Customer Service: How Would You Have Handled It?

I want to share with you an experience I had yesterday as a conversation starter. I'd really like to know how you might have handled this. I may vent a little as we go along, so this is likely also therapy for me. I'll try to keep it PG. Angry businessman looking at his phone handset

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Act One

I had recently applied for health insurance as an individual (not as a member of a group) for my family. My company's plans are pretty pricey and I wanted to see if there was a cheaper alternative, since I pay 100% of the premium myself anyway.

So I contacted Zander Insurance like a good little Ramsey acolyte, who sent me over to since they don't write coverage in my state. I filled out an application for a policy with Aetna and sat back to wait.

Act Two

What followed were a string of phone calls and emails as they tried to gather more information on every single person in the family. My wife was hounded for several days while we had company in town about getting to a doctor for a blood pressure reading. We got so many phone calls and email follow-ups, it was hard to know whether we still needed to contact them again or if everything had been handled.

Finally, I received a "Welcome to Aetna" email, followed quickly by a "We've been trying to contact you but haven't been successful" email. Now, I have caller ID and a virtual PBX on every phone, so I know no one tried to call. I rang them back to find out that we had been approved, but only for 3 of the 4 of us. I had been disqualified for a pre-existing condition.

I indicated that I had another application out and would let them know when I heard back. They said thanks.

And then they charged me for a month's premium, 36 days before coverage was to begin.

Act Three


I rang to complain and ask for help. They spent most of the call saying, "Well, if you'd let me explain" and "It's perfectly legal in Virginia". I was livid at being charged for a product I hadn't actually accepted, legal or otherwise, and my agent's insistence on taking the carrier's side didn't do anything to alleviate my disappointment.

I've withdrawn my application with Aetna and now get to wait up to 10 days for a refund of that premium. Great, thanks. That doesn't impact my budget at all....

I honestly don't know who has disappointed me more -- Aetna, for charging me in full for a product I was just considering under the guise of "hey, we can legally do that" or ehealthinsurance for failing completely to understand that I, their customer, was hurting and needed to have my pain heard by someone who could understand and do something about it besides defend the ones who hurt me.

How about you? How might you have handled this, either in my shoes, Aetna's, or ehealthinsurance's? Leave a comment and let's talk about it!