Archive for December, 2012

Dear Lincare, Please stop $#%^ing with me.

December 22, 2012 4 comments

Hello all!  I have not, as it might have seemed, actually fallen off the planet.  I haven’t written anything in quite some time, but not for a lack of desire or subject matter, or a screaming need to get some thoughts out of my head.  It’s just been busy lately.  However, there are some stories that need to be told, and so we make the time to tell them.  Here we go….

As I’ve mentioned previously, for the past several months, my daughter has been ill with post-infectious gastroparesis.  As a result, she has had a feeding tube, which has necessitated the services of a home health company.  While we were at the hospital, we met with Lincare, a popular and well-respected home health care provider in our area.  Our rep was helpful and nice and kind to me at a time when everyone around me was making me want to tear my eyes right out of my face. (see here for more on that part of the story.)  I had high hopes for a successful relationship with this company for the duration.

Ah, my friends, but it was not to be so.  My first clue was when they sent me home from the hospital with enough Ensure for two days.  Then asked me the next day if I could wait four days for our shipment.  Why, sure I can, assuming that I’m willing to starve my child for two days.  Then when I called to place another order, they seemed to have no idea what I was talking about.  I went through the motions, with minor frustrations, because every single time I called, I had to give them my bank card number again.  You see, they took my number in order to keep it on file pending my authorization.  The idea is that they can’t charge my card until I say “okay,” but it saves me the hassle of reading off the numbers every single time I place an order.  Really, it was a minor inconvenience, but I was nursing a low-level aggravation that came with the dawning knowledge that Lincare actually kind of sucks a little.  I was okay, though, just a little disappointed that they didn’t live up to my expectations.

All this changed when I innocently checked my bank account last weekend.  I was honestly just doing a regular check on my money, and looking for any interesting Christmas purchases, if truth be told.  What I found was a charge from Lincare.  I was understandably confused, since I hadn’t ordered anything from them and certainly  hadn’t authorized them to charge my account.  As a matter of fact, I hadn’t even spoken to them for two weeks, since they lost my order and were late delivering our supplies.  Upon further review, I found another unauthorized charge from a few weeks earlier, when I had actually placed my order.  Turns out that they charged me when I ordered, then again the next day.  All told, Lincare owed me just over $400.  And the very same day I discovered these atrocities, I received a bill in the mail from Lincare, saying that I owe them $377.

When Monday finally came, I couldn’t wait to call them and tell them all the ways they jacked up my account.  Well, if only it were that easy.  What actually happened on Monday is that I embarked on a week-long journey of frustration and disbelief that any company who treats their customers so poorly is actually still in business.  I found several different phone numbers for Lincare, but every one I called told me that some other office could help me.  Every person I talked to had an answer to my issue, and that answer was, “I don’t know.”  I literally spent hours on the phone trying to find one person who cared enough to help me out.  Once I found that person, which, incidentally, occurred on Tuesday, not on Monday, she argued with me.  She was so convinced that I was wrong, or lying, that I actually had to print the transactions from my bank and fax them to her.  When she received those, she told me that it all made sense and they didn’t owe me any money.  I waited two hours for her to fax me all the documentation proving her point, then I finally got yet another, “I don’t know.”

Up until this point, I had been polite.  I had been patient.  I had been very understanding of the fact that the people on the other end of the phone were likely not directly responsible for the FUBAR on my account.  But at that moment, every last ounce of patience I possess was spent.  This person identified herself as a supervisor, but she couldn’t look at my account and see that the product shipped did not match the amount charged?  Seriously?  So, I was not exactly rude, I was not quite mean and I didn’t utter even one swear, but I told her in no uncertain terms that I would be put off no longer and I will have an answer NOW.  It’s amazing how fast things happen when you get loud, and it’s pathetic that you have to sink to that level to get results.

I finally got transferred to someone who had the desire and the ability to go through every transaction on my account and discovered that Lincare had, in fact, charged me twice without authorization, due to an error on their part.  They did, in fact, owe me a refund.  I had to talk to three different offices and seven different people to get to this point.  I started calling at 9am Monday and didn’t get this information until 6pm Tuesday.  Every person I talked to was focused on finding out why I was wrong rather than trying to fix their mistake.  After I arranged the terms of the refund with the very kind lady who finally helped me, I canceled our service and closed my account with them.  She told me that it wasn’t necessary because this error would never happen again.  Well, that’s debatable, but I told her that it is necessary, because I choose not to do business with companies whom I can’t trust.

And this is my point.  More and more, this is the service we can expect from companies.  It’s not right.  Ten years ago, this would not fly.  A company doing things like this would not stay in business.  So why do they get away with it now?  Because we allow them to.  Should I forgive them their error and their poor treatment of their customer on the promise that it won’t happen again?  If I do, what incentive do they have to fix the problem?  I know they’re screwing over other customers, too, because I discovered that they had credited someone else’s check to my account.  So how many people have forgiven them, then continued to get screwed?  The only way that we, as consumers, will ever bring the expectation of excellent service back to our society is by getting loud about it.  So I’m getting loud.

Lincare, the way that you do business is unacceptable.  And I’m telling everyone that I know all about you.  If you want my business, you need to do a whole lot better than “I don’t know” and “I’m sorry.”   Your company is either completely dishonest and dirty or unthinkably incompetent.  Neither one is good enough to earn my money and, more importantly, my trust.