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To really foul things up...
Old 08-26-2015, 02:52 PM   #1
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To really foul things up...

... requires a computer.

I have worked with computers all my career, building both hardware and writing software. Computers are useful, but they can do only what programmers tell them to do. And when the programmer f***s up, and his computer messes up, sometimes it takes an act of God to clear it up.

Case in point: I have been paying my healthcare insurance premium online, and always on time. Then, suddenly one day I received a letter from them saying they were letting my healthcare providers know that I was a deadbeat and they would soon stop processing my claims. What the hell! And then another letter, and another...

I went back to their Web site, and the payment history page showed all the payments that I made. Yet, on the account balance page, it showed I was behind. It took several phone calls, and the agents all could see that discrepancy. They all promised to put in an order to credit my account with the missing payments.

Here I am, two months later, just getting off the phone with another agent to get this problem fixed. Gosh! When a wrong record is entered into the computer, God helps you.

Imagine if it is something more serious, like SS records, IRS tax files, credit bureau records, etc... If you are wrongly labeled as a miscreant, a deadbeat, tax evader, rapist, murderer, good luck getting it cleared.

The f***king computers rule!

It was a lot of time and aggravation for me to get them to process the claims, of which they are still paying nothing because I am still under the annual deductible. But if they do not process the claims, I will have to pay full freight to my healthcare providers because I do not get the negotiated rates. What a racket!
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Old 08-26-2015, 02:59 PM   #2
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<Insert joke here about what did one computer backend say to the other backend.>

Enjoy.

I am this day looking at SAP documentation trying to figure out what they do with all their backends. My conclusion is, they don't need us to know.
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Old 08-26-2015, 03:16 PM   #3
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I pay my health premiums online as well. Who is your insurance provider? I may need to steer clear of them if I switch providers for 2016.
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Old 08-26-2015, 03:19 PM   #4
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I am this day looking at SAP documentation trying to figure out what they do with all their backends. My conclusion is, they don't need us to know.
I know. They ABAP each other (oooh, that sounds bad!)
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Old 08-26-2015, 04:29 PM   #5
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I know. They ABAP each other (oooh, that sounds bad!)
That remark just went over 10,000 forum viewers' heads.

If you had to name something really strategic, would you call it "Advanced Business Application Programming"

There is a very funny youtube video called "Hitler implements SAP."

About the original topic, there is usually not enough testing, and what testing there is does not seem to replicate what I do. I borked a couple of timesheets in the company's implementation of some open-source CRM. Aargh, the user must stay in control. Don't rename my timesheets after they are submitted and approved. Crazy!
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Old 08-26-2015, 05:46 PM   #6
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Folks, this thread is bringing back way too many bad memories...
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Old 08-28-2015, 05:52 PM   #7
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Before I forget, I have to tell this follow-up to the story.

The last agent I talked to saw that the issue had dragged on too long. She promised to escalate it up higher for it to get fixed ASAP, and to call me back the next day. She did call me back very early next morning, and told me of the result. But just minutes before that, I logged into their Web site and saw that my account balance was correct.

I am reluctant to name this insurer, because I may be their only client with this weird problem which can happen to any establishment. I will say that it is one of the top health insurers in terms of size.

Hmmm... Now I wonder if their computer has reported me as a deadbeat to any credit rating bureau. I'd better go check. If you see me bump this thread, the news is not good. Oh well, I am not planning to borrow any money from anyone, so it does not matter that much.
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Old 08-28-2015, 06:40 PM   #8
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I also pay online.... and I had been paying using Firefox...

I paid my first premium and had the same problem.. got a letter saying I was dropped etc. blah blah blah.... called and they saw my payment and told me to ignore the letter.... the next month when I went to pay everything looked good...

But, a couple of months ago I tried to pay, again using Firefox.... but my CC was declined... SAY WHAT?? Tried again, declined again... tried a second CC... declined... a third... this cannot be happening...

Called the next morning and was told 'Use IE'.... but I have been using Firefox without any problem... 'Well, if you want to pay use IE'.... OK, so now I have to log on using IE and make my payment....
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Old 08-28-2015, 07:47 PM   #9
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Occasionally I considered paying bills online. This thread will allow me to ignore the online payment method for a long time.
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Old 08-28-2015, 07:52 PM   #10
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So, you still send in your payments?

My wife is the one taking care of bills in my household, and she has been using online payments forever. Utilities, credit cards, all charge cards, etc... I myself pay for purchases over the Web using Paypal wherever that is accepted.

