Not Willing To Billing

, , , , , | Healthy | April 29, 2019

(I have medications being filled on a 30-day supply. My insurance company requires me to call every month and verify that I do need the medicine and that my health panel — age, weight, allergies, etc. — is up to date. I made my call earlier this month, letting them know that I would be on vacation when the medications were scheduled to be delivered and asked if they would deliver without requiring a signature. The representative said it was fine and told me that my medicine would arrive while I was gone. I asked my sister to check on the house while I was gone, specifically mentioning the delivery and the rough timeline I was given. When I come home, she tells me that there have been no deliveries. I call my insurance company again.)

Representative #1: “[Insurance], this is [Rep #1] speaking. Can I have your name and policy number, please?”

Me: “Hi, my name is [My Name]; my policy number is [number].”

Representative #1: “Okay, I have your account here. How can I help you?”

Me: “I was supposed to have some medicine delivered, but nothing has arrived.”

Representative #1: “Okay, I see here that we attempted to deliver on [date] but there was no one home to sign.”

Me: “I was told I could opt out of the signature because I was out of town.”

Representative #1: “No.”

Me: “…”

Representative #1: “…”

Me: “Can I get a new delivery scheduled?”

Representative #1: “I can add you on today’s shipment and overnight the medication to you at no additional cost.”

Me: “That’s great!”

Representative #1: “Okay, I just have to verify your info.” *we go through the same questions I answer every month* “Everything looks good. This will go out today for delivery tomorrow, with a signature required.”

Me: “Thank you!”

(The next day, I’m home all day and nothing comes. Since our package deliveries can come as late as nine pm, I’m stuck waiting all day before I can call back. The day after my delivery was to arrive, I call again. I get a different representative.)

Representative #2: “[Insurance], this is [Rep #2] speaking. Name and policy number?”

Me: “[My Name], [policy number].”

Representative #2: “Thank you, [My Name]. How can I help you?”

Me: “I spoke with [Representative #1] two days ago and was told I would have my medications delivered yesterday but nothing came.”

Representative #2: “Oh, I’m sorry about that. I see here that you tried to order [medication] on [date before vacation] and we tried to deliver but there was no one to sign.”

Me: “Yes. And I called again and was told it would be here yesterday.”

Representative #2: “I’m not showing anything like that but we can ship– Oh, wait. There’s a hold on your account for unpaid copays.”

Me: “Unpaid copays? I’ve never received a bill.”

Representative #2: “You should have received… two.”

Me: “I don’t think I did. Why was I not told of this hold when I called two days ago?”

(I open my online account to see past bills. There is nothing.)

Representative #2: “I’m not sure, ma’am. I only see a bill for $243 that needs to be paid.”

Me: “I’m confused. I’ve met my out of pocket deductibles. What is the bill for?”

Representative #2: “One moment, I can look that up for you.” *hold music* “I’m sorry, ma’am, I’m having trouble finding the specific bill.”

Me: “…”

Representative #2: “…”

Me: “So… what now?”

Representative #2: “If you want to pay in full, I can have your order shipped as early as tomorrow.”

Me: “Um… I don’t even know why I’m paying.”

Representative #2: “They’re unpaid copays.”

Me: “I’m looking at my online account and there’s nothing like that. How do I suddenly owe that much money?”

Representative #2: “Oh. Um. Hold, please.” *hold music* “Thank you for holding, ma’am. My supervisor is looking into this further. Unfortunately, we cannot authorize your medications until you pay your balance. I can take your credit card info—“

Me: “I’m not paying anything until I have an itemized bill.”

Representative #2: *huffs* “Hold.” *hold music* “Okay, ma’am, I’ve talked with my supervisor. Your balance is $243. Will that be card or check?”

Me: “That will be nothing until you tell me why I’m paying.”

Representative #2: *huffs again* “Ma’am. I am trying to work with you here. You owe copays. We cannot fill your prescriptions until you pay in full.”

Me: “And I will happily pay as soon as someone can tell me why I’m paying. I’m looking at my history right now. Not only is there nothing with a copay for the past six months, but all other bills are marked as paid.”

Representative #2: *clearly annoyed* “Would you like to speak to my supervisor, ma’am?”

Me: “Yes, I would.”

(Hold music.)

Supervisor: “Hello, [My Name]? I’m told you would like to speak to a supervisor. I’m [Supervisor].”

Me: “Yes, thank you. I called almost two weeks ago to have meds delivered. There was a miscommunication and they were not delivered. I called two days ago to have the same meds delivered as of yesterday, but they weren’t. I called today and found that I owe money and [Insurance Company] is withholding my medications until I pay. Nothing in my records shows any unpaid copay, so please tell me what is going on here.”

