Saturday, October 9, 2010

Stress Multiplied

Have you missed me?  I have not been around very much lately.  Life has a way of interfering with the best of intentions.  I have kept up with my e-mail and replies to the comments on my post and read some of your good posts, but I have not had time to reply to all of them.  I make no promises for the near future, but will try to do better soon.  

I'll bet that most of you have had a billing problem or some other problem with a big corporation recently.  That seems to be very common occurrence these days.  Is it because we are turning out a generation of office workers that can't spell, add, or use sound judgment?  I don't ever remember having trouble with billing when I was young.    Or am I guilty of selective memory?  

One of the things that has taken my time and concentration was a business situation that has my blood pressure soaring through the roof.  It involves Dish Network and Capital One Visa card.   That scream you heard a few days ago was me.

Sometime near the end of last year I changed my TV service from Dish Network to a bundle with Cox cable.  I tried to make the transition with the least cost to me.  It didn't work out that way.  I tried canceling Dish on the day that Cox was to be installed only to find out that I only had a 3 day window to cancel Dish before paying for another month.  I had gone beyond that window.  When Dish installed my system  a local man brought the box and remotes to my house, but when I canceled they told me I had to ship the equipment back to the company headquarters at my expense.  There was to be no RMA number or shipping box provided.   It cost me $26 + to return the equipment. 
Fast forward to September of this year.   A mysterious charge from Dish for $40 appeared on my credit card statement.   I called Dish customer service and was told to protest the charge to my credit card company.  The Rep didn't even know what the charge  was for.  I immediately wrote the letter protesting this charge.  It was reversed on my statement and on the same statement a charge of $425 was debited to my account by Dish.  I wrote another letter of protest and that charge was reversed.  Fine; all is well.

Last week I received a telephone call from my Chase Visa  customer care person.  Dish had sent a bunch of papers proving I owed the $425.  I told him this was not true and he said he would send the papers to me.  On Wednesday I received a Fed Ex letter with the papers inside.   There was also a cover letter from Visa saying that if they didn't hear from me by the 10th of this month (giving me 4 days to return proof )
the case would be considered closed.

By the time I read the letter I was shaking and in such turmoil I couldn't think straight.  (Isn't that a peachy keen excuse?).  My BP must have been nearing the top level.  I do not handle stress well and, as noted on other blogs, I avoid it whenever possible.

I spent hours searching for documentation to prove my innocence.  I was unable to find the UPS receipt and decided that I had thrown it away after they reversed the charge the first time.  I decided to scan my copies of my credit card statements proving when I stopped using Dish and started using Cox.   Then I couldn't get my scanner to work.  In desperation I  wrote a letter of explanation as to why this charge could not logically be mine after 9 or 10 months.  I gathered up my papers and only then did I notice that in my frantic state I neglected to see the name on the papers that Dish had sent.  The name and address from the accounting dept. was not mine, nor was it my address.  Dish had charged me for another woman's bill.  

I then called my Visa rep telling him of the mix up and was told to Fax the papers to them immediately to avoid closing the case on the 10th.  In the event that you have not faxed something recently the charge is $2 per page.  I had 6 pages to fax.  Thank goodness for good friends.   My savior arrived that afternoon and took my papers home and faxed them for me.  

Two days passed without hearing from my credit card company.  I just called them as tomorrow is the deadline for closing the case.  They had not even looked at the papers yet and the case has now been reopened.  I spent 30 minutes with the representative; most of it listening to Musak.    What a fun way to spend the morning.  

I will get more papers in the mail I am told.  Stay tuned.

I had never thought about what happens to your credit card number after you close an account.  Apparently, the card number is kept on file forever.  Do we have to cancel our credit cards every time we close an account that we have been using to avoid this kind of hassle?  I asked my credit card representative about this and he said they couldn't come between the merchant and the customer.  

Many things about the 'good old days' weren't really good, but I wish we could restore trust when a handshake was as good as your word.  Do we have to start building an extra room on our houses to store every scrap of paper we use that my be needed in a dispute?  Gotta stop; I feel my blood pressure rising again.


Vagabonde said...

How stressful. I have had problems like this with two telephone companies. It’s very hard in situation like these to have someone (a human with some intelligence) to help you and follow up. I hope everything will be OK for you now. I read your comment about your cleaning lady and Yves Montand – he had such a presence and warm voice. I liked him a lot too. I am pleased she enjoyed the clip.

Ugich Konitari said...

So sorry to hear about these troubles. You know, I live in a different country but have similar problems, for no fault of my own. Then, I have occasionally googled around and found people and places to crib about this, many times with results.

have you seen This ?

Maybe you can write to them, so they can chase up Dish and the Credit card people ?

rummuser said...

Darlene, I never allow automatic charge by any service supplier to my credit card account. If monthly bills are to be paid, I ask for monthly bills which I pay via my bank account and that too with specific instructions for each transaction. If we do not do this and allow permanent access to our credit card, such mistakes will indeed cause our blood pressure to go through the roof. I am glad that you came out of it alright, but may wish to consider reversing your automatic debit instructions to all your service providers.

Tabor said...

I keep trying to add you to my blog list but for some reason your URL still will not list. I keep forgetting to look you up and I am so glad you commented! I have had similar problems with companies. I found with my rental apartment that said I owed a months rent after I moved out (AND I didn"t) that after much niceness on my part I finally wrote a lengthy letter with everyone's name and phone number that I had talked to and cc'd my Senator, the county renter's support office, the BBB, the head of the rental company, all my credit reporting companies, etc. and it worked!

ellen said...

