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The Case of the Runaway Treadmill
Joe Rella's Story

Joe Rella, a music teacher from the Comsewogue School District in Port Jefferson Station, Long Island tells this story of a bad service experience with his doctor.

"At one of my routine visits to the doctor for a head cold, the doctor noticed something that he said should be seen by a specialist. So I made an appointment with the specialist and he wanted to do a stress test, complete with the treadmill.

"He had me strip to my shorts and the nurse plastered sticky things all over my body. She told me they were electrodes, which were hooked to some wires that ran into a computer. She also put that cuff-thing (I don't remember what it's called.) around my arm for taking blood pressure. So I look like terminal man, or some astronaut, in his underwear.

"Then the doctor started me walking along the treadmill. The nurse tells me that if at any time I feel pain, to say so and they'll stop. So I'm walking. 'How are you doing?' , he says. 'Fine, no problem.' 'Okay, were going to speed it up a bit.' So I start jogging. 'How is it now?' 'Okay.' I'm working, but I'm okay. So he says, 'I'm going to increase the speed and the incline.' I'm really working at it now, and breathing hard. 'How are you doing?' 'I'm ...not ...having ...any ...fun,' I gasp. 'Good, I'm cranking it up now. Be sure to hang on tight to the bar. ...How is it now?' I'm hanging on for dear life, running like a bat out of hell, and trying to figure out where I'm going to get some air. All I could answer sounded something like a-huh-a-huh-a-huh. To which the good doctor said, 'Good, let's take it all the way up.' And as he pushed the pedal to the metal, I lost my grip and went flying backwards across the room, ripping the electrodes (and much of the hair) off my body, landing on the floor in the heap.

"The doctor wouldn't look at me and didn't say a thing. He's staring at the paper readout and the computer which is now pulled half off the wall. The nurse couldn't control her laughter. With tears in her eyes she asks if I'm OK. At least she's nice enough to help me up off the floor and remove the sticky things off my body so I could towel off and get dressed. The doctor muttered something about seeing him in his office and he leaves the room.

"When I walked in, the doctor still wouldn't look at me. He's looking at the pile of printout from the computer. The first thing he says is 'I'm very disappointed. You only got 90% of the way though the test. I'd like you to come back so we can complete it.' As politely as I could, I told him I would probably be back about the time that Hell froze over.

"Later that night, when I was getting undressed at home, I found they had missed removing one of the sticky things from the middle of my chest. My seven year old looked at it and asked my wife, Mommy, why does Daddy have three of those? "

Discussion questions:

1. Was the doctor client-focused or organization-focused? How about the nurse?
2. How many things did you notice that characterize bad service?

Short Quote:

Case Study
© Copyright 1996, 2000, HP Management Decisions Ltd., All Rights Reserved.

Author:Kelley, Mike
Title:The Case of the Runaway Treadmill
Place (City):
Publication Date:2/20/96
Source Type:
Quote Number:258
Categories:Case Studies, Customer Service