Wednesday, March 23, 2011


I have left a handful of things hanging out there over the last couple of weeks.  I am going to reach all the way back to February to put a finish to the phone story.  The follow on to the phone story wasn't just 'hey, new phone arrived, insert battery, activate service, off I go."  No, this story got a much deserved second chapter.  The new phone was remarkably easy to set up and activate, so I assumed that I could get all that taken care of and then as soon as the battery died, plug it in charge and away we would go.  Turns out not so much.  The phone did as it was supposed to, died and I plugged it in, but it didn't charge, and didn't charge, and didn't charge.  I tried holding the plug, unplugging and replugging the decide, switching chargers, trying the docking station at work, everything.  This phone was utterly hopeless.  It managed to charge to about 30% life, which allowed me just enough time to make one or two calls.  So way back on Friday, Feb. 25 I took the phone back to the Verizon store so that there was a witness to the problem the phone had holding a charge or taking one.  Fifteen minutes later I left the Verizon store with a new Droid2 Global being sent to my house, a solution I could live with.  The new, an actual new phone, arrived at the house the following Monday and worked like a champ.  So ended the (cell)phone drama for the time being.

I would like to go off on one of my pet peeves in life, the automated phone system.  I recently had the pleasure of phoning my insurance company, in a fruitless effort to get coverage for my wife to see a local specialist.  It started innocently enough, my wife called and she was informed that the insurance would not cover the doctor because he was out of network, and that maybe she could get a 'Gap Exception' to see him since there were no other specialists within our are (next closest is in Spokane).  So I called my HR group in hopes of finding out what to do about getting a Gap Exception.  Turns out that my company doesn't have a Gap Exception provision in the plan and therefore the only thing we can do to is see the doctor and then appeal the claim to try to get it paid.  Now, I have carefully planned and budgeted for the pregnancy, utilizing Flexible Spending and watching closely the insurance is going to date.  So I looked at those balances and tried to weigh the option of seeing the local specialist and having all of that payment come out of the FSA, and how would that affect the balances remaining for the duration of the pregnancy and birth.  This didn't seem like the right option, but was willing to walk that path if I could ease Lindsey's concerns.  So I thought I would call the insurance company in an effort to get the coverage.  This is where the fun begins.

The insurance company has an automated answering service where all answers given by the customer are spoken.  I get through the autobot and talk to a representative.  I go through my bit, she informs me the company doesn’t allow gap exceptions in the plan, I ask if I can to the pre-approval appeal, and she sends me to another person.  I am put back into the autobot, answering all the same questions.  I talk to another person, who tells me I am in the wrong department, sends me to the next one and gives me the phone number for this department, an omen.  Back into the autobot, who apparently is tired of hearing from me and starts misunderstanding me and I have to repeat a couple of answers.  This time I get lost in the autobot, get kicked to a representative who sounds like he hates his job and the last thing he wants to do is talk to me.  At this point I am again transferred, only this time the autobot informs me that the call can’t be connected and hangs up on me.  I am a little frustrated at this point and call the last number given to me, a sampling of the conversation I have with the autobot.

The autobot asks 'Are you a doctor?'
Me, "no."
"I didn't understand that, Are you a doctor?"
"I didn't understand that, Are you a doctor?"
Thinking (what part of NO don't you flipping understand?) "NO!", emphatically. 
"Are you a medicare customer?"
"I'm sorry I didn't understand that, are you a medicare customer?"
"No!" Are we seriously doing this still.
"I'm sorry I didn't understand that, are you a medicare customer?"
"NO!", under my breath I add, "you worthless piece of shit".  As I am becoming increasingly frustrated.
"What is your memeber ID?"
I give member numer.
"I'm sorry I didn't understand that. What is your member ID?"
I repeat the number slowly and emphatically with dramatic pauses after each number, this does the trick, and I repeat this for my date of birth.  When we are asked one more question.
"Can you tell me the reason you are calling today? You can say...(having heard this three times already today I immediately tell the autobot why I am calling.
"I'm sorry I didn't understand that.  Why are you calling today? You can say...
I am fuming now, "REPRESENTATIVE!"
"Thank you, I will connect you to a representative. Would you like to take a brief survey after your call today?"  I say no, all I want to do is talk to a person at this point.

At this point I talk to a representative, again who cannot help me and am transferred, no autobot this time, and go to someone who tells me that I need to go to the rapid response group and gives me their number.  This of course means that I am going to be disconnected, and sure enough autobot comes on and tells me that I cannot be connected and hangs up.  I am really mad now, I call the last number given, scream my answers at autobot who heard every word this time, and then when asked to take the survey I say yes.  I talk to someone who actually helps me, I reserve my anger, as it was not this person's fault autobot hates me.  She is helpful, starts some of the work, tells me that there might be another doctor, and was the best part of the experience.  When I finish with her, I expect to go to the survey, and click.  Autobot won for the time being. 

I hope you lauged at that, looking back it is a bit funny.  Lindsey and I decided, after my two hour phone game with autobto, and being told that there was nothing the insurance company could do to actually help, that we would see the doctor in Spokane.  Which is fine, the cost of driving to Spokane a few times is far less than the cost of seeing the doctor in town out of pocket.  And to top it all off, Lindsey and the baby are fine, if you want those details you need to call me up. 

The running update:  this is a whole other story to be told later along with my first baseball game in three years.

1 comment:

  1. Enjoyed your rant, the fun of the "new age" -- :-)