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Agony column?

Discussion in 'The Powder Room' started by St. Louis, Apr 28, 2017.

  1. St. Louis

    St. Louis Practically Family

    This may be a very silly idea. I've been thinking that it would be nice to have more traffic in the Powder Room. I know I should post more too (after all, if I don't do it, I can't expect anyone else to do it either) but sometimes I have trouble thinking of topics.

    So it occurred to me that I love reading and responding to "sob sister" or "agony aunt" type columns. Would this be too silly or too negative? Would it be too far off the theme of the forum? I'm only thinking about questions such as, "Help! My neighbor cuts his grass at 6:00 a.m.! What should I do?" Nothing too dire.

    The reason I think this might work in the Powder Room, rather than in the Observation bar, is that we're women-only.

    Thoughts? Feel free to shoot down.
  2. Sounds like fun, and quite reminiscent of the "Confidential Chat" column that ran for decades in the Boston Globe. People would send in their problems and it would be open forum for replies, with anonymity preserved behind cutesy pseudonyms -- "Peabody Polly," "Framingham Flo," "Dorchester Dottie," et. al. It was basically an analog version of an internet forum, and it was the internet that finally killed it. So have at it, kids, and let's see how it goes. WOMEN ONLY.

    As for the neighbor cutting grass at 6 am, invest in a bedside electric fan. Turn it on when the mower starts and it'll drown out the mower sound. It'll also drown out your alarm clock, so put the clock under your pillow before you fall back asleep.
    MissNathalieVintage likes this.
  3. St. Louis

    St. Louis Practically Family

    Thanks! I remember the beloved Chat from the time I lived in Boston. I once responded to a lady who wanted to make clothes from 1950s patterns for her Dad's birthday party. I believe the Chat has now closed down, unfortunately. It was a great institution.

    Also, I like the idea of everyone weighing in on questions, rather than just one advice-giver. I think that would be interesting.
  4. Oooh... fun! I have one:

    I went to the ER last year with a reaction to the medicine I was taking. I got several imaging tests done. Later in the year I got a standard imaging test.

    All three are billing from the same imaging company. All three bills had mistakes, one was billed as inpatient (I was an outpatient) and my insurance offered an appeal, imaging center continued to file as inpatient.

    Other two bills my insurance paid, but the imaging company tried to bill me the full amount stating my insurance hadn't paid, including threatening to send me to collections due to "no response from insurance, patient fully responsible."

    Finally got a competent woman on the phone at the imaging company, who sorted out the already paid bills and is filling an appeal on my behalf for the first. (Note: she doesn't have to file the appeal for me, i believe she genuinely feels bad, it's been a year and like 15 phone calls and hours on my part).

    Do I report this company for what could be considered "double billing" and "upbilling" despite nice lady? She stated it was an honest mistake because of a computer system changeover. If the bill is denied again by my insurance, do I ask the imaging company to dismiss it because of all the time I've invested?
  5. St. Louis

    St. Louis Practically Family

    Sheeplady, I had an almost identical problem at the end of last year. I received a staggering bill out of the blue, which my insurance wouldn't pay.

    I also talked with a very pleasant, helpful lady who also took the time to research the problem for me. She told me she would work on it to the best of her ability, and to wait at least another billing cycle before doing anything. In this case, she discovered a billing mistake, and a $1800 bill was reduced to about $120. We talked it over & I was convinced that the second sum was legit, and I paid it without further ado.

    My feeling about this is that sometimes these are just complicated mistakes. She explained why it happened, but I'm a math moron so I can't reproduce the explanation for you. In my case, the situation was not intentional fraud. It took about 4 months by the time the whole thing was resolved (I left out some parts of the narrative) but in the end all is well.

    if you have a real-live-human contact there, by all means cultivate her good will. Keep her name and number handy. I would also ask her to tell you exactly how many billing cycles you have before they send the bill to collection. That will give you a sense of the urgency. Also, see if you can find out just how big this company is. In my case, I was dealing with a company that only had a couple of people in accounts receivable, which I think made it possible to resolve the problem in a decent & human way.

    Good luck!
  6. AmateisGal

    AmateisGal I'll Lock Up

    What a fun idea!
    St. Louis likes this.
  7. I think there is a sincere disconnect from the people who actually work for said organization and those that the company contracts with to do their billing. My contact is with the actual company, but it took over 15 calls to find her.

    I finally received a bill for my responsibility on the one of the accounts they were originally double billing me for. It read as a collections bill (called my contact and it wasn't sent to a collections agency; but it is the last step before it is). It was very threatening, as collection bills tend to be. I made it very clear to the lady that although I wasn't mad at her, I had enough. They've had my insurance money since September, they've threatened me 7 ways to Sunday to get me to cough up money I didn't owe, and when they finally get their head on straight they don't even have the courtesy to send me a normal bill, but one with "COLLECTIONS" splashed all over it.

