Saturday, December 31, 2005

What A Pill!, Part II

I sent a "$#@& you, strong message to follow" email to Medcrap after the previously ranted-about incidents. I told in excruciating detail the whole bloody story. In it, I asked that it be shown to a supervisor and I get a response from one. I got an email the next day giving me the name and direct line to a supervisor as well as her regular hours. I also was told I could email them back with how to get me and when it would be most convenient.

So, I called the supervisor during her office hours. Got her answering machine. Left my name and number. Did that every other day for a total of four tries. No calls were returned.

Then I sent them an email, told about leaving my name four times, and told them when I would be available and at what number. As you would guess, no one has called.

Guess they're on semester break.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Error 1012

No, this isn't a Windows error. It’s Sprint PCS. All we wanted to do was to connect to Sprint PCS (the web) to download some ringers onto Marian’s phone. I went to the proper place on her phone and pushed the proper buttons. It tried to connect, but came back with “Error 1012” which told me it could not connect and to try again later (it did not work no matter how much later I tried) or call customer service.

So, I dialed customer service from Marian’s mobile phone. I got that recorded lady who asks you what the problem is. Three times I said: “PCS connection” or just “PCS.” Each time she asked me what about my bill I wanted to talk about. So, I said: “Customer service” and was put in queue for the next available agent. (When in doubt, always say “customer service.”) When connected, I told the agent what my problem was. She said the Marian’s phone did not have a PCS service pack. I knew this, but also know that if you’re not paying for connection by the month, you can still get on the web and pay for it by actual usage. I told her I did not want to pay monthly for PCS (web) service, just wanted to download a couple of ringers. She had me hang up on Marian’s phone and she called me back on mine. I went through the same rigmarole on Marian’s phone and got the same error. “Ah, Error 1012,” she said. “I have to connect you with a PCS specialist to solve that problem.”

Ten minutes pass while I am on hold. A nice young woman comes on. I tell her I keep getting Error 1012. She then leads me through the programming of Marian’s phone for PCS. Somehow, you would think this was part of the phone when it was activated. This takes about 20 minutes including the times when the phone locked up, I had to remove the battery from the back, let it sit for a while, then start again from scratch or from some intermediate place.

Finally, after over a half hour on the phone, it’s all done (so to speak). She tells me to go to Settings, blah blah blah, and push Update Profile. Guess what? I get Error 1012. She fiddles on her computer for another five minutes, has me remove the battery again, and try the update again. Error 1012.

She tells me that the computer is just not recognizing Marian’s phone. Now, this is all to just download a couple of freaking ringers (for which we will have to pay $2.50 each). We don't use the Internet on our telephone. We use it as a telephone! I am then informed that the next step by a higher techie guru (who will call within 24 hours) is to do a lobotomy on the phone (erase all its memories…..”Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer, do”). This means that all the phone numbers Marian has programmed and all the pictures she has taken of the grandchildren. will be released into etherspace. I tell the nice lady that we don’t want to do that. I tell her I will take it to our local Sprint store to have them do a Vulcan mind meld. She tells me the techie will call us within 24 hours regardless. Ah, well.

So, 45 minutes have passed at this point. The only thing I have accomplished is to deplete the battery on both Marian’s and my phone. And we still don’t have any new ringers for Marian. Unfortunately, I am known by name and face at the local Sprint store, but that’s another story.

P.S. I took the phone into the local Sprint store. Even they could not get it to connect to the Internet. So, they gave us a new phone. And I learned a new term. I was told that we should not go onto the Internet for three hours since they had to "reprovision" the phone.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

What A Pill!

We get our prescriptions through a drug plan from the State of Illinois. Recently, the state switched over from one company to another. Let's call the old company Careforyou. Let's call the new company Medcrap. So the deal with either company is you mail in your prescription and they mail you a 90-day supply of the medicine and charge a little over $30 for a co-pay. Refills can be handled on line.

With Careforyou, I never had a problem. When I mailed in prescriptions, I got the medicines within a couple of days. Same with refills on the Internet. It always surprised me how quickly my order was filled and received.

So, it's time for me to order a prescription from Medcrap. It's the first time I have used them. I am out of refills, so send in a new prescription form. I get an email from Medcrap a couple of days later acknowledging the order and telling me where to go on their web site to see its status. So, I go there and see they have logged in the order on December 13th. But there is no ship date. And I am running out of my current supply.

