Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Goodbye to the Shangri-La

“I’m not calling for a guest,” explained a desk clerk from the Shangri-La in Santa Monica. “I have a question…. In your arrangement with hotels, do you ever pay anything when we call?”

“That’s illegal,” I said. “I’m happy to give employees free medical care, but it’s against the law for a doctor to pay to get a patient.”

“Is that so? Are you sure?”

“Google it. It’s called a referral fee; it’s unethical and also against the law in California. If you use a doctor who’s breaking one law, what other laws might he break?....”  

“Oh, this is just for our own information. I appreciate your help, doctor. Thanks.”

Goodbye to the Shangri-La, I said to myself after she hung up. I’ve been going there since 1985, but the Shangri-La is not large. Since I give plenty of free phone advice, months may pass before I make an appearance, so most employees have never seen me. I don’t market myself, and most general managers leave the choice of a doctor up to the employee, so I regularly lose hotels when a competitor offers his services with the promise of a referral fee.

Sometimes, often years later, they return. Google “Doctor Jules M. Lusman.” He took a number of hotels away from me, but I regained them.    

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