If you haven’t considered following this blog – you might want to do it now.  Not only would I appreciate it, but I am going to try and hit every industry in the next few articles and make you aware of some of those annoying extra fees you might find each time you try to buy something.  


As I said in previous articles, I look over my receipts.  I am totally annoyed by all the extra fees that companies keeping adding to my totals.  Who came up with this method of charging for things anyway?  What happened to the one price method?  These added fees and charges always pop up after I buy something and especially when I have no choice to opt out,  go elsewhere for my items, or even negotiate it away.It's a revenue stream for me

Any commodity or item, you use for convenience or out of  necessity can  have these fees tacked on.  My opinion is that it started with sales tax.  Almost all of the states have it and, I believe they all thought charging everyone a little extra on everything would help them fill their coffers.   No one in the check out line ever said, you know I don’t think I’ll pay the sales tax today.  Basically, they couldn’t –  the states didn’t alloy anyone to  have a choice.  It’s pay the tax or you don’t get the item.  Sure, we can all run off to Delaware (currently they don’t have a sales tax) but even Delaware would be full before long and they’d likely need to implement a sales tax to deal with all those extra residents.

Ultimately scores of businesses jumped on the bandwagon with the states and decided to add “additional fees” whether you like it, want them, use them or need them.  These added fees are on almost everything.  This phenomenon has prolifierated  into just about every industry.  Here’s a few that particularly annoy me.  Remember everything I write is based on my own opinion and experiences and no one paid me to write these articles.

Phone Service:  On most phone bills there are a myriad of charges like the access fees, 911 fees, sales tax, goverment fees, and  line charges that even the phone company has a hard time explaining.  Recently on my phone bill from a known carrier I had a new charge.  This one is called a prop tax schg/fed reg fee and carrier universal service charge.  These charges are NOT taxes or amounts required by law.  They are charges which this company chooses to charge each user in order to collect and administer the “required” taxes and fees which ARE required by law.  Really?   Previously, when I checked this charge from this came company it said the extra fees were to recoup operation costs and real estate tax increases.  Really?  So any part of their business which needs an influx of cash that month?  Because let’s face it people, those are not, in my opinion, legitimate extra costs to be passed on, those are straight forward operating costs which are supposed to be already built into their base price (and likely are).

Continue reading »



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Dec 242011
 

Smart Aleck, smart alec, doesn’t matter ~ everyone knows at least one.    In cyberland, there are millions.  Some just give sound advice that you wish you never knew existed.  Others like to point out how you can change things in your life, if only you would.  Some just like to laugh at your misfortunes, even if they caused them in the first place.  Some think it’s funny to make and deploy viruses.Smart Aleck

Two days ago, I met one of the last group.  It took me and my husband over four hours to “work around” and get access back to my computer.   How did this happen you ask?  I went out to the web to look at a thesaurus because the word I wanted to use “unfixable” just didn’t fit with my article.  I found one I wanted to use ~  incurable ~  but I also got zapped with a virus of mega proportions.  Ironic right after that to feel like my computer was might ultimately be incurable.

This virus would not allow me access to any of my programs, anything on my desktop or allow access to the internet. It just kept popping up and telling me I had to click here, and of course as a seasoned computer user, that was not going to happen.  Even with our considerable computer knowledge, and other computers we could use to investigate and find out how to get around this particular virus, it took us four hours and considerable cursing.  If that’s what the smart aleck of this had in mind, someone tell him or her, it worked. Continue reading »



Dec 232011
 

You have been there.  A mistakes is made, but a solution cannot be found.

My first inkling that I might be a victim of an incurable mistake is an invoice for lab tests.  I look at the bill and see my insurance company paid .02 cents and I owe $97.10.  This was a mistake, as I had kept careful track of my deductible – and I had fully met my $1200.00 deductible the  month before these lab tests.

