Wednesday, October 28, 2009

When Life Hands You a Lemon, Make a Blog Post

Yes, recently the Matron was given a set of circumstances so unfathomable that she is simply going to recount. That's right. An entire blog post, just recounting and recitation. No hyperbole or creativity required. In fact, she is going to post actual PHONE NUMBERS. Actual.

Soooo. . . . this all starts innocently, even positively enough, when the intrepid Matron decides that she will once again join a gym to get her through the cruel dark months of winter. The Matron is utterly bound to her daily 4 miles jaunt but after 20 years of winter running: enough is enough!!

Innocent? Naive? Boarding the Death Train? She calls her insurance company, Blue Cross Minnesota Advantage Health Plan, with a simple query: will she get a discount at any certain gym?

The person at Blue Cross cannot answer that question. It turns there is a web site that lists all facilities and services with said discount, including gyms.

The Matron likes the internet! She is not yet weeping and screaming. No, poor fool. She is HAPPY to go to ChooseHealthy and find a fitness center near her. So she chooses healthy and picks the Any Time Fitness right in her own neighborhood. Why, she will barely have to DRIVE in the winter. Life is getting better and better!

The only trouble with ChooseHealthy is the web site indicated that Anytime Fitness would know the discount. Now, the Matron had a difficult time with Anytime, as there were no small degree of hidden FEE. But upbeat Aaron at Anytime was very pleased to report that the Matron would get a $40 rebate each month thanks to Blue Cross Minnesota Advantage Health Plan! So she signed on for a couple's membership at $30 a month. And was only a little grumpy withe $80 deposit on keys instantly required. And that at the last minute this turned out to be an 18 month contract. . but by this point, she was all smitten by the sweet siren song of Exercise Equipment and Winter Heat.

Still, the Matron decided to verify Upbeat Aaron's assertion that she got $40 back each month. She called Blue Cross Advantage Health Plan.

Blue Cross: "We don't give $40 back. That's old news. Now we contract with Choose Healthy. They decide."

Matron: "But the web site says Anytime.

Blue Cross: "You need to call American Specialty Health Services at 1-877-335-2746 and they will tell you."

Matron: "They will tell me how much my Blue Cross Advantage Health Plan fee is for Anytime Fitness is?"

Blue Cross Advantage Health Plan Employee : "Absolutely."

The Matron was number five on the waiting list to speak with a human at American Specialty Health Services. Better than play by play at a baseball game, the announcer moved her position up, up, up until. . she got Taneesha.

Taneesha: "I'm afraid we don't have that information for you. You will need to go to the web site Choose Healthy."

Matron: "What! But the information isn't on that web site."

Taneesha: "Then you need to call Blue Cross Advantage Health Plan and ask them."

Matron: "I did that! They said to call you."

Taneesha: "Then you need to go to the Blue Cross Advantage Health plan web site."

Matron: "Why?"

Taneesha: "Because maybe the information must be there."

Matron: "This would be different than what they know over the phone?"

Taneesha: "Ma'am. Let me be a little off the record with you. I never liked that Choose Healthy web site. It is a little confusing. Blue Cross too. I am going to transfer you to the parent company of the sub-set of some other section of a little known galaxy. This department will know how to help you."

Click. Click. Click.

"American Specialty Health Services."

Matron: "No, I'm supposed to be going to the mother ship, the secret department with the information I require. I was just transferred by Taneesha. Who is this?"

Tiffany: "My name is Tiffany. Taneesha transferred you? (aside): Taneesha, are you giving me these peeps again? I told you to knock that off! (back). Now, ma'am, please tell me how I can help you?"

Here is where the Matron nearly broke down and wept. Remember that phone number is 877-335-2746 If you are having a bad day and want to MESS with somebody, here are your peeps. Tiffany and Taneesha.

So the Matron told Tiffany what she told Taneesha.

Tiffany: "I run Silver and Fit and Fun. Are you a senior?"

Matron: "Depends on how long I'll be on the phone."

