I received a rude email from my health fund last week.
Buried among carefully crafted paragraphs of flowery reassurance that they’re hard at work fighting the good fight for members like me was a short note providing an ‘update on my premium’.
As of 1 April, it was going up $5.35 a month.
Now, I knew this was coming. All health funds hike their premiums in April each year.
But, despite the apparently small dollar figure stated, the increase they planned to sting me was way out of whack. When I crunched it as a percentage of my premium, it was an 8.98 per cent increase.
Channelling my inner George Costanza, I decided to look up what the average increase was for this fund: 5.59 per cent. In financial lingo, this is referred to as a complete stitch up.
So I decided to fight the good fight for myself.
I called through to customer service and the girl who was to wear the brunt of my barrage. To her credit, she listened tolerantly, which you might expect given the switchboard’s probably bursting with sour grapes.
After some reassuring nodding sounds, I was given the company line, “it depends on your policy”, “some go up more than others”. The usual rubbish.
After I reiterated my increase was a bruising 60 per cent above the fund average, she handballed me on to customer care expert number two.
In between calls, I enjoyed more carefully constructed company messages, “higher benefits”, “here to help”. It could have just been the first girl talking in her sleep, I’m not sure.
Anyway, after another cross-check for cantankerousness by the second consultant, they too completed a sweeping handpass to a colleague further down the line of disgruntled customer management.
Here I proceeded to lay down my case for a third time, highlighting the flagrant robbery and asking for the best deal they had.
And, as if reimbursing me for my time on the phone, they sucked their teeth and took 4 per cent off my monthly premium.
Not quite the rude shock I set out to reciprocate, but enough to quash a complete stitch up.
Image: Matthew Wilkinson, via Flickr