Tag Archives: CARP

Only Child on why so angry – sometimes

This scary miserable little person is making another appearance this week because the snafus coming from others continue to happen, leaving me to deal with the aftermath.  People ask me why I am so angry? This is why and I’m going on the record that I am not angry all the time, but would like less cause to be angry so I’m angry just a minuscule part of my time.

Since last week the following has happened – so far. If some sound weird, they are all true. As a former journalist, I still try to stick to the truth, although the telling is “as I see it” as a late Toronto radio personality used to say.

Here we go:

1. My current phone and Internet bill which I get mailed (yes, regular mail) to me, didn’t arrive. Fortunately I also have online access to my bills so could check it so I can pay it. But I still decided to phone Bell Canada to find out what was going on. They did send it out. So, it could be Canada Post messing up. I’ve had mail addressed properly to me go elsewhere, including to someone also in Toronto with the same address except the extension (road, street) is different than mine. I also get his mail occasionally. If the postal carrier dropped it in the wrong mail box in my neighbourhood, unless the person knows me they might just have dumped it back in the mail.  From experience, I know that can take weeks for it to be re-delivered to the correct address. The Bell customer service rep checked to make sure there was no funny business going on with my account – he couldn’t find any. When I asked if there was any discounts offered for seniors, he went into a long explanation about a new way to get Internet which I’m not interested in at this point. So I told him. So far I was polite but when he started pitching this service again, I gritted my teeth and said I just told you I don’t want it and thanked him for checking on the other and the conversation was ended.

But he never said he would get my bill resent, although future bills will also still be sent by regular mail – as long as Bell and/or Canada Post don’t screw up.

And if you think I’m being a Luddite here, I have good reason. A few years ago I changed my method of receipt for my heating bill and the Gas company screwed it up – mixing it up with that guy at the similar address and closing my account. Somebody got you know what from me, but it was fixed. And I returned to bills by regular mail.

2. This is the one that really upsets. me because it hits at my book Beyond Faith and book sales. Beyond Faith is available in print and e-copy to order online at the usual suspects – Amazon, Barnes and Nobel – but in Canada also through Chapters Indigo – the big bookstore chain here. The book can be ordered online at their sitet and usually the print version can be ordered through the bricks and mortar stores – from the actual stores. Well, there is a note under available online that says “unavailable in stores” which is not the package my publisher has with the distributor, Ingram. I found this out  (I had thought it meant there were no copies in the stores yet) on Saturday when I visited one of the book chains small Coles stores. The manager was very enthusiastic about getting copies of both Beyond Blood and Beyond Faith and having me do a book signing in the store one Saturday afternoon. While I was there, she went into the system to order the books – no problem with Beyond Blood, but she couldn’t order Beyond Faith. She said to contact my publisher and when it was fixed she would be happy to order in copies and have me do a book signing session.

I emailed my publisher as soon as I got home, explaining the situation and also that small independent bookstores have ordered the book in at my request and it is in the store (I checked in person). He got on it right away – said it was probably a glitch when Ingram, the distributor put it into Indigo-Chapters online. The publisher got on it right away, emailing Ingraham and re-iterating the contract contents he has with them and asked them to fix it. He ccd me.

That was three days ago. I checked BF on Indigo-chapters website. Still saying not available in stores. It better get fixed this week because April 18 I’m supposed to be part of a Crime Writers’ Canada presentation at one of the mid-town bigger Indigo bookstores and they need to order in copies of Beyond Faith for that.

And I still haven’t received my corrected CARP membership card as mentioned in last week’s post.  The old one expired February 28 and it’s March and I can’t get my benefits. I decided to go above customer ?service? – yes there are names for all the board, including Director of Communicaitons, but no email address.

With this widespread seemingly endless list of sanfus, i can’t help wondering if someone out there or up there (word beginning with “G”) has something to do with it. Call me crazy, but i don’t think it’s in the water, as the saying goes.

No wonder I get angry sometimes. I think I have the right to feel this way. At least it get me going to get it fixed.

What is the most recent snafu you have had to deal with? Or are you lucky and get little or none?

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

Beyond Faith book cover

 

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Filed under Beyond Faith, Books, Life demands, Only child, Utiiities

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 declares war on Empire Life Insurance

Only child prepares to battle more human screwups

Only child prepares to battle more human screwups

Mother’s Day was good. My son Martin and his girlfriend Juni took me out for brunch and afterwards he came with me back to my house to do a few odd jobs and talk computer and other stuff with me. He removed the cover from the air-conditioner (the jury is out if and when the a/c will be used this year with the cold weather still) and put in the heavy top part of the patio umbrella. He didn’t have to hammer the nails back into the patio table as the arborist did come through and fix their damage. (See my added comment from last week’s post). Martin also helped me save and include old newspaper photos into Power Point (from the Toronto dailies online through the Toronto Public Library research connections). These are  for the memoir writing course I’m teaching next month.

