The following series of frustrating interactions with corporations involved in my medical care got me thinking how thoroughly the world now seems to run on the principles laid out, for corporations, by the famous Nazi party that ran one of the most powerful modern industrialized nations in the world for twelve of their planned thousand year rule. These principles extend beyond lying, advertising falsely, assuming no responsibility for anything, blaming the victims, into how individual customers are cared for. Nazi methods, once shocking, are now the routine way masses of people with any kind of problem are treated.
Sounds overwrought, I know, to compare the now standard corporate runarounds to techniques perfected in the Third Reich, but bear with me and you may yet be persuaded I am not merely talking through my tin foil yarmulke. The amount of stamina and self-possession needed to have a corporation fix it’s own error, no matter how minor, is incredible. We are often exhausted and resigned before we actually get to speak to a human. This too is part of Nazi-inspired design. Think about it.
The burden for correcting corporate mistakes always falls to the consumer. Fair enough, why would a corporation care about a mistake, as long as it’s getting paid? Profit is the bottom line, not worrying about the gripes of malcontents here and there. A series of hurdles are erected to limit the number of complaints the lowest paid workers of any corporation will be forced to listen to on any given shift.
It is fairly standard to have to navigate 3-5 minutes of robotic prompts and advertising, along with requests to stay on the line for a survey about the “service we are about to provide” before being placed on hold to wait for human representatives who are all busy helping other customers. They urge you to handle your problem via their website, which enables each problem to be dealt with in a fraction of the time (if at all) and at a tiny percentage of the cost of having humans talking to other humans on the phone.
I’m not naive. I get it. Hire enough representatives to help everyone you are providing poor service to, without the long waits, and you cut directly into the corporate bottom line. A ten minute hold, with blaring, nerve jangling muzak, to talk to customer service weeds out a good proportion of the whiners waiting helplessly in line to express how pissed off they are about some trifle or another. It is simply the way it is done today in our era of global corporatism. Corporations do what is best for corporate profits and that’s that, ask the U.S. Supreme Court if you don’t believe us. You got something to say? Please continue to hold, we thank you for your patience, your business is very important to us.
I was hit with a nice triple or quadruple whammy the other day just trying to get renewals for prescription drugs I’ve been taking daily for the last few years. After weeks of looking for a physical therapist to help me with my stiff, painful knees who accepts my insurance, I took a break from leaving voicemails that were never returned and walked up to a nearby address provided by my insurance company and next week I’ll be evaluated for PT.
“Evaluated?” I said, “I just gave you the doctor’s referral, detailing exactly what PT services I need and why.”
“We have to examine you first and submit a report to your insurance company and wait for approval before we can provide any services, that’s the law,” the pleasant receptionist told me. Then she said that this approval ordinarily takes no more than two weeks. Which will only make a total of five weeks since I was referred for physical therapy by the doctor who examined me.
I vented a bit about American medical care, making sure my satirical, semi-humorous presentation was coming through as nonthreatening and ironic. I was rewarded with a sympathetic smile from the receptionist who told me kindly that it might be less than two weeks, sometimes it’s much faster.
When I got home I followed up again on the status of getting my prescriptions renewed, a blood pressure drug, a statin and megadose Vitamin D, after hours of wasted calls with the corporation who dispenses them. I’d had a long discussion with a rep named Don, at CVS Caremark, on May 25th. Don assured me that he’d contact my doctor and get the prescriptions sent over to CVS Caremark, that I’d have the pills long before my dwindling supplies ran out.
He then asked me to hold one more time, this was 48 minutes or so into our call. I asked if he needed more information from me. He told me he didn’t and agreed he could call me back if there was any problem processing the order.
The only problem is, reasonable as this may sound, that is not their corporate procedure. If the customer does not stay on hold until the very end, the call is recorded as “customer disconnected” which was the notation Don made on my call, after assuring me everything was cool. It was all cool for Don, why the hell wouldn’t it be? The man has a job he loves, living the dream.
Maybe Don wasn’t as amused as the receptionist pretended to be by my witty send-ups of our sickeningly broken profit-driven American health care system. Maybe he was politely seething under his MAGA hat, imagining this demanding and ruthless prick he was dealing with, someone who expected to just be let off the line after only 48 minutes, at least five of them spent whining at tedious, didactic length, about the corporatocracy we all take for granted as simply the way the world is.
I learned my order was not being processed only by following up ten days later, when I hadn’t received the promised email confirmations of my order. After only ten minutes on hold, and repeating all of my identifying info again, I was told the notes the corporation had for my May 25th call stated that the customer had prematurely disconnected from call, with the predictable result that no action could be taken on this jerk’s behalf.
