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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