Supervisor: “I apologize for the inconvenience. Please be patient with me while I look into this further. Can I put you on hold?”

Me: *thinly veiled annoyance* “Yes.”

Supervisor: “Thank you.” *hold music* “Hmm. Ma’am, I apologize. I see the bill, but I’m not finding anything that it could be linked to. Unfortunately, I cannot authorize your prescription to be refilled until this bill is paid.”

Me: “Let me get this straight: your records show that I owe money. Yes?”

Supervisor: “Yes.”

Me: “You will not send my medication until I pay this bill. Correct?”

Supervisor: *uneasy* “Correct…”

Me: “But when I ask why you want me to pay, no one can tell me why. Am I wrong?”

Supervisor: “No, ma’am, you are not wrong.”

Me: “Can you see why I’m annoyed?”

Supervisor: “Yes. Please let me put you on hold one last time.”

Me: “No.”

Supervisor: “Ma’am?”

Me: “I will not be put on hold again. This phone call is already over an hour long. If you cannot tell me why I owe this money, I can only assume it’s a mistake on your end and I’m being billed for someone else’s medication or—“

Supervisor: “We are very thorough in our billing process and—“

Me: “—OR someone is committing insurance fraud and I’ll have to hire a lawyer to get this resolved.”

Supervisor: *panicked* “Um. No, no, that won’t be necessary.” *clicking keyboard* “I will see to it that your medication is shipped out today and I will put an override on the unpaid bill. I will continue to research this and get back to you as soon as I know what is going on. Is your number [phone number]?”

Me: “Yes, it is. Thank you.”

Supervisor: “Thank you, ma’am. Enjoy the rest of your day.”

(My medication was delivered the next day and yes, I signed for it. It’s been two weeks and I still haven’t heard anything about my mystery bill. I guess I’ll have to wait and see what happens when I call for my next refill!)

A Costly Nuisance

, , , , | Working | April 27, 2019

(My elderly mother tells me that she is thinking of changing her phone number, because she’s been getting prank phone calls from “a young-sounding lady,” and it has been getting worse; now more young people are ringing her with the same rubbish. It turns out that she’s used her answering machine to record one of the calls, and it is indeed a group of teens, giggling in the background, saying stupid stuff. It seems to happen around 4:00 pm every second or third day. Mum goes ahead and changes her phone number, and even pays extra to have it unlisted. She rings to tell me the new number. Problem solved! Nope. The next day she rings back; the miscreants called again ON HER NEW NUMBER! I ring the phone provider, and after getting Mum to authorise me as her spokesperson, we have the following conversation:)

Telecommunication Company: “There’s not much we can do about nuisance calls. Are they threatening in any way?”

Me: “No, not threatening, just annoying. But the problem isn’t so much the calls; it’s that they’ve persisted despite her getting a new number.”

Telecommunication Company: “Well, who has she told her new number to? It’s unlisted, so we wouldn’t give it to anyone.”

Me: “She only got it yesterday; she hasn’t told many people yet. Only my sister and me.”

Telecommunication Company: “Well, who have you told? The caller must have got it from somewhere!”

Me: “We’ve told no one! This is now officially scary. Can’t you just tell us who rang at [time] today?”

Telecommunication Company: “Sorry, no. Privacy and all that.”

Me: “What about our privacy? It’s obviously been breached!”

Telecommunication Company: “Would you like to change numbers again? It’ll be [fee], plus [extra] to have it unlisted.”

Me: “And how would that help? They obviously got the new number somehow, hours after it had been changed!”

Telecommunication Company: “Well, I’m sorry; there’s nothing more we can do.”

(Australia has a telecommunications ombudsman, an independent government organisation that you can contact if the company doesn’t fix your problem. I am preparing a complaint to them when I ask to see Mum’s telephone bill to get the required information — account number etc. Looking through the bill, I notice a $19.50 charge at the bottom that I don’t recognise. Previous bills also have the same line item, but different costs.)

Me: “Mum, what’s this charge here?”

Mum: “Oh, that started appearing on the bill a few months ago. I thought it was a new service. I’ve been meaning to get that cancelled.”

(I jump on the Internet and find out that it’s a service that allows someone to ring a specific FreeCall number, that actually calls a normal number and charges the call to that bill. Their example is to give it to your school kid and they can ring that number rather than make a reverse-charge call to the normal number every time. It cost $10 a month, and 50c a call from anywhere in Australia. You can see where this is heading… Furious, I call the company and ask for a supervisor.)

