Funny about Money

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. ―Edmund Burke

High Inefficiency: Washers and Rx Plans!

So this morning I take it into my pretty little head to do the laundry in my fancy new(ish) Samsung high-efficiency top-loading washer with the fun clear lid that lets you watch the clothes sloshing around, just in case you’re feeling unusually bored.

To do that I have to…

Sort clothes (colored, white…said not to be necessary, but watch this space…)
Sew up the mesh bag that split apart the last time I washed a few items
Put jeans into mesh bags, one bag per pair
Sneak one pair of cut-offs into a mesh bag holding a pair of jeans
Put socks, panties, and camis into several more mesh bags
Haul bagged laundry out to the garage, whereinat the fancy washer resides
Load washer
Measure portion of  radically expensive “high-efficiency” laundry detergent into stupid little cup from which the machine dispenses it
Clean the mess created by laundry detergent dribs of radically expensive “high-efficiency” laundry detergent that splashed from stupid little cup onto machine’s lid and tub rim
Set machine to “bedding,” the only cycle that dispenses enough water to get a load of jeans and T-shirts clean…in AN HOUR AND TEN MINUTES!
Go away for an hour and ten minutes but don’t leave the house because no one in her right mind would leave an appliance full of water sloshing around unguarded for a hour and ten minutes or for any length of time unless what she most loves to do is mop up gigantic messes

An hour and ten minutes. Figure there’s got to be a better way. Now I drag the whites into the bathroom, wash them in the vanity sink, rinse them in the bathtub half-filled with cold water, traipse them out to the garage, and hang them up.

By the time I finish this job, the washer has ALMOST filled with water and started to slosh its FIRST laundry cycle.

Got that? I washed an entire load of laundry by hand, in the bathroom goddamn sink, in less time than it took the wondrous high-efficiency washer to even START to wash the load I stuffed into it.

Okayyyy…. Now we understand why these amazing machines so “efficiently” save water and power: when you don’t use the thing, you don’t use water and power.

Wash four crocheted shirts by hand and lay them out on the tile floor to reblock and dry.

These items could also have been laundered in the wondrous high-efficiency washer. But I wanted to get them clean sometime during my foreseeable lifespan.

The khaki dye and the orange dye from two of these Nordstromsy made-in-Asia shirts leak into the sink water. Therein lies the reason we STILL separate the whites from the colored clothes, even though we are assured that it’s ever-so-much more highly efficient to launder all the clothes together. No doubt it is, if you enjoy wearing grunge-grey “whites.”

Moving on…

Now I decide I should go online and sign up for a new Medicare Part D (prescription drug) plan, since my outfit, Wellcare, is doubling its premiums. I decide to select Humana’s Walmart plan, whose premium is about what I’m paying now and whose copay is significantly (as in HUGELY) lower and which has four- and five-star ratings across the board as compared to my present plan’s three-star complaints ratings. You can sign up for these plans on Medicare.gov, in the same app that allows you to call up and compare plans. However, what you can’t do is figure out whether signing up for the new plan automatically unenrolls you from your present plan, or whether you have to jump through 15 to 30 minutes of phone-tree hoops to get disconnected from the folks who have been ripping you off for the past year.

Navigated to Arizona’s version of SHIP, a bureaucratic fragment that usually employs some uninformed volunteers to answer your questions. Checked the FAQs; this particular (very obvious, IMHO) question was not answered. Called the phone number. Got an obnoxious robotic answering machine, saying if I would leave a message maybe someday they would get around to calling me back (fat chance!) and maybe then I could ask the question whose answer I need now, not sometime in the remote future.

Found a phone number for Humana at the Medicare.gov site. Dialed it, expecting another obnoxious robot.

Mirabilis!!!!!!!! Got a human being!

Yes. You do get disenrolled from the old plan when you sign up electronically for a new one. But would I like for her to sign me up, as long as we were on phone?

Sure.

It took FORTY MINUTES to get through the tape-recorded boilerplate bullshit Humana’s doughty CSR had to play into my ear. At the end of of each of three long-winded segments of boilerplate bullshit, I had to answer, clearly and unmistakably, “YES.” This, she explained, is taken to be a telephonic “signature.”

God. All. Mighty.

The washer was almost done by the time this tedious experience ended.

So now I’m signed up for a new Part D plan, though it won’t kick in until January 1. This is good, because the plan I’ve got is the biggest rip-off ever to come down the pike.

