Paying Your Bills Should Be A Priority, But… Yikes

, , , , , | Healthy | June 28, 2021

I work in the accounts billable department of one of the two major hospitals in Iowa City. It’s my job, essentially, to explain to clients why the amount they have been billed isn’t what they expected.

I’m the low peon on the totem pole, being the newest hire. That means I get to deal with the clients face to face across the billing counter.

One lady is yelling at me about her bill, when suddenly she makes a very strange, strangled sound. I figure she’s having some sort of medical event, so I immediately press the emergency medical event call button.

This turns out to be a very good idea. The lady is wearing a fairly short-skirted pantsuit, so I can see her legs. Specifically, I can see the stitches on her right leg coming undone. First, the top stitch pops, then the next one, and then the next, faster and faster until she’s got an open gash from her garters to her ankles.

Despite this, and despite her collapsing almost immediately like a puppet with her strings cut, the client continues to weakly try to discuss her billing with me, even as the orderlies pick her up and transfer her to a stretcher to carry her right back into surgery.

Still in shock from this whole affair, I stare at the massive puddle of blood in the middle of the floor, and I make the mistake of asking my coworker who’s responsible for cleaning it up.

Turned out it was me.

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The Only Thing More Painful Than Getting The Bill Is GETTING The Bill

, , , , , | Healthy | June 27, 2021

Due to some… up and down employment, I decide to subscribe to a third-party insurance company to cover emergency expenses. They give me a preloaded debit card to pay for my care, and I upload a receipt later. So, it’s become commonplace for me to ask my providers for an itemized receipt after care. This USUALLY isn’t a problem. I go in for an annual blood draw.

Me: “Hey, I need an itemized receipt for my insurance. Is that something you can do?”

Nurse: “Absolutely! Just ask the woman for it when you go to pay.”

I go around the corner to pay.

Me: “Hey, I need an itemized receipt for my insurance. Can you print that out for me?”

Receptionist #1: “Oh, we don’t do that here. You’ll have to go around the corner and down the hall to billing.”

I head around the corner and down the hall to billing.

Me: “Hey, I need an itemized receipt for my insurance. Can you print that out for me?”

Receptionist #2: “Did you get care today? Because it won’t be in the system yet. Here, call back in a week and speak to [Receptionist #3]. She’ll be able to get you the receipt.”

I wait a week and call. [Receptionist #3] is available and I get her on the phone.

Me: “Hey, I need an itemized receipt for my insurance. Can you print that out for me?”

Receptionist #3: “Oh, of course. Would you like it mailed? I can send it out today.”

Me: “That would be great, thanks!”

So, I wait. And wait. And wait. And the letter never comes. Finally, almost three weeks after my actual blood draw, I call again.

Me: “Hey, I need an itemized receipt for my insurance. Can you print that out for me?”

Receptionist #4: “Of course, just give me your information.”

Me: “Can I come pick it up, please?”

Receptionist #4: “Uh, sure? Just give me your name and I’ll mark it down.”

I do so, and drive over; luckily it’s just down the street. FINALLY, I have the receipt. It seemed like such a simple request, but it turned into a video game fetch quest.

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It Makes Cents To Be Stern

, , , , , | Working | June 8, 2021

I recently moved in with my girlfriend. This means our combined income changed our eligibility for certain tax and municipality rebates, so I was prepared for letters from the city council. I was not prepared for how thorough this new city’s governance actually is.

Month #1: We received a sternly-worded letter stating that we would be receiving a letter regarding a council tax.

Month #2: We received a sternly-worded letter stating that the council tax would be reevaluated and we would be receiving a revised estimate.

Month #3a: We received a sternly-worded letter stating that we would be owing extra taxes and could expect an invoice and new estimate.

Month #3b: We received a brochure about our options if we could not repay right away.

Month #4: We received a sternly worded letter with an invoice attached.

Obviously, we made sure we repaid the eighty-three cents as soon as possible. 

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Should Put Their Energy Into Paying Their Energy

, , , , , | Right | May 5, 2021

I work for an energy supplier. A tenant sends us documents proving he moved out of a property we supply two months ago. He assumed his landlord had already contacted us, but he just received his quarterly statement and wanted to let us know he isn’t in the property anymore. He pays up to the day he moved out and provides the address of his landlord to send the bill for the last two months. The landlord calls us.

Landlord: “Why are you sending me a bill? I never gave you my address!”

Me: “Your address was provided to us by your tenant.”

Landlord: “They can’t do that, and you can’t bill me because I never consented to you supplying me once they moved out.”

Me: “Sir, we were only recently advised of the move-out. We’ve been supplying the property for two months since then and the energy needs to be paid for.”