Tiffany: "Tell you what. I will get my supervisor to talk to you. Let me see. Looks like she's busy. Uh, okay. Really busy. So I'll get your exact problem, phone number and name and she will call you back within half an hour."

Matron: "Do you know how much it costs for me to join Anytime Fitness if I was in the Silver and Fit and Fun plan?"

Tiffany: "Actually, I'll have to send you to the Choose Healthy web site for that. Does this mean you're joining Silver and Fit and Fun?"

Matron: "What's your supervisor's name."

Tiffany: "Taneesha."

This transpired over the course of TWO hours on Monday. It is Wednesday night. The Matron's phone is NOT ringing with any supervisor.

But immediately after the Advantage Ash Silver Fit Blue Cross American Health Tragedy Fiasco, she called upbeat Aaron at Anytime Fitness -- and explained the whole dilemma. Just because she hadn't SUFFERED enough.

Matron: "Aaron, do you think it's possible that you might in any way be able to get accurate information about this, to figure this out at your end?"

Aaron: "Gee, they sure make it hard to work out, don't they?"

Matron: "Is that a yes?"

Aaron: "Actually, I have no idea. I just submitted the paperwork to Blue Cross. They didn't stop me. I also forgot to tell you that it takes about four months for Blue Cross to complete the paperwork for the $40 discount. You pay the full amount for four months and then get a lump sum."

Matron: "IF they give me a discount, which highly unlikely at this point."

Aaron: "But they used to."

Matron: "And if I wait four months for paperwork that will never go through, I miss the 45 day window to cancel my membership with no penalty."

Aaron: "I suppose you could look at it that way."

Tomorrow, the Matron is going to Anytime Fitness to cancel her membership. She is also going to tell Aaron that she spoke with the Attorney General's Office and the Better Business Bureau and that both informed her of the statute limiting any fee for breaking a contract within 30 days to 10% of the total deposit.

This 10% is a complete fabrication. So is the statute, of course.

But the Matron has fallen down the rabbit hole. This is a parallel universe where people just make shit up. She figures she can too, and stick with it. After all, she's been initiated at the hands of great masters, Tiffany and Taneesha.

$12.47. She may also be an undercover reporter or President Obama's Health Care Secret Police. Let's see what kind of mood tomorrow's meeting at Anytime brings.


Lisa said...

Good for you. I hate that Anytime fitness. I joined the one over here in Oakdale, and I was never satisfied. This on top of the fact that Healthpartners didn't have a discount for Anytime. I canceled my membership after they milked me for 18 mos. Now, I enjoy my exercise bike right in my living room!


Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

Those types of phone calls fill me with steely resolve. Unless I cry first.

Suburban Correspondent said...

Now I have a headache. Thanks. I totally would be making stuff up too. Why not? Everyone else is.

And health care reform is supposed to make this worse? How?

smalltownme said...

I'll be blunt: what a load of crap.

(Word verification: deittess. would that be a female deity? interesting....)

MidLifeMama said...

This is why I have a set of weights, a treadmill and a rowing machine in my basement. For the price of that equipment I work out when I want to, and never have to wait for a machine. Unless my husband has bogarted the treadmill. If you have a reasonable location for a treadmill, go on Craig's list and find a used one.

~annie said...

Good gravy! What a runaround. If I believed in conspiracies I'd say this was one to force you into getting some anti-anxiety meds or some such.

Daisy said...

Reality is stranger than fiction. I joined the Y; it was easier than any other option.

Wenderina said...

I hate it when the left hand and the right hand don't know what the hell is going on and leave us to be squeezed in the middle like a fly being squashed in a clap.

Anonymous said...

Let me guess: one of the numbers you called was labeled "Customer Service", right? Such an oxymoron (accent on the "moron") that label is...

Anonymous said...

You are SO funny. I hate those phone calls--I'm the person they bank on hanging up out of frustration.

Minnesota Matron said...

MidLife Mama: You changed my life. I am completely buying a treadmill!!!! And I got all my $ back without a problem at Anytime. They were very nice about it.

Unknown said...

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