I hope the new one won’t be a rip, too. There’s some reason to believe it will be slightly better:

User ratings show a lower tendency to deny coverage of drugs prescribed by your doctor and to try to substitute drugs your doctor specifically says you shouldn’t be taking.

Co-pays are much lower. In fact, if you can wait for them to send your pills by snail-mail, co-pays are sometimes zero dollah. What I’ve had is so ridiculous that I’ve given up even asking — I’ve just been paying out of pocket. The last Rx the Mayo prescribed was denied because, the pharmacist said, Wellcare didn’t like the doctor!

Got that? They don’t like a surgical resident in the service of one of the most prominent, high-powered, respected oncological surgeons in the country. The same surgical resident whose last three prescriptions were honored without quarrel.

Hauled the laundry out of the washer. Hung it up to dry. Cursed the double time-suck.

Author: funny

This post may be a paid guest contribution.

11 Comments

  1. Please keep us up to speed on the Samsung washer and how it holds up. Almost bought one of those when our old Maytag “had a heart-attack”… ie. Motherboard Failure. Instead we bought another Maytag…very effecient…top loader and it’s HUGE…like the biggest washer they make. So far so good. Curious to see how the Samsungs hold up…it was a sharp looking machine.
    Glad to hear you are getting a better deal on your prescription plan…hopefully. What concerns me Funny, is that you are pretty capable and even you become frustrated and troubled over the process. I can only imagine the angst of someone who is…. “not the sharpest pencil in the box”. This is basically calculus that our seniors are expected to comprehend and make an intelligent decision…Not a fan….

  2. I don’t understand how people whose mental sharpness fades with age — as is the case with most or possibly even all of us — manage to navigate the bizarrely complicated bureaucracy that is our private-insurance-driven healthcare system. Medicare A & B are simple. But even though Medigap plans are regulated by federal law, they still seem calculated to confuse, and those damn Part D things…holeee sh**!!! We’re talking about folks who are vulnerable to the worst scam artists; we know elders have been taken in by crooks who use transparent schemes to relieve them of their life savings or to sell them junk they don’t need or want. And yet we subject them to an incomprehensible mess, both for their livelihood (in the case of Social Security) and for their healthcare.

    I was put off by Maytag because of the number of negative reviews I remembered reading after the company was purchased by Whirlpool. A friend of mine had one — she liked the machine, but she might as well have rented a room to the repairman, who was at her house about every third day.

    Entertaining passage from Wikipedia on the subject:

    “Costs incurred in Maytag’s acquisition and integration of Amana and an increased corporate debt load led to aggressive internal cost-cutting efforts in direct materials, manufacturing, and distribution costs.[6][8] Maytag introduced a value-priced appliance line under a separate label, Performa by Maytag. To increase sales, the company also marketed Maytag-branded ‘Legacy Series’ washing machines that were otherwise identical to low-end Amana models, and built at the formerly Amana assembly plant in Herrin, Illinois. The rebranded Maytag models, later termed Amanatags by dissatisfied owners, received poor customer reviews after reports surfaced of major mechanical and/or durability problems.[9][10] The company also consolidated warehouse operations and cut the number of Maytag vendors. Between 2002 and 2004, Maytag corporate management cut new-product investment by 50%.[6]

    “An increasing chorus of consumer complaints concerning product reliability and customer service, assisted by the rapid growth of internet consumer forums, began to affect the company’s reputation with customers.[11][12][13][14] The company was also slow to react to customer complaints regarding its flagship Neptune washer and dryer line (labeled the Stinkomatic by dissatisfied customers), resulting in further damage to the company’s reputation and a $33.5 million payout to settle several class-action lawsuits arising from the Neptune problems.[15][16][17][18] By 2005, Maytag’s market share had declined to all-time lows, sales were flat, and customer satisfaction surveys ranked Maytag near the bottom of the appliance field.[6] The problems with the Neptune line continued; in 2007, 250,000 Neptune washing machines became part of a nationwide safety recall by the Consumer Product Safety Commission due to fire danger.[19]

    “On April 1, 2006, Whirlpool completed its acquisition of Maytag Corporation. In May 2006, Whirlpool announced plans to close the former Maytag headquarters office in Newton, as well as laundry product manufacturing plants in Newton, Iowa; Herrin, Illinois; and Searcy, Arkansas by 2007.[20] Following the Maytag headquarters closure, all brand administration was transferred to Whirlpool’s headquarters in Benton Harbor, Michigan. The Maytag name would now be used on Whirlpool-designed appliances.”

