In this day where everything is automated and computerized, trying to deal with a human being is nearly impossible. Even if you CAN get to a human being, they refer you back to their on-line site because it's so much easier. For them.
Today I had 3 bills to pay for my mother. Somehow she managed to "misplace" 2 months of telephone bills, which I just found on her coffee table this week. Her phone had already been disconnected. I don't know what happens with her papers. She gets volumes from Atria in a week and I go through them and toss out the outdated ones and get everything organized and then a week later I will find more notices from 6 months ago.
I called AT&T but before they could help me I had to either give them her 3-digit account number or the last 4 digits of her social security number. I didn't have the SS number so I put in the account number, which was not recognized. I'm holding the bloody bill in my hand and reading the numbers, but they don't recognize them.
So I went to Atria and got her SS card and copied down the number. I went back to AT&T and they don't recognize that number either. I finally called customer "service" and after a quite lengthy wait on line, while I was told many times how easy their on-line service was, I eventually reached a human being, who didn't want to accept payment from me until they could have my mother verify that it was OK for me to pay her bill for her. I explained that she was 97 and had dementia and threatened to call back and pretend I was my mother. She finally, reluctantly, agreed to let me pay her bill.
One down, two to go.
The second bill was easier. It was her portion of the ~$2,500 bill for her 3 block ambulance ride to the Emergency Room the last time she was sent there. Her portion was $125, which makes you realize why you pay for health insurance. It's for unexpected times like these! But I wrote the check and mailed it.
The third bill was her co-pay for the $7,701 charges for her 2 hours in the emergency room. Her portion? $50. Again, thank God for Kaiser. I cringe whenever I pay these bills because I know that she does not really need to go to the ER, but the one time I say "don't take her" will be the one time when her unconsciousness turns out to be a stroke. So we pay.
I called their number and got the recording to use the on-line payment method, but when I went to on line she had to sign in with her account. Her account number is on her bill, so I put that in and they didn't recognize it.
So I called. And I waited. And I got a recording saying to say to type in her account number. It wasn't recognized. I finally got through to a person who could help me and, not surprisingly, she encouraged paying on line. I explained my difficulty and that I could not log in and could not start an account.
She said I could log in and pay as "guest" and that she could guide me, so I got the web site up on my computer and it was, indeed, quite simple. She got me through the first couple of screens and all I had to do was put in the credit card number. I thanked my guide for her help and she hung up.
I put the credit card information in and clicked 'submit" but it would not accept it without the last 4 digits of her Social Security number and it, too, did not recognize the number I entered. Even though it says that is her number right on the card!
There was a link to send a note to their customer service address, so I wrote one and sent it. Within a few minutes I had a response saying that though their office hours are 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. PST and though I was calling at 3 p.m. PST on a Wednesday afternoon, they were out of the office. The e-mail suggested I use the on-line option.
I should have expected this. Today is "pie day" at Sutter, I thought. At the lunch yesterday they reminded us we could pick up our pies between 6:30 and 8:30 or later in the afternoon. I actually set my alarm so I could get to Sutter by 7:30 so we could have pumpkin pie for breakfast. But when I got to the hospital meeting room, nobody was there and there was no sign of pies. I went to the volunteers' office to see if maybe the pies were there, but the sign on the wall for "pie day" says that it is tomorrow.
So I got back in the car and started the iPod to continue listening to my book on the ride home, but there was no sound. Not on the audio book, nor on music, nor on anything.
Obviously not my day. I was going to visit my mother, but it's raining and it's cold, so I'm staying home. But I'm nervous about touching anything mechanical for fear it won't work.
I did get the iPod working again, by essentially kicking it. Electronically, that is. I hooked it up to iTunes and played something from the iPod thru iTunes and when I disconnected from iTunes, it worked again, but it is clear that this beloved gadget is on its last legs. I have looked at replacement options on Amazon, but I really need to hold something in my hands and see if it is what I want/need. I did order something that I thought would work, but it turned out not to be compatible with iTunes or with Audible.com and since all I want the machine for is to play audio books, that won't work, so I am returning my purchase and taking a credit.
Now I just have to find a place to look at replacements.
I DID do something intelligent, though. While iTunes was reading the iPod I did a copy and paste on the list of all the books I have stored on the iPod so that when/if I get a new one, I will know what to download from Audible again.
Though with my electronic luck these days, it probably won't recognize me either!