Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Incompetence of Strangers

As you know, Bob, D and I are not just doing a summer-long road trip with our cats; we are also living between homes at the moment. We moved out of our rented house in Mountain View, and won't find a new place in Portland until September.

Our friends Sean & Crissy and Cary generously volunteered to receive our mail while we're traveling. Cary is monitoring our Post Office Box, which gets everything we could redirect there; Sean & Crissy are receiving everything which required a street address. We also gave them pre-paid Priority Mail and Express Mail envelopes, so they could send any urgent correspondences to us.

Well, the two most important pieces of mail we expected were the COBRA paperwork from D's former employer, so we could continue our health insurance, and our new DMV vehicle registration stickers, which take effect in July. As you may have guessed from the title of this post, we haven't received either one yet. I blame myself for trusting that other people would actually do their jobs.

In fact, the DMV stuff did arrive at our PO Box a while ago, and Cary sent it out via Priority Mail the same day we arrived in Orlando. We had originally expected to be there for more than a week, and didn't think there would be any problems, since we had received a previous shipment from him at the hotel in New Orleans. But we should have known to expect some trouble, because the envelope he sent to New Orleans was Express Mail--supposedly overnight--and it took the USPS four days to deliver it.

Anyway. We didn't stay in Orlando as long as we had originally planned, because D's family reunion was rescheduled and relocated. (Don't get me started.) But Priority Mail doesn't guarantee delivery within a certain time, so we left a note with the front desk when we checked out telling them to watch for our mail and forward it to D's brother, since we will be here in Pennsylvania for a full week, and we can depend on him to forward mail even after that. (I know, I know, famous last words. Cross that bridge later.)

Again, we should have known to expect trouble when one of the Orlando hotel's staff--they all appeared to be college kids, probably from nearby UCF--lost the front desk keys during our stay and couldn't open the safe deposit box for another guest. When D called today to ask after our mail, they had misplaced our mail forwarding note, and knew nothing about our request.

Oh, I'm writing a letter of complaint to Marriott right after this. You betcha.

Finally, here is the pièce de résistance: D's last day of work at Abbott was March 27th. She started getting concerned when the end of May was approaching and we hadn't seen any of the COBRA stuff, because you only get sixty days after leaving the company to sort that out. She called on May 19th, and the HR call center (outsourced, of course) had no record of her. As in, they didn't know she was no longer an Abbott employee.

It turns out that her manager hadn't actually filed to indicate that one of his employees had left until May 16th--a Friday--and when D called the following Monday morning, HR hadn't even seen that paperwork yet. D called once a week after that, taking careful notes with the name of each CSR and the status updates (or lack thereof) they gave. Finally, this morning, three weeks later, they claimed to have just put her COBRA packet in the mail, and promised that we would have sixty days from the time they processed her, not her actual termination date.

So now we're waiting for the COBRA stuff, and to see if the mail to Orlando gets returned, or if someone just plain lost it (in which case the DMV and Netflix will get to share our misery). That's the other thing: after we got the prepaid envelopes for Sean & Crissy and Cary, the USPS raised their rates, so we had to get additional 20¢ and 25¢ stamps to make up the difference. Bastards.

We might give Express Mail one more try, since the original delay could have been a labeling issue (as in, we didn't provide the right one), but if the COBRA stuff shows up, Cary's sending it FedEx. No more of this government bullshit--we want tracking info and a goddamn delivery signature, so when the inevitable screw-up happens, we'll know exactly whom to blame.


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At June 15, 2008 at 9:23 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Express Mail is CRAP! I used it twice to send clues to a client in Texas and he asked me never to use it again.


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