Terms and conditions
The Practice: Stowe Veterinary Group, incorporating Stowe Veterinary Centre, Ipswich Veterinary Centre Limited, Moreton Hall Veterinary Centre Limited, Stowe Animal Health, The Mustard Pot Veterinary Surgery, The Old Tea Room Veterinary Surgery.
The Client: “Owner or responsible guardian of the animal”
No addition or variation of these conditions will bind The Practice unless it is specifically agreed in writing and signed by one of the partners of The Practice. No agent or person employed by, or under contract with, the Practice has the authority to alter or vary these conditions in any way. These Terms and Conditions supersede and replace any previous Terms and Conditions issued by the Practice.
1. Appointments and Consultations.
Clients and their animals are attended to by veterinary surgeons during working hours by appointment. The allocation of an appointment is the basis of charging for consultations. We reserve the right to charge a consultation fee for missed appointments. Each surgery will display normal opening hours and these will vary according to the surgery and day of the week.
2. ‘Out of Hours’ 24-hour Emergency Service.
‘Out of Hours’ 24-hour Emergency Service. The Practice provides an out-of-hours emergency service for The Client’s animals with urgent or serious problems only. The emergency number is provided to The Client through the telephone answering-machine. The Practice also provides non-appointment emergency clinics for serious cases only every Sunday and bank holiday at 10am and 5pm at two centres:- Stowe Veterinary Centre, 54 Bury Road, Stowmarket, IP14 1JF and Ipswich Veterinary Centre, Donald Mackintosh Way, Ipswich, IP8 3LQ. This is for the benefit of The Client that may wish for their animal to be seen before normal opening hours. The Client will be charged a higher fee by the duty veterinary surgeon for consultations during the ‘out of hours’ service. The nature of the service provided is at the discretion of the veterinary surgeon on duty. Home visits are not usually practical ‘out of hours’ and The Client will need to make arrangements for the animal to be brought to a veterinary centre.
All fees, medicines and products are charged inclusive of VAT at the current rate. The Client will receive a receipt for over-the-counter payments and should retain these receipts for future reference. If requested, a detailed invoice can be provided for every consultation, surgical procedure or transaction. For work undertaken on surgery premises, fees are due for settlement at the end of the consultation, the discharge of the animal from hospital, completion of examination/vaccination/surgical procedure or upon collection of medicines etc. Charges from third parties, such as external laboratories, will be added to the outstanding fees when the Practice receives them and an invoice for payment within seven days will be sent as soon as the results have been reported and processed. For work undertaken away from the veterinary premises, unless the Client is an account holder, the Practice will ask for payment by one of the methods below for set routine work before the visit or within 24 hours (e.g. visit to vaccinate a given number of animals). For other work the Practice will invoice the Client as soon as the work has been booked up and processed. The Practice will expect payment for this work within SEVEN days. Charges from external laboratories etc. will be added to the outstanding fees at the time they are received; receiving such invoices DOES NOT make the Client an account holder. Routine work for new clients and out of area purchasers is to be paid for in full and before the work is undertaken.
4. Estimates of Treatment Costs.
The Practice can provide an estimate of probable costs for procedures and treatment although such treatments and procedures may not follow a conventional course and therefore an estimate can only be approximate. In the case of routine procedures, the Practice can provide a quotation. Some additional fees may be added to quotations for necessary services and goods provided in unforeseen circumstances. Any overpayments based upon estimates will be refunded on request or may be left as credit at the Client’s discretion.
5. Medicines Determination Fee.
A professional charge is included within the price of medicines supplied by the Practice to the majority of its clients. This charge is entitled “medicines determination supply and monitoring fee” (MDF) and covers the costs for recording of medicines prescribed as part of an animal’s individual clinical record, overseeing the selection, usage and quality of medicines used and recommended and also maintaining a 24-hour veterinary advice line in the event of any adverse reactions and the Practice’s responsibility for the ongoing care and clinical advice for animals receiving the medication. It is necessary for the Practice to charge this fee to Clients that request a written prescription to source the medicines elsewhere.
