Friday, January 26, 2007


How do you know when you're pregnant?

Is it morning sickness? Is it weird food cravings? Is it exhaustion? Or is it when faced with a petty bureaucrat, you completely flip out and discuss rending them limb from limb while snarling and gnashing your teeth?

For me it was the latter.

As mentioned previously, I'm going back to school to take music lessons for the insurance. I wanted to take piano, but it looks like Continuing Ed students don't rate. Instead I will be taking Beginning Guitar. Of course, this now means that I must purchase a guitar (sigh!).

Just so you know, I was able to register for School online and register for classes online, but when it came to registering for insurance online...noooooooo! So there I was, in the last two weeks, attempting to register for I had followed all of the other directions: logged in here, set this up; logged in there, set that up. Clicked on the button, it appeared to do what I wanted and then went about my merry way.

When a confirmation email didn't show up the next day I thought it was a problem with how I'd entered the information, so I went back and did it again. Made sure I dotted all my i's and crossed my t's. No error message, no pop-up windows, no blaring sirens alerting me to my folly. Then I waited a few extra days, thinking Well, they're busy processing everyone over there. These things take time. Then I went online again yesterday and saw the news item that said the insurance registration window was closed. As of Wednesday. I freaked out.

How can it be closed without telling me if I'm insured or not?!

I called the number listed and asked them what was going on. They then said that I'd have to talk to the manager. I said that would be lovely and left a message about how I did this and then that and didn't get insured, please help. I received a call back that was immediately confrontational:

Petty Bureaucrat: (defensively) Prove where our documentation told you that you could sign up online! You're not allowed to as Cont. Ed.! It's only available for full time students!
Hatchet: (distraught) I did not say that the documentation said I could sign up online. I thought I could, since I'd done everything else online. I followed the links to this here website and did what it asked. It didn't tell me I couldn't.
PB: (angry and patronizing) It says in big letters that you can't on the site. (Note: It doesn't. I'm not that clueless!) You can't do it. You're not a regular student.
H: (pissed) I didn't see anything that told me I couldn't do it. Perhaps there was something that said that, but when I did thus and so, it let me and didn't give me any error messages...
PB: (angry) You aren't allowed to! You have to come on site, in person, and sign up for insurance! Where did it say you could do so online?!
H: (incensed, but trying to get a grip) Look, that's not the point. The point is that I did thus and so and didn't get an error message and didn't get an email and all I want --
PB: (angry at my stupidity) It doesn't work that way! You can't use it!
H: (taking a deep breath and putting away ex-project manager shredding technique 803) I get it. I get it. Clearly, I missed something. What I need to know is --
PB: (still angry at my stupidity) You have to do it in person and the window is closed!
H: (gnashing of teeth) Can I get insurance even though I'm one day late or --
PB: (continued anger in the face of my clear ineptitude) You have to come down, in person, and sign up for it. But you'll have to pay the full student fees! Most Cont. Ed. people hear about that and don't want to pay the fees and skip insurance entirely.
H: (hanging on to nerves by cracking and peeling fingernails) How much are the fees?
PB: (indignantly) They are this much.
H: (calmly with gritted teeth) That's fine. Where do I need to go?
PB: (haughtily) This location.
H: (gritted teeth) Thank you.

I set the phone gently back into its cradle and then roared at Eric, who listened to my half of the exchange with ever widening eyes.

Look, as an ex-IT project manager, it's clear to me that there was both user error and design error here. All it would have taken would have been maybe 20 lines of code to either
a) check to see if my registration allowed me to get insurance online (and then gave me a pop-up window or a nicely worded email that would have told me to get my butt to campus) or
b) just set it up so that it allows non-full time students to enroll for insurance online. Novel concept, eh?! WHY?! would they want to do it two separate ways? What the hell do they gain by making all non-full time students go on campus to sign up for insurance? Traffic congestion?!

Enraged! I got in the shower and tried to calm down. Envisioned many more angry conversations with PB. And PB's boss. Didn't calm down. Enraged! I got in the car with Eric, snarling and gnashing my teeth as we drove to campus. Didn't calm down. Enraged! I questioned whether this whole thing was worth doing anyway?!, to which Eric responded, Yes. Calming down slightly I determined that if PB was what stood between me and thousands of dollars of out of pocket expense for pregnancy related issues, that it behooved me to get the insurance first and sort out his poor customer relationship skills later. Simmering! I went in, signed the paper work, quietly thanked the pale young woman that looked at me askance (I suspect she had heard about my phone conversation with PB!), crossed the hall and paid the umpty ump dollars for insurance and Full Student Fees!, thanked that person and left.

Psychotic anger begins to bubble up again.

I snarl at Eric: I want chocolate! And a pregnancy test! And tea and pastries! Snarrrrrl! We zip off to accomplish these tasks. First to the store, then to the shop for lunch (with pastries, dammit!). I continued to playfully (with bite!) snarl at Eric who was really hoping food would soothe the savage breast. Food good. Waitress very very nice. Snarling slows down and stops. Tea is yummy. Ooh! Chocolate croissants?! Yay! Mollified, we returned home, where I processed to mark my territory to determine whether the psychotic anger was me being pregnant or me being psychotic.


Even so, here are my issues with this whole exchange:
  1. I couldn't possibly be the only person this has ever happened to.
  2. Why wouldn't they want all students to register for insurance online?
  3. WHY isn't there an error message or email?
  4. How about just a short sentence in the small window where it said CLICK HERE FOR INSURANCE that said, "But not you (list), suckers!"
  5. This was not the way for the School to handle a client contact. It shouldn't have been that hard for him to consider that I was (perhaps) an idiot and to calmly suggest that I come down and register in person, regardless of what I tried to do and why. I wanted to give them money. Schools like money. This was not good customer service.
  6. I'm not a teenager any more for some PB to shove around! What the hell?!


Scylla said...

Pregnancy and righteous anger. What an incompetant ass-hat!! What a walking poster boy for poor customer service.

I will soooooo yell at him with you if you would like me to!!

(Yay to the preggers!)

Tessa said...

I support the title of "asshat". I would like to note that now you have insurance, every school person has a supervisor. At least, until you get to the dean. But they really don't like to piss off their students.

Underemployed Nama said...

Oh my God, I don't lurk for a couple of days & the news is HUGE!!! Many congrats on the pregnancy, and you go girl on bringing those bureaucrats down. Why, in the centuries since I was in school, are the staffs of institutions of higher education still culled from the sullen troglodytes? WHY? [Job interview question: Are you now or have you ever been a sullen troglodyte? Yes? Customer service for you, bucko!]
I'm so happy for you & Eric & Caitlin.

Woman with a Hatchet said...

Thanks, everyone!

Lookout Nama! You never know what I'm going to come up with these days!

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