they would reimburse us.  However, the first dentist I saw said they would file my insurance and then mail me a bill for the remainder, this is why I chose them in the first place. The second doctor I had to pay out of pocket and insurance reimbursed us a huge amount of the bill (granted the bill was pretty huge to begin with). The 1st dentist office was small and ghetto. The 2nd dentist office was huge and swanky. (I mean seriously they had a huge stone fireplace in the waiting room, it looked like a ski lodge. And each exam room had their own jelly fish tank and personal flat-screen TV.)

A few weeks later we get a bill from the 1st dentist. Insurance didn’t cover the total cost of my x-ray. I called and explained that I wasn’t very pleased with their service and had to see another doctor the day after my visit and that they missed a huge crack in my tooth. The lady I spoke with was rather snippy and said there wasn’t anything she could do about it. I explained that we had to dish out a ton of money to get my tooth fixed at a different dentist and I felt it wasn’t warranted that I pay for the service they failed to provide me. She didn’t care. So I decided to not pay the bill.

I know it probably wasn’t the right thing to do and I probably could have escalated the issue further to my insurance company or to the dentist but I really didn’t have the energy to fight with them. (Remember I had a new baby, a new baby that had feeding/medical issues that took up most of my time and money.) So I just didn’t pay.

For a few months I would get past-due notices and unpleasant mail. Then 3 MONTHS later I got a reminder call for the filling appointment I’d made on my previous visit… for the tooth that had already been fixed… because it WAS CRACKED IN HALF. I politely told the receptionist, who wasn’t the same lady I spoke with previously, that I no longer needed the appointment. The mail eventually stopped… after we moved.

I don’t feel bad about not paying them. Actually, I’m still pretty pissed that they sent me home in pain saying I was fine when clearly I wasn’t.

Have you ever purposefully refused to pay a bill?
Do you think it’s right/justifiable?


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