    When the whole fiasco is over, I am *at least* going to write a letter to the management of this place and let them know of the behavior of their contracting biller. At this point, I don't think they care.

    In all of this, I just hate to think of someone who is really sick going through this. I can't imagine going through chemo and having to had spend 25 hours on the phone to get this straightened out and having my credit constantly threatened every time I call in. ("Well, you're responsible for any bill we send you, if you don't pay it we'll send it to collections. [blah blah more threats about coming to my work and home]") I would have crumpled and paid just to get them off my back... and they'd (the management) be ok with that. And that is upsetting to me.
  8. Wire9Vintage

    Wire9Vintage A-List Customer

    Also had a similar situation. Called both local hospitals to price a scan my doctor wanted. Went to the cheaper one. Got there, and they asked for THREE TIMES what my copay should have been. I was shocked, but also completely freaked out about the medical problem I was fearing. So I paid it. My husband later said, no... that's not right. Called them and went through four people before he could get someone to give it enough attention to sort it. They refunded the difference.

    THEN three months later, we get a bill for $120. We called and asked what it was for. They convinced us we owed it, so we paid. TWO MONTHS later, we get that refunded as a billing error. THE FOLLOWING MONTH we get a bill for that amount again, saying it was overdue! After much back and forth and a whole lotta runaround, that bill was dismissed.

    Part of this is outside billing--but there is no excuse. They are ripping people off left and right. And if you don't have the time or wherewithal to deal with it, you never get reimbursed. Reading the other stories here, I'm starting to wonder if they are quite simple taking advantage.

    Ps--my health scare turned out to be nothing. But if it was something, I shudder to think what kind of financial mess we would have.
  9. As far as I've been told, (by both my insurance and various healthcare organizations) that if you sign a statement that you are reponsible for your bills when you enter treatment, the organization can bill you for anything they want... even fraud. If they are unwilling to remove a fraudulent charge, it is up to you to take them to court. Hospitals contract with all sorts of people, there is zero oversight.

    It was common at the hospital I went to make you sign for three things: medical information release, privacy policy, and patient responsibility. If you refuse to sign, they refuse to treat.

    I'm getting so supicious that I'm not going to sign anything unless I add an admendment that indicates I am not responsible for fraud. I'm done playing games. This is the last time someone's going to tell me I'm responsible for paying a fraudulent bill because I signed something giving them the freedom to charge whatever they want.
  10. St. Louis

    St. Louis Practically Family

    Here in St. Louis we have a "You Paid for It" TV news program that investigates consumer fraud & tries to resolve them. This is exactly the kind of story they would investigate. Do you have something like that where you live?
    PADDY likes this.
  11. AmateisGal

    AmateisGal I'll Lock Up

    My submission to the "Agony Column"

    What originally started out as an amicable divorce turned into a nightmare when I discovered my husband had been having an affair. It started in January or before, and he wanted a divorce in February. He hid the truth from me. Confronting the betrayal was horrible. Fast forward to today and the final divorce hearing was this morning. Legally, it's over. Emotionally, I'm still struggling. Why? Not because I want him back (I don't), but because he is with the woman he cheated on me with. She pursued him, knowing he was married, and he did not have the guts to stop it. I blame them both. She is 13 years younger than him, has three children (which baffles me that my ex would want to be with her because our kids are nearly grown - our youngest is 17 and he always told me, 'We are NEVER babysitting any grandkids.' In short, he's not a fan of children). But really, that doesn't matter.

    So here's my question. How do I get past the fact that they are together? It's like a thorn in my side. I'm having an incredibly hard time moving past it. I know I need to accept it. But it hurts. I just don't want to care about it anymore.
    St. Louis likes this.
  12. St. Louis

    St. Louis Practically Family

    I am so, so sorry for what you're going through. You must be so brave and strong to have found a way out of this mess and to keep going.

    Let me ask you something -- what do you most enjoy doing in life? What always gives you comfort? Do you have friends who are one hundred percent in your corner? It seems to me that what you need most of all is some support and some joy right now.

    I think your husband's side-piece is in for a major (and very unpleasant) surprise. Call me mean, but I think the idea that she's about to figure out what she's just let herself in for should bring you a little bit of a thrill.
    AmateisGal likes this.
  13. You are *entitled* to be angry. Don't let anyone deny you of that, or disrespect that, or try to talk you out of that. Find yourself a nice private place, close the door, and curse his name and call him every kind of low-life lying SOB of a POS until the air is blue. Break a few things. Really cut loose until you're short of breath. *Let it out.* The more you bottle it up the more it's going to eat you up inside. The catharsis of letting out an explosion of the pure, unalloyed rage that you're entitled to feel in this situation will leave you with a clear head, a sense of relieved tension, and the ability to move on.

