Category Archives: Insurance

Only Child on people’s stupidity wasting my time

Your customer service rep today

Lately I’ve been getting up feeling that there isn’t too much to look forward to for the day – or I have one or more nagging problem to face. Even today, on an untypical winter’s day. Sun is shining and it going to be warm – 54 F on the old scale.

I’m feeling better now and I think it is because I’ve been busy tackling my time and getting back on track with starting my workday on time. I also re-recorded my voice mail message – much shorter and to the point – starting with if this call is personal, please call… and I state when – not during my business hours. I also mention when I will take calls for writing and editing. And I finish with “Or leave a brief message. Thank you.” Emphasis on the “brief”.  I don’t want your life story as some do. Now, with long messages, I will delete them once the life story finishes, that is.

I also thought a brief summary of some of the ridiculous problems I’ve been dealing with the past month – at least 90 per cent caused by “outside”, i.e. I didn’t cause them; they were caused by big business, government, other people, etc. But I’m stuck with fixing the problem. So, here is a short summary of the most ridiculous. People can be so stupid. WARNING: I name some names.

1. I belong to CARP – the Canadian Association for Retired Persons (a misnomer as members can be anywhere over 45 and many of us are not retired). But they are good with advocating for our rights as older people, especially to  government, plus you get deals with things like insurance and pharmacies and they publish the Zoomer magazine. But apparently their in-house administration needs some fixing. My membership runs out the end of February according to my membership card. For the first time I did not receive a renewal notice (I’ve been a member for more years than I can remember) so I phoned earlier this month. My “new” card arrived a week ago – dated February 2018. What’s wrong with this picture? i phoned and complained and asked for a correct new card to be sent to arrive by the end of the month, send it priority post if necessary and that because they screwed up I deserve that – this latter after they said it takes two to three week to send it out. Well, they didn’t listen -priority post would have gotten it here before now, which is one week later.

2. Empire Life Insurance Company which has had my life insurance policy for years and increases the payments every year, but never tells me ahead of time or how much. Just sends me “threatening” letters six months or so before the fiscal year is  up or after, stating that my policy will  be cancelled if I don’t pay X$ right now. I have repeatedly phoned them on this, stating I have no problem paying any quarterly increase that starts with each new fiscal year – but they have to let me know what the quarterly increase is. This year I did the math on the amount they say I owed until August 1 (fiscal year end/start) and it works out to the two quarterly payments I still owe when I am billed for each quarterly. I was just going to pay the current quarterly when the annual nasty letter arrived. This time I think I got someone who has some idea what she is doing and she said she would put a note in my file that I requested receiving notice of the actual quarterly increase a month before the fiscal year end/beginning and to just mail in the actual quarterly payment due now and the next one in May. Which I did for the quarterly then due. And I have complained about Empire Life to the Insurance Bureau of Canada and they said they don’t cover life insurance – just car and property insurance companies. I have also looked into getting life insurance elsewhere but have been warned to be careful here. Maybe I’ll go to CARP again on it and see what they have to say. Oh! When I get my new correct membership card.

3. I wasted last Thursday morning on the phone with Dell Canada trying to extend the service warranty on my leased desktop PC for another year. I might have been asking for them to deliver the sun and the moon. Except for instructing me how to do a check on the hardware in the computer to make sure it was all working (it was 100 per cent), the customer service rep in the finance department I got didn’t know what to do (she kept putting me on hold to check with her supervisor) and I had to repeat several times what I wanted and how I was going to pay for it. She finally gave me a quote and transferred me to someone else to take my payment info. Then back to her and after waiting some time she told me that there was a problem processing it but it wasn’t my card – it was Dell but she worded it like the problem was connected to me paying with a card. After being put on hold for more time, I hung up and tried to call back (to get somebody else) at the number she gave me. I got the usual Dell runaround from operator to operator to wrong country to wrong department until I landed back at the original place – but with la different rep who knew what she was doing. She got me a quote and it turns out the first rep had quoted higher because she had included a laser printer. Huh? I don’t have a Dell printer and that was never discussed with rep No. 1. This rep No. 1 had emailed me a “how am I doing?” email – twice – while we were still talking and there was a link to her supervisor. So I emailed him to complain. Got a quick reply and he wins the prize for stupidest person on the earth. He said the first rep. did it right, there was a “tool” causing the processing my order problem (Tool? We weren’t gardening or doing house repairs here? Did he mean software?). His grammar and spelling were atrocious for a supervisor. And he didn’t even apologize. But I may have gotten my just desserts in all of this, though – when I filled in the survey form that came in yesterday.

