Today I learned about a series of missteps that would have made a situation seem almost laughable, if it hadn’t caused me so much stress.
Since early March, I had been trying to get the billing department of a hospital to process my credit card payment for over $650. The credit card number was a “Shop Safe” ® number assigned by MasterCard as a safeguard against hackers and identity theft.
The hospital billing department kept sending me statements showing that I still owed the full amount. Each time I received the statement, I sent them a copy of my original payment coupon as proof that I had already paid the full amount. Also, a bill collector contacted me by phone. I told her that I had already paid this bill by credit card and assumed that the matter had been settled at last. Unfortunately, that was not the case.
Because I had given up hope of resolving the issue directly with their billing department, I filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau in Dallas. They did not respond to the Better Business Bureau within the time specified, so the complaint was simply closed as unresolved.
Then, last week I received a nasty letter from the hospital’s billing department still showing that I owed the full amount. That was the last straw, so I wrote to the medical director at the hospital for help in resolving the issue. A staff member there called me and referred me to someone in the Dallas accounting office who, in turn, referred me to the actual contract billing company in Mobile!
In the meantime, I received a notice from another healthcare provider that my payment to them had been denied. I called the credit card company to find out why that payment was rejected and learned that my account had been turned over to their fraud department because someone had tried to access it several times. All those payments had been blocked. The representative told me that she had unblocked it and that the payments would now be honored. Not so. When I called the healthcare providers back and had them try to process the payments, they still were blocked. Aarrgghh!!! By now I was at my wits’ end.
Then, this afternoon I received a call from the top manager at the hospital’s billing department in Dallas telling me that she had asked to investigate the issue and had discovered that a new employee had not gone to the right folder in their accounts receivable system to process the payments or to respond to complaints – and not just for mine but for everyone else’s. So my letter to the medical director set in motion an investigation that revealed a much bigger problem. I guess I’m the main character in this drama. :>)
Also, this afternoon I received an e-mail from the credit card company telling me that they had sent me a new credit card, which I should receive by Friday (while I am away at a Cen-Tex campout in Bandera). My old credit card number will be valid until July 10. This will give me enough time to notify all the companies and institutions that currently receive monthly payments directly from my credit card account to start using the new account number.
The bright spot in all this for me is that the hospital’s accounting manager told me that she had reduced my bill by 20% for all my trouble and had put my account on hold so that no more bills would be sent to me. I told the manager that I would be receiving a new credit card number and that I would be able to provide it to them next week. She said that they certainly could wait a few more days for payment since I had been trying for so long to pay!
All this illustrates just how important employee training is and what the lack of it can cost employers in terms of trouble, money and good will. It’s amazing how few companies take employee training seriously.