    But for God's sake, don't swallow it, bottle it up, suppress it, let it corrode you from the inside. I've known people who were so about "self control" that they ended up self-controlling themselves right into a place nobody should ever have to go. There are times when you're entitled to be pig-biting mad, and this, my friend, is one of them.
    AmateisGal likes this.
  14. AmateisGal

    AmateisGal I'll Lock Up

    Thank you. Yes, I have had INCREDIBLE support from family and friends. They periodically check on me throughout the week, ask if I'm okay, if there is anything I need. I am so very fortunate to have that. My friends have invited me to do things, have taken me out for drinks, have steadfastly been in my corner. He has no one in his corner.

    When I first found out, (my daughter discovered nude photos of the other woman on her iPad, which was still linked to her Dad's iphone), I threw his clothes on the lawn, drove to his apartment to confront him (he wasn't home). The next day, when he came to get his stuff, I said *everything* I felt, punched him, threw a glass at him, and let it all out. After it was done, I felt immensely better. Then I collapsed. If it wasn't for my daughter calling my mom to come over and help, I would have ended up in the ER. I was completely ready to check myself in.

    He has apologized to me. They were together for awhile, then broke up. A few weeks later, he said he wasn't dating anyone, and he was starting to flirt again with me, wanted to come over, suggested we have sex, etc. I didn't want him back. Then I found out he'd been lying to me, that they were back together. So really, he was cheating on her with me. They broke up again. Then shortly after, they got back together. He now has their pic as his profile picture on Facebook (something he *never* did with us) and it hurt. Deeply.

    I know their relationship is based on nothing more than lies and betrayal and deceit. The fact that they've already been off and on again tells me there is no strong foundation here.

    I am better off without him. He is a narcissist. Right now, he needs his "supply" and he is "love bombing" her. He lies and manipulates and deceives. Why I stayed with him as long as I did, I don't know, but I am now out of it. Finally. I just need to get over them being together.
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2017
  15. AmateisGal

    AmateisGal I'll Lock Up

    I'm thinking you're right, that I need to go and beat up a box with a baseball bat (I'd rather beat up the stuff in his garage and destroy things, but I don't want to get into trouble!). I've been going to therapy and writing a lot in my journal (I actually filled a journal up in the first two months of this).

    You know what I want? This is terrible of me, but I want them to be absolutely miserable. I don't wish him happiness right now. I want him to be eaten alive by guilt.

    These feelings will pass, I know. But getting through them and letting it go has been a daily struggle.

    Thanks, Lizzie, for the advice. I think I'll go and beat up some stuff.
  16. AmateisGal

    AmateisGal I'll Lock Up

    Update: I just found out they're moving in together. Unbelievable.
  17. St. Louis

    St. Louis Practically Family

    Those two deserve each other. Good riddance to bad rubbish.
  18. AmateisGal

    AmateisGal I'll Lock Up

    Yep. I'd be lying if I said I'm okay with it all. I'm still hurt, deeply, by this. But you know what? Better him than me. No way could I take on three little kids at my age - and he's older than me! Our oldest is 24. And the ex is suddenly going to be dealing with three kids under the age of 10? Yeah, good luck with that. After I finished crying last night, I started laughing. Because sheesh, WHAT A MORON. He hasn't changed. She'll find that out soon enough when his violent outbursts of anger scare the kids, or when he's drunk, or when he doesn't have any money (like right now - I'm sure that's part of the reason they're moving in together. She's going to swoop in and "save" him because he got fired from his job), or when he manipulates her, or demeans her, or never spends any time with her. He's selfish to the core.
    St. Louis likes this.
  19. Some people will never change -- my father was a worthless philandering louse when he was 25, and he's by all accounts the same way at 80. And when you've got someone like that in your life, the best thing that can ever happen to you is to get rid of them once and for all. Let him be somebody else's problem, and be glad he isn't yours anymore.
    AmateisGal likes this.
  20. I'm very sorry this is all happening, Amateis.

    He sounds like a Grade A Ass, select rotten cut. If it makes you fell any better, no one with substance moves in with someone that quickly... and no one in their right mind let's someone they know is so flaky move in with no job and then exposes their three kids to them.

    I do feel sorry for the kids... it sounds like they have a less than spectacular mother and now they get Grade A too. What fun times.

    Although, I do have to warn you that dysfunction loves dysfunction... in the sense that oftentimes two people with real problems are successful together because they feed off each other's dysfunction. They aren't conventionally happy, but their need for drama are met so they stay. So if their relationship doesn't implode, rest assured it could be because they are both ill. Not happy like you, or I, or non-dysfunctional people are, but in a twisted almost inhumane way to live.

    But go eat a pint of ice cream and if when you get it out of the freezer, be careful you don't "accidentally" tip over a container of his in the garage. And BTW, after checking with local laws to make sure you won't get in trouble, tell him his shit will be on the lawn 9am Saturday to pick up, and that if it's not gone by noon, you're telephoning your local goodwill to do a pickup. You'll feel better when he's out of your life, and you don't owe him free storage. (And please, if you haven't already, talk to your GYN about STD testing to make sure you're ok.)
    AmateisGal likes this.

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