Landlord: “It’s estimated, though; no one’s living there. How can it be so much?”

Me: “Our system is just estimating the usage based on previous usage. If you can give us more recent meter readings, we can get a more accurate bill for you.”

Landlord: “I don’t have that. I haven’t been there in weeks and I won’t be able to visit until next month.”

Me: “I’m sorry, but without those, we have to go by the estimation.”

Landlord: “Just send someone out to read it yourselves!”

Me: “Sir, we have no way of accessing the property to do that unless you let us in.”

Landlord: “Just use your key!”

Me: “Did you provide us with a key?”

Landlord: “Of course not!”

Me: “Then how would we have a key?”

Landlord: “All you suppliers have keys to the properties you supply.”

Me: “Sir, that’s just not true. You will need to pay the estimation if you cannot provide meter readings.”

Landlord: “I’m not paying it! You had no right to keep supplying the property, and this rate is ridiculous. How can you charge this?! It’s criminal!”

Me: “That would be our standard tariff rate. If a customer doesn’t sign up for one of our other tariffs, then we put them on this.”

Landlord: “That’s illegal! You should always put them on the cheapest tariff!”

Me: “I’m sorry, but our cheapest tariff means agreeing to have a smart meter install—”

Landlord: “I don’t want a smart meter!”

Me: “We understand that some people don’t want smart meters which is why we don’t put you on this tariff without speaking with you first.”

Landlord: “That’s criminal. There are a lot of elderly people who don’t like smart meters. You’re discriminating against them and forcing them to pay higher rates!”

Me: “Sir. Criminal would be forcing you to have a smart meter. If customers are unhappy with our prices, they always have the option of switching suppliers.”

Landlord: “Well, I definitely will be switching. This is disgusting and I will not pay it! You should have called me to ask if I wanted to stay with you.”

Me: “We do not hold a phone number for you, so we would have had no way to do this. We also do not call up people asking if they want to continue with us.”

Landlord: “I don’t care what you don’t do. That’s what you should have done!”

Me: “Sir, even if that was something we did, we were not aware that your tenant moved out until recently. We had no reason to believe someone else was responsible for the bills.”

Landlord: “You. Cannot. Bill. Me. Because. I. Never. Consented. To. Have. You. As. My. Supplier!”

Me: “As the owner, it is your responsibility to advise the utility companies supplying your property of any changes to tenancy. Regardless of whether or not you chose us, you are responsible for this bill.”

Landlord: “I never consented to f****** being with you! You cannot charge me!”

Me: “I’m sorry, but you should have arranged for another supplier to take over if you didn’t want to be with us.”

Landlord: “No, you should have just stopped the supply!”

Me: “Again, we did not know of the move out until recently, and since you did not contact us, we had no way to know you did not wish to continue with us.”

Landlord: “Which is why you should have f****** called me!”

Me: “Sir, please do not swear. We had no phone number and no way to call you.”

Landlord: “I’ll swear if I f****** want to! You’re a grown woman; just deal with it!”

Me: “You’re right, I am a grown woman, and as such, I have every right to ask you not to swear. I also have every right to disconnect this call, so please do not swear at me when I am just doing my job.”

Landlord: “I’m not paying this and I will be contacting my lawyer. You are all a bunch of scammers!” *Click*

It was another two months before he got round to switching the supplier, and yes, he had to pay for the energy used during this time.

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A Special Deal On Stupid

, , , , , | Working | May 4, 2021

I’m searching around for new broadband deals when I spot a deal too good to be true. I call them up to check.

Me: “Hi. I’ve noticed you had a TV and Internet deal for [price], but without the TV it’s more expensive?”

Salesperson: “That’s right. We give you a box on which you can watch on-demand shows, films, and free-to-air channels.”

Me: “And this is cheaper than taking an Internet-only deal?”

Salesperson: “it is!”

Me: “Sign me up.”

I switch over to the company and I throw the TV box in a corner; I have no need for it. A few months later, I get a phone call from the same company.

Salesperson: “Our records show that you haven’t connected your TV box up to the Internet. Are you having problems with it?”

Me: “No, I just don’t want to use it.”

Salesperson: “But you’re paying for it.”

Me: “Actually, it was cheaper to do it that way.”

Salesperson: “Oh, okay, then. Would you like to return the TV box? We can send prepaid return packaging.”

Me: “Do I have to stop my TV package and pay more?”

Salesperson: “Let me check… Yes, you revert to the other package and your new monthly bill would be [amount] more.”

Me: “Then no. I think I will keep it.”

Salesperson: “Oh? Okay. Well, if you’re sure.”

I got a few more calls exactly like that one. The company stopped offering the package after a while. I guess no one wanted to pay more for less.

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