Saturday, August 19, 2006

My Sister is My Hero - NOW WITH UPDATE!

Years ago, Rivka and her husband decided to get their own 800 number. It would allow my mother to call more easily from the hospital, and as my nephews got older it meant they could call home from anywhere. After a while, I think they stopped needing it much, but they held onto the number anyway.

A year ago, they started getting phone calls from people asking for the insurance company Secure Horizons.

At first, it was just a small annoyance. But as more and more people called asking for the insurance company, Rivka finally asked one of the callers why this mistake was so common. Turns out that Secure Horizons accidentally printed my sister's 800 number on the back of the their customers' membership cards.

Rivka called Secure Horizons and explained the problem to an agent, who said that a manager would call her back. No one ever did.

So Rivka tried again, four more times. Each time, she was told that someone who was authorized to work out the problem with her (ie, reimburse her for the calls she'd been getting on her phone, get her a new 800 number so Secure Horizons could take the old one, etc) would call, and then . . . nothing.

I should perhaps interject here and mention that, given our mother's chronic illness, there is no love lost between our family and insurance companies. Insurance companies are evil incarnate, as far as we are concerned.

So, a few days ago, Rivka changed the greeting on the 800 number's voicemail to the following:

"You have reached the ______ family. If you are trying to reach Secure Horizons, please be aware that this is not the correct number. Also, you should know that the Better Business Bureau has given Secure Horizons an F rating."

Then she stopped answering that phone, so that everyone who called would hear that greeting.

The very next day, two managers left messages on the machine, saying they would really like to speak with her.

She got your attention now, huh, jerks?

Rivka is my hero.

Update to come.


I got this email from my sister:

I think, last time we spoke, I had gotten a couple of messages from S.H. people, but had yet to respond (I was making them sweat a little with my message on my answering machine). But finally I picked up the phone when another one of their "customer service managers" called, and we had a nice chat. Apparently, he had only gotten an email saying that I was getting S.H. customer calls, and to call me to handle it. He sure was surprised when I let him in on the facts that 1. I have been getting their customer calls for almost a year 2. I notified FIVE DIFFERENT PEOPLE from S.H. in the last three months that their customers are calling me 3. NOT ONE PERSON from S.H. has ever called me back and 4. THEY ARE RUDE. He was very apologetic, and offered to hire a 'screening company' to screen the calls. But he couldn't tell me how a 'screening company' would work, or how I would get my own phone calls. So here's how the conversation went from here:

"Mr. J----, you have no idea why I am getting your phone calls, do you?"

"No, we're definitely working on that on our end, we need to figure out what paperwork went out...." (stammer stammer, blah blah blah)

"How much were you planning on spending on this "screening company"?

"I really have no idea, we would have to check companies in your area and see how this can work...." (more stammering and blahness)

"Okay, let's do a little math here. I complained to your company three months ago that I was getting your phone calls. That's about 66 business days. Now let's average that I get three wrong numbers a day from your customers. And, let's just say you pay your operators minimum wage, about $7.00 an hour. That's three calls, three hours, $21 a day, 66 days...$1,386. I'll round it down to thirteen hundred. You send me a check for thirteen hundred dollars, and I'll disconnect my 800 phone number."

"Um, I, um, will definitely have to get back to you on this."
That was yesterday. Today, Mr. J---- called me back.
"We have decided that your request for thirteen hundred dollars is fair, and we will send you a check as soon as possible."

"Thank you, Mr. J----. I won't disconnect the number until I get the check, but I can promise you that I will change the message on my answering machine right now. As soon as I get the check, I will disconnect the number."


So I ended up being the winner in this, I think.

I think so too. And, dear sister, if you use some of the money to buy something from my birthday wish list, we can both be winners, eh?

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