The weird problem I had was one-of-a-kind. It does not bother me that it happened due to some stupid bugs. What upset me were the difficulty and delay in fixing it. Have computers taken over the world, and human operators cannot override them? There was no excuse for the time it took for them to fix it. I say fire the damn programmer.
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Old 08-28-2015, 11:01 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by ls99 View Post
Occasionally I considered paying bills online. This thread will allow me to ignore the online payment method for a long time.

I do not know why.... I pay almost every bill online and have for more than 15 years... most of them I pay through the bank... just a few do I pay by CC...

Now I have added a few more with auto CC... my electricity is cheaper when I signed up for auto pay... might as well get some cash back for paying it... and it is not like I am not going to pay it when it is due....

I also buy a good number of things online... so does DW...

Heck, the last check I mailed was a week or so ago... they kept sending me bills and I finally noticed they put down they do not take CCs Except for the cleaners and the piano teacher, (oh, and church) we just do not write checks...
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Old 08-29-2015, 07:52 AM   #12
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Use a credit card that alerts you by email on every transaction, and you have a record.
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Old 08-29-2015, 08:33 AM   #13
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I have records of the payment from multiple sources, including at the computer of the insurance company. The agents did not have problem seeing the payment either. I never had to prove that I made the payment. Their own computer acknowledged the payment.

The problem is that my payment did not result in a reduction of my account balance. It went into thin air, or perhaps was credited to someone else's account. And somehow, it took two months for them to track it down and correct it.

By the way, this problem is very minor compared to the software problem when they rolled out ACA enrollment two years ago. What a fiasco, remember?
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Old 08-29-2015, 08:47 AM   #14
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I have BCBS and I think their computer systems are from the stone-age.

Last year, I overpaid (on purpose), just to have paid for the whole year, and not have to worry about a monthly payment for the last few months of the year. Bad idea. Their system was set-up to send the money back to me. Then they sent me back all matter of weird amounts. What a mess. So now I pay as billed. Two payments per month, since DW and I have separate policies to keep from getting zapped by the family deductible scam.

For bills in general, pretty much everything goes through bill-pay on my bank web site (they don't say it, but it's checkfree). As for payments not getting credited to my account, as you experienced, I just sick checkfree on them. The money is gone from my account (checkfree draws on a checkfree corporate account). The checkfree people have always gotten it fixed, somehow, without me having to hang on the phone.

I know I'm giving up perks by not paying by credit card, but it's real easy...one web site to pay all bills. And they don't have my credit card number to charge whenever/whatever they want, and they don't have my credit card number to hand to some international hacker either.
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Old 08-29-2015, 08:57 AM   #15
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I have had major billing / payment / account reconciliation issues this year with BCBS - Quest Diagnostics, Comcast, and now AT&T. As sengsational points out it's pretty clear that their back office systems are stone age and the processes not geared toward resolving customer problems. The customer reps also don't have the authority to make corrections.

This is a management problem. Customer sat and ease of doing business are not priorities. I find that strange, because the labor cost to resolve these issues must be pretty high.
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Why These Things Happen
Old 08-29-2015, 09:10 AM   #16
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Why These Things Happen

Quote:
Originally Posted by target2019 View Post
That remark just went over 10,000 forum viewers' heads.

If you had to name something really strategic, would you call it "Advanced Business Application Programming"

There is a very funny youtube video called "Hitler implements SAP."

About the original topic, there is usually not enough testing, and what testing there is does not seem to replicate what I do. I borked a couple of timesheets in the company's implementation of some open-source CRM. Aargh, the user must stay in control. Don't rename my timesheets after they are submitted and approved. Crazy!
Oh, to be one of the 10,000 of whom you speak. The nightmares that I had years ago. A warning for any others not in that 10,000: DO NOT watch the Hitler Implements SAP video mentioned above! (It is hilarious; but, now my nightmares are back.)

As to testing, here is a true story [somewhat long for context] that shocked me into silence at the time and might help explain why you are seeing these kinds of issues:
My little software company was acquired by a much larger one.

One of my major failings in the years prior to acquisition was around QA of our product. This was an issue that I had harped on for years; but, we were running out of money by the time I inherited the software engineering department. So, I could not really hire or even replace peopled to address this. My folks were doing their best just to keep the systems running, fulfilling the letter of our existing contracts so we could keep some revenue flowing.

When speaking to my counterpart at the acquiring company, I explained the situation with lack of QA on our product and my desire to integrate it into their existing QA/QC processes. He proceeds to tell me several things, including...
  • He is already spending too much on QA and is already starting to scale this back.
  • The developers can adequately QA their own work.
  • Our users will let us know if we missed anything significant.

