Coffee heat rising

Another NOT a Disaster…waiting to be proven…

LORDIE what a day!

Driving from pillar to post, chasing after the truth, bathing in nostalgia, getting…essentially nowhere.\

Gaaahhhhhhh!

In comes a notice from American Express. They think I owe them something well in excess of $2,000, and I haven’t paid it. This alleged bill is said to be massively overdue.

My records say that yea verily, I certainly DID pay them, and did so electronically.

But…but…FIRST we learn of some other snafu at the credit union. Frankly, at this very moment I’m so tired I’m well beyond describing it. Just be assured: it was silly.

Get into the Dog Chariot and drive out to the credit union on the ASU West campus. Drive and drive and drive. It’s a bitch of a drive out there. They examine the evidence and agree that yep: the whole thing is silly. It’s declared fixed.

Stop by the upscale Sprouts near the university on the way home. Grab food.

Drive home: driving driving driving…

There I find the bizarre notice from AMEX.

Call AMEX. Reach a CSR who hasn’t a clue. She doesn’t get it that I indeed paid the bill and nothing should be owing. Finally she seems to figure it out, but…this li’l lady, I do not trust.

Pile all the AMEX paper into the car.

Drive to the downtown credit union, where they have CSRs who work with business executives, not with retirees and ASU faculty. Drive and drive and drive and drive and drive and drive and…

Finally make it down there.

Show their teller the paperwork. Explain that AMEX thinks they haven’t been paid.

She pulls up the month’s records of payments and income.

“They certainly have,” says she. And she pulls out the paperwork to prove it.

Gather the incomprehensible paper trail. Stumble back out to the car.

So tired I can hardly see.

Drive homeward homeward homeward…this time through the heart of Phoenix’s Willo district, where DXH and I lived for ten years or so.

Such a beautiful area.

How I miss it!

Drive past the street where both our beloved babysitters lived: two women who had raised their kids handsomely and set out to raise other people’s kids, for a fee. Miss those two wonderful ladies.

Past the street where my dear friend and editor at Phoenix Magazine lived. Miss him and his wife a lot.

Northward through haunts and shops that we used to patronize. Miss the Willo neighborhood. Miss it very much.

Still…as the years go by, driving in Phoenix gets more and more like driving in Southern California. In some places, I’d’ve sworn I was driving around (un)lovely Long Beach. Never having been fond of SoCal, said state of affairs does not speak well for my mood about this place. Driving driving driving driving…finally get back into the’Hood.

Spot WonderAccountant just heading out as I pull into my driveway. Waylay her and let her know I’d like some dibs on her time tomorrow, by way of figuring out…WTF happened with American Express and how to handle it.

Tomorrow, then, I’ll have to get on the phone to AMEX again and do battle again. This time I have evidence that the bill was paid. But just now I’m to tired to even contemplate that upcoming squabble. Besides, by then with any luck I’ll have WonderAccountant on my side…and she’s still young enough to have a functioning brain.

{gronk!} Dawdling away the day…

ohhhh B-A-A-D HUMAN! 

I’ve dorked away the ENTIRE MORNING playing time-waster computer games. Things that needed to get done?

We ain’t got no steenking things to get done! Eh?

No. The dishes are not washed. The blog post is not written. The run on the credit union and then on the d**ned Costco remains to be done.

Yes…the credit-union run, to be followed by the Costco run, two things I do no, not NOT wanna do.

For the second time in human memory, Costco refused to take my debit card.

Costco wants you to use its MasterCard, of course. And I’ve tried.

Tried and found their MasterCard service just as wanting as the service from past MasterCard accounts I’ve (not) enjoyed. All that was proven was that Mastercard’s service sucks.

Whereas American Express’s service proves itself excellent, top-flight, beyond amazing…EVERY TIME one deals with MasterCard, one has an issue.

To force you to use their MasterCard, Costco quit accepting American Express. You can pay in cash, presumably you can pay with a check, or you can pay with MasterCard. You cannot pay with AMEX.

I do not carry a checkbook around with me. I do not carry cash. The reason, as you may have perceived if you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, has to do with Wild-West character of the parking lots and strip malls around here. One thing no sane woman would do is walk across a shopping center with a purse hanging from her shoulder. Especially not a purse containing anything resembling a negotiable instrument. I’ve had guys try to steal my purse as I walked into grocery stores (not once, but twice! Slow learner…). A neighbor was shot by a guy who thought she was resisting when he ripped her purse off her shoulder as she tried to shield her daughter. You would be effing CRAZY to carry checks, cash, or anything that contains ID that can be used to steal from you.

