Flag This One For Incompetence

, , , , , | Working | May 18, 2020

I work in a sales business with offices all over the country. I am the hardware technician at the head office, but I often deal with basic IT requests.

I get a call one morning from an “Anonymous” number.

Flag 1: We have an internal and external helpdesk number. If a call comes in from external, it shows the caller ID. Our staff don’t block their numbers as they do a lot of calling and their clients like to know it’s them calling.

The anonymous caller says they are trying to log in to email, and they can’t seem to get in. They want to know if we can reset the email password for them.

Flag 2: Our emails are linked into our database, and the laptops we issue out have emails already set up for them. If they can login to the laptop they can login to the emails.

Flag 2a: If it was a mobile device, we have a process for that, as well, and they need to send through a mobile request form, which their manager handles.

I have a look in our database for the username they have given, and I can’t find it. I then look in our email server for the email address, just in case there was a special case where they had an email but not a local account.


Flag 3: Why are you requesting a password reset for someone who we don’t seem to have?

I let them know that they will need to get their manager to send through a request, and they say,

“Okay, sure. I’ll get onto that and get back to you. See ya!” and hang up.

I think that is odd, and I tell my manager about it and he laughs it off and agrees that it was odd, but there’s nothing really we can do.

We think it is the end of it, but then, sure enough, a few moments later, I get a call back. The same anonymous caller says, “Hey, it’s [Caller] again. Turns out I don’t have an email set up. Could you make one for me?”

Our user accounts are more than just emails; we have the local account for logging into computers, permissions based on what location they are, even alternative emails for the locations.

We have a process which the manager needs to go through in order for a user to be added, and we have a ten-day wait time to get everything approved from their end, as well as mine: hiring team, accountants, my manager, etc.

I let him know that if he is a new starter, then his manager should have sent through a request for a new user. He says he will get onto it again and hangs up.

Sure enough, a few moments later, a request comes through from one of the “assistant managers” for an email account setup for this guy.

Once again, we have policies and procedures which need following for new user accounts, paperwork, and such.

The email I got literally just says, “Hiya, just needing a new email for [Caller], cheers.”

I forward it on to my manager again and leave him to deal with it.

I have no idea if something had gone wrong, or if it was just a manager who had no idea how to do things. But at this point, I didn’t want to deal with it.

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When A Date Leaves You Cold

, , , , | Healthy | May 18, 2020

Back in January of this year, I went on a date with a guy I had met on a popular dating app — the one where the girl has to make the first move. 

We met up for dinner and drinks and things were going very well! He was nice and funny and I was enjoying his company. He was an EMT; this is important later in the story. 

After dinner, he suggested we go to an ice rink to go ice skating. I was skeptical, as I’m a very clumsy person and can barely stand up on my own two feet on solid ground, and I knew I was going to thoroughly embarrass myself at the rink. But I said yes anyway. 

For the first hour, things went well. We were both hobbling along the side of the wall and making fun of each other’s form, but I got cocky, pushed away from the wall, and ate it. I landed on my butt and tried to catch myself with my arm. I landed so hard my ears were ringing and I was woozy. 

My date had to help me off the ice and he immediately went into EMT mode, rolling up my sleeve and feeling around my arm to see if he could feel any breaks. 

Besides the numbness in my arm, we both agreed that it probably wasn’t broken, and I turned down his offer to take me to the emergency room. 

We spent the next six hours on a cliff overlooking the beach, with me flinching at the slightest touch to my arm.

When I woke up the next day, I was in tears. My entire arm was black and blue and swollen beyond belief; I couldn’t even put a shirt on without crying out in pain. I had to have my brother take me to Urgent Care. 

While at Urgent Care, the doctor on call told me that not only was my elbow broken, but that I had fractured my wrist, as well, when I tried to stop myself from falling. The impact of me landing on my wrist fractured it and broke my elbow almost immediately, but the massive swelling that immediately took place is what made my date unable to tell that my arm was broken. 

There was so much fluid in my arm that it felt like a normal arm. 

I was immediately taken off work for the next four months, as I am a barista while finishing school, and I teased my date about my arm all the time. We dated for a month but decided we were better off as friends.

We’re still friends to this day, and I still give him crap about my elbow.

It still hurts when the weather gets cold, too, even after having it out of a sling for six weeks.

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Insuring Instant Karma For One Dirty Agent

, , , , , , | Legal | May 16, 2020

I work in Medicare insurance, getting people coverage through part C and part D. My job has many, many rules, and serious consequences for breaking them. One caller’s situation stands out.

She called in the middle of February, distraught, because another agent had called her and signed up for a new plan. 

This — in the first minute of the call — was my first red flag. It is illegal for a Medicare insurance agent in Wisconsin to cold call anyone, as well as to enroll them in a new insurance plan on an outbound call; agents can only ever enroll people who called them.

