Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Elderly advantage


My mother, 94, has lived most of her life in Placerville,  the last 30 or so in Shingle Springs Mobile park. We recently had to move her because she was no longer able to be by herself. Her mobile wasn’t worth anything, and we actually had to pay to have it removed from the park. We are in the process of applying for Medi-Cal for her so we can help in her care.

A couple of months ago, Kamps Propane sent her a past due bill of $8. Evidently the close out and shut off dates did not coincide. When Mom asked me about it, I honestly thought it was a joke — at best a mistake. I called Kamps and was rudely told that the $8 needed to be paid. Kamps has sent the matter to collections!

What has happened to customer service? Is it worth the $8 to have someone follow the matter? Mom has paid every bill every month without skipping a beat; it would be common courtesy to write it off. Do you need to harass a 94-year-old, almost deaf, almost blind woman who has entered dementia?


Letters to the Editor


Discussion | 23 comments

  • cookie65May 01, 2013 - 8:04 am

    If she owes it she owes it. They are in the business of providing propane. Not based on age, weight, gender or anything else. Payment is due when service is rendered. If it would make you feel better you could always deliver it in person using 800 pennies.

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  • AnthonyMay 01, 2013 - 9:28 am

    Dave, unfortunately nothing is more important than money. Not even a goodwill gesture to a 90+ year old long time customer in the twilight of her life.

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  • James E.May 01, 2013 - 11:01 am

    They sent it to collection? There are several options here. Tell the collection agency to stuff it and they can sue if they like. They cannot touch her Social Security and, at 94, unlikely she is concerned about her credit rating. The debt is $8.00 and the collection agency would probably accept $2.00? Kamps Propane wrote off the $8.00 when they sent it to collection, so they could have just forgiven the debt for positive public relations. OK, having considered the options, here is my solution: Send Kamps a check for $8.00 to resolve the debt. If they refuse to accept it and tell you that you have to deal with the collection agency, tell Kamps and the collection agency to both stuff it and they can sue if they like against an old lady who has no assets they can touch. Actually, no collection agency is going to sue over $8.00. And, in fact, I doubt the collection agency would exert any effort at all over $8.00 -- not even harassing phone calls.

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  • AnthonyMay 01, 2013 - 11:16 am

    actually, I like Cookie's idea. show up with a box of 800 pennies. tell them to mail the receipt. I'm sure I have at least a couple of bucks worth of pennies laying around my house. I would be happy to contribute.

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  • James E.May 01, 2013 - 11:29 am

    Coins are legal tender. However, Kamps Propane could have a company policy to not accept pennies in payment. If so, how about paying them with a roaster chicken (worth $8.01)? Darn, this could go all the way to the Supreme Court.

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  • DB SmithMay 01, 2013 - 12:22 pm

    Cookie is correct in that payment should be made. The Colonel's approach is telling them to stuff it and I would agree depending on their attitude. Anthony shows compassion and wants to donate to the cause. Put all of these different personalities and suggested solutions together and what do you come up with? Hope! So if Anthony raised the funds, the Colonel vetted their attitude and Cookie finalized the payment we would have teamwork and solution. I would donate.

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  • James E.May 01, 2013 - 12:31 pm

    DB, in the end I suggested a check for $8.00 be sent. But, if it is refused with the company saying the 94 year old would have to now deal with the collection agency, I would go into full anger mode and proceed accordingly. War! Drones, high altitude bombing, strafing by fighter jets, napalm, tank and infantry assaults, missiles from nuke submarines, and finally, take no prisoners at Kamps Propane. OK, off to the dentist.

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  • James E.May 01, 2013 - 3:42 pm

    DB, coming back from the Dentist this PM I considered stopping at Kamps Propane and giving them a check for $8.00. But then I realized I had no idea of the name or account number of the 94 year old deadbeat. Strike deadbeat, add lady. It would be deadbeat is she owed them $8 Million.

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  • NancyMay 01, 2013 - 6:39 pm

    Pay the $8 bucks.

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  • Ken SteersMay 01, 2013 - 7:30 pm

    Mr James, As someone who has taken care of his Grand Parents and Mother. Speaking from direct experience. You will experience much more financial difficulties for your mother than just the propane company.

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  • Dave JamesMay 01, 2013 - 8:14 pm

    Thank you for your comments. I did end up sending Kamps a check. What bothered me so much was the amount of effort they were putting into collecting $8.00 !! Also their nasty attitude when I spoke to them about it.

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  • KatyMay 01, 2013 - 10:36 pm

    So sorry to hear about this happening to your mother, and all over a lousy $8 bucks! I mean really? This is part of why our country is so messed up today! Someone said something about customer service. What's that?? I don't think customer service exists much anymore these days. Particularly if you're dealing with a big company or corporation. They don't care about your elderly mother. She's just a "customer account number" to them. I wonder how many years your mother faithfully paid her propane bills every month without fail. Could Kamps Propane have waived this final billing for her? Yes, they could have. But consider that their way of giving their customers REAL customer service. Are they in business to make money? Of course they are. But do they have to do it off the backs of a 94 year old lady who's probably been a good customer of theirs for years! It's sickening! They wasted more than $8 bucks just dealing with you on the phone in the "man hours" it took to get this matter resolved. Pretty poor business/financial decision if you ask me. And for them to be rude and obnoxious on the phone is just inexcusable. Let this be a warning to anyone out there looking for a new propane company! Keep this story in mind when your shopping around for a propane company. That'll cost 'em!

