Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Adventures in Customer Service: I'm lookin' at you Kaiser.

Customer service is a tough gig. I get it. I worked in Guest Relations and Guest Communications at the Disneyland Resort for five years and if you don't think people get mad at the "Happiest Place on Earth," think again. They become enraged! I have been on the receiving end of nasty letters, emails, phone calls and face-to-face angry encounters. All that being said, from time to time a girl needs to blow off steam about insanely bad customer service and here is an experience I had today.

Back Story: We recently changed from Kaiser to Blue Shield because Kaiser DOUBLED our rates for the same coverage. We didn't get our notification from Blue Shield that our application had been accepted and our membership would start January 1 until December 27 and every day from then through December 31, I called Kaiser's Member Services every day to cancel our plan effective January 1. Every time I called I got a message that said their phone lines were full due to high call volume and to try again later. Which I did. Over and over. On December 31, I was getting a little panicked because I wanted my coverage to terminate January 1. Our Kaiser coverage was $800 per month, so a month of overlap in health insurance is a luxury I just cannot afford.

In a moment of desperation it hit me that I could email Member Services through I figured that at least if I could not get through on the phone the email would provide a record of my attempt to contact Kaiser prior to January 1.

On January 2, I contacted Member Services and was told I had done all I could and that it shouldn't be a problem to have my coverage cancelled as of January 1. I received a response to my December 31 email on January 6 saying they would process my coverage termination.

Today:  I received a letter for Kaiser saying that they will not terminate my coverage as of January 1 because I did not contact them prior to January 1. Anyone see a problem with this? I do because I have an email dated December 31, which according to my calendar is before January 1.

I called Member Services at Kaiser today but got through by selecting the "purchase coverage" option in the phone tree and not "Member Services." I was told that coverage can only be cancelled in writing and I should have called Member Services before January 1 to find this out. And...she told me this after I explained all of the info above. I reminded her I couldn't get through and so I could at least have a record of my desire to cancel sent the email. She told me the email wasn't sufficient and that I really should have called.

At this point I wanted to scream! Was I speaking another language? I could have sworn I was speaking English.

She then told me that if I send Kaiser a letter explaining this whole nightmare and request the January 1 date in writing they will refund my $800 and backdate my coverage termination. Who wants to bet this doesn't happen? Tomorrow I am faxing a strongly worded letter to Kaiser's California Service Center explaining my case and hope really hope they do the right thing. I