I walked with him to the bus stop and after he boarded the bus I went to the nearby Home Depot to buy some bone meal. Because the weather included sporadic short showers I didn’t do any gardening and accepted that. Spent time reading newspapers and a book. Okay will all that.

Then yesterday – Monday – arrived and all the shit that brought. Again due to other people’s bad judgement/stupidity. Sheesh! I can get into enough trouble on my own without all this outside stuff.

First I got through five (yes, five) issues – some health-related but most connected to snafus with the house, city services and a utility. So, I phoned the dentist’s office to book an appointment but couldn’t get one until next Monday, did follow-up phone calls on the windows manufacturer coming to fix a problem with a window (under warranty but appointment has been postponed several times partly because of weather and partly they only will come when their techs are in the area), the city for follow-up on my complaints about garbage not being picked up two weeks ago – only one on the block, Rogers for a falling-down cable outside in the back, and my house insurance company for something else (this one was not a screw-up – I just didn’t understand the info mailed to me).

The other item in the mail is one of the big problems now.

Empire Life Insurance where I have my life insurance – they picked up my policy from a company they absorbed a few years back – are up to their old tricks. In a nutshell, they increase your premiums annually if you are a senior and don’t have any extra saved in your premium fund. So, they send a threatening letter (worded politely) if you don’t send X number of dollars – basically one quarterly premium payment increased – they will cancel your policy.

Is this right? Sounds like they are taking advantage of us seniors.

They have done this before and I have waged war and called them on it. Two years ago, after several angry phone calls to their call centre, I was connected to someone who could do something. We talked and she said that she would arrange it that I would no longer get these letters and that the increase would automatically be applied. She followed up with a letter.

Last year, thats is what happened. This year? Empire Life Insurance is back to their old tricks. I have the threatening letter now, when the fiscal year for the premiums isn’t until August. I have the current May bill to pay (with 30 days grace – I’m waiting for my government pension later this month or the deposit from the new editing client after the Victoria Day weekend when she is back from holidays – then I can pay).

So I am on the warpath again. I will collect all my information from the last time and phone to try to get it straightened out – AGAIN. I am also going to try to sic CARP (I’m a member) on them. Two years ago I tried the Insurance Bureau of Canada complaint department but they weren’t helpful. If this isn’t solved I will have to cancel my policy and have no life insurance unless I can find something else suitable that I can afford (I’ll ask CARP) so my son can pay my funeral costs and debts without using his own funds. Life Insurance is paid out before any will is processed.

Empire Life Insurance will also get bad PR from me.

You know the old saying about life being a bowl of cherries with the pits. I seem to be living it against my will.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

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Filed under CARP, Consumer action, Family, finances, Health Seniors, Life Insurance, Only child, Problems, Worrying

Only Child’s thoughts on living poor

Only Child and her son Martin who helps her survive.

Only Child and her son Martin who helps her survive.

Except for a couple of years, I have been living on or below the poverty level for nearly 18 years. So I think I speak with some “personal authority” on how it goes.

It is a mixed bag, but unfortunately you lose more than just money. Many not-so-good traits and habits happen. Living constantly in survival mode has turned me into a skeptic, made me cranky, angry, sometimes rude, pessimistic or overly optimistic, which I know doesn’t make sense. I have learned to watch the optimism because that can too soon change to the opposite.

Money may not buy you love (the jury is out on that one), but without enough money to live on, I do some things others might find crazy or unbelievable. My biggest financial issues don’t usually include food (more on that one in a sec), but health and home  (including utilities’ escalating costs and repairs). Despite scrupulous monthly budgeting, my health expenses always go above budget – the last few months hundreds over budget. The latest is my prescription eyeglasses which have to be replaced. My vision (excluding the glaucoma) is the same as when my eyes were tested the end of 2014 when I purchased my new prescription glasses, so getting a new pair of glasses now doesn’t please me, to say the least.

Saturday I had just returned home from the first round of grocery shopping, placed my bags of groceries on the veranda between the front doors and hauled out my keys. The keys slipped from my fingers and fell to the ground. When I bent down to retrieve them, my sunglasses fell off, landing on the soft bags. One frame side (the part attaching to the ear) fell off. I was very angry at God (not watching out for me)  and after putting the groceries away and eating a light lunch, I rushed to The Bay Optical where I had originally purchased the glasses. They can’t be fixed permanently because of how it broke off and the company doesn’t make those frames anymore. So, a whole new pair of glasses. Of course, the one-year warranty was up but the optician glued the frame back on and after I went into my poor senior-living status and I asked, she did agree it could be glued on again until I could afford a new pair. Because my vision is the same, so same prescription, the cost is a bit lower – but still more than I can afford now, what with house and property repairs – the eaves trough situation I had blogged about previously and the one property thing I was saving for – some tree and branch removal issues. Hopefully the temporary remedy my son suggested for the eaves trough will work a bit longer than planned. Trees must be done this spring, the earlier the better before leaves appear and plants around the trees pop up.

