Tuesday, June 24, 2008

How can one small error be the cause of SEVEN THOUSAND PHONE CALLS?

I have few excuses for not posting lately; it's just a combination of a lot of small things. Once I got settled into the new job, I made a lot of changes to my personal affairs; I changed banks, paid off my student loan (although I still have to pay off the paying-off, it's on much better terms), set up a mutual fund and automated monthly payments into my RRSP, and arranged to re-join my gym (I'd stopped while living in Moncton, naturally).

I also had to arrange insurance coverage for my CI Processor after my 3-year warranty ran out. This completely flummoxed our broker, who had never had such a request before. Apparently the insurance agencies she deals with were just as puzzled. I got a replacement price quote from the manufacturer, Advanced Bionics, and forwarded it to the broker, who forwarded it to the insurance company. For obvious reasons, I requested the device be insured for the cost of replacing it with the newer model; I'm not even sure I could literally replace the model I am wearing now, as they have moved on to a more advanced unit. The insurance company kept sending me requests to "have it appraised by an audiologist", which, if you understand the situation, is ludicrous. It's not a freaking diamond bracelet. First, the value of my current processor is not the issue, for reasons noted above. Second, an audiologist asked to do such a thing would pick up the phone and call Advanced Bionics for the current price of a comparable unit, which is what I had already done the equivalent of via email.

If playing Insurance Games wasn't fun enough. my first experiences wading into the pool of Civil Service more than made up for it. In the three months since I've been there, the good people at divisions that shall remain nameless have managed to misdirect, misroute, misdate, lose, and foul up everything from my ID card to my health benefits card to my expense reimbursements at every turn.

Ah, government beaurocracy. You're turning out to be everything I'd expected, and more.

Meanwhile, the people at "Scotia SmartSwitch" are so smart that it took three weeks to close my old bank account and even longer to transfer the balance into my new bank account - something that I could have done myself in ten minutes by withdrawing the money from my old bank, literally walking across the street, and re-depositing it in my new bank, if I hadn't believed that "SmartSwitch" was going to be, you know, smart, and all automagical and stuff as advertised. (In this wired world it turns out my old bank actually creates a paper draught and snail-mails it to my new bank, which then deposits it. "That's, like... neanderthal," I said in exasperation to the customer service person who was attempting to explain why my old account was closed but not a penny of my entire worldly treasure had turned up, well over a week later, in my new account.)

Every one of these things above required phone calls and emails and meetings and chasing around and arranging and fixing, and that's what's been eating up all my time lately.

Well, that, and the bunny. The bunny thing only lasted two days but ate up some temporal real-estate, there.

I have hope that things after this initial frenetic period will finally calm down a bit. There's a lot of travel, especially intra-provincial travel, in my near future, but that's as much pleasure as business much of the time, isn't it?

ronnie

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9 Comments:

Blogger Sherwood Harrington said...

Gah. I sympathize. Imagine working for a government entity in which a large percentage of the employees are academics, with all the baggage that entails. BTDT, as the kids say.

My reading for comprehension must be on the fritz. What is the "one small error" referenced in the title?

Welcome back, anyway. And don't think we didn't notice that this post disappeared for a day. I was beginning to think that you had hit a node and rotated into 5-space.

8:45 PM  
Blogger ronnie said...

Hi Sherwood - Thanks for your sympathy. The post disappeared for a day while I redacted some details of my civil service nightmare which I feared might cast aspersions on some specific divisions and perhaps even individuals, for people who know where I work, which wasn't my intent. Space was not involved although I have space much on my mind these days as I believe you do as well.

The "one small error" is a generic reference to any one of the litany of issues I've dealt with in the last three - nearly four - months. Every last one felt like they took 7,000 phone calls and/or emails to straighten out.

Good news is, we're in the clear now.

Right?

Right?

Oh, by the way, I understand that The Black Freighter is most interested in getting a pet rabbit or three. You might want to get right on that.

ronnie

9:27 PM  
Anonymous Dann said...

"health benefits card"????!!?!?!

I thought that the doctors tattooed a maple leaf some place discreet* when y'all were born and that covered everything!**

*I'm thinking the bottom of one of your feet so everyone else should get their mind out of the gutter.

**Small joke....hoping it comes across that way.

Hope everything smooths out for you.

Regards,
Dann

9:57 PM  
Blogger ronnie said...

Hi Dann! Good to see you.

No, they no longer tattoo the maple leafs on our feet; tended to wear off during the eight months per annum of not removing the heavy wool socks. Now they tattoo our butts; as Canadians follow the Western World's race towards world-class obesity, the government figures they'll just get bigger and easier to identify for confirmation of coverage.

For those of you who aren't from Michigan like my friend Dann and who don't really know why a Canadian would have health benefits through the employer, while primary health care, specialists and almost all surgery (except some cosmetic) is covered under Canadian universal care, some things such as dental work, optometrist exams and glasses, and cost of prescriptions are not covered under Canada's universal health care. Similarly semi-private and private rooms are available in Canadian hospitals at extra cost - but the extra cost isn't covered by government. Some people pay for private insurance to cover those things, some get coverage through their employer (as I do).

ronnie

8:47 PM  
Blogger Nostalgic for the Pleistocene said...

Prescriptions aren't part of the Canadian universal system? I just learned something new.

Lots of sympathy from here about gazillions of phone calls, lumbering bureaucracies, Voice Mail To Nowhere etc!

10:05 PM  
Blogger Xtreme English said...

these telephone calls have a life of their own....almost every week i get a phone call from a telemarketer with the ominous message that my car insurance has run out! "press one to reinstate," etc. nice of them to worry about me, but i sold my car in 1991.

i'm actually loving making phone calls now that i can, however. my favorites are the refill calls to my local pharmacy and the skype test calls. the operator has a superb british accent.

meanwhile, hang in there. it must be almost summer up there....

7:44 AM  
Anonymous Sister said...

Yeah, Sis, if it's one thing I learned about banks, it's that you never let them know that you're planning on changing or swapping over. They do EVERYTHING in their power to mess it up.

10:59 AM  
Anonymous Peter B. Steiger said...

There's no place else here I can tell you, so I'll just leave it as a comment on a totally unrelated blog entry:

1) Bonne FĂȘte du Canada!

B) All your pals at racs miss you... hope all is well.

pbs

9:26 PM  
Blogger Sherwood Harrington said...

Not all of us miss her, Peter. Some of us have the good sense to hang out here.

We do miss her comments on the funnies, though.

12:23 PM  

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