Customer Service Sucks!

It’s truly amazing how bad customer service has gotten. I just can’t understand how companies can continue to ignore the customer simply because they are too cheap to properly train their call center agents. Or maybe it’s because too many people today don’t understand basic human decency and courtesy.

Case in point – Healthcare Revenue Recovery Group, LLC sent my mother a letter indicating that a bill for $37.15 that was supposed to be paid to Bethesda Emergency Associates for services rendered for my father on May 9, 2007 had not been paid. Turns out that the attentive people at Manor Care Bethesda nursing home failed to provide proper insurance information or address to Bethesda Emergency Associates. So the bills went to the nursing home. Did the nursing home bother to notify me or my mother? Nope. The bills just went unpaid until we received the letter from this ‘recovery group’ – whatever the hell that means. So, I called the ‘recovery group’ and tried to find out what was going on.

The first customer service issue (ignoring all of the crap that led up to this mess) was the person at Healthcare Revenue Group who would not let me finish talking before interrupting and telling me what to do. I’m amazed that they could be employing mind readers who don’t need to hear my question! So I explained what I knew and was told that the bill was mailed to the wrong address until it came to them. They found the right address. The whole tone of this conversation made it sound like my fault! I then pointed out that my father had Medicaid coverage so he shouldn’t even have been billed. The HRRG rep asked to speak to my father. I explained that he recently passed away. You would think any civil human being would at least say a simple “Oh, I’m sorry.” Nope. Don’t forget that this is the “I want my profit from healthcare” big corporation.

Anyhow, I then said that I hoped my mother’s credit rating would not be affected since this was a mistake by the healthcare provider. The only response I needed was a simple, “No, sir. There won’t be any problem for the credit report.” Nope, again. The “caring” HRRG rep said, “Did I say there would be anything placed on the credit report.” I’m sorry to say this, but I really wish my response had been “FUCK YOU.” I am the victim of incompetent health care providers. How dare you cop an attitude with me.

If you ever get stuck with this attitude, I encourage you to call these idiots on it. Aside from the sheer greed of pharmaceutical companies, HMOs and other healthcare big business, this messed up billing system with poor customer service and zero accountability is the biggest issue facing anyone trying to simply care for their health.

It’s time to make some noise about this. I’d love to hear your horror stories. Maybe someone will do something about this if we embarass these assholes enough.

Goodbye, Jake.

Jake - curiousOur dear, sweet, lovable, best-friend-in-the-world, puppy Jake died this morning. We were with him and held him to say goodbye.We got home last night and the first thing we noticed is that Jake wasn’t barking by the door. In fact, he was just standing upstairs and really didn’t express interest in coming down to greet us. We went upstairs to check on him and noticed that he ad lost his breakfast all over the upstairs hall, and from its appearances this must have been soon after he ate. We first reacted as though it ws just some stomach bug and that he was listless because of it. We gave him a little bit of water and went downstairs to eat. Jake actually came downstairs and started looking more normal. I took him out and all indications were that he was just a little run down from a stomach bug. During dinner, he started to vomit again. This happened several times, and the distress that Jake was under started to concern us. When we later went upstairs, Jake wasn’t interested in following us. In fact, he was lying under the coffee table and wouldn’t move. We were worried that he was getting dehydrated and decided to take him to an emergency veterinary hospital. Soon after his initial exams, we discovered that the doctors were concerned about his heart. His heart rate was very elevated and they started to run some test to determine why. Then we discovered that he had a significant fluid build-up around his heart which was causing arrhythmia. They drained the fluid from around his heart, barely avoiding cardiac arrest last night. This made him far more comfortable and allowed them to continue running more tests. The concern at this point was a tumor in his heart. Since we were exhausted and it was starting to snow and sleet, we left the hospital late last night while they continued their diagnosis. The report this morning was not good. Jake’s arrhythmia continued and could not be controlled with drugs. He was in danger of cardiac arrest and they wanted instructions from us. We rushed back to the hospital this morning to be with Jake and to talk more with the doctor. Although it wasn’t conclusive, from the initial sonogram when they drained the heart fluid and the X-rays taken last night, all indications were that he had a tumor in his heart and probably one in his spleen. (Evidently, these types of tumors are common in Goldens and German Sheppards.) The likely tumor in his heart left us little choice and we didn’t want to see Jake in pain or go into cardiac arrest alone in the house. It seemed like right thing to do was to say goodbye this morning.In the end, we realized that last night we saved him from cardiac arrest at home which gave us a bit of time to prepare. Although these things are never easy, Jake was a loving friend who was with us for 11 years. We will miss him very much, but realize that the suddenness of it all was a blessing.(I’ll post more memories of Jake when I get past the more immediate pain.)

Happy New Year 2007

No promises this time! Last year I said I would post an entry every day of the year. I think that lasted about three days! Work has taught me not to plan for this again. Of course, I’ve pretty much abandoned the blog for months. I had this grandiose idea of blogging my whole summer vacation. I got so far behind (trying to edit photos at the same time) that I left off of the vacation blogging halfway through. I still plan to finish this for anyone into history. I’ll just pretend I’m working with Apple stock options and back-date the entries.

Here’s to promising myself not to make promises to myself that I can’t keep! 🙂

Tribute to Kevin

My friend Todd composed and recorded this beautiful musical tribute to Kevin. You can listen as you read the thoughts I shared at his funeral.

A Memory of Kevin

Don’t ask me why, but when I think of Kevin, the memories that come to me are often the silly ones. Like trying to decipher the difference between strange and weird (I think I was always the weird one). Or shipoopy. Or the much-feared but little understood ‘nose-eating tree.’ Or my favorite – something I still repeat to this day – whenever someone says ‘So?’, responding with a tirade of various types of fasteners. Allow me to demonstrate:


‘Sew buttons on your underwear. You can’t glue them on. You could use Velcro, but that would itch. You could use snaps, but that would be cold in the winter.’

Kevin never had to work hard to be funny or silly. And he never had to work hard to be a caring friend, a gracious host, or just a downright interesting person. He just WAS all of these things.

It was always a treat to be around him – whether we were seeing George Clinton at the Maritime Hall, discovering another great restaurant at Jack London Square, or simply goofing around at our 10-year high school reunion.

So, I think back to the end of our first year in college. There we were in the last day of our Introduction to Engineering class. By that time, we had both decided that music – not engineering – was our true calling. So, of course, the only proper thing for us to do at that point was to launch into a spirited, but quiet, a capella rendition of Stars & Stripes Forever. Later, when – like 75% of our classmates, we got our big fat Fs, I realized that we had a lot more fun getting that F than anyone else in the class.

And I realized that Kevin taught me it’s okay to be myself – and it’s a helluva lot more fun than the alternatives.

Thank you Kevin.

Another weekend is here

This is going to be a recharge weekend. I think I’ll spend some time scanning old high school pictures for the Kevin photo gallery and work on some projects I have been putting off.

I did finally give up on Comcast. Yesterday, we switched our cable TV service over to RCN (formerly StarPower). Miraculously, even though RCN uses the exact same Motorola set-top box and the exact same house wiring, the signal quality is perfectly fine and there are no audio or video dropout problems. I guess after a year of putting up with Comcast’s incompetence and utter lack of concern about their customers, I’ve discovered that I was right all along.

Next Monday, Verizon is installing FIOS internet (YIPPEE!!!). Then I can tell Comcast exactly what to do with their service.