An hour into my follow up call I conferenced in the doctor’s office where all the details were laid out by CVS Caremark rep Liz (only authorized to wait on hold for up to two minutes, exactly, she told me as she instructed me what to find out from the doctor’s office). I put her on the line with the doctor’s receptionist, after a mere 35 second hold for Liz, in a conference call and continued taking detailed notes. Everything seemed to be straightened out, at last, and not a moment too soon.
This, sadly, didn’t result in the prompt resolution of my quest to have my prescriptions refilled. One reason I prefer dealing with my local pharmacy, before they told me a few weeks back that my business was no good there. I got an email from CVS in error, as it turned out, informing me that only one of my three prescriptions were listed on the order, which was pending.
I followed the prompts and logged into the CVS Caremark website where I was able to confirm that only one of the three medications my doctor’s receptionist and the CVS Caremark rep had discussed was on order.
I wrote a note to CVS Caremark in an attempt to fix this, have them update my prescription order, only to find myself in a permanent error loop “you have failed to update your email address” (which I had done by then two or three times). Twenty five minutes of this was enough to convince me there was a technical problem with the ineptly written code for their website. In order to get tech support with the website you must be able to send a message, after logging in. Seamless and fucking brilliant, actually.
I thought of my former friend Andy and his ilk, mad fucking programmers and coders, well-paid guys on the Asperger’s Spectrum with no clue about humans, except as to erring like one. The “Contact us” link on the website, of course, required you to be logged in. You can’t contact anyone unless you update your email address in your profile, or even if you do. Only option is to go through the standard four minutes of robot prompts and hold to wait to talk to a low paid human, who probably can’t help you anyway. (Turns out she can’t).
Called the doctor’s office two days later to follow up on the status of the prescriptions. The receptionist told me she’d left me a message. My phone showed no messages or missed calls, then, when I went to renew the voice mail list, informed me again that it was unable to synchronize my messages because I was not connected to a data network (I was).
An hour call with T-Mobile tech support allowed me to hear the voicemail from the doctor’s office, a forty second tour de force of confusion and obtuseness. I had Sekhnet leave me a voice mail to test it out, make sure the glitch with the voicemail was actually fixed. “Error. Unable to synchronize because you are not connected to the data network”.
Another call to T-Mobile, another hour. This time I got a $20 credit from the Nazi fucks (T-Mobile is a German corporation, originally) and delivered a few concise, impassioned but not overwrought, analyses of the inhuman treatment we are forced to take for granted in our corporate world that actually got great praise from the Indian kid I was talking to, the guy who granted me the $20 credit for the hassle I was in the middle of. He “escalated” my complaint and I had a long pleasant chat with Leo, at the next level of tech support expertise, who couldn’t fix the problem either but promised to re-escalate my situation and get back to me ASAP with the fix (a mere 24 hours ago). Leo sent me a text to this effect, with his identifying information.
I am still unable to get voice mail, or log-in to CVS “Caremark” to update my prescriptions, but I am assured that everybody is working hard on my case(s) and I’m sincerely promised that everything will work out, as long as I’m as patient as…
By the way, remaining on the line the other day to the bitter end of a long chat with Liz (not to repeat the nonconsensual phone sex I’d had with untruthful Don), I learned from the CVS Caremark rep that my pharmacy, who she contacted while I held one last time, was not being paid by my insurance because they hadn’t updated my insurance information on their computer. They had my old insurance policy listed, with a non-working customer ID number, and their bills submitted under that number were therefore rejected.
I dread to make the follow up call to CVS Caremark, now weeks after my original request to have the prescriptions renewed and filled by them, to find out why only my statin now seems to be on order. (A few days ago only my blood pressure medication was on file).
In a country that was not obsessed with eternal, existential “competition” to separate God’s chosen winners (ubermenschen) from all the faceless fucking loser parasites (untermenschen, lebensunwertes leben, the “useless eaters”), masses of people with no rights a winner is bound to respect, it would not be quite so difficult to resolve simple fuck ups by the companies we deal with every day. But that is the kind of dreamy sentiment only someone not sufficiently impressed with the importance of the corporate bottom line would express. The dreamy Koombaya hallucination of a fucking born loser (note: most of us losers are born that way, as is the case for most winners).
“Please continue to hold, the Obersturmbannführer will be on the line shortly to facilitate your unrequested relocation eastward. Meantime, try to control your fucking blood pressure without drugs, loser. And dig this five second loop, played over and over at sudden wildly increased volume for the next ten minutes, by our house band, the Ultrasadistic Nervejanglers. We think you’ll dig it, and if you don’t, oops. Have a nice day and, please, for the love of all that is holy, continue to hold.”