Part of it can be traced to outsourcing (although I have sometimes had very good service from international phone centers) and a fair amount of it is probably due to cutting staff to the bone. I know that my personal situation, where instead of the 2,000 or so mineral owners whose questions I respond to vs the 22,000 mineral owners I take care of now leaves me with less time to spare for each question. I often find that an owner with a complex problem may take a week or more rather than being able to root out the problem in an afternoon. The workload is just too much. Then too everything did not go through our credit cards in former days, so we had a chance to get a look at the bill before we paid.

Karen said...

I have great empathy for your situation. I used to let my cable company automatically bill my credit card until after we were hit with Hurricane Charley. It took forever for service to be turned back on and then it went partially out again and I had no internet for a month and a half.
They spoke to me as though I were the village idiot and kept messing up the billing.
I called once and the man admitted I was entitled to an $80 credit. The next month my billed showed a charge of $160.. Took forever to straighten out and I now pay my bill through my online banking and not my credit card.
It is very difficult these days dealing with some of the rock heads working for these companies.

Darlene said...

*Vagabonde - I guess we have all had our frustrations dealing with big companies.

*Ugich Konitari - You are such a good fighter for justice I knew I could count on you for help. I will follow the link. Thank you.

*Rummuser - Good advice and I will take it.
*Tabor - I am sorry that you are having trouble with my blog. I share yuur pain because of my inablitity to comment on other blogs.

*Ellen - I am sure you have put your finger on part of the problem. Life is just getting too complicated for me.

*Karen - Thank you for your visit. I hope you will drop in again.

It's bad enough to have trouble with these guys, but to be patronized on top of it is just too much, isn't it? You, too, offer good advice.

Xtreme English said...

Wow! That tops just about every other cable company horror story I've ever heard. The cable companies drive everyone nuts, it seems, but sending you someone else's bill is the worst--especially when it's a big fat one like that. Hang onto your arteries, Darlene....remember to B R E A T H E and to think of all the people who love you and your blog!!

Every day I think God (well) that I don't have a TV set at all. Or a car. Pains in the butt, both of them.

Darlene said...

*Xtreme English - You are so right !!!!

Cowtown Pattie said...

Days like yours subtract years from our health!

So many virtual landmines to avoid nowadays; if you don't see the very minimal print on a webpage where you are purchasing something, then, WHAM, next month you see an auto-debit because you didn't UNCHECK some damned box.

Then, its a pain to get someone on the phone who can fix it...

I, in a stupid mood, ordered a Gevalia coffee maker and two trial packs of their coffee. I realized after clicking send, I had just signed up to receive auto mailings of more coffee. Tried calling their 800 number to cancel, and the human rep who answered 15 minutes later said I had to wait TWO WEEKs before I can cancel anything.

TWO WEEKS? Hell, Pony Express guys were faster than that!

Darlene said...

*Cowtown Pattie - This reminds me of the time I ordered a book on-line and when a confirmation page failed to appear I thought the order didn't go through and clicked on 'finish' again. You guessed it; I ordered two books and was unable to cancel the second one.

Darlene said...

*Tabor - I don't know how I missed you before, but I did read your comment. My daughter had a similar situation with a cleaning deposit and had to threaten them with the BBB before they returned it.

I never thought of writing my Senator, but that's a great idea.

Rain said...

Wow, I hate things like that and it's always up to 'us' to prove our side and not them. I hope it's cleared up and doesn't return. Really really irritating

Darlene said...

*Rain - I will be one happy fella' when it is finally resolved.

One Woman's Journey said...

Darlene, read your post and all the comments. Nothing for me to add. Except - I am so sorry you are experiencing all of this.
Hope it is soon over for you.
I know situations like this almost make me physically sick.

joared said...

Yeah, I agree -- I don't do automatic charges except for my newspapers. How efficient they are I'll find out the day I cancel them.

Sure hope you get the problems straightened out with no added charges.
Fortunately, so far, I haven't messed with cable, but have been reading for years how inept they are and my little local paper has had frequent letters to the editor complaining about most aspects of their operations -- including their programming offerings -- arrogant attitude -- competition nil, except for satellite dishes.

janinsanfran said...

Awful. My card was hacked this year and I spent huge numbers of hours straightening that out ... it's the cost we pay for convenience, and often it doesn't seem worth it!

Hattie said...

I suspect you and I are alike in this respect, that we don't handle stress well. I can offload a lot of the money stuff onto my husband, who is infinitely patient and detail oriented, but probably some day I'll have to face the music.
One thing I know is that I'm not likely to get better at this sort of thing, any more than I'm likely to get better at finding my way around.

Darlene said...

*One Woman's Journey - I hope it will be over soon, too. Thanks.

*Joared - I am never going to let another company charge my credit card monthly again.

*Janinsanfran - Right now I don't think convenience is all that it cracked up to be.

* Hattie - You are fortunate to have someone to help you. Treasure him.

marciamayo said...

My blood pressure is up just reading your story. It makes me want to move to the mountains and off the grid.

Darlene said...

*marciamayo - Thank you for visiting my blog. Welcome and I hope you will come again.

Watch for the 'end of the story' because I will be posting again when it's over.

Darlene said...

*Jane - Thank you for visiting my blog and I do hope you will return.

Thank you, also, for the information on discount meds.