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(c) 2014. Trina Lambert

(c) 2014. Trina Lambert

Details, people, details. The devil is in the details and sometimes the devil is in me when an organization’s lack of attention to detail causes me trouble. This is when I have to take deep breaths and remind myself that I firmly believe in treating service people with respect, no matter whether or not they deserve it. This is when I am supposed to apply that grace (that they most certainly have not earned) while making certain that details do get resolved as needed. This is also when I need both grace for the uncharitable thoughts I am thinking and prayers to help me get that devil out of my head.

Suppose we are buying a car to replace the one we just sold for cash and want to access investments to cover the difference between the cash just received and the purchase price of the new car. Since we do not know the exact amount we will need to cover costs of the car, licensing fees, and any upgrades we do to the car, such as putting on a hitch or other accessories, we decide to complete the purchase using our Discover Card. We have credit on the card, so not only will we know just how much to take out of our investment when the time comes, but we will also buy time to complete the not-so-quick transaction that allows us to receive that investment money, all while earning a Cashback Bonus for the purchase.

So, you ask, how did that really work for us?

Believe it or not, the charge appeared under the pending charges immediately, but disappeared after a few weeks. I finally called Discover Card to find out what happened to the charge—the truth was nothing had happened to the charge. It was still pending but since it had not been finalized by the dealer, the transaction was moved to some inactive file visible to Discover, but not to me. The representative and I had a good laugh about my “reduced” price car, but I told her we would be contacting the dealer.

The dealership thanked my husband when he called about the problem. And then the charges still didn’t show up. By now I was starting to wonder if this would delay our ability to get the license plates by the time the temporary license expired. I mean, the expiration date is July 7, one week from today, which is also the first Monday after a holiday weekend. I know better than to expect a good time any day at the DMV, but especially now thanks to the short work week falling between today and then.

Guess what? A few hours ago I went to my Discover account and discovered (ha, ha) that the pending charge went through, still dated May 9, as well as a new charge dated June 11—which is crazy since the last time I checked the account about a week ago—long past June 11—no charges showed anywhere. Then my husband and I divided duties—he called the dealership and I called Discover.

The representative at Discover Card told me it can take 15 days for merchant-authorized credits to show up, but not to worry. When I still seemed worried, he asked, “Haven’t you had refunds before?” Yes, but not for such a large amount! Forgive me for not feeling that patient. Plus, this artificially high usage of credit will now show on my credit reports, even if all goes as planned.

When my husband called the dealership again today, he was told a credit had been issued on Friday and should show up any time, plus the title should arrive this week. That’s right—don’t hurry with that paperwork. The post office and title offices aren’t affected by the short work week either—which means that at some point this week I may have to choose to go in to get an extension on that temporary plate. It’s only my time and money—don’t sweat the details, right?

I suppose it’s just the devil in me that wants to shout, “People—just get it right the first time!” I’ll concede that we all make errors from time to time, but I don’t believe it’s too much to ask that businesses correct errors in a timely manner after an error is pointed out—and then work really hard not to add more errors to the initial mistake.

Suppose you see me at the DMV twice in the next two weeks, I would advise you to stay the devil away from me—and that’s a detail to which you will want to attend, make no mistake about that.

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(c) 2012 Trina Lambert

Disclaimer: This post was not inspired by yesterday’s post about receiving a life insurance payout in the wrong name. No, I originally wrote it in March 2012, but did not post it at the time; however, after receiving that payout check, I revisited this rant. As I said, I’ve been experiencing difficulties with people getting my name wrong since I was born half a century ago. Consequently I’ve had many opportunities to think about this problem. I’ve decided that as important as it is for financial institutions to use correct names, it’s even more important for medical practices to use patients’ correct names—whether or not I am the patient.

If yours is a typical or common name, you might think I’m being petty. You might also think that I am taking one minor detail and making it more important than it should be. Of course, you have a right to do so, but maybe that’s because you aren’t often in my shoes or the shoes of my daughter—or weren’t in my mother’s shoes.

Because if a physician’s office can’t get our names right—whether it’s the receptionist, health assistant, nurse, and/or doctor—despite our reminding you every time you say our names incorrectly—we’re going to start to question whether yours is the right practice for us.

