Employees without benefits
“I’m sorry, but we have no record of you,” the nice lady on the phone informed me. “You are not in our system.””What do you mean you have no record of me?” I wanted to know and repeated my Social Security number.”Nope,” she affirmed. “According to our records, you don’t exist.”This would have been all fine and dandy if I’d been talking to the IRS – but I wasn’t.Instead, I was trying to track down a check for a vision claim I’d made months ago to the insurance company through my employer.I had filed the claim in March for a pair of glasses I bought in February. It was now mid-June.”For the love of Pete, it does not take THREE MONTHS for a check to get from California to Colorado!” I complained to husband-head. “Are they sending it by homing pigeon or the pony express?”And why wasn’t I in the system? I’ve been an employee with my company for years …”Obviously, you haven’t made a very big impression or maybe you don’t rate very high on the employee food chain,” husband-head said matter-of-factly. “Just be glad the payroll people recognize your existence.”I tried to think of what may have gone wrong.Perhaps my Social Security number had been retired like John Elway’s #7 with the Denver Broncos. Or maybe the computer no longer recognized the century in which I was born … or what if I was like Bruce Willis in the movie “The Sixth Sense” where he doesn’t realize he’s dead?Nevertheless, I refused to give up and figured that sometimes it’s just the person you talk to, so I called the insurance company again, hoping to get someone different on the line.”Oh yes, Mrs. Rice, that check was issued in April,” the new person I spoke with at the insurance company informed me.At least she wasn’t telling me that I didn’t exist …But once again … hello … it’s JUNE!It dawned on me that if I failed to make the bi-weekly insurance premium payments, it sure wouldn’t take them two months to CANCEL my policy.I decided next to call my editor to tell her about the problem.My editor called the assistant human resources person for the company, who called the head human resources person for the company, who called the insurance company, who directed her to the director of claims operations for the insurance company, who finally contacted me.At this point, we were now spending more money in phone calls across the state and the country – not to mention valuable company time – than the damn check was even worth.”I see the check hasn’t been cashed yet,” the director of claims operations for the insurance company told me as she looked it up on the computer.”Ummm … perhaps that would be because I have never RECEIVED the check,” I pointed out, thinking that was the whole reason for our correspondence in the first place.Unless we were talking about millions of dollars, I don’t think anyone in their right mind would have spent this much time trying to bilk the insurance company out of their money.”I’ll send out another check in the mail today,” the director assured me. “But just don’t cash the first one.”I had better odds of winning the lottery than seeing the first check.”Good Lord, just forget about it,” husband-head advised, when he saw how frustrated I was getting. “It’s just a measly little check.””That’s not the POINT anymore!” I insisted. “It’s the principle of the thing. This is supposed to be part of my employee benefit package. With the money I spend on insurance, I could’ve bought 20 pairs of glasses by now!”Or several pairs of cute shoes, for that matter …I checked the mailbox for the next week, but still no check.”Check’s in the mail, my rear-end,” I muttered to myself as I sorted through it.But one piece of mail did catch my eye. It was a statement telling me my insurance premiums were going to go up.I grabbed a pen and wrote clearly on the return envelope: “I’m sorry. I have no record of you.”Heidi Rice is a reporter for the Post Independent. Her column runs every Friday. Visit her Web site at http://www.heidirice.com.
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