Bills

 
What?? Thursday evening when we opened our mail there was a bill for a medical test I had in June, 2009 — four years ago! Their office was closed for the day so I left a message on their answering machine. If they thought we owed them money why didn’t they tell us about it earlier, before our insurance company closed the case? I could have left it at that and just waited for a response, but I took the time to go through my papers and figure out why the insurance company made the decision it did. I phoned the medical office again and left that information.

The next day a woman at the office apologized and said their records show I had a zero balance at the end of 2009. She had no idea how why the computer printed out the bill. Anyway, problem solved. I do wonder if anyone pays a bill like that without questioning it.

smiley-rolled-eyes

It reminds me of another case several years ago. Again I received a bill for services done years before. When I phoned, the woman checked and said forget about it — I didn’t owe anything. I asked her why the bill, and she said the former person doing the billing had made a complete muddle of it. The people taking over decided the easiest way to handle it was to send out bills to everyone and deal with them one at a time. I assume when people simply paid, whether they needed to or not, it made things a lot easier for the billing department.

Even that didn’t bother me as much as another case. I knew I owed money after the insurance had paid its part, and I phoned the office for a bill several times. No luck. Then months later I finally received the bill, with a warning that if I didn’t pay within 30 days they were going to send it to the collection agency!

Have you had any “interesting” experiences with billing departments?

Thanks to nick, Mike, tammy, bikehikebabe, Evan, Rummuser, Cathy and Dixie for commenting on last week’s post.
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23 Responses to Bills

  1. Mike says:

    A sister-in-law and her husband got a notice that they owed money on a credit card. Thing is, they didn’t use credit cards — so the ignored it and several other notices. The credit card company got their attention when it seized money out their bank account — and took everything out of my mother-in-law’s bank account, too!! It was a joint account with my sister-in-law so she could help her wheelchair bound, 85 year-old mother out.

    They were told by a lawyer that it would cost them more to fight the claim in the courts than it had already cost them, so they did nothing.
    Mike´s last blog post ..Vintage Color Photography–#4.

  2. bikehikebabe says:

    All these examples are the reason I don’t have anything to do with finance. Tom does it all. If something happened to him & I was left with the income tax…:( !!

    He still rides his bicycle to the Lab on Thursdays in heavy traffic to meet with his Radio Club buddies for lunch. Eeeek

  3. Mike says:

    bhb — Karen took care of all the bills when I was gone on the submarine 3 1/2 months at a time in ’74 through ’77. She did it so well with that she’s still doing it today with almost no errors in all that ensuing time.

    I do the taxes, except the year after I retired, when I had an accountant do it because of investments we made with unusual tax deductions.
    Mike´s last blog post ..Vintage Color Photography–#4.

  4. Ursula says:

    Have I had “interesting experiences with billing departments”? Yes, Jean. Only two days ago I received an invitation to County Court (2nd July) over £50.03. Yes. £50.03. Whatever. As matter of courtesy they might have brought this to my attention BEFORE slapping on £70.00 in legal fees. Am incredulous. Doesn’t matter. Have crafted letter. Will attend court.

    Meanwhile, having OVERpaid utility company (electricity) am still awaiting refund. What? Three years on?

    Main thing in life: Take a deep breath. Do not worry. Write it all off to so much official crapdom. And do NOT suck thumb even if short of bread.

    U
    Ursula´s last blog post ..Bee in bonnet

  5. Jean says:

    Mike,
    Yes, it’s dangerous to share an account with someone else. I hope it wasn’t a large sum of money.

    Andy pays most of the bills, but I take care of any billing problems.

    bikehikebabe,
    I hope nothing happens to either one of you for a long, long while!

    Ursula,
    As always, it pays to have a sense of humor, and to share our stories with friends.

  6. Evan says:

    My wife mostly looks after our tax (thankfully – we have an auto-fill option we can use).

