Speaking the (sort of) Truth

Before you read on, know President Obama and most Democrats in Congress didn’t run on nationalizing health care. President Obama ran on giving everyone the choice of keeping private insurance or joining a new public health insurance plan, and most Democrats in Congress support that approach. And many Republicans in Congress don’t like what looks like the outcome because if Democrats pass health care reform, some believe it’s game over for the GOP for a long, long time.

That said, here’s ABC’s Rick Klein:

Rep. Paul Ryan, the top Republican on the House Budget Committee, joined his party’s leadership in calling on President Obama to bring bipartisan cooperation to Capitol Hill.

But at the same time, Ryan said that Obama’s victory and Democrats’ expanded majority in Congress give them the “right” to push their healthcare plans through — and said they will probably be able to do so using a procedural process known as “reconciliation” that makes it easier to pass bills in the Senate.

“It’s their right. They did win the election,” said Ryan, R-Wis. “That’s what I tell all my constituents who are worried about this. They won the election. They did run on these ideas. They did run on nationalizing health care. So, you’re right about that. They have the votes with reconciliation. They nailed down the process so that they can make sure they have the votes and that they can get this thing through really fast. It is their right. It is what they can do.”

“They hold the power, and they’re probably going to exercise it. We don’t like it because we don’t like what looks like the outcome,” he added.

Amen.

Semi-Handy

Sears came to fix my broken washer the other day, and even though the tech wasn’t supposed to dismantle the laundry closet, he had to in order to get the washer out. For those of you who don’t know, my apartment* is a little bit of an adventure in and of itself. It’s not at all surprising someone thought to build a closet around the washer and dryer (because those appliances never break).

Anyway, when the tech left, he put the closet back together incorrectly, and there was about an inch gap between the door and the wall. I’m not sure why he didn’t say anything before he took off (or why I didn’t notice), but this meant the closet no longer closed.

I – being the resourceful woman I pretend to be on occasion – decided to dig out my kind of girlish drill and get to work on fixing the door. I’d watched the tech take the frame apart so I assumed it wouldn’t be terribly tough to do it again and then put it back together properly.

Let’s just say the door closes now…barely…but I wouldn’t put money on the whole ensemble staying together for the long haul. It’s all a very delicate balance of screws and nails and strategically maneuvered framework. The good news is that it totally fits within the creative design scheme of my apartment which I lovingly refer to as Creaky Chic.

* It’s a rental.

Sine of the Times

I was not aware. Were you?

Overtaking AIM


Apologies to everyone on my Buddy List who got the little IM worm/virus/bug from me today. Allegedly changing your password helps stop it from propagating.

Also, one additional suggestion. When a friend calls you to ask if you know what’s going on, it’s not a great idea to pick up your cellphone and say, “Yes, I know I have a virus.”

It makes your coffee companion raise an eyebrow.

Power of the Pen


Or the “send” button, actually. My brother had a problem with his new used car and got the runaround from the dealer and its service department. He composed the following and ended up with an apology and the repairs paid for in full. Proof it can’t hurt to put a true complaint in writing typing:

April 15, 2009

Dear Mr. XX,

We spoke briefly by phone a few months ago when I was in the market for a new car. My name is Dan Schechner, and I was referred to you by Jeffrey XX.

After a visit the day prior, I purchased a black, used 2006 Mercedes Benz C230 from House of Imports on Feb. 15, 2009. I was treated extremely well by everyone, especially your sales manager Garrett XX. What could have been a lengthy, tedious process was made comfortable and easy. I was both relieved and proud, and happy to share my experience with anyone I knew.

About 10 days ago I was leaving the parking garage beneath my office building when I noticed the ‘check engine’ light had come on. Not wanting to take chances with a new car (and knowing it was still under warranty) I made an appointment at Calstar Motors in Glendale for the next available day.

I was informed by the service department that the lower panel of the right front fender well had been removed; the right front fog lamp connector was missing and cut (not sure how it can be both, but whatever); and the outside temperature sensor was missing and the connector was cut off.

I was told the damage did not fall under warranty because I had caused it. I was quoted $900 plus tax.

Now let’s be clear about something. If I had hit anything, driven over anything outside of a speed bump, or been struck by anything in the last seven weeks, I would be fully aware. Not a single person – including a valet – drives it besides me. It is my most valued possession, and I treat it as such.

If I had hit something I would have fixed it myself or called my insurance company. I have a low deductible, and I’m not in the practice of blaming others for my mistakes.

Nonetheless, and despite my chagrin, I figured I had an alternative. I told Calstar I would take it to my dealer.

By phone I was directed to Javier XX in the House of Imports service department, who told me to bring the car in as soon as possible. Which I did, on April 13.

When I met with Javier he arranged for a rental for the day while he inspected my car. He called a few hours later to tell me that wires had been torn from the bottom of the car, that it was not covered by my warranty, and that I was responsible for the damage, which he quoted at $530.

I explained that I hadn’t done anything unusual with the car in the seven weeks I’d had it. I asked if it was possible that a part could have come loose and broken off, or a wire might have caught on something and been pulled out. No, he said, the wires had been pulled out by someone, or maybe I drove over a turtarrier in a parking space. Whatever it was, the damage was my doing.

I then asked to be connected with the service manager, Ryan XX, with whom I spoke for a few minutes. I explained that I felt like my only crime was driving my new car. I couldn’t have been more careful with it.

Mr. XX was very understanding and said he absolutely agreed with me, but that he couldn’t authorize the work to be covered under warranty. That would have to come from the sales side.

At that point I left a message on Garrett XX’s direct line. The afternoon of April 13.

I didn’t hear back from Garrett until late the next morning. By that point I had left him another message, and was already headed down to Orange County from my office in the mid-Wilshire area of Los Angeles. The rental car had to be back by 1 p.m., and LA to OC traffic can be sluggish.

