Of quotes and wheelchairs
If you can’t do your job, why is someone paying you?
Actual phone conversation with a pharmacy technician from CVS, really …
We only got in a partial amount of Pearlsky’s Pediasure. Would you like to pick it up or wait for us to get the rest?
How much did you get?
You do know she only gets seven and a half cases, right?
Yes, and we have ten. Would you like the partial?
Now at this point I was incredulous, he was serious.
Do you realize that 7 1/2 is less than 10?
Are you checking if 7 1/2 is less than 10?
Please hold. (holding) When would you like to pick it up?
The next day I got a call from some homecare group that will be getting me a new CPAP (don’t ask, doesn’t matter). Brittany calls (or so she identifies herself) (after reading this you will agree she must dot that “i” with a heart). Again, I give you my word, these are quotes.
I need to make sure we have the right information. Is your birthday still October 22, 1958?
No, I moved it to the spring.
Go ahead, now guess, did the conversation go uphill or downhill from there?
Just over five years ago we got Pearlsky a new wheelchair. It was a nightmare, if you remember, and the first two they delivered I rejected. You can read all about that here (or ALL about it here). Finally the third was hand delivered by one of the manufacturer’s important people. That chair is now showing its age.
Remember there are two companies involved. The manufacturer (Sunrise Medical) who makes most of the chairs our kids are in. Then there is the DME (durable medical equipment) that we interface with, basically the distributor. I have tried in the past not to name them directly, but finally did. I use one of the largest, National Seating and Mobility (NSM). Once the chair is purchased, you are forced to stay with the same DME for the life of the chair since no other DME will talk to you.
In May of this year (five years out) I call the DME and tell them that Pearlsky’s chair needs new wheels, new lateral covers, new cables and most importantly, a new seat. The gel cushion has lost all its gel and it is very uncomfortable and can cannot be removed. A technician comes a few days later, agrees with everything, takes information, serial numbers, etc. and leaves. THREE MONTHS later, he returns with all the parts. Sort of. The wheels are right. The cables are right. The covers are wrong. And the most important part, the seat cushion and gel are wrong. I explain the discomfort Pearlsky is in, he leaves saying he will get the right parts.
Three weeks later, nothing. I go looking for an old post of mine and find it. Take a quick look. I leave messages for Karen, she calls back. She promises to look into the situation and help. At this point, I decide NOT to blog about it, if Karen fixes it, great. (Since you are reading a blog post about this, can you figure out the punch line?)
Several days later I hear from the local manager. He makes claims about prescriptions they needed and I had him fax them to me. They are time stamped when they went for the doctor for signature and when they were returned to NSM. Then I need to send this email:
I am livid at what the manager just did on the phone.
The manager said the tech was at my house 8/18 (three months after my first call), saw he had the wrong cushion, got a quote for the right cushion on 8/18 and sent a request for prior approval to the insurance for the right cushion on 9/9, 22 days later.
I asked why that delay. He said a new prescription was needed, even though the original prescription worked and had not been filled correctly. He said the prescription need to be exact to the part, proven a “misleading statement” when he sent me the two prescriptions (and neither have part numbers nor real descriptions). I asked why they did not just return the wrong cushion and get the right one? He could not give an honest answer.
NOTE: The request to the doctor for a second prescription was made on 9/9 and was returned to NSM two hours later. THE ONLY HOLD UP ON THE DOCTOR’S END WAS 2 HOURS. Documented on YOUR fax.
What happened between 8/18 and 9/9? Three weeks?
Pearlsky is now sitting on a very uncomfortable seat, got some sores a week ago that she has never had, and we are waiting since May.
I will go drink heavily and wait to hear.
Over the next few days there were emails that I was copied on between the manager at NSM and the Product Manager at Sunrise Medical. I had to be the one to suggest they drop ship the seat to me (as opposed to sending it to NSM who would then bring to me sometime later.) They sent it.
We got a new seat and gel cushion yesterday, Friday. “A” new one. Not “the” new one we need. This one does not fit her wheelchair. It is useless.
Since May. We are at the end of September. So I decided it is time to post.
- Do you really want to use National Seating and Mobility as your DME?
- Why would it be important that your kid spends 100% of her awake time decidedly uncomfortable, if not in pain? Crying at times is alleviated by changing her position on the seat.
In this post I mention that a gentleman from Sunrise Medical hand delivered the chair Pearlsky has now, back in April 2010. Last evening, after opening the shipment and finding the seat does not fit, I looked him up on LinkedIn. Yes, he is still with Sunrise Medical. And now he is a vice president.
I hope you remember Pearlsky and me. You came to the house to deliver Pearlsky’s chair back in April of 2010.
I really need your help again. And it is a personal plea, Pearlsky is suffering physically because of issues with her chair, and neither people at NSM nor SunMed are able to help with a simple fix.
I know you have children. Mine is in pain.
I hope you are still with the company. I remember your empathy and being a great guy.
Please contact me anytime, 24/7.
Let’s see if he responds.
This article reminded me of your post. It's such a waste of energy for everyone involved. Meanwhile, your daughter suffers needlessly. It sucks.
Thanks for sharing those priceless conversations. I presumed we in these parts had a monopoly on clerk-on-the-phone-idiocy. It's reassuring to learn that not only aren't we alone but that even the mightiest country on earth produces that genre of mindlessness.