    I don’t have a credit card. And don’t have any debts. So no dramas so far. Although this doesn’t protect us from mistakes.
    Evan´s last blog post ..Reluctantly Related by Deanna Brann

  7. Mike says:

    Large is relative. When they take all of your meager checking and savings, it’s a lot. (She’s since moved to an assisted living center which takes medicare and all but a little bit of her monthly income.)

    We only have 1 debt now (camper) and we do use our credit card extensively — far more than we do cash or checks. However, we also pay it off every month — and reap several hundred dollars each year through the Visa Rewards program.

    We’ve had two instances where someone got our card number and Visa called us fairly quickly on it. One time was when someone tried to send funds to someone in prison in Florida — we only know one person in prison, he’s in Arkansas, and we haven’t heard from or talked to him in probably 15 years. The other time, someone tried to buy a bus ticket in Italy. We’ve never been to Italy and never take a bus.
    Mike´s last blog post ..Vintage Color Photography–#4.

  8. Cathy in NZ says:

    I have my ups and downs with bills…

    Today spent 30mins at the bank, giving them evidence I’m a student. Then hearing that things needed updating because new rules in place.

    Man not happy I hadn’t my credit card in bag and had to make due with eftpos card (which would have been on records) and my driving licence. He had not sense of humour that there was “no car to go with it”

    The evidence I provided was pretty good in the long run, as he obviously didn’t understand either hours needed per class, type of programme, or even how long a semester/year was…

    Finally after he fiddled with the data on a cryptic load of screens it seems to be partially in order…he would send my evidence and new info to someone else!
    Cathy in NZ´s last blog post ..Taking The Tour…

  9. Jean says:

    Evan,
    We’re like Mike, we use our credit card a lot but pay it off every month. We get money back from using it, especially on Amazon — it’s 3% back from everything we buy there, which adds up fast for us.

    Andy and I both do our income tax and hopefully we catch one another’s mistakes.

    Mike,
    I’m a bit confused about how the money got charged to the credit card. Was it fraud? And how could the credit card company take money out of the bank accounts? I thought their method was to keep the debt growing through their ridiculously high interest rates.

    I can only think of one case where we were fraudulently charged. It was for only about $20 but I didn’t recognize the company, so I Googled it and saw that it was a fraud. The credit card company returned the money. The interesting thing was the charge was for so little. Presumably the thieves figured no one would notice a small amount.

    We have been mischarged several times, but when I phoned the companies who did it they corrected their mistakes.

    Cathy,
    I don’t envy you about all the red tape you have to go through. Good luck!

  10. Mike says:

    Oh, I’m absolutely certain it was fraud. Someone probably got my sister-in-law’s social security number and used it to get a credit card back a few years when credit was much easier to get, charged the card up to the max, and never paid for any of it.

    The credit card company “sold” the “delinquent” account to a collection agency — the agency supposedly attempted to collect and was ignored, since, obviously, they didn’t owe anything since they didn’t have credit cards. The agency then went though the garnishment route: “A legal procedure by which a creditor can collect what a debtor owes by reaching the debtor’s property when it is in the hands of someone other than the debtor.”
    Mike´s last blog post ..Vintage Color Photography–#4.

  11. Jean says:

    Mike,
    Nowadays we’re all supposed to get our credit reports a couple of times a year to make sure we haven’t been a victim of ID theft. I did that once, and I also received free monitoring for three years another time because someone had broken into a data base. Nothing untoward happened. If I ever have to go through the hassle of ID theft I’ll check a lot more often.

    I’m sorry it happened to your family.