The list goes on. But that’s enough. People can be so inconsiderate and stupid.

So, I’m looking out the window at the sun shining and hoping I can go for a walk at lunchtime.

What is one stupid problem caused by someone else you had to deal with? And how did you deal with it?

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

Something to look forward to in a few months

 

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Filed under Complaining tactics, Consumer action, Insurance, Only child, Problems, Seniors, Snafus, Zoomers

Only Child in financial crunch thanks to health issues

Only child ponders finances, health and the like

Only child ponders finances, health and the like

Looks like what I do for my health will not only depend on my time, but my finances. Surprise! Surprise! I say that sarcastically as I am one of many seniors who live below the poverty level and have to make choices what we can really afford to pay for. And I have known that for years.

Food, utilities and property taxes, family, property, insurance and book promo are at the top of the list for monthly payments, although not necessarily in that order.

So where is health? Yes, it should be on the list, and maybe it is – somewhere. (I haven’t listed all the categories for my monthly expenses.)  But in the last nine months or so health has stolen from my finances and my time – the bad health issues. I don’t mean buying healthy food and eating healthy food. I seem to be able to keep within food grocery budget (so far), but whatever I budget for health each month is never enough. And that is just the basics I spend on health each month. Basics for me is a lot of vitamins, minerals and other supplements. Necessary for me. A few quick examples. I have to take mega-doses of Vitamin D from November to end of April becaue of our you-know-what weather in Canada (the word begins with “f”), there is little winter sun. The body doesn’t keep Vitamin D so it needs constant replenishing. I have a digestive disorder so have to take probiotics and digestive supplements. And then there are the various supplements, etc. for my allergies and re-occurring sinisitus from the allergies. But those are basic monthlies and don’t take into account all the extras such as dentist, serum for allergies, and all the health emergencies that come up.

In previous posts I mentioned that I am dealing with one big health issue a  month – even if the related health practitioners don’t like it. The focus had been on my time. I love my late mom, but don’t want to spend my senior years like her – a long litany of various medical appointments that didn’t improve her health and didn’t save her life. For example, medication for her arthritis didn’t make it better. She lost her job because of her arthritis. And thanks to the arthritis, she had a fall, which led to an undetected brain aneurysm, which wasn’t found by any of the litany of medical experts she saw – until it was too late and it sent her into a five-day coma, which killed her – despite surgery.

I rest my case with that aspect.

But the financial. This month was earmarked by me (in conjunction with my dentist – at least I was following his direction here) that I needed my (hopefully – experience has trusted me not to trust anything where health is concerned) last dental appointment to fix the residue of the dental emergency in early December had to be in February.
Well, I made an appointment for Feb. 17, but have since moved it to Feb. 29. That’s a time thing. For those who read my author blog you will know I’m in a big crunch to finish my third Beyond mystery book to get it to the publisher by Feb. 28. Of course, if accepted, there will be more changes and rewrites. But I moved the dental appointment to after the publisher’s deadline – I cannot afford taking time from my writing day this month to do medical appointments for medical practitioners who don’t have evening and/or weekend hours.

But now I can’t afford to pay the dentist this month. He is very understanding about lowering the fee, but I’m hoping he will accept post-dated cheques for over the next few months. Starting with March, the property taxes return. I have a horrendous hydro bill coming later this month (horrendous because hydro’s credit which provided dollars off ended January 1). I have applied for the new electrical bill help which could give me $30 a month off or $60 a month for each bill which is bi-monthly.

Won’t be this current bill. My application has been received. I got notice of that last week, although it was a month since I sent it in. I was told when I phoned in last week that it would take two to four more weeks before being approved because the consent form takes the time.

Well excuse me. I filled out and signed the consent form and there is only me involved for consent for them to get a copy of my income tax notice of assessment for 2014 – the latest available. Oh pardon my ignorance – that is two different governments.

So, to return to health issues. A business colleague just published a book called “My Business Ate My Life” – a self-help (with some humour) guideline for small businesses who spend 24/7 with their business. If I wrote a similar book, the title would be “My Health Ate my Life.”

Being old is not fun – with health and finances. And, for those who are wondering – I can’t afford to pay for one of those extended health care plans. I have looked into a bunch of them – monthly payment all too high for limited coverage a la carte.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

 

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Filed under Health, Health Insurance, Health Seniors, Hydro Rates, Insurance, Life Balance, Life demands, Money, Old Age, Older Women living alone and health, Poverty

Only Child on aging eyes and writers’ healthcare

Only child struggling to read while wearing those old glasses

Last week I got the green light on my eyes. In December I  had finally, after six years, had my eyes tested by an optometrist. It’s not that I hate wearing glasses. I inherited both Mom’s and Dad’s bad eyes – the duo of myopia and astigmatism and have been wearing glasses since age 21. You see, when you get into bifocals (add the reading glasses part) the cost of glasses increases. As a freelance writer, editor and writing instructor, I am faced with a dilemma – I need glasses to see to work but I also need the money to pay for them. With house repairs, new computer equipment, professional organization fees, and other bills pouring in, eyes and glasses hit the bottom of my “must do,” list.