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  • cookie65May 02, 2013 - 6:35 am

    Katy, when you go to the grocery store and buy a loaf of bread do they throw in the lunch meat? I understand your point but, in order for the propane company to deliver the propane to this lady, they first had to buy it themselves, purchase a truck, pay someone maintain the truck, pay someone to deliver the propane, pay the state dozens of different taxes, workman's comp insurance, hazardous materials insurance, commercial licensing fees and dozens of other costs. They are not stealing what is owed to them. Someone does their books and puts food on their own table by making sure they balance.

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  • cookie65May 02, 2013 - 6:50 am

    If you want to talk about poor customer service lets talk about what the taxpayers get from government. Here is a story of a guy who got a bill from social security for an overpayment his mother got 42 years ago.

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  • AnthonyMay 02, 2013 - 9:10 am

    The corporate/private sector takes a back seat to no one when it comes to customer service (or lack thereof). As long as corporations are pulling shenanigans like this, I want a government large enough to stop them. Blue Cross praised employees who dropped sick policyholders, lawmaker says Workers received high marks on performance reviews after policies were rescinded, documents show. The health insurer denies the practice is a factor in evaluations................ An investigation by the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations showed that health insurers WellPoint Inc., UnitedHealth Group and Assurant Inc. canceled the coverage of more than 20,000 people, allowing the companies to avoid paying more than $300 million in medical claims over a five-year period. It also found that policyholders with breast cancer, lymphoma and more than 1,000 other conditions were targeted for rescission and that employees were praised in performance reviews for terminating the policies of customers with expensive illnesses. "No one can defend, and I certainly cannot defend, the practice of canceling coverage after the fact," said Rep. Michael C. Burgess (R-Tex.), a member of the committee. "There is no acceptable minimum to denying coverage after the fact."

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  • cookie65May 02, 2013 - 9:44 am

    Anthony, you just clarified just how used you are. You know what they want you to say? They want you to say, “I want government large enough to stop them.” And they are happy to oblige. Government has grown by leaps and bounds, by trillions of dollars and everything is worse. Get a clue, government is not the solution it is the problem. The 11 scariest words… I am from the government and I am here to help. You know that 2,700 pages they call obamacare is just the index? Even the people who passed it are running from it. You know how they caught the abortion butcher in Philly? They were concerned he was illegally prescribing pain medication. Not that he was murdering babies big enough to walk him to the bus station. You know the more we spend on the union run schools the more illiterate kids we produce. The agenda of the union run schools is evidenced by you. An individual completely incapable of thinking for yourself. NO ONE OWES YOU HEALTH INSURANCE, A JOB, AN INCOME OR ANYTHING ELSE.

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  • AnthonyMay 02, 2013 - 10:09 am

    cookie65, the facts I posted about health insurance companies dropping coverage speak for themselves. if it is perfectly ok with you that when you or someone you care about is in the hospital with a serious illness and the insurance company decides to drop your coverage, nothing I can say will change your mindset. as for the rest of your condescending remarks, as I become familiar with the participants in these forums, I see that attacking people who have a different opinion is what you do. fine, attack all you want. another axiom comes to mind.. ""Always forgive your opponents, nothing annoys them more.""

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  • chrispytahoeMay 02, 2013 - 10:35 am

    I work for a rather large cable company that will remain nameless. You cannot imagine how many people do not understand their bill. It is clearly spelled out on the back page every month. It is astounding how many people are late EVERY month. I get the same story from the same loosers. Well guess what? Cable is a WANT not a NEED. pay yiour freakin bill on time and avoid late charges. These idiots come in every month and complain that their is a 'problem' with their bill. 99% of the time the bill is correct. I cannot stand the stupidity of the public.

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  • cookie65May 02, 2013 - 12:01 pm

    Anthony, no where in my comment did I say I believe it to be ok for insurers to drop coverage. My point is you mistakenly equate more government as the solution. My other point is how you equate believing something that is false makes you smart. It doesn't. From your own understanding tell me what you believe the proper role of government is in regards to healthcare/insurance coverage? And don't give me leftists talking points I can see thru them a mile away. You don't have any idea what I believe, you only know what you have been taught to believe about people like me. Berni Madoff ponzied 50 billion from people while he was hosting parties for members of the SEC. New York has one of the most expensive public education systems on the planet and 80% of the high school graduates are illiterate. We have spent roughly the national debt of $16 trillion on the war-on-poverty (just a coincidence according to some) and we have record poverty.