All transactions (a transaction is defined as a transfer or sale of goods, services, treatments and fees from the Practice to the Client) are to be paid for at the time in order to keep costs as low as possible. The Practice accepts cash, credit and debit cards and can take payment in advance. The Practice does not routinely accept cheques. Payments by non “chip and pin” cards will not be accepted. The Practice reserves the right to request a deposit of approximately 50% of the anticipated costs for non-routine surgical procedures. In cases where a patient is admitted for disease investigation, surgery and/or prolonged treatment, or where the Client has no previous financial history with the Practice, the Practice may require payment of some or all of the estimated fees in advance of starting treatment. With ongoing cases, the Practice may require the Client to make interim payments.
7. Agreed Payment Plans.
The Practice welcomes any forewarning of genuine inability to pay as required under Clause 6. Special payment terms to pay in instalments, or in full at an agreed date may be considered and may be sanctioned only with the express permission of the Credit Control Department. (The veterinary surgeon, nurse or receptionist is not authorised to agree payment plans). In exceptional circumstances only, the Client may, at the Practice’s discretion, be offered a monthly payment plan that requires either setting up a monthly bank direct debit, or giving the Practice written authority to take monthly payments from a debit/credit card. If the Client defaults on any pre-agreed payment plan, the Practice will make contact and will expect payments to be re-established immediately. If contact is not possible and payment is not made within seven days of the due date, then the account will be suspended and referred (see Clause 10). Fees for vaccinations and other routine procedures do not attract payment terms under any circumstances.
8. Payment Terms – Insured Pets.
Clients with insured pets that have incurred fees are required to pay the Practice in full in accordance with Clause 6 above. At the Practice’s discretion, it may be possible to set up a payment plan or, with evidence of a valid and appropriate insurance policy in place, the Practice may take payment of the policy excess (es) and payment for all goods not covered by the policy, providing the claim form instructs the insurers for direct payment to be made to the Practice. If the Insurance Company declines payment, the Client is responsible for immediate payment in full, under the Terms detailed herein. The policy is a contract between the Client and the Insurer. The Practice is not registered to recommend specific insurance products and cannot give advice or liaise directly with the insurance provider. The Practice will be happy to discuss the level of insurance taken out and the specific cover provided – this is particularly important for equine clients in relation to any cases that may require specialist referral. The Practice reserves the right to charge for processing claim forms – fees for this service are not covered by insurance policies.
9. Payment Terms – Account Holders.
The Practice can only consider account facilities to commercial and farming enterprises and the issuing of invoices and statements is a service provision for those who agree with the payment terms of 30 days from invoice date. The Practice may apply fees in cases of non-payment and late payment and reserves the right to withdraw the account facility at any time. Charges for non-payment and late payment will be shown on subsequent statements. Statements are issued at least monthly. Refer to Clause 10 Payment – Defaults.
10. Payment – Defaults.
Should the Client default on a payment, either at the time of the transaction or any pre-agreed payment plan, inc. account holders, for any reason, the Practice reserves the right to suspend services and to refuse to attend to any animal registered at the client’s home address, until full payment is received. The outstanding amount may attract interest from the payment due date and can be subject to an accountancy fee each time a statement is issued for the outstanding amount. Goods which have not been paid for, will remain the property of the Practice until payment is received in full. When the Client owes money to the Practice, if a request is made to release patient records to another veterinary practice, this request will be met only when payment is made in full. Due consideration will be made regarding the health of the patient. Where outstanding fees become overdue for more than seven days of the transaction, then a reminder will be sent. If payment is not received within 30 days of the transaction, then an accountancy fee may be charged for the administrative costs incurred. Should further reminders be required, an accounting fee may be charged each time a reminder is sent. In addition to this, interest may be charged at 4.5% per annum above the Barclays’ Bank base rate on fees outstanding after 45 days of the transaction date. For all clients, these additional charges may be deducted if payment is made promptly within seven days, but only at the discretion of the credit control department. Fees that continue to remain overdue beyond this date will be referred to the Practice’s Debt Collection Agency and further charges will be levied in respect of costs incurred in collecting the debt (such as production of reports, correspondence, Her Majesty’s Court fees, phone calls, home visits, etc). The Client should be aware that court proceedings may cause credit worthiness to be questioned elsewhere. If the Practice resorts to legal action, then no further treatment will be offered to the Client’s pet or any other animals. (This will not affect the animal’s right for the Practice to provide the animal with limited emergency treatment to alleviate pain and suffering only). If the Practice agrees to retain the Client with a previous payment default record, all future transactions will be on a strictly cash only and payment at the time basis.
