Saturday, September 5, 2020

Customer (Non-) Service #1

I have done this sort of thing before, but poor customer service has become such a plague upon us that I'm beginning to think these screeds should become a regular feature.

I would like to begin with a company that has had my trust and good opinion for several years.

Until today, that is.

The Overlord has used a Discover Card for some 20 years now. In all of that time, he has never missed a payment, never failed to pay a bill in full (no "minimum payments" for this boy!), and has never asked Discover for a blessed thing. If I have ever had recourse to call Customer Service regarding my Discover card the incidences are so few and far between that I can scarcely recall them.

The Overlord and his good lady have decided to sell the Death Star. There is no reason to continue to own a house in New York City, considering the city and state translate the word "house" to mean "piggy bank".

Property taxers have been raised five times in the last seven years; the State has seen fit to remove my School tax exemption (for The Overlords have no children in a public school), and the Disabled Homeowner Tax Credit we used to get because of Mrs. Overlord's poor health, likewise, vanished into thin air. Neither the City nor the State has seen fit to explain why these things have happened, but considering the purpose of any democrat (small 'd' intentional) regime is to buy votes with other people's money, the mystery is no great one.

The explosion of the rat population, so that the little critters now inhabit high-value residential neighborhoods, has been exponential. The Chinese Wheeze has brought economic activity to a standstill. Murders and all sorts of crime have spiked. The Shallow End of the Gene Pool has taken the streets.

Preparing to sell a home one has lived in for the better part of two decades is a royal pain in the ass.

The hardest part is clearing away all the stuff one has accumulated by remaining in the same place for many years.

And so the Overlord ordered a dumpster. A big 10-cubic-yard job. He rented the dumpster on Thursday with his Discover card. It was delivered Friday morning, and after a full day's work, was full of unused furniture, broken kitchen appliances that somehow managed to accumulate in cabinets and the garage, typical household junk, and the one body (a joke, really), by Friday afternoon.

No sooner had the dumpster been filled, however, then the carting company should call.

The charge I had made Thursday was rescinded on Friday. Asking the carting company why resulted in various forms of "I don't know". And here I am with a dumpster full of crap.

So, let's call Discover. Give the rep all your information.

The representative (we'll call him "Dave") was really bad at listening. In fact, Dave could do nothing but talk; it's obvious he is reading from a script, and can't muster the intelligence to skip to the relevant part-- which was "how may I help you today, Sir?" --  so that I could not even ask a simple question: why was my transaction voided?

Eventually, you get Dave to shut the fuck up by yelling at him.

I forgot to pay the bill last month.

I was exactly $37 -- total -- in debt to Discover...and four days past due. After 20 years. So,they cancelled my transaction.

The resolution was simple: I could make a minimum payment of $3.72 -- taken directly from my checking account -- and in 24-48 hours, all should be well-and-fine, assuming it doesn't take more time because holiday weekend and Peking Pox, and the"block" on my card should be taken away.

And when the carting company returns Saturday morning for their dumpster, I can have $950 in cash for them when they drop off the second dumpster I'll need (that's $400 per dumpster, and the $75 permit fee New York City charges so that it can sit in front of my house for up to five days).

Normally, one uses a credit card to avoid having to use cash in such large sums. Although I prefer to use cash, big purchases like this are typically put on a card so that I don't have to keep that much cash in my pocket or the house.

A customer in good standing can't catch a break and has to be inconvenienced for $37, while they're probably giving cards away to deadbeats who routinely default 24/7/365?

The next company to make the shitlist for what I consider the worst customer service EVAH this side of Auschwitz, is something called "Apria Healthcare".

Mrs. Overlord, as I've stated frequently in these pages, requires external oxygen supplies and various and sundry respiratory equipment.While our medical insurance is excellent -- we have private policies, and Mrs.Overlord qualifies for Medicare, and almost-never see a bill beyond a co-pay and the monthly charge -- the private insurance company screwed us over several years ago by refusing to do business with our old vendor, and forcing us to use Apria (which probably negotiates lower fees from United Health Care).

Apria is everything people hate about having to deal with a healthcare provider. Did I say provider? I'm sorry, I meant to say "the place where all the kids with Down's Syndrome get jobs when all the making potholders and collecting shopping carts in the parking lot jobs are filled".