This happened some months ago: I presented my AMEX card and Costco’s machine rejected it. No one else’s machine rejects it. Just Costco’s. All the time I spent roving around in there loading up the cart was wasted. All the stuff I’d piled up to buy was rolled off to be stacked back on the shelves.

So the last time I went to Costco — last week — I whipped out my debit card and was  once again was told it wasn’t valid.

This is the second time Costco has pulled that stunt. Last time, I drove straight from the store to the credit union, where staff assured me nothing was wrong with the debit card.

I’ve about lost patience. Today is gonna be my last try. Today I will return to the CU and ask them what’s wrong with the debit card. If they say “nothing,” I will try to persuade them to put that in writing.

Then I’ll move on to the Costco up the road, and when they pull their usual stunt I’ll show them the evidence from the credit union.

Give me any more BS, and that, right then and there, will be THE last time I ever go into Costco. Well. Except maybe for their tire shop. 😉

 

Unstuck in Time!

My Lord, but life in the 21st Century is a PITA. One of its least charming aspects — which effectively dominates anything you try to do — is The Endless Runaround.

The endless computer runaround. The endless phone runaround. WhatEVER it is that you need to get done, you can’t reach a person to explain what’s up and get them to fix it. Instead you hassle and you wait and you hassle and you wait and you  hassle and you wait and you repeat REPRESENTATIVE!!!!! over and over and over again, until after about five or ten minutes of steadily increasing infuriation, you finally reach a human. First, though, you get put on hold listening to ads or annoying, redundant messages.

I can remember when a human answered right away after you dialed a number. She would promptly direct you to the party who could help you with your issue. Yes: it was usually a “she” because the jobs were low-paying and women in the Good Ole Day were almost wholly consigned to low-paying jobs.

And no, that was not a good thing.  But it was what it was.

But in the “not a good thing” department, neither is FOR BLAH BLAH BLAH, CLICK 9… FOR BLAH BLAH BLAH, CLICK 8… FOR BLAH BLAH BLAH…..  uh huh. Click 8 and get stuck on hold for some interminable wait, during which you’re entertained with annoying ads or annoying Muzak.

I bought a refrigerator from a local vendor. It was junk: it makes loud noises:

BZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZRATTLERATTLERATTLERATTLE…

So I arranged for Gerardo take it back to the ba*tards, and I bought another refrigerator from Home Depot.

Aside: Never buy local just to make yourself feel righteous. That’s a recipe for disaster. Always buy from major corporations that have competent customer service and return policies.

I called AMEX and explained the situation telling them that I will need to buy a new fridge and don’t know what to do with the noisemaker in my kitchen. They said have no fear and charged into battle.

AMEX voided the $1376 charge to the crooks, even though said crooks refused to take the machine back.

So I figured to donate this thing to a charity (not so much: nary a charity in sight will accept a refrigerator!!!) and buy a new fridge at Home Depot.

After I had arranged to buy a Home Depot refrigerator, the noise emanating from the clunk slacked off. And…lo! What do I find online but a page remarking that sometimes refrigerators buzz and rattle when they’re new, but that effect goes away. Hm.

Since the local crooks told AMEX they would not take a return or refund my money, I decided I should cancel the HD fridge. (Bad idea, BTW).

So now I get an email from AMEX going on about how I will owe them $1400 for the refrigerator. That’s fine, as long as it’s going to work.

And it does work: noisily.

BUT…in addition to that, they’ve also got the charge pending for the Home Depot refrigerator!

Forgodsake.

So yesterday I had to drive up there and argue with HD about that. They supposedly canceled the charge.

This morning I get an email from Home Depot billing me $1400 for a new refrigerator.

GAAAWWWDAMMIT!!!  On the phone to American Express.

Calling AMEX involves a brain-banging run-around. You can’t get a person on the phone for love nor money. After what feels like half an hour of punching buttons and uttering words — I’ve found that SCREAMING REPRESENTATIVE!!!!!!! INTO THE PHONE does speed this process along, BTW — I get a person and explain the story. Their rep, who seems sane (how???), agrees that the charge will be voided.

So now here I am, sitting here in the family room listening to this fucking GE refrigerator humming to itself, occasionally still buzzing. If you go over and smack it, the noise stops — well, not the motor humming, but the damned crazy-making buzz.