Round 1 (next morning) I call and hit the jackpot with a representative who looks through the file, finds the error, and then documents it for the “researcher” who will get it first.  Then it goes back to claims and the bill will be resubmitted for payment.  I am on the phone about 30 minutes and am thinking … wasn’t that easy.  How refreshing!Incurable Mistakes

Round 2 (2 weeks later) My resubmission of the claim is denied for the same “WRONG” reason the first one was — my out of pocket costs were miscalculated.  My first representative saw this and documented it, but somehow whoever the researcher was missed it.  So I email them.  I get a response I cannot open at first (security issues) and when I do, it restated their position about the out of pocket and flatly denies the claim.

Round 3 (next day) I call and find out that they admit a mistake was indeed made, but it’s really too hard to fix and there is no provision for fixing it.   WHAT?  This particular “incurable mistake” happened with a pharmacy error in May of the previous year.   It cannot be fixed because pharmacy (prescription medicine) has only a 15 day window in which anyone can challenge a pharmacy error. Continue reading »

 

How many of you check your dental invoices to make sure you (or your children) received everything you actually paid for?  I am in the habit of checking all of my receipts and can tell you honestly that I usually find mistakes in almost every receipt.

This particular blog post is about a dentist who likely pads every bill and one way she tried to pad mine.

I have bonded front teeth which means that there only parts of my real front teeth remaining, and the rest is bonded and shaped to look natural.  The bonding lasts 10-15 years  and occasionally a piece cracks off and has to be repaired.   The repair is usually one visit to the dentist and costs about $300, based on my own experiences.Unethical Dentistry

The last time the bonding broke off , I went online and searched for a yearly dental plan.   These plans offer discounts across the board for any dental services.  They are relatively inexpensive and there are benefits above and beyond just bonding.  I looked for a plan that gave me what I thought I would  need for the year, at the lowest possible cost and had no waiting time.  These plans will often provide discounted rates  for your entire family, or anyone who is related and lives in your household at no additional cost.  Remember it’s not insurance and it’s not a copayment situation,  you pay to get all the listed services at a discounted price.  Many of these plans also provide  free checkups, free x-rays, and even free cleanings.  You pay for the year, get your card(s) and list of dentists (check this out before you sign up, as you do want to make sure there are some in your actual location first!) and then you are free to call and set up your appointment with any of their listed dentists or specialists. Continue reading »

 

I don’t know about you, but there was something that “felt good” about having US Savings Bonds.  You were investing in the country you love, and the belief that without a doubt they were both responsible and able to pay you back with interest.  Holding the bond for a period of time you could double your investment.  They earned interest indefinately.

It was a standard gift to give for a new baby, because you knew that by the time they got around to cashing that bond, the interest would have accrued to a much more favorable number than your original investment.US-Savings-Bonds

It was a safe-haven against anything and everything that we imagined (at the time) could go wrong.  “At least I have those bonds”  ~ and that felt like a security blanket of sorts.

Well, that bubble started to burst a while back when the interest rate went close to 0% (current rate .60%). In the 1980’s bonds matured in 8-12 years, some had fixed rates of interest, some had market rates with a guarantee of a certain percentage of interest.  Todays bonds (since June 2003) take 20 years to mature to their face value, and only earn interest for 30 years.

All banks handled bonds.  No longer.  In fact as of December 31, 2011 they are all going electronic.  Existing bonds are not affected, and are still valid and able to earn interest for 30 years.  Banks will still cash your bonds for you, or even convert your paper bonds into electronic ones.  If you wish to buy bonds after December 31st, you will need to go to www.treasurydirect.gov

But for  me, it’s annoying.  I just do not feel the same about an electronic stake in this great country!  I can’t hold it, I can’t see it, and well, it just isn’t the same.

All opinions in these articles are mine and I have not been compensated in any way for these posts.

 

 

 

Short Posts ~ a snipet of the longer ones!

Commercial vs. Residential

This has always been a “sticky” issue when shipping  with UPS.  How they “determine” these categories, I believe, is by the zip codes.

UPS charges more for residential and an additional amount now for rural.  Commercial establishments no matter where they are located get the best pricing.

