23 March 2016

We don't have to allow ourselves to be screwed!

Have you ever been overcharged by the bank or credit union you deal with?  Have you ever been overcharged by a doctor? Have you ever been ripped off by what should be an honorable institution like a bank or doctor or utility or any other service that is pretty much a necessity in this society?  I bet you're nodding vigorously!

I am one of those people who just can't stand injustice. I campaign for justice in much of my life, so when I encounter this kind of chicanery it really gets me going.  I am sharing this with the intention of encouraging others to not allow themselves to be screwed.

Recently the credit union I was banking with charged me for overdraft fees that were not legit.  The funds were there, but they charged me anyway.  I made a stink, filed a grievance with the state agency that regulates banking, who forwarded my complaint to the federal agency that regulates credit unions.  It took about 6 weeks but the credit union called me, apologized, and paid me back.  This experience led me to wonder, how many people are charged fees by banks and credit unions...$25 here, $50 there...that are not legitimate? I bet it ends up being millions of dollars a year.  If it happens to you, you have recourse!  Your state has an agency that regulates banking, and you can contact them, file a complaint, and they will have to deal with it.

Currently I am dealing with a situation with a doctor who charged me $500 for a 10 minute consultation that involved looking down my throat with a scope.  The outcome was that I was told to drink more water.  $500 for 10 minutes?  You have got to be kidding.  Whether a person has insurance or not (I do not due to a snafu at Healthcare.gov which is hopefully being resolved) that is wild overcharging.  That is the kind of overcharging that creates hugely inflated medical costs all around.  Why is this tolerated?  I have filed complaints with the Medical Board and the Consumer Protection Agency of the state I am in, Oregon.  The Medical Board replied telling me they did not find any illegal activity, but they keep the complaint and add it to the doctor's file.  I have yet to hear from the Consumer Protection Agency.

If we do not speak up when we are being ripped off, then we are allowing it.  I, for one, am not inclined to just allow this stuff.  These are minuscule issues in the bigger scheme of things, but the ongoing disenfranchisement of regular folks in favor of institutions is not healthy for people and not healthy for society.

I encourage you to notice when you are being ripped off, and to do something about it.  The mechanisms exist for holding institutions accountable, and it's not difficult to access them.  It can be tedious to fill out the forms, so some patience is required.  Outcomes are not fast, so again, patience is required, however when one is vindicated it is a great feeling, and hopefully the offenders learn from the experience and stop ripping people off!

So, if you are being ripped off by any provider of a service, you do not have to just take it.  You have the right to seek and to find justice!

No comments: