A Murderous Rage by Barbara Ross

YESTERDAY

 Me: Dial, Dial, Dial
Automated attendant: “Welcome to the Aetna Health Insurance Member’s line. In order to improve our service, your call may be monitored for quality control. Are you an Aetna member?”
Me: Did I not just dial the Member’s line? “Member”
AA: “How may we help you? You can say ‘Claims’ ‘Benefits’ or ‘What are my choices?’”
Me: “Claims”
AA: “What is your member id? Your social security number? Your birthdate? Your mother’s maiden name? Your eye color? Do you prefer frozen or fresh-squeezed? Pulp or no pulp? Have you heard about that new one that kinda has a little pulp?”
Me: Answer, answer, answer, answer.
AA: “We have several claims for you here.”
Me: “That’s actually why I’m calling. You seem to have stopped paying my husband’s—”
AA: “For each claim, we need the provider number and the exact date and time of the claim.”
Me: “Wait, what? The time of the claim, not the service, because how would I know–AARRGGHH!”

Me: Dial, Dial, Dial
Automated attendant: “Welcome to the Aetna Health Insurance Member’s line. In order to improve our service, your call may be monitored for qual—?”
Me: “Member”
AA: “How may we help you? You can say ‘Claims’ ‘Benefits’ or ‘What are my choices?’”
Me: “What are my choices?”
AA: “Your choices are ‘Claims’ or ‘Benefits’
Me: “I hate you.”

Welcome to Aetna Navigator: For your protection, we’ve randomly assigned you a user name you will never remember and then we’ve hidden the area of the site where you can change it! Also for your protection, we require all passwords to have two consonants, three vowels, a number between 30 and 50 and any symbol that cannot be created by your keyboard. Good luck!

Aetna Navigator: We see you’ve accessed our site! What a surprise. Now that you’re here, our Automated Attendant Ann will answer any questions.
Me: Click
Ann: No response
Me: Click
Ann: No response
Me: Click
Ann: No response
Me: “Ann, are you by any chance related to the Automated Attendant who works on the Member’s line?”

Aetna Navigator: Send a secure message to Member Services. We will reply to the e-mail address below.
Me: After 15 months, you have apparently decided my husband is no longer covered by our policy. This seems a little random to me because I am still covered by the policy, we pay on the same bill and our payments are up to date. Please advise.
Aetna Navigator: For your safety, this response to your e-mail has been encrypted. Click on this link. No, not that link, the other link! No, the other, other link. Now download the document. Enter your password again. No! Not that password. You are never going to be allowed to read this message.
Me: Grrrrrrrrrr

Me: Dial, Dial, Dial
Automated attendant: “Welcome to the Aetna Health Insurance Member’s line. In order to improve our service, your call may be monitored for qual—?”
Me: “Member”
AA: “How may we help you? You can say ‘Clai—’”
Me: “I WANT TO TALK TO A HUMAN BEING”
AA: “I don’t understand what you said.”
Me: “I HATE YOU. I HATE YOU WITH THE WHITE HOT HATE OF A THOUSAND SUNS. WHENEVER I HEAR SOMEONE ON TELEVISION SAY WE HAVE THE BEST HEALTH CARE SYSTEM IN THE WORLD, MY HEAD EXPLODES AND FIRE SHOOTS OUT OF MY NECK!”
AA: “You can choose ‘Claims’ or “Benefits.”

Me: Dial, Dial, Dial
Automated attendant: “Welcome to the Aetna Health Insurance Billing line. In order to improve our service, your call may be monitored for quality control. Please listen carefully to our menu options because they have recently changed.
If you have questions about a payment, press 1.
If you have questions about an invoice, press 2.
If you like spicy food, press 3.
If you think puppies are cuter than kittens, press 4.
If you are a Starship commander, or are otherwise responsible for a Starship fleet, press 5.
If you are unhappy with your health insurance, wave your hands over you head and scream like a chicken.
Or, to speak to a customer service representative, press 7.”
Me: 7!
AA: Click, buzz, silence.

Me: Dial, Dial, Dial
Automated attendant: “Welcome to the Aetna Health Insurance Billing line. In order to improve our service, your call may be monitored for qual—”
Me: 7!
AA: “What is your member id? Your social security number? Your birthdate? Your mother’s maiden name? Your eye color? In what city were you born? Was it a difficult birth? How long was the labor? What do you think about that Kim Kardashian?”
Me: Answer, answer, answer, answer.
Human Being: “Can I help you?”
Me: “God, I hope so. I do not actually have a billing problem, but since Aetna deems it appropriate to have human beings solve billing problems, and not claims problems, let’s pretend this is a billing problem, okay?”
HB: “Okay. In order to help you, I’ll need your member Id.”
Me: “I just gave that to the computer.”
HB: “Yes, but it doesn’t come through to our system.”
Me: “That seems incredibly inefficient.”
HB: (placating tone) “If you think so.”
Me: “I am quite sure I’m not the only person who thinks so. Anyway, here it is.”
HB: “What is your question?”
Me: “You’ve stopped paying my husband’s claims.”
HB: “Yes, we need his social security number.”
Me: “He’s been a member and you’ve been paying his claims for fifteen months, and now you need his social security number?”
HB: “We don’t have his social security number.”
Me: “I don’t understand, did you lose his social security number, or never have it or what?”
HB: “I don’t know, ma’am.”
Me: “Do you know what would happen to the productivity of this country if I had the time back I have spent on this? Not to mention the people in my husband’s doctor’s office and pharmacy who now have to re-submit these claims? Not to mention your time? Our national economic problems would be solved! The stock market would soar, and—”
HB: “If you think so, ma’am.”
Me: “I am quite sure I’m not the only person who thinks so. How long will it take to reinstate him?”
HB: “The computer will be updated overnight. It will be all fixed by tomorrow morning.”
Me: “If you think so…”

THIS MORNING

Me: Dial, Dial, Dial
Automated attendant: “Welcome to the Aetna Health Insurance Billing line. In order to improve our service, your call may be monitored for qual—”

 

About Barbara Ross

Barbara Ross is the author of the Maine Clambake Mysteries and the Jane Darrowfield Mysteries. Her books have been nominated for multiple Agatha Awards for Best Contemporary Novel and have won the Maine Literary Award for Crime Fiction. She lives in Portland, Maine. Readers can visit her website at www.maineclambakemysteries.com
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7 Responses to A Murderous Rage by Barbara Ross

  1. MCWriTers says:

    I have found that sometimes, if you just don’t answer, or answer with your comment about white hot hate, they will flip you to a person. I’ve found that persistently pressing 0 sometimes gets you to a person. Usually in India. Often speaking a form of English that cannot be parsed.

    However, there’s a gem embedded in the middle of this, Barb…the deflecting phrase, “If you think so.” Be sure to give it to a character in your next book. It’s such a great button pusher. In fact, I see a short story brewing here, titled, “If You Think So.”

    So right, so sadly right, about productivity, though. I do not understand why everywhere we go, they collect all this data (card number, dob, etc.), have us fill out forms, and then when we get to a live person, they either do not have, or have not read, that information. We could provide a lot more health care coverage if we paid health care professionals instead of the folks from robomed.

    Kate

  2. Oh, Barb, I hope your husband appreciates what a super good sport you are to deal with this!

  3. Sarah Graves says:

    Oh, Barb, I needed that laugh. So sorry about what you had to go through to get it for me, though!

  4. Kathy MacAlister says:

    I thought I was the only one Aetna hated!

  5. Judy Schott says:

    Barb LOVED it! Hysterical but yet…sad.

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