Saturday, November 27, 2010

TV Shows Update: Human Target

So I just added a new show to my weekly lineup.  It is called Human Target.  The show is in its 2nd season and airs Wednesdays on Fox.  It is an action drama about a guy and his team who take on missions to protect people who are being targeted for assassination.  It is based on a comic book character from DC and you can definitely noticed this in the writing and suspended belief, but in a good way.  Each episode is like a movie.  The characters are likable and the story lines are fast paced and action packed.  I compare this show to Prison Break in terms of style.  Check this one out when you get a chance.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

People Who Shake Hands Too Hard

What's up with people who squeeze your hand too hard when you shake their hand? You know how it goes, you meet someone for the first time, shake their hand as is customary, and they squeeze your hand like they are trying to break it. In some cases, I don't think they are doing it on purpose. They probably aren't aware how hard they are squeezing. Maybe they were told by someone that you should have a firm hand shake and they think this means they should squeeze hard when they meet someone. But in other situations, they might be squeezing too hard intentionally.

When this happens, I would like to set them straight and tell them, "Hey, take it easy there. You don't have to break my hand.", but you can't say something like that to someone you are meeting for the first time without it being offensive and starting out on the wrong foot. So you just have to smile and say, "Nice to meet you" while your hand is in pain.

Can we please do away with the custom of hand shakes entirely? I have never been a fan of shaking people's hands for a number of reasons. I think this custom needs to go away. Something like bowing or a respectful nod would be better. Even just a fist bump would be better than a shake.

Anyway, if you have had someone shake your hand too hard, you know what I'm talking about. If you yourself have a firm handshake, please do a little self reflection and consider if you might be shaking other people's hands too hard. It sets a bad first impression and people will avoid you if you squeeze too hard.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

AT&T DSL Problems, False Advertising, and Frustration

As mentioned on one of my previous blogs, I recently signed up for AT&T DSL service.  So far, I have encountered so many problems, mostly related to service and billing.  You may have noticed them advertising a promotional rate of $14.95 a month for DSL internet.  Sounds pretty good right?  So I get my first bill and guess what, it is $35.00.  So of course I am like what?  I give them a call and they tell me that you have to pay the full price for 2 to 3 billing cycles before they credit your account and start giving you the promotional rate.  They say it is in the terms of service.  I read it carefully and this is what it says:

"Customers purchasing new AT&T High Speed Internet Direct Basic, Express or Pro will pay $14.95 per month for 12 months after application of bill credit. Bill credits will be applied between the 2nd and 3rd bill cycles after initiation of service."

This is not clear and it is in the fine print.  I would consider this dishonest advertising especially when they are saying clearly that "you can get DSL service for $14.95 for 12 months". They don't say, "pay full price for a few months" and then they we will give you the promotional rate.

A quick search revealed that hundreds of other customers are upset by this exact issue.  Here are a few links:

Now I did write an email to AT&T expressing my annoyance with this billing and they called me back.  They explained that this is just how the system works and that I should be getting credited eventually so that it will bring the overall cost down to what it would be if I were paying the $14.95 right from the beginning.  I'm not holding my breath on that one. Customer complaints have already expressed that they kept getting billed for the full price even ever 2 to 3 billing cycles.  Something tells me I may have to contact customer service again in a couple months.

And the billing is not even the tip of the iceberg with problems I have been having with AT&T.  I wanted to opt out of their privacy sharing policy.  I tried to do it several times.  Guess what, I got an error every time.

I tried to log into my account online.  The only way you can get access is to have them send you a code by email.  Ok, so I request a code.  Guess what, they don't send it.  I tell this to the customer service guy and he tells me the system is broken and I will have to request it again.

In my email to AT&T I had a lot to say about all the issues I have been having.  Surely nothing can go wrong with that right?  Wrong!  Their email system doesn't even allow you to write more that 1000 characters.  That is like a couple paragraphs.  Do I need to send 3 separate emails just to include everything I need to say? 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Cost of Medical Bills is Way too High!

What ever happened that made doctors and hospitals think they can charge outrageous amounts of money for services?  If you have had any medical expenses lately you know what I am talking about.  Now I know doctors should earn a lot for their experience and they have to cover the cost of equipment and employees, not to mention any legal costs that might occur, but still, these medical costs are getting out of hand. I'm talking everything from doctor visits to hospital visits to dentist visits to prescription drugs.

For those who are lucky enough to have insurance, that does help, especially for annual visits where you usually just have to pay a small co-pay.  However, if you need any other tests or work done, prepare to pay an arm and a leg.

Recently, I had a check up and the doctor heard a murmur in my chest and recommended that I have an echocardiogram done to check it out.  Ok, so of course I follow his advice and make the appointment.  The test was basically an ultrasound of the chest which took about 30 minutes to complete. Pretty easy.  They didn't tell me about costs or anything in advance or while I was there.  I just had to give them the form from my doctor.  I figured, I would probably have to pay a co-pay of $30 and the insurance would cover the rest of it.

 A couple weeks later I get the bill in the mail.  It is over $2,000!  What?  How is a 30 minute ultrasound test $2,000?  Luckily the insurance covered a lot of it, but in the end they are still charging me over $600.  I had to pay a deductible of $500 plus a percent of the remaining balance.  Who has that kind of money to just drop on a random test that you doctor says you should get? I don't make a lot of money, but I do manage the little I do have well so I have some saved up, but still, this will take a huge chunk out of my savings.

If I would have known the cost of this test, I might not have had it done, or at least talk to my doctor to make sure it was absolutely necessary.  By the way, the test results were fine, so it basically cost me over $600 for them to look at my heart and say it was fine. 

Why don't hospitals tell you the costs up front?  Even looking on their website, there is nothing about the costs of each procedure.  I did a search on the internet to get an idea of the costs and there was very little information out there on the entire internet.

I mean, you don't go into a car dealership, take a car, and then later get a bill for how much the dealership wants to charge you.  You know how much it is before you buy it, then you make your decision.  This is how most things work whether it is a product or a service.  The prices are advertised.  Why should health care be any different?  Oh yeah, so you don't know how much you have to pay until it it too late.  The medical field is really taking advantage of people in this way.  It's time for a change!

If you read this and have an opinion on the matter, leave a comment below.