11. Payment – Unsupported.
Any credit card payments not honoured, any cash tendered found to be counterfeit and any cheque payments returned by the bank as not honoured, will result in the Client’s record being restored to the original sum outstanding. Further charges will be added in respect of bank charges and administrative costs and full payment will then be due immediately. Failure to pay at this time will render the Client liable to interest charges on the original sum from the date of the transaction. Fraudulent transactions will be reported to the police.
12. Referral Cases.
If the Practice needs to refer any cases to a specialist external centre, then payment is due directly to that centre and will be under their terms of business. The Practice is unable to pay fees on the Client’s behalf.
The Practice reserves the right to request references to confirm details of residence and reliability of payment.
14. Complaints and Standards.
The Practice hopes that the Client never has recourse to complain about the standards of service received from The Practice. If at any time the Client would like to discuss how any part of the service could be improved, or is dissatisfied with any aspect of the service the Client has received, the Client should contact a Partner or the Practice Manager in the first instance. The Practice values the Client’s opinions and undertakes to look into any complaint carefully and promptly and do everything reasonable to address concerns.
15. Ownership of Radiographs and Other Records.
The care given to the Client’s animal may involve making some specific investigations, for example taking radiographs, ECG or performing ultrasound scans. Even though the Practice makes a charge for carrying out these investigations and interpreting their results, ownership of the resulting record, for example a radiograph, remains with the Practice.
From time-to-time photographs are taken within the premises and may include images of the Client and/or their animals. If for any reason the Client does not wish images to be taken or used, they should inform the Practice Manager in writing.
17. Non-Licensed Medicines.
At a veterinary surgeon’s discretion where no equivalent licensed medicine exists, it may be deemed appropriate to prescribe a medicine that is not specifically licensed for use in a particular species. In such cases, the veterinary surgeon will explain the potential side effects and any precautions to the Client.
18. Student Veterinary Surgeons and Nurses.
As an approved training centre, veterinary students and trainee nurses under qualified guidance, may be involved in the care of the Client’s pets.
19. Import/Export of Animals/Pet Passports.
It is the responsibility of the Client or his/her agent to ensure that requirements for the import/export of animals are met and/or that the requirements are met under the terms of travel for the Pet Travel Scheme. The Practice does not undertake the duties of an export agent and recommends the Client contacts DEFRA for current and accurate advice.
20. Reminding Service.
Please note that the Client is responsible for maintaining the schedule of vaccinations or treatments recommended. While the Practice may provide a reminder service for the convenience of the Client, it does not accept any responsibility in so doing.
21. Data Protection.
The Practice is registered under the Data Protection Act 1998. The Practice will use the data provided by the Client for the purpose of record keeping, updating and enhancing reports and publications. The Practice shares data only with companies authorised by the Partners and will include A T Veterinary Systems Ltd and Central Veterinary Services Ltd. The Practice will maintain the Client’s confidentiality at all times and will not allow any unwarranted breach of confidentiality nor will it contravene its obligations under the Data Protection Act 1998. A formal request for access to personal data that is held can be made in writing to The Practice.
22. National Veterinary Database Service (NVDS)
The Practice subscribes to the NVDS and provides microchip registration and other data to NVD as well as updated information. This service facilitates legal microchip requirements as well as helping to ensure lost pets are reunited.
23. Severances and Variation of Terms and Conditions of Business.
If any of these Terms and Conditions should be determined to be invalid, illegal or unenforceable for any reason by any Court or competent jurisdiction, then such Term or Condition shall be severed and the remaining Terms and Conditions shall survive and remain in full force and effect and continue to be binding and enforceable.