Lately they have had to “physically” determine if a previously listed commercial establishment (and even if the address verifies commercial in their software) is an actual commercial establishment.  Say what?UPS-truck

Yes, you heard it right.  The National Association of  XYZ – right there on K St. NW – somehow since last month could have turned into a residential location.  I almost laughed myself silly when I heard this.  However, that  address and several others which are obvious to those who live here in the DC area, as definately commercial addresses, also  have had to be physically determined.  The representative I talked to said an actual UPS representative had to go out and verify that the location was indeed commercial before I could get a credit for this billing error.  I really couldn’t believe this excuse for not changing the rate to the correct one, it was the silliest one I heard to date — but “until verified” the charges could not be changed.

It’s bologna folks –  they want you to go away and just pay whatever they charged you in the first place even if it’s wrong!  I wonder if they provide the Customer Service reps with a list of 100 excuses to give customers who call in needing an adjustment to their charges?  I have heard some really doozies in my 25 years shipping with them. Can’t wait to hear the next one!

FYI ~ There is currently a class action lawsuit alleging wrongful charges by UPS for oversized/overweight packages.  I can verify they have made my packages larger or heavier than they were many times.  About time someone stepped up to try and fix that issue.

Remember this is only my opinion based on my personal experience with UPS.

 

Raise your hand if you’ve ever been frustrated by this.

How many times have you called only to be told by a machine the phones are staffed between certain hours  —  and those hours make it almost impossible for you to reach them?  I then love it when they hang on up you and don’t even give you an option to leave a message. “I’m sorry we’re closed, call back later.” Clunk.

Have you experienced the automated attendant who for some reason just doesn’t understand anything you say or any number you press as a response?  “I am sorry we did not get a response, please push 1 to continue.”  And you are yelling into the phone… “I am pushing one, you stupid machine.” Clunk.Automated Attendants

Gone through the entire menu system and never being able to pick any number or option that gets you where you need to go?   And no other way to contact them?

Have you finally found how to get to a real representative, only to find out they are busy and your expected wait time is more than you can spend waiting for them?

How about when you find out there isn’t any real person to take any calls?  Have you been directed to customer service on line 3 and then been told you “are important” but we are “busy” and you need to leave your message.  And you do, and they NEVER get un-busy enough to call you back. Continue reading »

 

Today I am writing about one issue I have with my insurance company.  You might know them, the one with the high rates, large deductibles and copayments.

Did you know insurance companies can totally deny your claim for any reason?  What I want to know is at what point did we (the consumer, the customer, the client) allow them to deny medicines. Shouldn’t they just have to suck it up and pay if it’s prescribed and we are on a plan with them (especially if we’ve been on it long term and it works?)  Shouldn’t the highest tier pay for any medications we need?  It used to — things have changed.

My allergy medication was “denied” by my insurance company.  I have taken this specific medication since about 1990.  This medication which is old (first generation antihistimine) and no longer produced by any of the top pharmaceutical companies, was the one that I relied on daily to keep me from gasping for breath.    I have gone from needing an inhaler every few minutes to actually not using one and I credit this antihistime with that magical power.

Prescription Pills

The current manufacturer of this antihistime (who I had to find on my own) and who currently produces it obviously doesn’t discount it enough for the insurance company, or they chose not to use them.  But does that really matter when the insurance company doesn’t accept the fact that I need that particular one in the first place?

Forget that it works excellently for me, forget that it keeps my allergies and asthma under total control —  it doesn’t matter at all.  The insurance company says the newer over the counter allergy meds would work and therefore, if I insist on having this particular one, I need to pay for it myself.  Even a letter by my doctor to the insurance company indicating that I had tried others without the same result did not convince them.

Recently a change in their drug formulations chart (the ones they approve and at what level of copayment) said they now were classifying it in the third tier.  My initial joy at seeing it on their list (since in the past they have flatly denied it all together) wasn’t justified.   My new copayment structure along with it being on the third tier, now makes the “copayment”  higher than the actual cost of the medicine.   Go figure!  Continue reading »

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