Friday, August 29, 2014

The Joy of Customer Service



Yesterday I just about lost my sanity. I had to make a number of phone calls, and my new phone was actually alive, working, and on board with the plan. I’ve been experiencing some difficulty with my jaw on and off, so it was time to find a dentist and have it checked out. I also needed to make appointments for Ryan, Timmy, and Megan to see the dentist and an optometrist. And find a new primary care doctor for myself since mine retired two months ago.

Sounds like it won’t take too long, three phone calls, right? 

HAHAHAHAHA. No. 

First I went online to look up dentists for the health insurance we have. They ask if you want to look for a primary care doctor or a specialty doctor. Okay, must be listed under specialty. Only when you put in the required data for your area and select “dental,” it lists several dental surgeons, not regular dentists. 

So I Googled dentists in our area, and started calling around. They either weren’t accepting new patients or they didn’t accept our health insurance. After six calls, I was so irritated. I couldn’t possibly call all the dentists in the area; the insurance company knows who takes their insurance, so it's easier to call them. 

Okay. Find a number on the website to call for assistance. Call that. Listen to the female automated voice ask  several questions and direct me to press or say something, including my member ID number. 

Female Robot Voice: Please enter your member ID number, followed by the pound sign.

I look on the front of my insurance card, locate the number, which is 700310156932, and start pressing the numbers on my phone. I get as far as 7003101, and hear a voice coming through my phone.

Male Robot Voice: The number you entered, 7003101, does not exist.

Female Robot Voice: Please enter your member ID number, followed by the pound sign.

I hold the phone in front of me again and start pressing numbers. 7003101--

Male Robot Voice: The number you entered, 7003101, does not exist.

And again I hear the Female Robot Voice: Please enter your member ID number, followed by the pound sign.

I’m thinking, okay, I just have to press the numbers really fast, no hesitating to check that it’s right, just keep my eyes on the card and my fingers on the number pad on the phone screen. Come on, Valerie, you can do this!

7-0-0-3-1-0-1-5-6-9-3-2...

But as I’m pressing the last five digits, a voice comes from the phone again.

Male Robot Voice: The number you entered, 7003101, does not exist.

Followed, of course, by…

Female Robot Voice: Please enter your member ID number, followed by the pound sign.

Exasperated by now, I hang up. Just hang up. Turn the card over and find a number for member services. I dial and wait, and ask for a service rep. She gets on the phone and asks for my ID number, so before I tell her, I inform her that I *had* tried calling member services and entering my number but the automated answering won’t let me finish punching it in. 

We get everything squared away so she knows I’m really me, asking for my full name, date of birth, full address, phone number, social security number, mother’s maiden name, any identifying birth marks, pets’ names and ages, property lot size, and whether I hang my toilet paper over the roll or under. (under, just so you know) 

I tell her my problem, that when trying to locate a dentist for myself and my children, the online provider locator only gives me specialty dentists who are oral surgeons. She says that’s because you have to call a certain number in order to get dentists in your area, and do I want her to connect me right to that number? Heck yeah!

She puts me through and I wait on the line, and after connecting and pressing one to indicate that I’m a member, I hear:

Female Robot Voice: Please enter your member ID number, followed by the pound sign.

Arrrrrgggggghhhhh! 

Kill me now. Just kill me now and put me out of my misery.

<sigh> I somehow got through, chose a different option, and was able to get the names of several area dentists who accept our insurance. I call the first one and hit pay dirt: they’re accepting new patients, and as a bonus, they also take Megan’s insurance, which happens to be different than what the boys and I have. I got appointments for all four of us on the same day next month. <fist pump>

I also called another number I was given and connected with someone who helped me with optometrists who accept the boys’ and my insurance; she said she’d email me the list. Great, now I call Megan’s insurance and go through the rigamarole again to get a list of eye doctors. 

I called one that was closest and the woman on the line was friendly and we scheduled an appointment for Megan. Done with that, I went to my email to get the list of optometrists I was sent, and upon opening it, I discovered that the first one was the practice I had just hung up with. 

Wish I had known! Called back 3 times and got the answering machine. The fourth time I got the same woman I had spoken to and after 20 minutes I had myself scheduled the same day as Megan, and Ryan and Timmy scheduled the week after that. 

I looked online again for a list of primary care doctors, and with one more call to a local practice,  I had a new primary care doctor for me and my initial appointment scheduled. Almost two and a half hours and 16 calls later…I didn't have to schedule hair replacement surgery *or* a visit to the psych ward. I guess it was a pretty good day. ;) 

*PS: 700310156932 isn't my real member ID number. It's really 7900606--just kidding! ;)

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