Telecommunication Company: *after re-re-re-authorising me talking about Mum’s account* “Yes, you signed up for that service seven months ago.”

Me: “No, she definitely did not. We demand a refund for the last seven months of all charges.”

Telecommunication Company: “But the phone calls have been made. We might have been able to refund the $10 service charge, but we won’t refund the calls.”

Me: “What calls? Where were the calls made from?”

Telecommunication Company: *privacy blah blah blah*

Me: “Sorry, that won’t wash. If this was authorised to access this account, then this account is allowed to know about the calls that this account is paying for.”

Telecommunication Company: “Okay, then. They were all calls from [Boarding School] in [City in another state] to [Another City in a different state].”

Me: “How is that possible? Shouldn’t the call arrive at the number associated with this account? What is this account doing paying for a call to somewhere else?”

Telecommunication Company: “Hmm. You’re right; the call actually ended up at your account’s phone.”

Me: “What is the phone number of where the call started? What is the phone number of where the phone call was supposed to go to?”

Telecommunication Company: *privacy blah blah blah*

Me: “Can you do me a favour? Can you check the notes on this account? In particular, can you see where a complaint about nuisance phone calls caused this account to have to change to a new phone number? And how that new phone number was unlisted? And how, next thing, the nuisance phone calls didn’t stop?”

Telecommunication Company: “Hmm, I see. Sorry, there’s nothing we can do about nuisance phone calls.”

Me: “Well, in this case, you can. Not only did your company make a mistake and connect this service to the wrong phone number, not only did your company not mention this mistake in any previous contact, not only did your phone company charge my mother for this mistake for the last seven months, PLUS an unlisted phone number that didn’t fix the problem, but your company has been charging my mother for the exact nuisance phone calls that she’s been receiving! First, she gets nuisance calls, and then she has to pay for them?”

Telecommunication Company: “I see what you mean. Obviously, a mistake has been made.”

Me: “This call is being recorded, right? Here is what I need you to do. 1) Refund all the charges made to this account associated with the service, including phone calls. 2) Refund all the charges associated with my mother having to change phone numbers, including for the unlisted number. 3) Cancel all future charges for having an unlisted number. 4) This is the most important: [Company] will contact the number of the person who organised this service, tell them that a mistake has been made, and that their delinquent child took advantage of the mistake to harass and annoy an innocent old lady. 5) Finally, [Company] will write a formal apology to my mother, describing how it happened and what they’ve done to fix it, including the results of that phone call.”

Telecommunication Company: “I’m not sure we can do that.”

Me: “In that case, I’m writing a formal complaint to the ombudsman. This is completely 100% [Telecommunication Company]’s fault for allowing this delinquency to happen.”

(A week later, a letter did indeed arrive from the company, apologising and describing what happened. Apparently, a parent had set up the service to allow their child, who was boarding interstate, to make calls back home. They were surprised that they hadn’t actually received any calls from said student, but figured things were going well. When they found out what happened, both they and the student passed on their apologies. The next month the next bill arrived. It contained seven months’ worth of refunds, plus a rebate for the cost of the private number. That rebate has appeared in all bills since.)

Wrongful Termination Is A Termination Of Sense

, , , , , , | Working | April 25, 2019

At the beginning of the year, we get a new PhD intern who has a rather inflated ego and will try to exert his authority over others simply because they have a Bachelors or Masters. It suffices to say it becomes quickly apparent that he is not efficient, effective, or all that smart as he claims. He ends up costing the company thousands because he refuses to check his work and in his own words assumes it is “perfect” when he gives it to people. It also turns out he is actually a Masters student and not on track to get his PhD, despite explicitly stating he is working on his dissertation. The icing on the cake is that he refuses to work in the office and can’t work more than 25 to 30 hours a week while initially trying to get 50 to 60 hours a week. Long story short: he is unreliable and a chronic liar, but still thinks he is a real prize.

Around this time, we also have a change in management. Without being prompted or even asked, he determines he will take over the weekly meetings. Our boss, deciding to see where this goes, lets him. Note: he is still technically an intern but is insisting to the rest of us — and his money lender — that he is a full-time employee when the managers are out of earshot. The first week’s meeting goes all right, but they continue to spiral out of control from there.

Eventually, he stops showing up to the office altogether, but still maintains he is going there and lies about it, or even claims his coworkers are the ones not in the office. He then spends the next month or so canceling his own meetings, forgetting about them completely, or trying to get other people to cancel for him.

