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18 September 2010

Acupuncture etiquette My acupuncturist has prescribed/recommended three different herbal supplements to me. She is now asking me if I've finished them yet. I can get the exact same supplements (same brand and all) online for a third of the price. I feel very awkward about saying, "I actually bought them online" next time she asks me. Is that ridiculous? Or do I have some obligation to purchase from her while she is treating me?
If she disapproves of you buying the exact same thing online, then i'd take that as a sign that she's a bit shady.
posted by DarkForest 18 September | 15:49
I would definitely tell her you're getting them cheaper elsewhere. She's marking them up and making a nice little chunk of money off of you and wants that to continue, but too bad.
posted by iconomy 18 September | 15:58
No obligation. Tell her you are getting them online, or just say no, you haven't finished them yet, every time she asks.
posted by bearwife 18 September | 16:10
I sometimes feel a bit of an obligation to keep buying products from practitioners who recommended the product, even at a bit of a mark-up, because I think that if the product is working, then the practitioner deserves a bit of the profit for making the recommendation.

However, a 200% mark-up would take it out of that realm, I think. Maybe let her know that the products are working great (I assume, otherwise you wouldn't be repurchasing), but that her prices were a bit hard for you to pay, and so you feel lucky that you were able to find them cheaper online so that you could continue following her recommendations. (That sentence is convoluted, but I'm hoping it makes sense -- basically, thank her for introducing you to a product that works, let her know that you want to keep using the product because she made such a great recommendation, and the only way you can keep using the product is by buying it from someone other than her.) As DarkForest said, if she gets her nose out of joint at that point, then it's probably a bad sign.
posted by occhiblu 18 September | 16:34
(I assume, otherwise you wouldn't be repurchasing)

I can't tell at this point if they're working, and I wouldn't be able to for a while.
posted by amro 18 September | 16:39
Ah. Well, maybe switch that to "I really have faith in what you're recommending," then.
posted by occhiblu 18 September | 16:45
I was actually talking to my esthetician about this the other day. She said that she feels ethically required to recommend products that she thinks will help clients with the problems they come into her with, because she feels that's part of her role as expert and therefore part of the service she's receiving money for. She has no problem with people saying no to the products she recommends, and she'd much rather that they say no if they don't want the products rather than feel bullied into saying yes and then getting resentful about it. So while she's aware that no matter how non-pushy she is (and she's pretty non-pushy) some people might nevertheless feel pushed, she feels she has to recommend stuff (though not necessarily sell stuff) anyway otherwise she really wouldn't be doing her job.

I don't know if any of that helps, but I thought it was interesting to hear the other side of it. (And it made me feel better about saying no to products she was recommending that day!)
posted by occhiblu 18 September | 20:07
Hmm... Well, the acupuncturist is a legit doctor of traditional Chinese medicine, so I feel like the herbal supplements are more like medications she's prescribing, even though they're over the counter. But I also don't really know if studies have been done on the efficacy of any of these herbs, I'm just trying to be open-minded to it all...
posted by amro 18 September | 20:58
The closest thing I can personally compare this to is my bicycle shop. Everything I get there I can usually get cheaper online. But I try to support them because they've been very good to me in terms of advice, instruction, etc. If you feel you've gotten similar "above and beyond" service from your acupuncturist, then buy the stuff from them, knowing that it is more expensive, almost like a tip or a way of saying thank you. If you don't feel you owe them a tip or thank you, get it online.
posted by Doohickie 18 September | 22:14
It's just so hard to say. I just started seeing her about two weeks ago, and I'm not seeing her for anything for which I'd see immediate results.
posted by amro 18 September | 22:17
Nthing no obligation. The acu I see has recommended stuff from time to time, but I buy it at a place in Chinatown, not from her.
posted by brujita 19 September | 00:01
My naturopath sells me a bajillion and one supplements from her office, HOWEVER, anytime she knows where to get it cheaper she tells me to get it there. Any good medical practitioner is going to want you to get the treatment you need first and foremost. If they are more worried about making a profit off what they can sell you then there is a conflict of interest. If you tell the acupuncturist you can get the exact same thing elsewhere for cheaper and she is bothered by this, it's time to find a new acupuncturist.
posted by evilcupcakes 19 September | 12:51
Well, I spoke to the friend who recommended my acupuncturist to me, and she said that the doctor will have no problem with me buying the pills online. So I'm feeling better. Thank you all as well for your advice.
posted by amro 19 September | 13:21
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