Last night I went on the Internet and the web page says that they think the order will be shipped by December 23rd. But all I have left is one pill for the next morning. This morning after taking my last pill, I call Medcrap. After finding my way through the touch-tone maze to get a real person (and this was not easy to do), I explain my problem. The dialogue goes something like this:

Me: "I used my last pill this morning and am out. I need a refill right away. You got my order and logged it in on December 13th. Why is there a 10-day delay between your logging in my order and a possible shipping date?"

Them: “We were trying to contact your doctor to see if the doctor would accept a substitute."

Me: "The prescription form by the doctor specifically said no substitutes or generics. I also checked the box on my order form that said I wanted no substitutes or generics.”

We then go back and forth about this with the agent having to put me on hold a lot to check with someone who actually has some power to do something. After a while, he comes back on the phone and asks if I have a prescription for a local pharmacy. So happens I do. He tells me to go there (e.g., Walgreens) and the pharmacist will log onto Medcrap and get it taken care of and he is sorry about the delay in the order.

So, after lunch, I drive to the local Walgreens and relate the story to the pharmacist. She logs onto Medcrap and it tells her that she cannot refill the prescription this soon and tells her to call. She posits that it's probably because they have already mailed me my order. She calls and tells me that they will allow her to fill an order for 14 days and the co-pay will be $36. I ask her what the total charge would be for the pills if I paid for them without a drug plan. The answer is $38. Hmmm.

Before doing anything with Walgreens, I call Medcrap. Now I know how to get to a customer service person fast and get one on the line. I explain this morning's call. This one needs more help than the one this morning and has to put me on hold between absolutely every exchange we have. Finally, he tells me that all that was authorized was a seven-day supply of the medicine rather than 14 days. (I wonder to myself why, then, had they just told Walgreens to fill a 14-day supply?) Dialogue (shortened) is something like this:

Me: "Well, if I get a seven-day supply now, when will I get my 90-day supply from you?"

Them: "You should get it by January 3rd."

Me (very calmly): "Well, as I told you at the outset, I'm out of the medicine. Let's look at this logically. It'’s the 20th of December. I believe that January 3rd is more than seven days from now."

Them: "Let me put you on hold."

The pharmacist has been listening and says: "Welcome to my world."

He comes back on the line and tells me that they are authorizing a seven-day supply at no charge to me and expediting the shipment of my order. I ask when I should receive it. I am put on hold. He then assures me I will have it before I run out again. Yeah.

P.S.: Last night when I saw the expected shipping date, I emailed Medcrap to let them know my predicament, the 10-day lag in their shipping, and my concerns. After I came home this afternoon from Walgreens, I got the following email from them:

"Thank you for your online inquiry. Please remember that you need to allow 5 to 11 days for normal mail delivery of your order. If you have any questions about the effects of missing doses of your medication, please call Member Services and request to speak with one of our registered pharmacists. To receive medication before your order arrives, please contact your physician for a prescription for a short term supply. This prescription may be filled at your local retail pharmacy. Thank you for visiting"

I’m so relieved. You?

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Just Checking

About two weeks ago I mailed my fourth quarter estimated income taxes and my county real estate and property tax checks. I download my checking account activity fairly regularly, so I know when a hand-written check clears the bank. Within three days of mailing, the check to the state for income taxes had cleared the bank.

The county? Checks had not cleared. So, I wondered idly if, perhaps, the mail had not been delivered to them. Hey, it’s the holiday season coupled with usual USPS efficiency. But this idea was dispelled two days ago when I got my “Paid” receipts from the county for my taxes. I went on line this AM to do other business and downloaded my banking activity. County checks still outstanding. They got my checks, presumably, at the same time the state did. Good cash management, huh? My tax dollars not at work.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Money, Foibles, and Caulk

Twenty years ago we put some new windows into the house as part of the renovation when we bought it. Two high, triangular ones lost the seal between the glass panes and the men were here today to replace them. This isn’t like replacing a double-hung window. There is no frame on the glass. It’s held in place by molding and caulk.

First two men (an experienced hand and a young apprentice) came. When the older guy saw how embedded the old panes were in caulk, nails, and staples, he called for reinforcements, comprised of another older-younger team. It was hard work on ladders both inside and outside the house. All the inside molding was glued and caulked making the job tedious. After about two hours, they had one window replaced and started working on the second one. It went faster since they knew what they were up to. In fact, there came a time when they just broke out the old panes, being very careful to pick up all the pieces and carry them outside.