It finally becomes clear to my boss that this guy is straight-up incompetent, but because he is the type that would sue for wrongful termination, my boss still has to make an effort to correct the mistake. This leads to a round of cries from said “coworker” about how he can’t take the abuse any longer and more whining. My boss even schedules for him to attend a seminar, all expenses paid for, to work on his organization. The guy takes it as nothing more than a suggestion — while still in negotiation for a contract. Eventually, after much back and forth and the boss having several people ask him to go, he agrees…. but his girlfriend ends up driving him.

He uses this seminar to try to leverage more power, while still failing at his job, but obviously gets shut down. Still, he is obviously oblivious to the fact he is in deep s*** at this point.

Finally, around Christmas time, someone else is assigned to run the meetings as we haven’t had one in two months. He, of course, is absent as it is “the holidays.” When he comes back, he is relieved! It goes over his head that he lost his “power” because he was lazy.

Yes, he is still working for this company. And I am currently looking for a new job.

Moral of the story: your coworkers may be a hot mess, but if management allows it, leave.

Giving You My Two Cents And That’s It

, , , , , , | Working | April 25, 2019

(Two of my friends and I go out for dinner. We try a new restaurant, and when we arrive they have two or three tables occupied, and we’re seated immediately. The table the hostess chooses happens to be next to an occupied table that currently has a waiter standing at it. Seconds later, before we even look at the menu, the waitress comes over with water and asks for our drink orders.)

Friend #1: “Could I get an unsweetened iced tea?”

(She always specifies “unsweetened” because most places we’ve gone assume the customer wants sweet tea when ordering iced tea, and she’s diabetic.)

Waitress: “You can.” *writes her drink down*

Friend #2: “Do you have [Beer]?”

Waitress: “Only in a bottle. Is that okay?”

Friend #2: “And it’s not light beer, right?”

(She always asks this due to a previous encounter with a naive waiter who didn’t know there was a difference.)

Waitress: “Regular [Beer], we can do that.” *writes her drink down*

Friend #2: “And I don’t need a glass.”

Waitress: *finishes writing and then turns to me* “No glass. And for you?”

Me: “And could you bring me a whole pitcher of water? I tend to drink very quickly.”

(I actually got this idea from a restaurant waitress who accepted that she couldn’t keep up with how fast I drink. Most places accommodate this request. The few that don’t simply say they cannot and I drop the subject.)

Waitress: “We can get you a pitcher. And are you ready to order?”

Me: “Could we have some time to look at the menu?”

Waitress: *already walking away and looking over her shoulder* “Sure. I’ll be back with your drinks.”

(Despite how quickly she came out, she is gone nearly 15 minutes. Not only do we finish reading the menu and decide on what entrees and desserts we are getting, I have finished my glass of water and we have started contemplating going someplace else. We keep our eyes peeled for her while we are waiting, but she seems to have disappeared. I even try to make contact with the waiter I saw earlier, who has come out very frequently, to see if he can track her down. When she does finally return, to her credit, she brings a cold iced tea and a cold beer, both in a glass. And there is no pitcher of water.)

Waitress: “Have you decided, or do you need more time?”

(We each place our orders, ending with me.)

Me: “And could I also get that pitcher of water, please?”

Waitress: *again already walking away and over her shoulder* “Sure.”

(So begins the second wait — roughly twenty minutes this time. I am about to ask if I can take my friends’ waters since I am the only one without a drink, but the circumstances change after they take their first sips.)

Friend #2: “This is [Beer] Lite. I specifically asked if they had regular, right?”

Friend #1: “You did. Just as I asked for unsweetened iced tea. I got sweet tea. I should have just asked for hot tea and a glass of ice.”

(While [Friend #2] forces down a light beer, [Friend #1] hands me the sweet tea and begins drinking her water. Once again, however, our waitress has disappeared and the waiter continues to snub me. By the time the food arrives, there are no drinks at the table. Due to it being three of us and some of our entrees requiring separate plates for the side dishes, that same waiter helps our waitress carry all of it. Before they arrive, we make sure they’ll have to ask us to move the glasses, just to prove she sees the empty glasses. And once again, there is no pitcher of water.)

Waitress: “Refills all around, I assume?”

Friend #2: “Hang on. I asked for a [Beer]. I think you gave me Lite.”

Waitress: “We only have [Beer] Lite.”

Friend #2: “And you said nothing when I ordered a [Beer]?”

Waitress: “Sorry. It says it on the menu. I assumed you had read it.”

