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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Angry (08/02/07)

TITLE: What Goes Around Comes Around
By Marlene Bonney


Recently I suffered a heart attack. After surgery and six weeks of grueling therapy, it was time to contact our health insurance company. I dialed the 1-800 number.

“Speedy Customer Service at your service! Please listen to the following options: if you know your Party’s extension, press ‘1’; Claims, press ‘2’; Accounts payable, press ‘3’; Business hours, press ‘4’; Hospitalization coverage, press ‘5’; Prescription coverage, press ‘6’; or, Press ‘0’ for a customer service representative,” droned the automated voice.

I pressed “0”.

“Your call is important to us. Please wait on the line for the next available representative,” the recording played.

For ten minutes I doodled on scrap paper, interrupted every sixty seconds with “Your call is extremely important to us. Please remain on the line.” Thereafter, I entertained myself by drumming my fingers on the Kleenex box to the tune of “Don’t Worry--Be Happy.” Finally,

“This is Natasha. I am momentarily away from my desk. Please hold.”

“Lord, give me patience,” I complained.

Five more minutes crawled by while I switched the phone receiver from one ear to the other.

“Natasha here. Your account number, please.”

I dutifully answered her.

“Sorry. We’re experiencing computer difficulties. I also need your name and social security number to verify this account.”

“That’s fine,” I lied. I then explained I hadn’t received verification of my disability coverage extension. She continued,

“Just a moment while I conduct a search. No, Mr. Carpenter, your coverage will be terminating in twelve weeks.”

“But,” I stammered, “I faxed you the proper papers months ago!”

“Well, let’s see--it says here that your fax wasn’t legible.”

“When were you going to tell me about this?” I demanded, unsuccessfully trying to lower my voice out of the high soprano range.

“Our office in Pennsylvania receives faxes. We handle Speedy Customer Care.” A pause. “I can connect you there.”

“Thank you, ” I weakly accepted.

“Speedy Complaint Care. This is Brian. Your account number, please . . .”

I impatiently supplied Mr. “Speedy” with the requested information and re-explained my dilemma.

“Ah-h, I see that your Social Security Office stated the date you were awarded disability, NOT the actual date you BECAME disabled. We require a letter stating THAT date.”

I returned to the Social Security Office. The claims agent composed a new letter, muttering “bureaucratic nonsense!”

“Takes one to know one,” I thought, unreasonably, returning home to confirm the fax had been received.

“Speedy Complaint Care. This is Amanda. Please begin with your account number . . .”

““Let me talk to Brian,” I interrupted. “He assisted me earlier and is aware of the details.”

“Impossible! Even if I knew which Brian you spoke to, he would be assisting another customer! Account number, please, and the nature of your request.”

I numbly gave her what she wanted, explaining I just needed confirmation of a received fax.

“Fax processing takes at least 48 hours. Call back in three days.”

Fuming, I hung up--loudly. I waited four days before repeating the process all over again, spending an exhausting hour on the phone punching in numbers as I was referred to different areas in the “Speedy” Complaint Care Department. Eventually, I was told that the fax had been received and sent on for authorization.

“This letter may be declined,” I was cautioned. “They usually like an official disability award sent by the Federal Social Security Office, not just your local branch.”

Two months and a calloused ear later, my insurance company assured me that my extension had been granted.

“Would you please send me a letter confirming my new coverage end-date?” I logically asked.

“We don’t do that here, Sir. I ASSURE you, this information has been entered into our central computers!”

A few weeks later, I received a letter stating that my insurance would be terminated the following month.

“Speedy Customer Service at your service! Please listen to the following options . . .This is Rebecca. Your account number, please?”

“I’ll give you my account number, lady! Call the phone number on my claim form. Then, press ‘1’ for my account number; Press ‘2’ for my full name; Press ‘3’ for my social security number; Press ‘4’ if you want to talk to my calm wife; Press ‘5’ for finger exercise; Press ‘6’ for extra patience; or, Press ‘0’ to talk to me directly and I’ll get back to you if and when I feel like it!”

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This article has been read 534 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Joy Faire Stewart08/09/07
Only a person who has experienced this could have explained sooo well. You have captured anger with humor... only humorous if it isn't happening to you)! Excellent entry on subject.
Chrissi Dunn08/09/07
Yes, this definitely fits the topic well! I had almost exactly the same experience several weeks ago, when I moved house and wanted to get on the internet again. I spoke to about 5 separate people, each with a different excuse about why it wasn't working! I can relate to this piece very well!
Lynda Schultz 08/10/07
Oh man, can I identify (and I have no doubt that the rest of the world can too!) This is great writing, great dialogue (even if it was automated!) and great take on the theme.
Verna Cole Mitchell 08/10/07
You have really covered in your delightful story a frustrating, anger-provoking situation we all encounter. Great writing.
Marilyn Schnepp 08/11/07
Ditto! Ditto! Ditto! It happens all the time - and you had it down to a "T"! But what can one do? Thank Goodness we can make one knee bend and get in touch with heaven in a minute flat! Thanks for reminding me of the red tape of beauracracy(sp)! Great job! Loved that last line!
Marilyn Schnepp 08/11/07
PS: sorry, I forgot the worst part of it all: The foreign language accent that nobody can understand- (outsourced to another country on the other side of the world!) Thanks for this entry!
Kristen Hester08/13/07
Oh, my blood is boiling after reading your entry. It hits too close to home. I've had similar experiences. Yuck! You did a good job on your story!
Virginia Gorg08/15/07
Press 1 for a .... whatever. How true this is when dealing with anything. And then you find out you're talking to someone in a foreign country who can barely speak English. Nicely done, engaging conversation, and wit. :)
Seema Bagai 08/16/07
I can relate to this piece. Had to deal with automation and long holds with the phone company and the doctor today. You did a great job of putting my frustration into words.
Joanne Sher 08/17/07
Congratulations, Marlene. Your entry has placed 12th in Level 3, and 35th overall. The Lists for the Top 15 in each Level and the Top 40 overall are available in the Weekly Results and Highest Rankings forum of our Faithwriters Message Boards.
Jacquelyn Horne08/17/07
Been there, done that.
Dee Yoder 08/23/07
I almost couldn't see the last line to read it because I was laughing so hard! It's the hysterical laughter of one who knows the circular, maddening run around of insurance company calls. But, you forgot the line about not "having a record of your call." That's my favorite one, and it's a universal problem with all companies. They really should talk to whoever sells them their phone systems. Do I need to say how much I enjoyed this entry? Misery loves company, you know. :)