And as if I didn’t have enough aggravation to fill the day, no doubt I really should go back up to HD and confirm that the refrigerator purchase really was voided.

Probably should have gone ahead with eating the $1400 bill for this thing, throwing it in the alley, and buying a new one. But…well…DAYUM!

Even when it’s not buzzing, it runs quite loud. In fact, I’d say I’ve never had a fridge whose motor noise was this loud. As for the buzzing…well…I’m thinking I’ll call a refrigerator repairman (if such creatures still exist) and pay him a trip charge to come look at this thing and see if it can be made to run quietly and skip the rattling episodes. If not, maybe he can recommend a replacement brand.

****

ohhhhh and just to make the day perfect: apparently my ad-blocking software has failed. Now I’m getting BLITZED with effing ads on every website. arrrerrghhhhhh!!!!!

 

Dental Insurance in Retirement…or No?

Since retiring from my job at Arizona State University, I’ve gone bare when it comes to dental insurance. It’s a risk, obviously: betting on the “not come” rather than the “come.” My teeth have always been excellent. My mother died in her 60s; her mother died in her 40s, and her grandmother also died fairly young: hence, one could lay a bet that I will outlive my teeth.

I retired at about the same time a dear friend did. She and her husband chose not to enroll in the state’s plan for dental insurance. Why? Well….

The Arizona state dental plan doesn’t cover everything. For $8.52 a month, Cigna tells you you’re insured but actually covers very little; at $35 a month, the “premium” plan it actually covers things. Their fee schedule is so complicated that She Who Is Not an Accountant can’t even begin to figure it out, but it would appear the coverage doesn’t apply to everything. But following my friends’ logic, I chose not to sign up for Arizona’s retiree dental plan because my friends — one of whom was the head of the Arizona Department of Gaming, fairly large in the Bigwig Club — calculated that over a predictable lifetime, most of us would end up paying the same or more in insurance premiums than we would pay out of pocket for typical old-folks’ dental and orthodontic care (including extractions and all the other fun and games that come with decreptitude).

I’ve been retired since December 2009. So let’s start at January 2010… This is August 2022: about 12.6  years, hm?

At $8.52 a month, one year on Cigna’s low-rent plan would cost you $102.24. By now, I would have paid out around $1,288 for retiree dental insurance, on the cheap. But of course, you KNOW that if you really need dental insurance, that amount of coverage will be a drop in the bucket; so if you’re gonna buy the coverage, you’d better buy the top of the line. And that, by now, would have cost me $5,292.

AND not all dentists will accept the state’s insurance plan. Nor do those figures take into account services that would not be covered under the state’s plans. Also it’s worth noting that some of the stuff I’ve needed has been covered, to a degree, by Medicare and Medigap.

At this point, I’ve probably spent somewhere around a thousand bucks on the Adventures in Dental Science. So compared to the price of retiree insurance, probably the cost is six of one, half-a-dozen of the other. But I haven’t had to bicker with any providers. AND…it must be remembered that many providers will not accept the low-rent coverage one gets from the State of Arizona. So for the amount I’ve paid, I’ve retained my choice of providers. And that, it develops, is big.

Very big.

Also very big is the fact that not everything appears to be covered on the State’s plan, meaning that a fair amount of one’s Adventures in Dental Science are likely to be paid for out of pocket. How much might that be? Difficult to calculate. But even a small figure would cut in to the value of the premium-supported insurance scheme.

***

By now, I’d guess that over the past couple of years I’ve spent about the same as or a little more than I would have shelled out to Cigna for dental, what with the present Adventures in Medical Science. However, that may change as things get worse.

Or as they get better…

Our extended amalgamated family’s beloved dentist, Dr. D. was forced to retire for medical reasons. He sold his practice to a guy who moved here from Baltimore.

This fella has taken over and, as of course he should, is now doing things his way. Not Dr. D’s way. He’s canned all of Dr. D’s excellent dental assistants and office staff (or maybe they all fled?). And I see he’s building an empire of low-rent offices over on the West Side: exploiting the impoverished set.

I’ve now seen the guy several times. And truth to tell, I don’t like him. Nor do I trust him.

Evidently for good reason, come to find out.

He told me the stake another practitioner — an orthodontist specializing in rather eccentric restorative work — had installed in my upper jaw was infected. He would like to take that thing out and…what? Rebuild it? Put in a fake tooth? A bridge?? Argha!