  3. Seriously woman, kick that washer to the curb. Would you keep it around if it was a boyfriend? YOU ARE WASHING CLOTHES IN THE BATHTUB BECAUSE OF IT. (Oh, was I shouting?)

    I am fairly clothes picky. I hang up all wet clothes instead of drying them to keep them lasting longer and to stop the shrinkage. I also might be the last woman in American who still irons weekly. But separating clothes into little bags that will be done sometime next week? Get ye to Lowe’s and buy any washer they have.

    And while I’m here I need to do a small rant on my pet peeve. The idea that the more expensive the clothing item is the “better” it is. Eg: your Nordstrom blouses that run colors and must be hand washed. Might I suggest donating them to charity and getting yourself something new and machine washable? You are the busiest woman I know and I don’t know you. You don’t need that time suck.

    Rant over.

    • OMG, Anne, you’re funnier than I am when you get on a roll! Have you got a blog?

      Yah. Approximately the same thought entered my mind. (Actually, the thought was “this damn thing could be replaced with an old metal washboard from the antique shop.”)

      The Nordstromesque tops actually came from a second-hand store. Or the one that didn’t came from Nordstrom’s rack. They’re incredibly cute, so much so that wearing them actually generates compliments, quite the rarity for an old bat.

      Amazingly, they can be run through the washer, even though they’re made of crocheted string or some such. This was the first time I’d washed them by hand — surprisingly easy, BTW, because there’s not much to them.

      Heeeeee! Do you suppose anyone would buy the Samsung off Craig’s List?

      • No blog of my own. Just 65 years of opinions that frequently find me channeling Julia Sugarbaker as they fight their way out of my mouth.

  4. High efficiency appliances use lots less water and soap but the trade-off is that the cleaning times go up dramatically. Your machine should have a delayed start option as well, which might help you, as you can put the clothes in before you go to bed, and have it start an hour or so before you wake up. By the time you’re up, the clothes should be clean. Might save you a little waiting around time.

    • I don’t think I’ve noticed a delayed start option on the thing.

      But since several of those complaints on the consumer bellyache-boards report the machine disgorging its entire tubful of water all over the floor, it might not be wise to go to sleep while the thing is running. 😀 One ranter went on about how the thing hung up and started to smoke; did the same when the repairman showed up, so alarming that worthy that he ran outside and shut down all the power coming into the house.

  5. I second Anne: get rid of the washer already!

    Seriously, though, you can’t note that ALL HE machines act this way. My HE GE front loader never knots my clothes up. I bought it in 2009 and have had 0 problems with it. Yes, the cycle is longer but the standard Colors wash is 57 minutes, which is acceptable to me. That Samsung sounds like a nightmare!

    • Yah, that very well may be true: the Samsung itself may be the issue, not the HE washer in general.

      I wanted a top-loader because I’m old enough to remember my mother’s Bendix and for the life of me can NOT understand why any woman in her right mind would put up with a front-loader. My back hurts enough; don’t need something else to aggravate it.

      The Samsung was one of the options at the Sears Clearance Center. There were a couple of others, but SS seem to have a larger tub and it was SOOOO cool to look inside there… Consumers are ridiculously easy to please! And the price was ridiculously right — we got a huge discount.

      An hour is still too long, IMHO, to do what ought to be a 20-minute load. My old top-loading Kenmore with the spindle thing in the middle washed clothes in 20 to 40 minutes (depending on the cycle).

      {sigh} Any retrospective comparison leaves you questioning the value of the present HE washer, tho’. The clothes never came out of the Kenmore only partially wet (literally: if you don’t use the Samsung’s “bedding” cycle you’ll pull out “washed” laundry with big dry spots!); and though sometimes there would be some twisting, the clothes never came out literally BRAIDED together.

  6. I am ok with my current washer and dryer, I will be keeping this in mind if/when the need for a new one crops up.
    We did buy a new dishwasher – it now takes 4 x longer to get the same clean from the new one. Yes, it is immensely quieter and since it sits near/next to the tv we normally watch that is good thing. We do not live in CA with its drought, we live in the land of 10,000 lakes, why do I have to save that much water?? Where was the comparison of increased electric useage to water saveage?
    We seem to have become a society that can only focus on one factor not multiple when making rules. Here in MN the ASPCA or somebody is up in arms over the new Vikings stadium and bird deaths, but have no problem with the thousands of birds and other animals that solar farms and wind farms are slaughtering. I do not get it.