Monday, April 24, 2006

The fine art of MERCHANDISING...
or, how they keep us coming back for more!


Last week, I bought my first pack of recordable CD's. I bought 30 Memorex CD's; they were packaged in a round plastic container. "Hmmm", I thought, "I'm gonna need some little jewel boxes for them", so I bought what I thought was a package of 30 jewel boxes. When I got home, I found that those jewel boxes already CONTAINED CD's. I'd THOUGHT the purchase total was kinda high! Have I ever told you I can be dumber than a mud fence sometimes? So, I had 30 CD's in cases, and 30 more WITHOUT cases. So, I went to Staples' ("Yeah, We Got That"), and I was informed that yes, they had CD "cases only" and that they were on sale. They had 50-packs going for $8.99. Great! So I bought those, and when I got home I realized that I now have not only 30 CD jewel boxes for my 30 unboxed Memorex CD's, I now have 20 EXTRA jewel boxes. It'll be just my luck that when I need to replenish recordable CD's again (which will be years from now, since I have 60 recordable CD's, after all...), I'll have to buy more recordable CD's, and I'll probably only be able to buy them in packs of 10, 20 or 50. Which means I'll either have not enough or too many discs for the amount of jewel boxes I now have. I could solve all of that by buying three boxes of "ten", but the smaller the pack, the more-per-cd you spend. So I'll play CD "leapfrog", probably; first, buying CD's, and then having to go buy jewel boxes, hoping someday that the totals for both will match up but knowing they probably never will. I think you've (accurately) realized that every single damn thing in life is a problem for me!

A tale of financial assualt "by" battery: So, that's how they keep ya coming buy more, but it's either too much or not enough, and you're always having to go back and make extra purchases. For instance, I've seen AA batteries; normally, they're sold in 2 packs or in packs of 250...well, there have been times when I have seen AA's and other batteries sold in 3-packs. Wait a minute; most every battery-operated thing I have either takes 2 or 4 batteries, but not THREE. Assume that all of the battery-operated clocks in your home are working (they usually take 'one' battery); you're stuck with one lonely, single solitary battery. You don't wanna throw it away, because it's "new" and full of energy. Yet you can't use it anywhere. So, you save that one extra battery. Then your transistor radio or TV remote fizzes out. You have that one battery, but you need two or three more. So you gotta go buy another pack of batteries, after which, you'll have extra batteries AGAIN, because after all, you had that one good "extra" battery to begin with.

The Medical Community is especially good at this shell game! I had an MRI done three weeks ago at a cost of $900. It cost me $200 more to have it READ. Huh? What? Well, I also had a steroid injection in my lower back, which cost me $1300. I kinda thot that anesthetic was part of the process, right? Well, today I got a separate bill from the anesthesia place, and they want another $450. Huh? WHAT??? I'll call them in the morning to see if this is a mistaken charge, but having experienced the Medical Community first-hand over the last month, I'll probably have to pay that bill, too. It's a wonder they don't charge a processing fee for accepting your payment. And a debit/credit bill for entering the amount you paid into their system. And an extraction fee for taking your payment out of the envelope you sent. And on and on and on...I don't mind paying costs up front; I just wanna know what the damn costs are so I CAN PAY THEM. But there are so MANY of these little hidden fees that attach themselves to one's main medical bills the way a wormy, slimy, killer virus creeps inside your computer and never lets go until forcibly removed. I may be totally wet behind the ears, but is this in some way DISHONEST, or is this just the way the medical community works?

Say you go into a grocery store. You buy a can of beans for 69 cents or whatever. If that store was located in the IRONWOOD Medical community, you would then pay a checkstand fee. And a checkstand-scanner fee. And a fee for accepting your payment. And a fee if the checker has to give you change. And a packaging fee, because after all, a sack was needed for your purchase. So you wouldn't dare ask to have your groceries carried out! Those Grocery Store Ambulances can be expensive, after all! How long would a store last, doing business like that? But yet, from what I've seen so far in the Medical Community, stuff like this happens at every single turn. My Arthritis Doctor has a way of being very unclear about what he wants one to do. I can't keep his rapid-fire instructions straight, regarding when my next visit is, how many of what kind of pill to take, etc. He is a nervous man, and he makes ME nervous. He is a GREAT doctor, but he "weirds me out". So today, I went into the arthritis clinic to verify what I'm supposed to be doing. I talked to a nurse who patiently explained everything to me. I'm trying to be a good patient. But I suppose I'll be charged a fee, for talking to a nurse who helped me make sense out of the doctor's rapid-fire instructions that confused me so much in the first place. I'm so masochistic by now, I WANT to be charged! BRING IT ON!!!

Am I stupid? Am I totally unfit for this world? Do I have absolutely no clue? I know one thing for sure; I don't have insurance. I suppose if I had 80% co-pay or whatever, I wouldn't be watching the dollars and cents like I do. I have the money put away, so I can handle it; so far, that's no problem. But I am just flabbergasted by all of this medical stuff. I suppose it's the way it's always been, and it's worth spending money to recover my health. But I'm just kinda shakin' my head here. So anyway, you get into the car after paying all of these medical bills, and you look at your gas gauge....UH-OH, yer almost empty...time to fill 'er up!!!