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  • AnthonyMay 02, 2013 - 6:48 pm

    in an interesting coincidence, here is someone else who is questioning today, the emphasis on profit. careful Your Holiness, you are starting to sound like a godless left-winger.. Pope Francis in his own words.... . . . Pope Francis took aim at corporations Thursday with a tweet heard round the world:

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  • AnthonyMay 02, 2013 - 6:27 pm

    I see the role of government in health insurance no differently than the role of government in providing law enforcement, or fire protection, or clean water, or maintaining major airports, or state universities and public schools. I do not presume to know what you believe other than what you write in these forums which is why I prefaced my statement with "if". I do want to mention though that goes both ways, as I do recall you assuming that I looked at Cuba as some sort of "utopia" despite the fact that I never said anything about Cuba in any of my posts. In that context aren't you also repeating what you have been taught to believe about people like me? So if not government, what is the solution for a scenario where a cancer patient in ICU receives a letter from the insurance company cancelling their coverage? Possibly they could retain an attorney, assuming they could afford the $1500+ initial retainer plus months of legal and court fees. Even so, that means they go to court to settle matters. Courts are government institutions. The attorney representing them must be certified by the state bar association, another government institution. If the family is unwilling or unable to take the case to court, maybe they take their health insurance business elsewhere. Although without government restrictions on preexisting conditions discrimination, they are unlikely to find relief through that avenue either. The family could simply declare bankruptcy where the terms of debt forgiveness are determined by, government. If you have a solution for that hypothetical ICU patient which does not involve government in some capacity, please share it. The fact is that the primary goal of a private corporation is to generate profit. That is not a criticism of capitalism, that is an observation of reality. My opinion is that fundamental needs for public health and safety should not rely solely on whether or not it is profitable to satisfy those needs. When profit cannot, or at least should not be the primary objective, what alternative is there other than government?

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  • KatyMay 09, 2013 - 2:08 am

    Cookie, please spare me your explanation about how a company works. I worked in finance for 25 years, so I think I know a little bit about what I'm talking about. Like I said before and I'll repeat it here again. That company wasted more than the $8.00 that was owed simply by wasting so many man-hours just trying to collect the lousy 8 bucks! Between all the phone calls and back and forth contact they spent trying to get a measly $8.00, the STUPID company BURNED UP the $8.00 and then some, simply to enforce a collection, which I agree was owed, but was such a small amount it was definitely a loss for the company when all was said and done! What a joke! How much do you think it cost them to get that $8.00 from this elderly lady. No wait, let's drop the elderly lady part, and just say "person". That way it puts everyone on the same level playing field! Now if you want to discuss Social Security and the story of the man you posted the link to, seriously, how many people realize that when your spouse passes away and they are on Social Security if they pass away on the 1st or the 31st of the month, it doesn't matter, the remaining spouse is REQUIRED to reimburse the entire month of Social Security to the government, be it the 1st or the 31st that they passed away. I know this for a fact, because it happened in our family. Does that seem right to you?? But you don't hear Social Security talking about that do you. And what bout the people that die (for whatever reason) that NEVER collected any Social Security at all? How come nobody's throwing up their hands and telling the government that WE THE PEOPLE want our Social Security pro-rated to the DAY that the person passed away?? Add up all the $$$ that the government is literally STEALING from the Social Security system on that little "slight of hand" maneuver their playing there. Pretty sneaky, isn't it! I think so, and so should everyone else! Where does all that money go? Why are they always complaining that Social Security is just about broke? Have they counted up the dollars I just spoke, yeah, I don't think so! Our government has been overspending the budget for decades and decades. This is not a partisan issue, it goes much deeper than that. The one I love the most is whenever the government wants to reach deeper into our pockets they call increases "fees", not taxes. Why? Because they know that the word taxes is a dirty little word and NO POLITICIAN wants to be any part of that. Someone was talking about working for a cable company and how so many people called in every month because they don't understand their bills. Well, THAT'S customer service for ya these days! It's YOUR JOB to explain it to them, if in fact your a customer service representative. And if your SICK OF IT month after month, then QUIT! I'm quite sure there are plenty of unemployed people that wouldn't mind having that job! Bottom line is, there's no customer service anymore. That's just a facade. I remember back in the day, long before we had "self-serve" at the gas stations, the minute you pulled in there was a gentlemen (and I say gentlemen because they were generally very nice and very helpful) who would come out to your car, pump your gas, check your water and oil, and air in your tires too and never blink an eye. Now THAT'S customer service! Aside from that there's just so little compassion in this world today, it's very sickening! I'm glad I grew up when it was the "norm" to get good customer service. And I'm glad I'll probably be gone before it gets too far worse than it already is! I just feel badly for my daughter and my grandchildren. This is one messed up world and it's not going to get better any time soon! That's my 2 cents, for what it's worth! God bless America!

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  • KatyMay 09, 2013 - 2:19 am

    And to the typo/grammar Nazi, save it! I know there are errors in my post, but it's far too late in the morning for me to be concerned about that right now. Besides I don't "do" customer service corrections! HA!

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