Monday, January 10, 2011

i have no interesting title...

Alright, a general sort of update-post, and musing about work, which I understand isn't the most exciting subject but so it goes.

So, I work for a health insurance company- one of the country's biggest. I'm at a call-center, outsourced by that company, and usually I act as a sort of soft-core debt collector. Since people don't go into debt with us, it's more a friendly reminder that their bill is outstanding, which is fine. Though, the reactions of people when I call can be somewhat hilarious if they think I AM a debt collector, and I have to gently let them know that I'm not. And they appologise and try to convince me that they're usually good at paying, and appologise some more... but that's ok. Hey, I wouldn't want a call from someone telling me I hadn't paid my bill...
But sometimes, I have to try and retain members who want to close their policy.
We used to be able to freeze their membership for 2 months, effectively giving them '2 months free' where they didn't have to pay. Awesome. Just lost your job? No problems. On a pension? Have some saving time. Going through a rough patch? This should help... But not any more.
So here's a scenario: Dear old Betty calls up. She's 83.

There she is. She looks peeved. I'd be peeved too. Remember how I said I needed more pictures on here?
 The main things she'll need would be dentures, heart surgery, and a hip replacement. Maybe a hearing aid, too. This makes for a very, very expensive cover. I'm talking $130 a month expensive, assuming she's had cover since 2000, which I'll assume she has, because most of them have, and have been paying a fortune for years. Now $130 isn't TOO bad... but it's pretty bad on a pension. So my job is figuring out what Betty needs... convincing her how her membership will provide her with these things, adjust her membership accordingly, and thank her very much for her time. But often, for Betty, the recently or long-term unemployed, the single-parent with 3 kids, or whatever... it's a case of eating... or paying for health insurance. And you know what, it's INSURANCE. It's a just-in-case. It's not something to sustain your family. Hell, if the single parent told me they wanted the money to take their kids to the movies and a game of mini-golf, I'd say go for it.
But I'm not supposed to.
And I can't do what they want me to do because it's not right to do that. I'm meant to put up a fight. To 'handle' their 'objections'.
"Oh, Betty, you won't be able to afford your groceries and medication this week? But at least, if you get sick in the future, you'll be able to go into the private hospital... If you have an accident? No, then you'll go through the public system. What's that? If you don't tell them you have insurance? Yes, your treatment WILL be free... no, there's no guarentee that by having insurance you won't pay anything. In fact, you're almost guarenteed to have something to pay. Yes, I know that it makes no sense that you're paying monthly for something just so you can pay again when you need to use it, but that's the system we're dealing with here."

And it's not so bad now, but we used to get paid based on how many of these people we could convince to stay. We still do, to a degree, but it's nothing as bad as it was.

So that's a rant. And I will take the moral highground and close Betty's membership, management be damned if they don't like the way I operate.

On a more positive, and possibly interesting note (more interesting than me rambling on about my morals? Unimaginable!), we had quite a good weekend. Saturday was too hot to do much, but Sunday was cool, a little drizzly, but good for a drive.
We hit up probably 8 or so 'potential' venues. We liked one town hall (that I thought would be scummy but had awesome windows and surrounded by a bit of bush), found one winery, and right across the road were some 'formal' gardens...
The winery, Acacia Ridge, in the Yarra Valley is run by a husband and wife team. On wednesday, they're erecting a permanent gazebo next to the 1850's miner's cottage they have on the property. It's almost like being in their backyard in a lot of ways, but in that, it feels very relaxed, casual, and cool. The outlook is spectacular. It was a cloudy day, and most of the mountains were obscured but the view was STILL awesome.
The owner told us he made money by selling wine, not through weddings. I get the feeling that enough people (including his kids) approached them about holding a wedding there that they caved, and do it 'on the side'. I like that they're not trying to gouge people their money. In fact, if we did our own catering, he'd charge $10p/p for the use of the grounds... which, with what I've heard is a 'good caterer', would mean we could be looking at $45p/p which is MUCH more reasonable than $100. It also just felt like a family thing. He was talking about how he could cater, but he'd be getting Dad, and Father-in-law to help with the steaks, or do this and that, and wanted to involve OUR families in the day... which was really nice. Plus there was a really nice open grassy space for umbrellas and blankets, and it just felt really nice. Plus, me, the picky wine drinker, LOVED their pink wine- sweet, delicious.. we bought a bottle, and a bottle of, I forget.. but it's like strong wine. Anyway, very tasty stuff.
We also went to Alowyn gardens, which we saw by accident as we drove away from Acacia ridge. Nic managed to sweet-talk his way in for free (usually a $9 admission) by telling them about the wedding. There's a looooooong arch looking on to a fountain, with speakers in the arch... and it's a semi-formal garden with some little hedges, but also a grove of fruit trees, and lots of flowers... and it's not the ideal thing that I wanted (under a big tree!!!) but... it was still nice. $750 for the ceremony for 3 hours, so time for drinks in their courtyard area... apparently the archway thing is quite waterproof so is VERY outdoors/indoors in a cool way...
Plus, maybe, the flowers would still be out!
The archway from the little hedge thingie, Wisteria flowers out... preeeeety!
From inside the arch, in Autumn, looking to the fountain, where we would stand (I guess). Guests would sit in the archway area.
This is all very exciting! It means we have potential venues (!!!!), though I still want to look at the Mornington Peninsula, I'm not feeling so depressed now about the whole thing costing many many moneys. If we were to do it at these places I reckon we could keep it under 10k without too much trouble. Which would be really nice!

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