Until late last year. When I stood up in front of other Canadian Authors Association Toronto branch  members to read from my novella (Fire Underneath the Ice, co-authored with Rene Natan under the pseudonym R.S. Natanevin and yes, available at amazon.com) and had to remove my glasses to see to read, I knew it was time. I could no longer function with these badly-designed glasses (the reading part covered only one-sixth of the lens at the bottom and the left lens was scratched). So, I got new glasses and cool sunglasses which did wonders for my sight but not my purse. However, the optometrist found something disturbing – white clouds in the cornea or cornea opacity in both eyes. He arranged for an appointment with an opthamologist but the earliest date available was March 28, 2011. Three and a half months to worry about whether I’d need laser surgery, pills, prescriptions or a corneal transplant. And listen to some of  my friends’ opinions, including I needed to see an opthamologist now.

We freelance writers getting up there in age have to consider our health – and what will pay for it. When my father had his surgery for lung cancer in 1958, there was no healthcare in Ontario, Canada. Mom had to foot the bill for his surgery and hospital stay. Today, there is healthcare in Canada (since the mid 1960s). Coverage is supposed to be universal across Canada but isn’t. In many provinces, some medical options once covered have been kicked out. Some, such as eye examinations kick in again when you are 65, but not the glasses – they’ve never been covered under universal healthcare. And if you have feet problems, forget it. Orthotics are expensive and visits to podiotrists add up. There are supplemental insurance plans, including for freelance creative people, but have you looked at the premiums? And the coverage is only 80 per cent. Everything is a la carte and when you tally up dental, eyes, feet, back, etc. you might as well do what my dentist once said, “The insurance is too expensive. Better to visit the dentist and pay the cost once a year.” That was over five years ago and the dentist is on my “health waiting list,” waiting as in when I have the money or hit emergency – whichever comes first.

So I do this looking-after-my health in levels based on biggest need. I have nine  health problems (the ninth is stress over the other eight). The latest biggie, the eyes, I had to face last week. And I was scared. Many times I considered cancelling or postponing the appointment and when I lost the opthamologist’s business card I wondered if that was a sign to do so. But I’d bookmarked her biz info on the Internet, so a quick call to the office  confirmed time, date and yes, it was covered by OHIP. So I showed  up – late – I got lost (that’s another story for another post) but despite the crowded waiting room and the ranting patient ahead of me to sign in, I decided to keep my politeness – unless I got bad news.

I didn’t. After waiting 45 minutes (I brought a book to read) I got in for the first check. Then the dreaded drops were put in my eyes and I had another half hour wait (this time not reading). After going through my eye history with the opthamologist and her checking my eyes, the verdict was some scarring on the corneal but it doesn’t affect my eyesight (thanks partially to those great glasses, no doubt). She figured I had some injury or infection – maybe as a child (I don’t remember) and that has caused the scarring. I have to see her every two years and the optometrist annually, but the rest of the “prescription” is to always wear my sunglases when out in the sun, wipe over my eyes with a wet washcloth each evening ( to remove any bacteria) and of course, keep the glasses clean.

Whew! Now, I have to save up to pay for the two pairs of glasses. I got on a plan at the optician’s; I have until December to pay. And they had a half-price sale when I purchased my glasses.

Some medical obstacles  you can work around. I’ve learned the importance of not giving up no matter what the chatter from others.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Health, Health Seniors, Healthcare coverage, Hereditary, Insurance, Only child, Vision

Only child takes another whack at trust

Only child contemplates water and trust - from main floor

I must have hit a common issue with last week’s post on water and trust – going by all the hits. And thanks to all who read my posting.

The water-trust saga continues. Lots more water did get in on the Saturday and I am so grateful for the help I had from my friends next door. Tanya mopped up while I was at a workshop I had to be at – my East End Writers’ Group was sponsoring it. I took over the mopping up with towels and mats when I returned…and continued with towel changes every hour or so until 1 a.m. when I finally went to bed.  It took until late Sunday until all  had completely dried on the leaky side. Total estimated water in my basement room equals at least eight pails full. The suggestion for protection from my masonry guy obviously didn’t work. He has another temporary fix – if he gets here today to do it – he’s postponed the day/time twice already. We have more rain coming tomorrow and Thursday and still the ground is frozen and the big fix can’t be done – the big excavation on that far side of the house and sealant put on that wall all the way down to the bottom. And of course, I will go deeper in debt to pay for this.

