A Business Practice I’m Not Liking

I was on a student health insurance plan up until July. Since I am no longer in school, I can’t take advantage of it anymore. I started to look for a new insurance plan earlier that month, and I figured I would cancel my plan once I knew I had a replacement. Unfortunately the search and application process took a bit longer than I expected and so I was forced to cancel it before I had anything.

No big deal. I just sent an email to eHealthInsurance.com, my “agent”, and asked them to cancel my Fortis Health Insurance plan. Simple.

I did end up sending it a bit later than the expiration date, but I made an assumption that I had a grace period. You know, because good companies don’t terminate your plans without saying, “Hey, we haven’t received your payment, so we’re letting you know that your plan is danger of being terminated.” In fact, they did send me such letters.

So I was surprised to find a letter yesterday telling me that they cancelled my plan on July 27th, 2005. Um, it’s frickin’ September, and you are telling me this fact NOW?!? A whole month later you decide to inform me of this decision? The letter’s purpose was to inform me that they cancelled it because of non-payment. Huh?! I CANCELLED it, and obviously they should have received the cancellation since they didn’t send this letter until a couple of days ago. I cancelled weeks ago.

The best part? The letter informs me that this reason can be used when I finally do apply for new insurance from any company.

Why not inform me that the plan was cancelled, oh, I don’t know, when you cancelled it?

Recently I had a similar problem with my cell phone bills not getting paid. I received a bill that didn’t mention that my last month’s payment was received, but I assumed this bill might have been sent a bit earlier. After all, my payments were handled by the phone company since I had a payment plan that allowed them to take what I owed them out of my account every month. Up until the situation I describe below, I was very happy with their customer service.

I forgot that I received a new debit card from my bank and didn’t think to update the expiration date on record with the company. When I noticed that my bank statement didn’t match what I thought I should have paid out, I called them and found out about this situation.

You know what would have been frickin’ useful? Getting notice in some form saying, “We tried to collect payment, but your expiration date on your card is not correct.” Or if they don’t have that information, how about just, “There was a problem trying to get payment. Please call us.”

But no. I had to find out myself. I didn’t get charged a late fee, but I was wondering if I would have been if I had waited longer to call them.

Both of these situations are my fault in the end. I made bad assumptions. I forgot to update my information. I admit that these were my problems.

But what kind of a business forgets that its customers might be human and make mistakes? These two companies aren’t the only ones either. In the past few months, I’ve been getting the feeling that companies don’t WANT to do business with me. Seriously, why do I have be the one who finds out what the situation is? Why can’t the business be proactive and inform me about what I need to do if I need to do anything?

Imagine if I would have been sent a letter the day that they cancelled the plan. I would have been better prepared to do something about it, especially if it potentially has such a huge effect on my application to other insurance providers. Imagine if T-Mobile would have told me that they had a problem collecting payment THE DAY THEY TRIED TO DO SO. The problem would have been resolved then and there. Instead a month went by before I knew about it.

I’m 24 and haven’t been working with services and businesses for too long. Up until a number of years ago, I wasn’t in charge of my finances. I’m disgusted with the level of service I receive at some places. Has this been the status quo, or is it a new trend with businesses? Why do businesses think that they are better for upsetting me about completely preventable things? After all, wouldn’t they get paid sooner? Wouldn’t they keep business from going to their competitors?

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