Automatic deduction not always automatic
By Stephanie Zimmermann firstname.lastname@example.org October 30, 2011 11:43AM
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Are you being given the runaround over a consumer problem? Tell it to The Fixer at
www.southtownstar.com, where you’ll find a simple form to fill out. If you don’t have a computer, you can mail a brief description of your problem, along with your name, address and telephone number, to: The Fixer, SouthtownStar, 18312 S. West Creek Drive, Tinley Park, IL 60477. Please don’t send original documents. Because of the large volume of submissions, The Fixer cannot make personal replies. Letters are edited for length and clarity.
Updated: May 9, 2012 9:57AM
This was originally published in the SouthtownStar on July 31, 2011.
Dear Fixer: I’ve had a Medicare supplement plan with BlueCross BlueShield of Illinois for several years. They have automatically deducted my insurance premiums monthly from my bank account with no problems. However, starting in May, the problems began.
The May premium was not deducted. Since I monitor my bank account daily, I knew I had more than sufficient funds to cover it.
I called BlueCross BlueShield, and they said their records showed that the May premium was deducted. I told them that was incorrect, and I checked with my bank to see if anything was pending (nothing was).
I continued to monitor my account and called many times because I was concerned that my coverage would be dropped because of non-payment.
The problems got worse when the June premium was deducted from my bank account, but their records showed that it was not.
On several occasions, I asked to speak to a supervisor and was transferred to her voicemail; she did not return my calls. Once, when I did get through, she told me a technician was working on it, and they would get back to me.
I faxed them evidence that my June premium was paid, and later I sent a check for $296 to cover the still-missing May premium. I also sent a letter to several senior executives.
I am very concerned that if I have to go to a hospital or a doctor, they will call to confirm coverage, and it will show that I’m not covered. I hope you can help.
Abigail Rudoff, Wilmette
Dear Abigail: Isn’t it odd to get the runaround when you are trying to pay a bill? We can only wonder what would happen if you owed them money.
Happily, this did get fixed. We took your problem to Mary Ann Schultz at BlueCross BlueShield of Illinois, and she was able to get someone to straighten out your account.
Schultz told The Fixer that, over the past few months, BlueCross BlueShield has been converting its Medicare-supplement processing to a new system. She said there were some data-transfer issues that caused delays in processing on some accounts, but they’ve fixed the major issues and are working on preventing additional problems.
She said your ability to get coverage would not have been affected by the glitch. All the same, we’re glad it’s now fixed.
P.S. You’re smart to check your bank-account balance daily. We wish everyone would.
A consumer’s tale of woe
Craigslist has gotten a lot of flak for everything from running prostitution ads to stealing newspaper ad revenue. Recently, Fixer reader Chris of Chicago found another reason not to like Craigslist.
Chris was looking for a tow truck for his grandfather and thought he’d found the perfect one, from a Craiglist advertiser in Wisconsin.
“I called, and the gentleman said he would hold the tow truck for me if I gave him a $1,000 deposit,” Chris wrote The Fixer. “I would pay the balance of $3,000 when I picked it up.”
So he sent the $1,000 deposit, and things went downhill from there.
“When I showed up, I found that the tow truck in the advertisement was not what he was selling me. The truck I thought I was buying was a metal-platform tow truck that fits two cars; he was giving me a wooden, single-platform truck that looked hand-made.”
Chris asked for his deposit back, but things only got uglier.
“The seller got irate and said he would not give me my money back because he lost money holding it for me. Then, he brought out his German shepherd and put it by the door. The dog was growling and barking at me,” Chris wrote.
Chris hightailed it out of there and is now regrouping for a financial fight.
The lesson for the rest of us? Don’t trust a photo or online description of a used vehicle, and never put money down unless all the terms — including your rights to a refund — are clear and in writing.
THE FIXER HAS SAVED YOU