Not to say…innaresting.

So…couple weeks ago I got a referral from another medical doctor to an orthodontist, who herself specializes in these sorts of shenanigans. Today, I finally got in to see her — coincidentally, on the first day the damn tooth hasn’t either hurt like hell or ached vaguely.

She shot a set of X-rays. Inspected them. Let her assistant inspect them, apparently by way of pedagogy but in fact putting another set of eyes on the scene.

Then she showed the X-rays to me and said, “Look. There’s no infection around this thing at all.”

“Why,” quoth I, “does it hurt?”

“Because,” quoth she, “the implant is too long. It’s grinding against your lower teeth. Especially when (as indeed is my habit) you clench your teeth.”

She picks up a handy-dandy little whizzer and, zzziiip! Drills off the upper surface of the crown.

And…

By damn! Now my jaws fit together straight! The teeth do not whack each other when I close my mouth. And the implant does NOT hurt.

So…uhm…howcum the Philadelphia Wonder didn’t notice that?

***

She fixed the damn thing in under ten minutes! Probably under five, actually: all she had to do was polish the excess porcelain off so that the fake tooth FIT, same as all all the other teeth in that part of the upper jaw.

The bill was a couple hundred bucks. A far cry from what I would have spent on Cigna’s dental insurance over the past twelve and a half years.

Unfortunately, she’s a specialist and so doesn’t do routine dental maintenance. But she gave me the name of a colleague, whom I intend to track down next week.

 

 

 

PayPal: It Never Goes Away

Trying to send a complaint to the FTC. Their website form apparently “sees” some character in this disquisition as a disallowed weird character, even though nothing out of the ordinary appears in it. So…Here’s an effort to get it to them by posting it here and asking them to come over and take a look at it. Wish me luck, folks!

§

Some time ago, my business partner and I closed the PayPal account for our business, The Copyeditor’s Desk, Inc., since she was beginning a new career and I had decided to get out of the technical editing trade. Recently, I have been getting statements from PayPal to the effect that hundreds of dollars in billing have been racked up on the supposedly defunct PayPal account, for the purchase of furniture from some outfit I’ve never heard of. I have tried twice, using addresses from PayPal’s website, to straighten this out, but it’s impossible to reach a human being at PayPal. Now today in comes another demand for payment of something in excess of $800 for a purchase neither of us ever heard of. Below is a copy of the email I just sent to PayPal, presumably into the ether.

“Into the ether” indeed: when you send an email to the contact address given at PayPal’s website, it bounces right back with an “invalid address” message. Please investigate. And if you would, please, inform these crooks that they’re not getting any money out of me.

Below: message sent to PayPal email address (billing378579@gmail.com) requesting cancellation of fraudulent charges on closed account:

***

billing378578@gmail.com

Okay, see the BS below? This is a fraudulent charge to a PayPal account that SHOULD be defunct and that we have tried to close, apparently without luck. We closed our business, The Copyeditor’s Desk, Inc., some time ago and are no longer doing business through PayPal.

Apparently some swindler has charged up hundreds of dollars worth of furniture on that account. I attempted to contact your people and clue them that no such charges were made by us, and that the account should be closed. Apparently you either have no people or none of your people care whether your customers are scammed.

I am forwarding this email (plus my requests to you to shut down that account and negate this fraudulent charge) to the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Federal Trade Commission.

Once again: CLOSE THE ACCOUNT for The Copyeditor’s Desk Inc., Millicent V. Hay, Victoria Hay, or Vicky Hay. DO NOT HARASS ME FURTHER WITH FRAUDULENT CHARGES.

Sincerely,

Victoria Hay, Ph.D.
Former director, The Copyeditor’s Desk, Inc.

I would appreciate some help from someone who is in a position to bring a stop to this fraud. Thanks for your attention.

Victoria Hay
vickyhay@mac.com

***

There seems to be no way to reach a human being at PayPal. However, their business is essentially a form of banking and so should be regulated by U.S. authorities. How does one go about submitting a complaint to the relevant regulatory agency? And what IS the relevant U.S. regulatory agency?

§

I don’t expect to get far with this call for help to the banking regulators, even though PayPal is regarded as a type of banking operation and even though they have offices on US soil.