After sign-up, she’d run into trouble getting her prescriptions refilled, so she’d wanted to talk to her agent again. She’d spent more than a week trying to get in touch with him and had eventually found my number, thinking that my office was Medicare itself.

My office’s name does have Medicare in the title, but we always immediately clarify that we do not work for the government.

My workplace has an unusual approach to callers: no matter what they called about, spend at least ten minutes helping and continue to help for as long as they need. We are a sales office, but we’re paid hourly and our commission is negligible in order to support this behavior.

I start asking questions and track down the plan she’s been signed into. My first bit of good news is that it’s a plan that I’m contracted with; I can pull up the full contract and can figure out the answers to every one of her questions, but with every question she asks, my internal alarm bells chime a little louder.

Insurance agents are supposed to be responsible to their customers. Whoever this other agent was, he left her not knowing most of what she needed to know; he’d effectively bullied her into changing and then left her high and dry.

The medicine issue was actually coincidental; I told her what she needed to tell her pharmacist to clear things up but asked her to stay on the line and answer a few more questions, and I checked to make sure her family doctor was in the network of her new plan.

He was not, and the other agent had not even told her that changing plans would have restricted her from seeing him. This could have cost her thousands of dollars!

That medication issue that sent her to me saved her from an untold amount of hassle. The plan change could only go into effect at the beginning of the next month; the new plan wasn’t in place yet, and we could overwrite or cancel it just by submitting the paperwork.

I did one last piece of digging. Election periods are the times of year that a person is allowed the opportunity to change their coverage. If this other agent had submitted a change, what had he used? He hadn’t mentioned this to my caller at all. A quick rundown of options left only one answer. The other agent had used an election period called OEP to change her coverage.

OEP is effectively an emergency exit at the start of the year for when someone finds out that their plan is not suitable to their needs. Agents are prohibited from advertising or even mentioning OEP on calls; the customer must request a change or express distress before OEP can be brought up. Using OEP without the customer knowing or even understanding what was being done? Egregious.

So, I go through the paperwork with her and get her signed back into the plan that she had originally, and I give her the appropriate phone numbers to check up with her plan to ensure that she won’t have any trouble. But before we disconnect, I have one final errand for her.

I give her the phone number of the Commissioner of Insurance of the State of Wisconsin: the regulating body responsible for cracking down on bad insurance agents.

Let’s run it down, shall we?

Cold-calling a Medicare insurance customer, uninvited? $25,000 fine. Per person, if he’s called others.

Enrolling her on an outbound call, willfully signing her up into an unsuitable plan, and abusing OEP? Forfeiture of license, along with twice the value of any money they hoped to gain by doing this, plus a $5,000 fine and up to three years in prison. 

That’s three counts of it, mind you, so up to six times the money he tried to make, a $15,000 fine, and nine years in prison, and probably being banned from insurance work in the United States for life.

If he’s done it to one innocent old woman, he’s probably done it to others. I will never know the fallout from the case, but knowing the tools at the Commissioner’s fingertips, I’m reasonably confident I got a swindler his comeuppance.

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Mayday! Our Calendar Is All Wrong!

, , , , , , | Romantic | May 16, 2020

My husband looks over at me and says, “It’s May 1st. Does that mean it’s April Fools Day?”

I can’t quite believe he said that, but I reply with, “Well, maybe for you.”

Then, the lights come on for him. “Oops.”

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Relying On The Crutches

, , , , , , , | Friendly | May 16, 2020

One morning, during my first year of college, I woke up to discover I couldn’t bear weight on my left leg, nor could I bend my knee. It was eventually diagnosed as a repetitive stress injury from sports and resolved with a simple surgery, but for a few weeks, I was on crutches with no clue as to how I’d been injured. 

I was also in ROTC at the time, and I took the bus to ROTC classes and other events. One day a week, all of us ROTC cadets were supposed to wear our military uniforms. I caught the bus with mine on and made my way to a seat on my crutches. 

A fellow passenger near the front of the bus kindly offered me his and asked, “How did you get hurt?”

Since it was before my doctor figured it out, I replied honestly, “I couldn’t tell you.”

He looked stunned and stammered out, “Oh, I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to pry. Top-secret stuff, probably; I shouldn’t have asked.”

Realizing he assumed I was active duty and had been injured in some fantastic clandestine escapade, I laughed and explained, “No, I mean I have no idea. I woke up with my leg hurting a couple of weeks ago but I can’t pinpoint any specific time that I got hurt. I’m not even active duty; I’m in ROTC and won’t be commissioned until I graduate in a few years.”

He laughed, too, and wished me a quick recovery. I decided to be sure to answer plainly and clearly if asked again!

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