Monday, April 21, 2014

Losing the Chateau Marmont

The Chateau Marmont is a funky art-deco apartment converted to a hotel in the 1930s with nine nearby cottages acquired during the 1940s.  John Belushi died in one cottage in 1982, but that was a few years before I became its doctor. 

I’ve made 157 visits. My last, in 2002, was not at the request of the hotel but of a national house call agency, Concierge Care. I collect my usual fee, but these agencies charge a good deal more. It rarely causes a problem because the guest has agreed to pay by the time I arrive.

Unfortunately, the particular dispatcher answering Concierge Care’s 800 number hated delivering bad news. As a result, he took down the caller’s information and cheerfully announced that a doctor would arrive but neglected to mention the cost.

“Did you tell her the fee?” I asked, remembering an unpleasant reaction from an earlier patient.

“Yes,” he said. But he was lying. Worse, this was the first time Concierge Care had sent me to one my regular hotels.

The visit went well, but the guest’s jaw dropped when I handed her my invoice for $400. This was 2002 when the dollar was worth something. Hearing that I only earned $150 did not relieve her distress. Not possessing cash or a credit card, she phoned the front desk to ask the hotel to put it on her bill. She also expressed displeasure at the size of “the hotel doctor’s” fee.

As the desk clerk counted out the $400 (probably more than his weekly pay), I explained that I was making this visit for a house call agency which was responsible for the fee. He nodded politely, but the Chateau Marmont has not called since.

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