So, where does trust come in? I think it is really learning to trust in yourself and a few close family and friends who have proven they can be trusted. All the “putting it out there” and praying for help in the world doesn’t seem to work – at least for me. You have to be more proactive and make it happen – or in my case, not happen, or at least try. How you do this is up to you – each individual situation is different – based on who you are, what life has shoved at you, etc. For me it is accepting that I will need that excavation done and going into more debt. Also taking another look at my budget. I am big on budgeting, thanks to my late mother’s legacy.As I write in my memoir:

Late at night, long after my parents think I’m off in the land of nod, they discuss the family finances. Their loud whispers seep under closed hallway and bedroom doors.

“But we can’t afford that,” Mom says.

“We need . . .” Dad’s voice seems to hit the hallway door.

I throw off my bedcovers, sit up and strain to listen. I never get a clear idea about their plan until it happens or my parents discuss the revised version at the dinner table the next day.

(Excerpted from You Can Go Home – Deconstructing the Demons, Copyright 2011 Sharon Crawford)

Mom did better than I, but then she had funds on hand. But I will prune and delete where I can.

I am pruning and prioritizing in other areas of my life – work, included, so that there isn’t too much overwhelm and I can focus on the most important problem. If people don’t like it that I can’t get to them and their requests and other stuff immediately, too bad. I have also started buying lottery tickets again. I know some of you are thinking “big wishful thinking.” However, I  can afford one $3. ticket a week and no, I don’t expect to win big time. Don’t want to – just enough to get out of debt. But I’m not counting on it. I’m just trying to do something about my situation or should that be situations?

Speaking of which, I better make sure I have dry towels lined up along the rec room walls overnight. And stay put for the next few days so I can mop up. And perhaps take comfort in that I am not alone – a heck of a lot of people had water come in their basements, mostly (my ex husband had water come down his fireplace chimney – scary stuff) last Saturday. The insurance companies have a name for this (and for tornadoes, hurricanes, earth-quakes, etc.) – they call these Acts of God. I am not making this up. Check your residential insurance policies.

So, the bottom line right now is – trust down and water up. Let’s hope that can be reversed.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Debt, Floods, Gratitude, Insurance, Life learning, Only child, Prayer, Trust, Water

Only child revisits being alone

Only child in front of house

Besides the emotional end, being alone also has its practical repercussions as I keep finding out when money gets tight and the house (or stuff in it) literally starts falling apart. This goes way beyond just being an only child. Not having a life partner factors in a helluva lot here – maybe even more so than the only child situation. Add to that the “senior factor” (although at the lower age end here), and you have a recipe for stress, stress, anger and some resentment.

My late mother used to have a saying, “You can’t win nohow.” Although it comes across as negative, I’m beginning to  think she had a point. Consider my personal “crap list” for this month: house insurance premium due and way higher than last year coupled with s-l-o-w cash flow (common with the self-employed). Technically I have enough cash coming in to pay the bill but will it arrive before the due date? The other biggie is over the weekend my very old upright freezer (inherited from the previous house owners) took a turn for the worse. It probably wouldn’t make it through the winter so I’ve got a new one on order due here today. I’m not even going into the worries about getting the big old freezer out of my basement and out the door. But let’s just say it’s got me jumpy. And my credit card is getting a workout.

So here’s where the practical part of being alone comes in. A life partner could help with the expenses (not to mention the work around the house) and here comes the emotional – provide some support if only being someone to talk it over with. I’m not saying that having a life partner guarantees this support, but not having one guarantees the opposite.

Before you all think I’m into a “poor me pity party,” not exactly. Some of my friends are in similar boats – one had her computer die and is having trouble affording a new one. and she needs a computer to make a living.  Others are (like me) going deeper into debt. And you know – there are more older women in these types of situations than men. (However, I do know one older man in this type of situation).

What’s the solution? I don’t know. It is probably different for each of us. Me, I’m just very stubborn and determined. Yes, I get angry and resentful, but sometimes that fuels me to continue on. And here’s where being an only child comes in -it helps me strive towards independence, although not completely. Friends do help as does my son. And I take any help I can get.

How do others who are alone cope?

Cheers.

Sharon

Only child writes

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Filed under Aloneness, Debt, Family, Insurance, Only child, Self employed and cash flow