This guy is following through on his plan to dismantle existing QA and was recently promoted to the inner circle of executive management at my new company.

When I look at he current state of the industry, I fear that I am just a dinosaur unable to change and adapt to this new world where it does not seem to matter if the product actually works or not.

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Old 08-29-2015, 11:19 AM   #17
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Don't know if this fits here or not, but a warning!!!!
For everyone with Medicare Part B.

For the year 2015, the annual deductible is $147.

Now here's the problem...
Each time you go to a different doctor, the doctor will bill medicare "B" for the visit, so... if the new doctors bill is $247... they will bill medicare $247, but at the same time, bill you $147, assuming that this is the deductible amount that you should be paying.

Therein lies the problem... and the possible scam.

Because medicare knows you have paid the deductible already, they pay the doctor $247. Now here's where the problem comes in. There is a time lag between billing and payment dates, so the physician... based on the time frame from the initial billing... will re-bill the $147 to you (me).
Since we are getting older and more vulnerable to missing a payment... and... because we are aware of the damage an unpaid bill can cause to our cresit rating... it is easy to just go ahead an pay the bill, since this is, in effect, the second notice.

This has happened twice this year alone, with two different doctors, leading me to think that it's not an accident. Only after questioning the bill, a few months later... did the doctor's office(s) admit to a mistake.

Yours to judge how often this "mistake" may happen. But at least,
a cautionary tale.
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Old 08-29-2015, 01:07 PM   #18
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Oh, to be one of the 10,000 of whom you speak. The nightmares that I had years ago. A warning for any others not in that 10,000: DO NOT watch the Hitler Implements SAP video mentioned above! (It is hilarious; but, now my nightmares are back.)

As to testing, here is a true story [somewhat long for context] that shocked me into silence at the time and might help explain why you are seeing these kinds of issues:
My little software company was acquired by a much larger one.

One of my major failings in the years prior to acquisition was around QA of our product. This was an issue that I had harped on for years; but, we were running out of money by the time I inherited the software engineering department. So, I could not really hire or even replace peopled to address this. My folks were doing their best just to keep the systems running, fulfilling the letter of our existing contracts so we could keep some revenue flowing.

When speaking to my counterpart at the acquiring company, I explained the situation with lack of QA on our product and my desire to integrate it into their existing QA/QC processes. He proceeds to tell me several things, including...
  • He is already spending too much on QA and is already starting to scale this back.
  • The developers can adequately QA their own work.
  • Our users will let us know if we missed anything significant.

This guy is following through on his plan to dismantle existing QA and was recently promoted to the inner circle of executive management at my new company.

When I look at he current state of the industry, I fear that I am just a dinosaur unable to change and adapt to this new world where it does not seem to matter if the product actually works or not.

+1000

Development performing their own QC. I never coded a bug in 30 years, no need to test this part! Seen it coming, "we can't change the system fast enough quit finding all these issues, time to ship code". Wow, I was leaving development as this type speak became common. No wonder folks have issues that are next to impossible to resolve.
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Old 08-29-2015, 08:12 PM   #19
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Since we are getting older and more vulnerable to missing a payment... and... because we are aware of the damage an unpaid bill can cause to our credit rating... it is easy to just go ahead an pay the bill, since this is, in effect, the second notice.
I'm not doing Medicare, but when it comes to insurance, I completely ignore doctor bills. I wait for the EOB and pay what it says on there. Doctors are always billing more than they should get, so I just ignore them. At first I'd call them on the second notice, but each time they said they were not in the business of turning people over to the credit bureau for waiting a few months for the insurance company to catch-up. On my daughter's braces, I argued with the insurance company for 6 months. The ortho office was chill with me not paying in the mean time, as long as they knew the argument was still underway. If it's like a year old, they may sell the debt to a collection agency, though.
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Old 08-29-2015, 08:40 PM   #20
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I find that strange, because the labor cost to resolve these issues must be pretty high.
If they ever resolve them . . .
I get the impression (particularly with health insurance billing) that things are needlessly complex. It's so hard for a customer to know what they owe, and the veneer of computerized efficiency is so complete, that people just pay. When someone realizes there's a problem, it's worth the company's time to put them through a couple of cycles of customer-no-service to see if they give up, or at least dissuade them from causing more trouble. If the "customer service" can be offshored to reduce costs AND increase the likelihood of a communication problem, that's a win-win.
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