Don’t do business through PayPal, folks! They are totally, bullet-proofedly untouchable. You can’t reach a human for love nor money. But meanwhile they’re wrecking your credit by letting crooks rack up false charges on an account they refuse to close.

Drop a Tranquilizer before Visiting a Gas Station…

{gasp!} {hyperventilate!!!!}

Just back from a junket to Costco…and waypoints. Belief HAS officially been defied now….

The plan was to traipse up to Costco in search of the usual bargain on gasoline. CC routinely underprices every gas retailer within several miles of a given store, right? While there, buy a few not-urgently-needed but nice-to-have grocery & household items, and also renew this year’s membership, which I’m told is officially running out.

Thank gawd they sell wine… That’s all i can say….. 8-o

Drive and drive and drive and drive and…every road in the goddamn city is under construction. Wherever you’re goin’ you really CAN’T get there from here. Arrive at the store north of the Great Desert University (WAY north…), which is about the same distance from here as the store in Paradise Valley but which, because of the relative penury of the surrounding populace (middle-middle class, not upper-middle-class and Richerati) will likely have a lower price on gas.

My membership is running out. Ask the lady at the entrance where to get it renewed; she says the easiest way is just to pay at checkout.

Ramble around the store ogling all the amazing eye-popping goods. Toss a bunch of stuff I don’t need into the cart. Make my way through the checkout line. Offer to pay for the membership renewal. She says I don’t have to do that now.

Yeah? Well…then why are they telling me to do that now? I figure she just doesn’t want to be bothered. Okkkayyyy….

Retrieve the Dog Chariot. Head for the gas pumps.

They’re mobbed.

But, being the canny type, I manage to slither into a line that has only three or four vehicles ahead of me.

Wait and wait and wait and wait, then wait and wait and wait and wait, and then wait some more.

FINALLY pull up to a gas pump.

Stick my Costco card in. Clickety hummedy click. Then stick my debit card in (Costco doesn’t accept AMEX credit cards)…and….

PLONK! Am told my cards are no good.

Annoyed, I stalk across the lot and retrieve the attendant.

No problemo! saith he.

He sticks my Costco card in. Clickety hummedy click. Then sticks my debit card in. And PLONK! We’re both told to take a flyer at the moon.

He proposes to hold up the ever-longer line with some sort of hoop jumps. I say f’geddaboutit! Because I happen to know the QT in Sunnyslop is charging the same rate Costco is.

Drive and drive and drive and drive and drive and dodge construction zones and drive and slip through a short-cut i know and drive and drive and finally arrive at the QT.

Whip up to an unoccupied(!!!!!) pump and…and…lo and sumbiche! Find the price is a bargain $5.21 a gallon — yea, verily:  the same bargain price that Costco was charging!

Five. Dollars. And. Twenty-One. Cents. A. Gallon!!!!!!!!!!!

It cost THIRTY DOLLARS to refill that quarter of a tank.

CAN….YOU…IMAGINE?

Well, thought I crabbily.There go any ideas about a weekend in Prescott. Or maybe in Yarnell. Or, oh Helle’s belles, even in freakin’ Sun City!

Hmmmm…

Okay, so between you’n’me and the lamp-post, that is the LAST time I visit a Costco to buy (or attempt to buy) gasoline. We have not one but two QT’s practically within walking distance of the ’Hood. And since about half the time (or more), the main reason I go to a Costco is not to shop in the CC but to buy gasoline, that is gonna mean a WHOLE lot less of the Funny Farm’s budget will be spent at Costco stores. I may not even bother to renew my membership. Enough being enough, after all.

One is left wondering what this state of annoying affairs foreshadows for supplies of day-to-day cost-of-living goods: food, diapers, soda pop, motor oil, coffee, tea, toothpaste, shampoo, hot dogs, steak, broccoli…. If the cost of fuel has gone up THAT much across the board, then suppliers and marketers will have to raise their prices accordingly.

This probably is a good time to stock up on things like paper goods (a far better time than we saw in the last Great Paper Panic). And on nonperishable foods. And canned goods. And stuff that can be stored in a freezer.

Because…clearly grocery prices are headed for the stratosphere.

And if you garden? Well then, garden like crazy, my friend! I’m thinking I may build a raised garden in the backyard right now. A bunch of things — summer squash and peppers and tomatoes and if you have any skill even things like corn will grow now. Then, in Arizona an amazing variety of veggies and fruits grow in the fall and winter.

It’s never too late to learn the fine art of canning….