Friend #2: “You didn’t give us a chance to read the menu.”

Waitress: “Sorry. I didn’t know.”

Friend #1: “Then why is my unsweetened iced tea a sweet tea?”

Waitress: “I’m sorry. Did the kitchen staff screw up your tea?”

Friend #1: “Yes.”

Me: “How about just that pitcher of water for the table?”

Waiter: “She already told you: we can’t do whole pitchers for one table. We can give each of you a glass of water, but not a whole pitcher. Now stop begging her to get in trouble every five minutes.”

(They both walk off. Miraculously, we actually get our water within minutes. We actually have a good meal after all of that.)

Waitress: “Anyone still working?”

(We each tell her we’re done. She takes my friends’ plates first. When she comes back for mine, she plants the bill on the table. We always pay for our own portions, but just to be safe, we always have one of us use a credit card to pay the restaurant and leave a tip. This particular time, it’s my turn.)

Friend #1: “So, the tip would be…”

Me: “I’ll take care of that myself.”

Friend #2: “You sure?”

Me: *nodding* “I can afford two cents.”

Friend #1: “Two cents?”

Me: *pointing to [Friend #2]* “She neglected to tell you there was only light beer,” *pointing to [Friend #1] and motioning to the check* “If the sweet tea was a kitchen blunder, why does the bill say you ordered sweet tea? She never told me that a pitcher wasn’t feasible. She disappeared frequently. She lied to her colleague about my requests for a pitcher and how often I’d asked so that he’d jump to her defense. And did you notice we weren’t offered dessert? I just want to know if you want to complain to the manager with me.”

(My friends agreed that we should file a formal complaint. However, we quickly scrapped that idea when we overheard another waitress conversing with the same waiter as before. We asked this other waitress to be sure, but the contents of the conversation were enough to tip us off. That waiter WAS the manager. We instead elected to contact the owner and point out the manager was constantly perusing the restaurant, yet hadn’t noticed one of his waitresses consistently failed to wait on our table, but still chose to believe every word she said without even considering hearing the customer’s side of things. We haven’t been back since, so I don’t know what came of those two.)

The Faint Is Not A Feint

, , , , , | Healthy | April 24, 2019

(My adult daughter has multiple medical issues, including vasovagal syncope — she faints — triggered by several things, including vomiting and even small blood draws. I am with her for support and as her driver in case of problems when she goes to get a routine blood draw that requires multiple vials. Due to insurance issues, she is going to an unfamiliar lab and has called in advance to verify that there is a bed available for her to lie down for the draw, as it’s the only way to prevent an event. She is called by the phlebotomist.)

Phlebotomist: “Please have a seat here in this chair and we’ll get started.”

Daughter: “I need to lie down or I’ll faint. I was told you had a bed available?”

Phlebotomist: “Oh, was that you who called? Please just sit down. I draw blood every day, all day, and I’ve never heard of such a problem.”

(It’s actually fairly common.)

Daughter: “I have vasovagal syncope triggered by having my blood drawn. I’d rather lie down so I don’t end up on the floor.”

Phlebotomist: “There isn’t a bed available. Now, you’re holding up the process as there are several others also waiting to have their blood drawn. We’ll just have to deal with it if it happens, which I know for a fact it won’t. I’m very good at my job.”

Daughter: “I’d rather wait for a bed. How long will it be?”

Phlebotomist: “We don’t have any beds in the lab. We’d have to go to the doctor’s office next door, and I’m not going to do that. These chairs recline a bit; I’ll put it back and you’ll be fine. Now, are you going to get the blood drawn or not?”

Daughter: *not wanting to make a scene and needing to have the procedure completed* “Okay, but I warned you; you can’t say I didn’t.” *and to me* “Mom, please come in and be ready to catch me.”

(The phlebotomist prepares my daughters arm for the draw, commenting about how she’s never seen anyone actually faint from a simple blood draw, and what a wuss my daughter is for having to have her mother present for the procedure. When she inserts the needle and starts to draw the blood, my daughter’s eyes roll back and she starts to slide out of the chair.)

Phlebotomist: “What’s happening?! Wake up, wake up! You can’t do this to me! Please, Mom, hold her up while I finish!”

(So much for not keeping the others waiting. She was out cold on the floor for several minutes, and it was over half an hour before she could stand to even get into a wheelchair to leave the room. They’ve since installed a fully reclining chair in the lab, and the phlebotomist learned a valuable lesson about listening to the clients. Also, my daughter will now not allow anyone to draw her blood unless she is fully lying down and will not take “no” for an answer.)

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