Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Waiting by the phone (and the mailbox)

Right now I'm waiting for a return call from the state regarding my unemployment claim.  Since my old claim has closed, I can't simply reactivate it over their computer system.  But the 800 number I was advised to call put me through several stages of voice mail before it informed me that, due to current call volumes, they would have to call me back.  Sometime between now and 9:45 PM tomorrow.

Like an idiot, I didn't give my cell phone number for a call-back.  I still think of my cell phone as an emergency communicator and car phone, not an everyday walking-around communication tool.  So now I'm stuck here until 9:45 tonight, and then from 7:00 tomorrow morning until 9:45 tomorrow night - unless they call before then.

I got my insurance situation resolved several weeks ago, I think.  But in the meantime I threw the switch on an official complaint to the state insurance department.  This was something I did immediately upon receipt of my cancellation notice, because, really, I had no other choice.  I received the notice on the weekend after Thanksgiving stating that as of December 27 - the Monday after Christmas, which, as you may recall, fell on a Saturday, so Christmas Eve fell on a Friday, so a lot of state agencies apparently wrapped things up early on Thursday the 23rd - I would no longer have insurance.  But I had some brief period - ten days, I think - in which I could appeal this to the state.  Ten days from what, I'm not sure.  The internal date on the message was, I think, Monday November 22, and the postmark was the next day, Tuesday November 23.  But Thursday November 25 was Thanksgiving - a federal holiday without mail service.  It was almost as if the mailing was sent with a built-in delay to chew up available response time.  So I filed my appeal immediately.

To be fair, the relevant department got back to me fairly quickly to let me know they had received my complaint and were launching an investigation.  By this time the situation was nearly moot, as I had already made contact with the new insurance company and had taken steps to get new insurance.  I prepared a response but held back on sending it.  In the end I intended to send a brief note along the lines of "Thank you for your prompt response, but no further action is necessary."

And then, as we had been advised earlier, I lost my job, along with several hundred of my co-workers.

That threw things off a bit.  And then it was nearly Christmas, and I had a list of things I wanted to do.  That list may or may not have included dashing off this message.  But it never happened, and got added to the list of things I had to do after Christmas.

Today, December 29th, I got a follow-up from the state insurance department.  It was not the response that I wanted to hear.  Even though I think the issue is moot at this point, I still take exception to certain statements made by my former insurance company and apparently concurred with by the state insurance department.  As before, I was given a period of time in which I could follow-up with them regarding this situation.

Let's back up a bit.  I fired off an appeal immediately as soon as I got my cancellation notice.  The state responded promptly.  And their notice regarding the conclusion of their investigation came to me two days after the official termination of my old insurance policy.

As I said, I was given a period of time in which I could respond to this mailing.  Ten days from the day on which it was composed - which, according to the date on the message, was Tuesday, December 21.  Yet the postmark on this piece of mail - sent from the state capitol of Harrisburg, the same city where it was composed - was December 23.  Somehow it took two days for this message to make its way from the printer to the postmarking machine at the local post office.  There's another date printed along the top of the envelope stamped on it somewhere along the way - 12/27.  And then it found its way to my mailbox this morning, 12/29.

Now, granted, there were some holidays thrown in there.  Christmas Eve - well, that's not a federal holiday, but you know how things go, and apparently some state offices closed that day anyway.  Christmas Day.  Boxing Day, which was also a Sunday.  Oh, and then there was that little snowstorm that hit several major coastal cities on Sunday and will probably continue to disrupt air travel through this coming weekend.  If this message travelled by air at any point, that was also a factor.

I composed a response immediately, noting that while the point was probably moot at this stage, I wanted to state for the record that I was disputing the conclusions drawn by the insurance company and by the state insurance department.  Today is 12/29.  My response will be mailed out tomorrow, 12/30.  The next day is the tenth day after their latest missive was composed, 12/31.  New Year's Eve.  A Friday.

How long until my response actually gets where it is going?

It seems to me that if someone was trying to arrange events to maximize mailing delays, you would send something time-sensitive right before Thanksgiving and start a clock running that is dependent on messages being exchanged over Christmas and, possibly, New Year's.  Oopsie, it didn't occur to us that there might be issues with sending things through the mail at that time, or that the holidays would actually drastically shorten the actual number of days that mail would be delivered.  And snow in Winter?  Totally an Act of God, not our doing, not our fault.  How could we foresee such a thing?

Ahhh, that's just paranoia.  I'm sure no company would try to screw a consumer like that.  Especially not an insurance company trying to ditch someone who had filed a claim.

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