The health issues escalate the supplements and now there are the monthly eye-drops and having too much income to qualify for the Ontario government drug co-payment play for seniors. The government scrapped the increase on this plan (I would still be above a few hundred dollars in income to qualify). But the deductible starts all over again each Aug.1. Fortunately my son will now pay the difference.

That brings up something on a broader scale. CARP (formerly  Canadian Association of Retired Persons) has stated that many seniors don’t get prescriptions filled because they can’t afford them. CARP is lobbying the government for a Canada-wide drug prescription plan for seniors – heck everybody could use one, at least up to a higher income level.

As for food, I do budget and usually stay within it each week, occasionally go a few dollars higher, but then sometimes I’m under budget. Not easy. Here’s my little secret – I ration my food, not only spreading out meat and fish dishes into several meals, but dividing up some fruit such as oranges into two or three meals (depends on the size of the orange). I buy lots on sale and yes, there are some tinned meats and fish in my food repertoire. In spring and summer I have a vegetable and herb garden, so that helps.

The garden is one big reason I continue living in a house. I also like this house (despite the property problems that crop up). My garden, my writing, my family and friends, reading, TV, walking help sustain me.  They have to. I can’t afford even a few concerts and plays, travel only to visit family (I am grateful for that) or the occasional day trip to Aurora and the like. Bucket list? Can’t afford to carry through with anything on a bucket list.

Living poor is a struggle. Perhaps the only plus is learning to be resourceful. But at what cost? Your health? And one thing I have learned from experience – mine and others. You can’t depend on God to help. Just look at all the poor people, especially the homeless. God helps those who help themselves? More like, just help yourself – if you can.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

 

 

 

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Filed under CARP, finances, God, Health, Health Seniors, Healthcare coverage, Home and Garden, Life demands, Old Age, Poverty

Only Child condemns Canada Post CEO decision

Only Child contemplates the end to door-to-door mail delivery in Canada

Only Child contemplates the end to door-to-door mail delivery in Canada

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.

  • Translation by Prof. George Herbert Palmer Harvard University, from an ancient Greek work of Herodotus.

What weather can’t do, Deepak Chopra, President and CEO of Canada Post is doing. Make no mistake. This Chopra is not the beloved author, public speaker and physician of the same name. The only thing those two share is their name. Chopra, Canada Post CEO, is the man who is destroying Canada’s mail service.

For those of you who haven’t heard, Chopra the CEO is closing down door-to-door delivery of mail in Canada. It is starting today in various sections of Winnipeg, Manitoba;Fort McMurray, Alberta; Calgary, Alberta , and Ottawa, Ontario, and is set to continue until 2020.

Chopra’s reasoning for cutting the service was to reduce Canada Post costs because Canada Post was running a losing game. Not right now. Canada Post is now making a profit according to an August 27, 2014 article titled Canada Post segment reports $53-million profit before tax in second quarter. The source? Canada Post’s website http://www.canadapost.ca/cpo/mc/aboutus/news/pr/2014/2014_Q2_report.jsf
Wake up Mr. Chopra and smell more than the coffee because the outcry to your ridiculous ruling is thunderous.
Many petitions have been created and signed (yes, I signed one). One lady, Susan Dixon, whose son has cerebral palsy and is in a wheelchair started one. Last count it had well over 150,000 signatures and growing. Today, Ms Dixon is taking her petition to the Canadian seat of government in Ottawa. I wish her well. Her original question to Canada Post and the Canadian feds was “Have you ever tried to push a wheelchair through the mud or snow?”
She’s got it right.
CARP, the Canadian seniors advocacy organization (Disclaimer: I am a member) is also working to get this stupid decision stopped (or in some cases where it is already happening – reversed). For example, Mike Lansdown their senior’s advocate and a board member of CARP’s Halton Chapter, is very actively advocating keeping home mail delivery. Today, Mike takes part in a discussion on this situation on Goldhawke Fights Back (Radio 740 a.m. in the Toronto, Canada area. http://www.zoomerradio.ca/category/shows/goldhawk-fights-back.) More info on other CARP actions re Canada Post, see http://www.carp.ca/2014/02/22/canada-post-update-members-join-public-general-outcry-carp-steps/
I have never been an advocate of unions, mainly because they are too aggressive and they go on strike and that affects a third party – we the general public.
But I’ve changed my mind here. The Canadian Union of Postal Workers is taking Canada Post to Federal Court on charges Canada Post is going against the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms because removing door-to-door postal delivery discriminates against seniors and people with mobility challenges. I’m 100 per cent behind this union here. True, many of them will lost their jobs and because of why they will, I support them. See and hear the Toronto Star October 21, 2014 story at http://www.thestar.com/business/2014/10/16/postal_workers_go_to_court_to_save_home_delivery.html