  12. tammyj says:

    as to insurance and doctors… i always look the bill over carefully. there was a hefty amount not covered by my hospitalization insurance due immediately. it was a doctor’s name that had supposedly ‘seen’ me. i knew both doctors who had actually seen me and he wasn’t one of them.
    i called my insurance. she honestly said this … “oh just ignore that. that’s dr X. he always does that.”
    i couldn’t believe it! how many poor souls just pay him!!!!
    HORRIBLE.
    oh dear. ursula and monk… where is my sense of humor?
    tammyj´s last blog post ..the french know

  13. Jean says:

    tammy,
    No doubt about it, we have to scrutinize. I wouldn’t take the insurance reps’ advice to ignore it though. If the bill came from the hospital I would talk to them and make sure they took it off their books. And in a case like this I always write down who I talked to, the date, and the details. “Document, document, document,” is my motto. It gives me something constructive to do, and it is sometimes invaluable later.

  14. Nick says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever been billed for anything I didn’t owe. I’ve been billed extortionate amounts for things, but that’s another issue! And I was once paid twice for an insurance claim, after the company had spent nine months dragging their feet, querying every detail of my claim and trying not to pay a penny!
    Nick´s last blog post ..Warts and all

  15. tammyj says:

    i forgot to mention…
    your cartoon makes computers look almost cute and lowers my hostility toward them! LOLOL
    where again can i find your cartoons? i thought i had an address but i’m not seeing it in my favorites now.
    tammyj´s last blog post ..the french know

  16. Rummuser says:

    Oh, yes. The electricity department decided to send ad hoc bills when the meter went kaput and I pointed out the fault to them. This continued till the meter was repaired three months down the line. After that, they sent me a bill based on the last month’s charges which was in the summer when we used airconditioners to the maximum. I had to make a few personal visits to their office and convince them to change the charge on actuals based on last year’s corresponding months. That saved me quite a bit.
    Rummuser´s last blog post ..Monsoon.

  17. Jean says:

    Rummuser,
    That was clearly worth the trip!

  18. Jean says:

    Nick
    I spent about two years once getting $248 back from the insurance company. They owed it but had lost a check and there was no end of red tape to go through. I told Andy I clearly didn’t value my time very highly, but I am stubborn. :)

    tammy,
    My cartoons and graphics are at http://www.flickr.com/photos/8185675@N07/sets/72157611932740103/

    All my pictures on Flickr are at http://www.flickr.com/photos/8185675@N07/

    If I use a graphic I have on Flickr I link to it under the picture, just click on “Cheerful Monk”. It’s in blue to show it’s a link.

  19. Dixie says:

    I once went to borrow from my credit union and was declined. The bank manager explained that even though I’d paid cash for the Ford Explorer recently, it was too soon to apply for credit. Funny thing though… I didn’t own a Ford Explorer. My own car had been paid off for three years. Short version: my Mom and I have the same name. Her maiden is my middle name. She just bought an Explorer. Found out that night when I went to dinner at my parents. We went to the bank and got it straight. Since her passing in 1997, issues like that one are rare… and I’m grateful for that, even though I’d go through it again just to laugh it off with her!
    At one time I had to add “Junior” to my name through the court system. Now she’s gone I don’t bother using it anymore. :)
    Dixie´s last blog post ..a child’s summer

  20. Jean says:

    Dixie,
    I imagine that you do miss her, in spite of the previous mix-ups. My mother died about 18 years ago, and I’m still touched when I think of her.

  21. Dixie says:

    I know what you mean, thanks Jean.
    Dixie´s last blog post ..a child’s summer

  22. My wife received a call from a collection agency for unpaid balance on a bill from one of the local hospitals. When we called the hospital to inquire, they told us to ignore the call — they issued the collection notice to all patients by mistake. But it was unnerving that we got a second call!
    Square Peg Guy´s last blog post ..Tanka Bar — A Great Lo-Carb Snack Bar

  23. Jean says:

    Square Peg Guy,
    I would be unnerved too. Actually I would be concerned by the advice “ignore the call” in the first place. I would contact the collection agency to be sure they knew about the hospital’s mistake, and I would ask for written verification — from the agency or the hospital, that the bill had been paid. I like things in writing.

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