coming out of my shell

coming out of my shell

Friday, February 19, 2016

Arm Wrestling

AAAAACK, what a morning.

T is going to a physical therapist for short term treatment. No big deal, right? If only it was simply about physical therapy; but no,
bureaucracy is involved. I swear people are becoming less willing to think for themselves as technology gets smarter.  

Don't get me wrong. I have great respect for bureaucracy. I realize bureaucracy is the basis of modern civilization and without it we would be subject to the whims of inbred, hereditary tribal strong-men. I just happen to think humans should run the bureaucracy instead of vice versa.

Apparently it is the responsibility of this clinic's receptionist to verify insurance when a client starts PT. In doing so, she made a simple mistake, noting in the computer file that we had a large deductible to be met before our insurance could kick in. In fact, our current insurance has no deductible for PT.  When T came back saying he had paid a large bill in cash at the front desk, I was "surprised."

I am the one in our relationship who deals with bureaucracy. It is what I did in my work-life. I cannot say I "like" dealing with bureaucracy, but I am comfortable navigating those murky damn waters.

I called the clinic billing office. The woman I talked to (let's call her Miss No) was adamant the notation in T's file proved there was a deductible. I tried to get her to hear what I was saying. She simply could not believe her computer screen was wrong. Interesting assumption.  

I quickly realized that instead of listening to what I was saying, Miss No assumed I was a dotty old hag who simply did not understand what a deductible was. If you are not an older person you may not fully understand how infuriating that stereotype is. But you will... 

As she calmly and painstakingly took the time to explain this great mystery called deductibles
I fantasized about reaching through the phone lines to wring her neck. I let her finish and then I calmly and painstakingly reiterated there is no deductible required for PT in our insurance policy.

I knew Miss No was going to get annoyed when I did not say "thank you" and hang up, but I couldn't.
We do not have the money to waste on a deductible that is not required. I also couldn't back down, because, well, I was right.

It was hard to convince her there "might" be an error. She was busy, probably overworked. Truthfully, I was sympathetic. I found myself hoping she was right and I was wrong so that I could hang up and leave her alone.

Sheesh, I hate when I do that - put other people's feelings and desires ahead of my own. Gloria Steinem would be SO pissed, and there is probably a special place in hell for women who get too tired to fight back. Luckily for my immortal soul I am a woman, W-O-M-A-N, and I just couldn't let it go.

Miss No wanted me to go away.
She hung tight to the idea that if there was a note in the file, then all was right with the world.
She said the receptionist had already verified my insurance and indicated the deductible based on what the insurance company said. Miss No was having a hard time understanding why I didn't accept that. In truth, I totally accepted what she said happened
, but I also knew there was an error. Why is that so hard to believe?

If a customer insists, you really should take a fresh look. It will go a long way towards making your customer feel valued, and it will prove what is right and what is wrong in a way the customer can accept. If you just try to shut the customer down, s/he is going to feel like you do not care and you have not listened. Which, by the way, will be true. And, of course, it works both ways.

Finally, I told Miss No she was probably right (big fat hairy lie on my part) but I was going to call the insurance company to make sure. That made her happy. She probably assumed she would never hear from me again

The insurance company quickly confirmed there was no deductible. I called Miss No back, left a message, and waited.

Eventually she called me back to say that she would have the receptionist call the insurance company to re-verify as well. Fair enough. Now we were cooking with gas!

Later in the morning I got a call from the receptionist, apologizing. She had been in error when she first verified our policy and left the note in the file. She seemed nervous, as if Miss No had chewed her out for making a mistake. Or maybe she was afraid I would yell at her? I was not angry with her in the least.

I support a person's right to be wrong. I do not mind mistakes being made unless they make me physically ill, or dead, or change the course of human events in a really bad and significant way. We all make mistakes. We are only human. That is how we learn. The person I was annoyed with was Miss No because I practically had to arm wrestle her to get her to take me seriously. It is hard not to take that personal.

By the time Artificial Intelligence is advanced enough to take over the world and replace humans with robots I think I might be ready for it. By then I will be much too old and feeble to win an arm wrestling match.

Sometimes we can't see the forest because of all the big-ass rocks that are blocking our view


  1. That rocks looks quite like a toad. Like Miss No, in my mind's eye.

  2. I think we must have been separated at birth; you are the nicer of the two of us.

  3. "Mature" women rock! That wa a perfect ending to the post. The

  4. Girl, you got that soooo right. Been there done that but I never could have told it like you just did.

    Loved the photo ending, big ass rocks indeed! In my house search they are EVERYWHERE!

    1. Ha! I bet. Nothing more bureaucratically poisonous than trying to find a place to live. Hang in there!

  5. You are a paragon of patience and understanding; if only all customer-service transactions could involve someone who's an Adult and end up working out in the Adult's favor...

    1. Thanks. I'm actually a raving maniac, but I come across differently on paper. Still,I think maybe customer-service transactions would go a lot smoother if people were trained and mentored better in the workplace.


So, whadayathink?