During this time, the two older workers were doing most of the work with the young guys fetching, cleaning up, etc. It was interesting to see that when one of the older guys called for his assistant by name, the younger man answered “Yes, sir?” This happened a few times, so it was not a fluke.

I wandered in and out of the living room. Finally, I stayed and chatted with the two guys working inside. I watched as they carefully carried the second set of panes in from the truck and lifted them into place. They had first cleaned the opening and applied a fresh bead of caulk to the outside frame and moldings. After placing some rubber shims in place, they were ready to nail in the inside molding to hold all of it in place. And we kept chatting all the while.

All of a sudden, the glass fell loose from the top of its frame and hit against one of the men’s head just hard enough to crack it in several places (the glass, not the head). It happened fast when their attention had wandered just a bit to a hammer or picking up a nail or whatever. They took down the newly cracked glass panel, went to Lowe’s and got some plywood, and patched the hole until they return next week with a new glass panel.

Oh, what were we talking about as they were working? Foxes one of them had seen near his house.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Don't Know What I Did, But...

The following is in the current email newsletter of the St. Louis Writers Guild:

ANNOUNCING… 2006 GUILD MEMBERS OF DISTINCTION! The St. Louis Writers Guild benefits tremendously from the generous assistance of its members. The Guild has established a formal, annual Member Recognitions program, effective December 2005, to identify the many ways that a member can serve the Guild and recognize members whose contributions are significant. Details of the program are available on our Members Only page and on our Discussion Board. See the current listing of our eighty-six 2005 Significant Contributors, which include 14 members who were recognized by the Board “for going well beyond the level of significance in their contributions.” Following are our 2006 MEMBERS OF DISTINCTION: JULIA GORDON-BRAMER, PEGGY HALDEMAN, MAURICE L. (BUD) HIRSCH, DOREEN HULSEY, JEFF MAY, CONNIE MCINTYRE, MARY MENKE, JUD MINER, DAVID MOTHERWELL, DONNA SPRINGER, ROBIN THEISS, and THELMA URICH.

Fun, huh?

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Harold Pinter's Acceptance Speech

I commend to you Harold Pinter's acceptance speech for his Nobel Prize.

Printable version is here.

If you want to see the whole thing as broadcast and have broadband connection, follow these steps:

1) Open Real Player
2) Command-L to load url
3) Open this URL: rtsp://

Many users will already have RTSP configured for Real player and may be able to just click the link to play it.


Tuesday, December 06, 2005

It’s Déjà Vu All Over Again

I got my SBC bill today for our two lines, LD, and DSL. Hmmm. Looks as if the DSL charge has gone up from what I remember. So, I log on to the SBC homepage and look at my account. Then I go to the DSL section and am confronted with several different plans, most of which I did not know existed. Back to my account to see which of these, if any, I am now on. Seems like I am on Express. Back to the list of fees and services for DSL. I am not surprised to see a different fee than I am paying, although it’s only a slight difference.

Next step: call the DSL 877 number. After the customer service person looks over my bill, he tells me that, yes, my DSL rate had gone up and that there had been some insert in a previous bill telling me all about it. Since I pay them directly, I guess I never looked.

He puts me on hold to see if there are any current packages available (Wanna bet?). When he comes back on, he tells me he can bundle lots of stuff together, get me unlimited LD (wondered when this would happen on land lines), double my DSL speed (now I’m Pro), and, with no strings attached except a $10 one-time upgrade charge, can save me $20 a month on my total SBC bill. Why not?

Another thing I noticed when I had logged on to the SBC web site: it’s no longer SBC. It’s “the new at&t” powered by SBC. For those of you my age, there was a time when Ma Bell, the old AT&T, had to divest itself of all the Baby Bells. Seems ironic this “new AT&T” owned by SBC. If you have followed the gyrations of AT&T over the years, you have seen several “new” versions of the company: mergers, divestitures, changes in philosophy, a general floundering around in a changing marketplace. Now what was a bulwark of portfolios of widows and seniors is now just a shell name.

And once again I am taught the lesson: for land lines, mobile phones, and anything else that charges monthly, it pays to call about twice a year or more to see what “packages” or deals they have that reduce what you pay them. Hey, they won’t call you.