I know that for many years Canada Post has not set up door-to-door mail delivery for any new homes built so some people have no door-to-door delivery. But these people who moved into the new homes knew this before purchasing their homes, so they could decide whether they wanted to live with it.
Not the rest of us. I’m a senior but to date can still get around and walk even though some days my foot conditions cause problems. But I don’t want to “skate” out on ice in winter or get blown to a community mail box to pick up my mail. Why should I – especially as Canada Post also keeps raising the cost of postage. Is this extra cost supposed to pay for all the extra community mail boxes?
Canada has a federal election next year. From what I hear and read, this cutting home delivery of mail is going to be a big issue. I will be watching closely to see which parties, party leaders, and my area candidates decide on this issue. I won’t vote for anyone wanting to cut the service.
As for Mr. Deepak Chopra, Canada Post President and CEO. I wish him a happy retirement – very soon. May he retire to a place called Nowhere, location the middle of nowhere, with no car. I would add mobility issues but that would be an insult to those who have mobility issues.
Cheers.
Sharon A. Crawford
Only Child Writes

 

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Only Child looks at possible changes to seniors’ pensions

Only Child contemplates possible changes to Canada's old age pension

Now that I have Canada Pension Payments all set up for pre-age 65 receipt, I have to worry about the Old Age Security Pension. So do other baby boomers rapidly moving into senior territory. Canada’s Prime Minister Harper is sending out word that he wants to change the focus and framework for the Old Age Security pension. Among other insinuations there is talk of upping the starting age to 67 and perhaps clawing back the payment amount excluded for tax deferral.

My late Mom and Dad would roll around in their graves. Probably their spirits are sputtering around, if spirits can sputter. Dad lived only a year and a half beyond age 65 and I don’t recall if he ever received OAS. Between 1965 and 1969 (Dad died in 1965), the eligibility age was transforming from 70 to 65. (Are we going to regress on this age thing now?) Mom died at 63, so she received no OAS. She did have Dad’s Canadian National Railway survivor pension and when she died I got the survivor benefit for a few years, from the age of 23. Now when I’m getting close to the so-called retirement age I could use that CN pension money. Too bad it couldn’t have been deferred until now. To paraphrase a friend, getting old isn’t for the faint at heart (and I add, “but all the money stress can kill your heart”). Another friend, an editor and writing instructor who has hit the 65 mark, said she probably won’t be able to retire until she’s 90. I’m looking at 70, to slow down in my writing, editing and writing instructing/speaking business. Not unusual for many of us freelance writers today. It’s a good thing it’s creative work and work which I love.

So, what is the Harper Federal government’s pension change idea? According to a National Post story (published Jan. 26, 2012 http://news.nationalpost.com/2012/01/26/major-changes-coming-to-canadas-pension-system-harper-says-in-davos-speech) and posted on The Canadian Association for Retired Persons (CARP) website at http://www.carp.ca/category/news/carp-in-the-news/  Harper made this announcement late last week at The World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. This same story also includes some statistics about OAS costs estimated to rise to $48 billion in three years and to a possible $108 billion in 2030 because of the growing number of seniors. We seniors and seniors-to-be will increase our numbers from the current 4.7 million to 9.3 million in 2030. And Prime Minister Harper will be one of them. I know – he’ll get a good government pension, but possible changes to MP pensions are being considered. In the meantime, putting himself in our shoes might be a good idea.

Wasn’t there a science fiction book written years ago about killing off seniors once they reached age 60? That, of course, is not an option, and let’s be clear here, is not one suggested by Harper. But perhaps he forgets that we seniors and seniors-to-be are a force to be reckoned with. Many of us belong to CARP; we are baby boomers and it is in our blood to fight for our rights. We also have the capable and eloquent fighter for seniors’ rights, Susan Eng, leading CARP’s involvement in this. Check out links to videos of her interviews with Canadian media at http://www.carp.ca/category/news/carp-in-the-news/

Meantime, I’ll keep on writing, editing, teaching writing and speaking about writing…and using my CPP payments once they begin to arrive in a few months. Apparently there are no problems with funds for the CPP.

Comments anyone? Especially from countries besides Canada? What is your old age pension system like?

Cheers.

Sharon Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Baby boomers, CARP, Old Age pensions, Only child, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Seniors, Susan Eng