And that's unfair to people with Down's Syndrome for the simple fact that Apria -- in all ways-- is so incompetent that it might actually be a department of the US federal government disguised as a private company.

Every 12 weeks, we get replacement oxygen bottles and associated supplies delivered. This means I must keep 20 or so oxygen canisters in the home. Each one is a potential bomb. The reason why I have to keep so many is because Apria won't work with my schedule and deliver on demand (like our old vendor did) so to ensure that I have enough for 12 weeks, I have to over-order. Apria is happy -- really, the delivery drivers are happy -- because it means they don't have to drive to Staten Island every three weeks or so.

So, we're on a schedule, right? You'd think.

Invariably, the delivery which was supposed to take place between 1 and 4 never materializes. The driver calls you at 6 pm, and asks if you'd mind waiting until tomorrow because he doesn't want to drive out here. He promises you'll be on tomorrow's delivery schedule.

You make the mistake of saying "sure", and then he never shows.

You call to complain. You're told the drivers don't get to do things like that. You get an apology (every time it happens. I stopped saying "Okay" after the third time because you wind up wasting more than just one day). Apria promises this will never happen again.

And then 12 weeks later the driver doesn't arrive at the scheduled hour(s), calls you after dark, and asks if he can skip you today but get you tomorrow. You say "FUCK NO!", and when he finally arrives at 9 pm (you've been waiting all day) he can't take back all your empties -- no room in the truck, because they made everyone else take 20 canisters, too.

They're not supposed to do that, either, I'm told, and an empty canister is potentially even MORE dangerous.

On more than one occasion, I have had to put empty canisters in my own car, drive from Staten Island to Long Island City to drop off empties and get fresh bottles and supplies because of a missed delivery, and I'm not licensed to haul hazmat.

I've even been told that I would be better off if I simply purchased my own compressor and filled bottles as I need them, instead of having them delivered.

But gets worse. Because when it comes to billing, Apria is to good accounting what Barack Obama was to able statesmanship.

Apria routinely loses insurance information.

Apria will invariably bill private insurance, forget or fail to bill Medicare, or vice-versa and then send you a bill. If you dispute the bill, while the dispute is "being reviewed", Apria will bill a credit card surreptitiously, and not always the same one.

And you never gave them more than one credit card number to begin with.

When you call to straighten this mess out, you get one of the following divisions of Customer Service:

* If you get an American, in America, you get a functional illiterate who can barely speak English. One time, I got a woman who was so thoroughly confused -- she couldn't find any information "in the system", she kept asking for the same information repeatedly, getting it wrong, and repeating it to me backwards -- that I half-jokingly asked her if she was dyslexic.

She asked me how I knew.

Just the sort of person I want handling oxygen supplies.

* You're more-likely to get someone on the phone in Bangladesh, Karachi, Sri Lanka,or some other Southwest Asian shithole, where they speak better English, but haven't Clue Fucking One about how the American Health Care System works. They can't tell the difference between a "Medicare Managed Plan" and a "Medicare Advantage Plan", an HMO and a PPO. They don't understand how private insurance works. There's never a manager to speak to. You can ask the same question of three different people and get, literally, seven different answers. All of them incorrect.

So, Apria has dropped the ball the last three months: they have consistently failed to bill Medicare for services, and then bill us for the 20% not covered by private insurance. You call them to correct this.They tell you they don't have any history of Medicare for this customer, and you've been using them -- and they have been billing Medicare -- for six years, so you give them the information they keep losing. In the meantime, they bill your credit card, anyway, you call to complain, and the charge is supposedly reversed, only to discover it's still there, and now they've put this month's Medicare charge on your credit card, too.

Eventually, you end up with three months of disputed, then reversed, charges on your credit card(s) bill(s),and you think it's all straightened out, and they have failed to bill Medicare for a fourth straight month, but billed a second card. You get tired of talking to Shaquanda the Mouthbreathing, Knuckle-dragging Affirmative Action hire in the USA, who fucks up by the numbers, and the cavalcade of Indian voices drives you to want to murder someone for all the "I don't knows", "I can't help you's", and "Sir, you don't understand's".

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