It’s not that we don’t understand misreading our names—as I’ve said, people in general have done that all our lives. But once or twice, OK? We don’t mind if you stop and ask if you don’t really know how to say our names—that shows that you are reading what’s written. Just know that I, personally, will correct you every single time you say it wrong, even if you do so for sixteen years. Please don’t act annoyed by that. I imagine you do want to call patients by the correct name, but you’re busy and mistakes can happen when you have too many things to do at once.

How about adding a phonetic spelling to our charts so that any staff member who picks up our chart has an extra clue as to how to get it right the first time? In a paper-centric world, you can put it on a sticky note and add it to the folder. On the other hand, if you only use computers and your programs don’t allow that, then you really should ask the service providers to look into providing a way to add notes to the name section with their next update.

And your attempts at empathy by saying that you hate it when someone gets your name wrong? Make sure you really do have a unique name. There’s a big difference in assigning the wrong nickname or misspelling a name—as in “My name’s Michelle and people call me Shelly” or “I’m Kathy with a ‘K’ and everyone assumes my name begins with a ‘C’ instead”—versus getting the name wrong. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it as long as I know our names: my name’s Patrina, not Patricia, my daughter’s name is Christiana, not Christina, and my mother’s name was Elda, not Edna.

You see, getting names right is a good sign that you care about each patient as an individual. Names are central to who we are. No matter what Shakespeare said, if I call a rose a thistle, it does not seem as sweet. Even if I call a rose a daisy, it’s still just incorrect. When you consistently call people by the wrong names, then that raises concerns about how well you are paying attention to patients’ unique problems.

We start to wonder if you are listening to what we are saying. Or do you have problems recording information accurately? Something so small as starting our visits by calling us back by the wrong names could introduce doubt into how well we feel you do everything else in your office.

No, the customer/patient isn’t always right, but we are right to expect you to show us respect by attempting to get our names right.

What optimists my parents were–this was obviously written before I was born!

Remember how I was emptying out my house and hoping the Universe would find more space in it for good opportunities? Well, what does it mean when a long-awaited payout arrives . . . with my name not just misspelled, but wrong??!! Does that suggest I better do some more cleaning out?

Or is it just another example of how hard it is to get many organizations to take good care of their customers/clients?

Really, I wanted to cry because I was both happy to see the payout and incredibly frustrated that someone would not take the time to get my name spelled right on something so important.

You see, my mother’s former employer informed the executor of her estate—who is my brother Scott—earlier this summer that she had owned a group life insurance policy and we were owed money. He had to figure out what steps we needed to take and we both had to certify some papers. Now, mind you, our mother died in January 2011 and he had notified all the companies we knew needed to be informed of her passing. We knew about her pension—which ended with her death—and let the employer know right away. What we didn’t know about was that policy.

I suppose we could have never known. Maybe the employer got audited? Maybe when I asked someone to remove her name from a mailing list for retired employees threatening a lawsuit that triggered something somewhere that told the right department of her passing?

Anyway, in a lot of ways it’s rather unconscionable for such a payout to take almost 20 months to arrive. But, for the most part, Scott and I have been trying to think of this along the “not looking at a gift horse in the mouth” lines and just trying to go along with the flow.

That was a lot easier for me before the money came to me in the wrong name. Folks—my name is Patrina. P-a-t-r-i-n-a. After 50 years of such mistakes, I still get riled up when people who should be the kind of people who read carefully for details, don’t. Especially when they don’t even apologize for the error . . . and ask me to wait a little longer. Seriously, if you’re not going to be accurate, a little empathy would go a long way.

Just guessing that the company managed to spell my brother’s name right—then again, he always did keep a lot fewer things in his house than I did. Maybe he’s just better prepared for the Universe to hand-out its goodies?

Nonetheless, I thank Mom for her foresight and God for prodding these people to hand out what she intended to provide for us.

While waiting—again—for the payout, I got out more donations (this time for ARC)—and the corrected check arrived a couple days later.

Maybe it doesn’t hurt to hedge my bets. In case the Universe is listening, I’m continuing to clean-out my house. (And just to be sure, that’s Patrina, spelled P-a-t-r-i-n-a!)

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