Thursday, May 8, 2008

Business calls

I have spent the week on the telephone. It's all for stupid stuff, too. I've been calling three different companies: the bank, the insurance company, and the telephone company.

The bank and the insurance company are both for the same thing. I have our life insurance and long term care policies set up on autopay. They debit my account three different times each month. Once for my life insurance policy. Once for Scott's and the kid's (who each have a rider on his policy). And the last debit is for both of our long term care policies. But at the end of March, I got a letter saying that two of my payments were returned for insufficient funds. Well, I immediately called the bank and they assured me that I was not overdrawn. The payments had been paid, and it said so on my statement. I got my statement and sure enough, it had been paid. The evidence was very clear, too. I had not been fined. Have you ever heard of a bank that didn't fine you when you bounced a check? Neither have I. So I called the insurance company. They said they'd check it out and call me back. But they never called and I forgot all about it. Until April.

In April, only one of the policies was debited. The other two didn't come out. And I got a letter saying they would no longer cover us because we hadn't paid our insurance the last two months. I called the local branch. They said I needed to call the home office in Georgia. So I called the home office. They told me that they didn't debit my bank in April because automated payments are cut off when a payment doesn't go through due to insufficient funds, and that's what had happened in March. But I had paid them in March. I had not bounced the check. I knew that, because the bank records clearly indicate that the money was gone from my account and paid to Ky. Farm Bureau. And besides, I wasn't fined. It is a known law of physics that you can't bounce a check without getting a big fat fine from your bank.

Clearly unwilling to accept my word for this, I was told to fax in my bank statement that indicated the alleged payment. Since I only get online statements, I drove to my bank, got a statement that showed their letterhead, drove it to my local Ky. Farm Bureau office, and had them fax it to the home office in Georgia. Then foolishly I trusted that having proof of payment, I would be absolved of the charges. Wrong. When I called to ask if I needed to restart automated payments or if they would take care of that for me, the secretary told me that we could start it back up once I paid the March bill. I told her that I'd brought in my bank statement showing I'd paid it, but she asked how did she know that that was my whole statement. I could have taken out the part that showed how the money was credited back into my account later.

Yes. That's what she said.

So I printed out all my bank transactions dating from March 18th (when I had $300 more than I needed in the bank to make the payment), through the time when the payments were taken out of my account, past that mysterious period when no fines were given, no checks were bounced, and no payments were deceptively put back into my account, all the way up to the present. And I brought it in and showed her boss. (Let us all say a quick prayer that she will be fired forthwith.) And he was stunned. So he pulled the records of the transaction and instead of saying that it had been returned for insufficient funds like their secretary had been telling me all along, the official transcript said that it had been returned for "insufficient information from bank". And he said, "Well, we know it came out of your bank. Because if it bounced, you would have been fined. There's no bank in the world that doesn't fine you when you bounce a check."

Thus begins the calls to the bank. First, the home branch.... Can you see where this is headed? Although the bank was a bit quicker on the uptake. The very first woman I spoke to said, "Well we know it wasn't insufficient funds, because we would have fined you for that." Truer words were never spoken. And, they didn't accuse me of stealing the money, either. That's always a plus.

So now the insurance company is supposed to call the bank. The official name of the office that they're supposed to call is the office for "Inquiries and Rejects". I can't say I have a lot of faith in that office. But at least it seems pretty clear how they plan to handle the inquiry. I've told Scott that he's not allowed to die until this is cleared up. He seemed OK with that plan.

My other game of phone tag is being played with the phone company. As I may have mentioned, Scott is starting a business, and back in February, he tried to get a phone line installed in the building that he's renovating for his office. Now this is a building on a farm, and it has never had phone service at all. There were no lines going from the telephone pole to the outside of the building. So when he called, they told him they'd send someone out to hook it up and turn on his service within the week. But no one came out. Then we got the bill at the end of the month for $50 basic service plus about $50 more for the hook up. But there were still no wires connecting the building to the outside world.

So we called. They apologized. They had activated the number like they would if there had been existing phone service and hardware. They didn't know why the service guy didn't come out, but they'd take that month's service off the bill and send him out to hook it up right away.

Fast forward to May. We still don't have service. There's now a wire that goes to the outside of the building, but the guy who put it up warned us not to hook anything to it because no one had told him that there really wasn't a service box on the outside of our wall. (We installed jacks on the inside, but you can't just hook the main line into them.) He promised to send someone who knew how to do that the next day, but that was a month ago. Apparently people who know how to do their jobs are quite scarce nowadays. Meanwhile, our bill is now up to $250, we've been reported to a collection agency and our credit reflects four months of missed payments.

Last week they sent us a letter saying they were cutting off the phone service. Gosh that would be really inconvenient. Almost as inconvenient as it is now.

Pray for my sanity.


Tara said...

great post Mark, can I link it?

Tara said...

If this is a double, I apologize Karen, lol. I feel your pain this weeks it's been Dell and the dentist office -who according to my insurance company overcharged me by 150 dollars. They seem upset that I want it back, and in a tone that makes me think they think I AM the greedy one.They are closing the office at the end of the month so I don't need a credit.
Customer service doesn't exist anymore.

Tara said...

I forgot the hospital too, lol. Seems like you are right no one knows how to do their jobs. I am so not cut out for the hours it takes to straighten out... I don't have any patience... at all.

Karen said...

Hi Tara! Who's Mark? Now I'm wanting to go read his post, LOL! I'm sorry you're having trouble with stupid business, too. It's always something, isn't it. I just keep thinking that if I'm polite and have all my documentation in hand, it'll work out. But Scott gets ticked off and starts calculating how much gas we've bought running back and forth between their offices, and how many hours we were on the phone. And he's right. If I was being paid by the hour to clean up someone else's mess, I'd be rich by now.

Tara said...

LMAO I guess I was having blogger issues. Blogger and yahoo like to mess with me. Mark is a dad from one of my parenting groups and I read his blog. He must have gotten your first comment.