So you've got cars honking to the left, honking to the right, drivers talking on cellphones while zigzagging all over the place; kids in hot rods and bikers on Harleys rush by with the sound of their engines deafening you if you're less than 200 feet away from them. It's hot outside, you just wanna get home, but grudgingly, you pull into the gas station and drive up to the pump. You get out to fill the tank, and realize that you pulled up on the wrong side of the pump because you couldn't remember what side of the car your gas tank is on. So you pull out, back up, turn around, and finally align the correct side of your car with the gas pump, and you proceed to fill the tank, or put in as much as you can afford. With gas prices rising, the numbers on the fuel amount/dollars spent gauge are whizzing by faster than electrons spin around an average-sized atom (or, for those of you not scientifically inclined, faster than a developer can pounce upon empty land in Kootenai County!). And then you head home, hundreds of dollars poorer, but secure (maybe) in the knowledge that you won't be taken to the poorhouse for another week, and that you've got gas to go and pay those bills. Ain't life fun? I am seriously thinking about doing electronic bill-pay, but with all these medical bills that are multiplying rabbit-style, I'd need to make hundreds of time-consuming entries, and wait a minute, I already spend enough time online doing stupid stuff like this post!

Times like this make one think of a quiet place, a more serene locality, a place to go, not to withdraw from the world (although it's tempting), more a place to recharge one's batteries. (No, not AA batteries!!!) A place like this...aaaaaaahhhhh....

Somewhere on Hayden Lake there was peace and tranquility, in this photo taken long about 1921. Someone probably drew up a full-color postcard from this old black and white photo. If this was taken on a hot summer's day, I pity the ladies who are wearing full-length gowns. I suppose back then, there were no power-boats, which means the lake would be DEFINITELY quieter than it is today, what with speedboats and annoying jet-skis which buzz around like oversized, water-bound mosquitos. Anyway, I'm trying to get this post done early, because, you see, I have another doctors' appointment tomorrow. I think I'll ask him if I need my head examined.

After the visit to the doctors' office, I think I'll go back to the grocery store, and see if they have cheese on sale. I need something to go with my 'whine'. And I'll bring my own sack, if necessary. I'm trying to cut down on hidden fees...


Blogger Sage said...

Dave, Was watching NBC Nightly News tonight and they were saying that people were putting gas on their credit cards 350% faster than 90 days ago. You just know people are going to max out their cards on gasoline. This is becoming a VERY sad situation as people ddo not know how to budget properly and will shortly become so over their heads that the economy will seriously suffer due to it. Don't forget Bush got the bankruptcy laws changed so we're really about to pay economically. He and the Republicans are really getting to screw us for years now.

12:06 AM  
Blogger little ol' me said...

Sage, thankfully I'm at the point where I don't have to be all that involved in society anymore. I'd hate to have a family, work for ruthless bosses, and feel the financial squeeze from every angle. Indeed, I'm feeling it enough with my medical stuff. I fully expect to spend $5,000 to $10,000 this year. Thank God I have my finances in an income-building fund. Anyway, this Gas thing is awful. I'm not exactly sure how the bankruptcy laws are different (I haven't paid attention), but I'm positive any changes Bushie and his cronies made are for the benefit of him and his party. I'd almost bet on it.

12:12 AM  
Blogger animadvert said...

Dave.... 1st sorry to hear about the on-going health situation. Sadly your experience with the health care system is not uncommon. You find that bills for services have become fractured so that each individual component can be pursued separately if necessary. If the entire billing was done in one lump and only a partial payment received then some providers might get paid in-full while others get partial or no payment.

That said all of this is a consequence of the large number of patients for whom no fees get collected at all. If you're an illegal alien the hospital and health providers are still required to provide service and they get paid nothing. Same with indigent patients. So costs for all rise and billing and collection policies become individualized. They know that of CDA Dave doesn't pay his bill that they have recourse. They will pursue you Dave. What are they gonna do to the illegal alien?? If everyone paid their medical bills they would all be less and even reflective of they level of care given.

Also, do check your bills and you can ask them to be itemized for supply usage, etc.... For example if an expensive cathetor gets fouled by the provider and 2 get used where only one was needed then you can dispute being charged for the duplicate. It wasn't your fault that the cathetor got wasted so you should not have to pay for it. You can go over a line itemized bill with the hospital and inquire about all items used and how they were required for the services.

9:01 AM  
Blogger stebbijo said...

Yep -- animadvert is right.

I expect future classes for the poor in how to self diagnose and what over the counter medications will do the trick. It will be the prerequisite for do-it-yourself surgery.

11:07 AM  
Blogger little ol' me said...

Animadvert, yeah, I should check my bills, but I'm so punch-drunk after receiving bill after bill after bill, what can I say, "I just pays 'em". Most likely, if I confronted someone about something, I'd have to pay the full amount anyway. Oh well.......

Stebbi, before one does any self-surgery, I think one would have to have self-malpractice insurance? That way, he could charge himself more!

1:28 PM  

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