On the ride down I received a call from Garrett. I explained to him my dilemma, and he assured me he would take care of it.

Ten minutes later I received another call from House of Imports, this time from Javier. He was calling to tell me my car was not covered under warranty and that I would in fact be responsible for the repairs. It was as if my conversation with Garrett had never happened.

Shortly after I arrived at House of Imports I was greeted by Garrett. “What’s happening?” I asked him. “Well, I’ve been enlightened a little,” he replied. “Let’s go talk to Javier.”

So we walked to Javier’s office, at which time both men stood across the room from me and repeated what I had heard before. That there’s no possibility this could have been caused by anything or anyone but me.

I explained that I was now concerned, that I didn’t feel it was right that parts were coming off so easily during the course of normal driving.

Perhaps this used vehicle, which was sold to me certified pre-owned, wasn’t in mint condition when I received it. To illustrate my point, I asked if Garrett was aware that the rearview mirror in the cockpit was inoperable, and that the Glendale dealer had even confirmed that it was broken but should be fixed under warranty.

Garrett’s response: “You’re gonna throw that at me now!”

We had been in Javier’s office less than 5 minutes.

At that point Garrett said he would take us all to see the car and that he would show me exactly what he was talking about. And that’s when I gave in.

“Look, it’s not worth anyone’s time to keep doing this,” I said. “Let me just get my car, pay for it, and leave so I don’t ever have to deal with this again.”

And that’s when Garrett wheeled around, stood in the doorway, and shouted: “So that’s what you want! I went to bat for you, I put my neck on the line for you, and this is the thanks I get?!? You know what, get your car and take off, and don’t ever come here again. It was your choice, your choice!”

“Garrett, wait a minute,” I said, but he had already stormed off.

I have no doubt that every employee and customer on that side of the building heard this. And I’m now standing in Javier XX’ office. (It did take a moment to process what just happened.)

So here I am: Two months ago I’m a valued customer, and today I’m told I’m ungrateful, and that I should leave and never come back. I was just berated, demeaned and abandoned by my dealer. And all after I agreed to pay, after I just wanted the whole ordeal to end.

Forget that I came to you as a referral. Forget the days of work I had to miss to deal with this. Forget the hours I spent in your customer lounge. Forget the inconvenience of driving to and from Buena Park. And forget that I’m stuck with a $532 bill for, yes, driving my new car.

There’s something that transcends all of that, and it’s human decency. I would never in a million years speak to a customer, an acquaintance or even a stranger in the manner I was spoken to on April 14. It was unprofessional, insulting and completely uncalled-for.

Not that it should matter anymore, but I had acquiesced – there was no more discussion needed.

So now how do I feel? I feel like my warranty is a sham. I feel like everyone who warned me about Mercedes Benz was right. And I feel like everyone who told me not to buy used was right.

But I also feel like people show their true colors in times of adversity, not when times are easy. How you handle difficult situations truly reveals your character and spirit.

I could have left House of Imports today feeling disappointed in the bill, but gratified that someone was on my side, that someone I had a special relationship with understood where I was coming from. And even if he couldn’t offer me any financial relief, that maybe there was a shred of compassion or empathy there.

Instead, I was verbally abused and dismissed by someone I looked to, and trusted, for help. And I’m still out $532.

How do you think that feels?

In light of the situation, the treatment I received, and the countless hours of aggravation and frustration I underwent as a result, I feel that some financial compensation is appropriate.

I had no choice but to pay my bill in full yesterday. I simply could not afford to miss more time at work waiting for an adequate resolution. Having left you my business card with my mobile number included yesterday, I was hoping to hear back from you.

As yet there has been no response. I would appreciate one.

Sincerely,

Dan Schechner


Real Reform

Joe’s got a post up at AMERICAblog this morning about health care. I swear I had nothing to do with it. He had an emergency appendectomy not too long ago, and he’s just now starting to see the bills roll in. So as you can imagine, he’s got health care reform on the brain, and today, he makes an excellent point:

If members of Congress had to miss doctor visits because they couldn’t afford to pay or if members of Congress spent days trying to get coverage for their kid’s pre-existing condition, I have a feeling we’d have real health care reform.

Read the whole thing here.

In the News

We launched last July, but some reporters are just now starting to pay attention:

Virginia Health Reform Campaign Begins

“We believe that everyone should have comprehensive benefits that meet their needs with the choice of keeping private insurance if they have it or joining a new public health insurance plan,” said Jacki Schechner, spokeswoman for Health Care for America Now, which is sponsoring a series of events across the nation this spring to connect people with their legislators.

“We can’t fix the economy without fixing health care,” Schechner said. “It’s bankrupting our families, it’s bankrupting our local governments and it’s bankrupting our businesses. We have to get this fiasco under control once and for all.”

Schechner says she sees the idea of a government health plan as competition for private health insurance and an opportunity to end the cost-shift that happens when people with no preventive care turn up in the emergency room for what began as a minor illness but went untreated because they couldn’t afford to see a doctor.


Got Plans?


What are you doing tonight? C-SPAN’s carrying Rep. Steny Hoyer’s health care town hall live at 5pm. HCAN partners will be there. You can watch it online here.

Midafternoon Catblogging

Attempt to Blend: Fail



Cost of Living

This is pretty astounding considering how obscene rent is in Manhattan:

Report: NYC health insurance costlier than rent

According to a New York Post analysis of new data from the state Insurance Department, it now costs more to buy health insurance than it does to rent a two-bedroom apartment.

The newspaper found that the average monthly premium for family health coverage is $4,354, up 13% from last year. That’s more than the $3,947 monthly rent for a place in a no-doorman building downtown

Here’s the original article from the NY Post.