Vets as service providers

You should be provided with clear and easy to understand information about how your vet bill has been calculated and what it is you are being charged for.  

The price of a service must be provided on request or, if an exact price can’t be given, the method for calculating the price should be explained to you.

Vets, regarded as service providers under the law, also have a duty to provide a service with reasonable care and skill under the Consumer Rights Act.

Vets also have a duty under the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) Code of Professional Conduct to be open and honest about vet fees.  

We didn’t agree a price before the treatment

In circumstances where the price is not agreed beforehand, the Consumer Rights Act stipulates that the service must be provided for a reasonable price.

Remind your vet of this, if you think the vet bill is unreasonably expensive, and ask them to show you the cost calculations for how they reached their conclusion.

The service wasn’t good enough

The Consumer Rights Act also requires service providers, such as vets, to perform their services with reasonable care and skill.  

If you think the service your vet provided wasn’t carried out with reasonable care and skill, then the vet must either perform part of the service done inadequately or they must do the whole service again at no extra cost.

If repeating the procedure or treatment isn’t possible, your vet must provide a price reduction or refund for the service they carried out.

Complain to the practice

If you’re unhappy with the fees your vet is charging, speak to the practice first to discuss your concerns.

If you can’t resolve the issue amicably, ask for the complaints procedure and try to resolve the issue directly with the veterinary surgeon/practice.

All veterinary practices will have their own complaints procedures to deal with concerns raised by clients.

If you need to escalate your complaint further, in most cases you will need to have raised your concerns in writing with the practice first.

When asked, veterinary surgeons must give you the details of the practice's complaints handling policy, their regulator and the details of their insurer.

Escalate your complaint

If your concern relates to the fees you have been charged, the service you have received from a veterinary practice or negligence, you would need to complain to the voluntary, independent and free mediation service Veterinary Client Mediation Service (VCMS) which can help you if you are seeking:

  • an apology
  • a refund
  • corrective/further treatment
  • a goodwill payment

You can contact the VCMS directly using 0345 040 5834 or enquiries@vetmediation.co.uk.

The VCMS scheme is voluntary, so this means that the veterinary surgeon must agree to VCMS’ involvement.

Complaining about unprofessional conduct

The RCVS can only deal with the most serious concerns that relate to a veterinary surgeons professional conduct, which includes:

  • very poor professional performance where there are serious departures from the standards set out in the RCVS Code of Professional Conduct
  • fraud or dishonesty
  • criminal convictions or cautions
  • physical or mental health problems affecting ability to work

Read our guide on what to do if you’re unhappy with your vet for more information on how to make a complaint about professional conduct or a service provided without reasonable care and skill.

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