Friday, November 17, 2006

Scooter War: Battle Plan for Friday, 11/17/06

Some very good questions and feedback from the previous scooter post came up in the comments, so I'm going to add to my program for tomorrow.

First, the shopping needs doing. After that, I'll be wiped out. So I'm not sure how long I'll be awake to get phone calls returned. What I'll try for is to at least make all the outgoing calls I want to do, before I crash for the day.

The scooter company that's been plaguing me is Central Medical Equipment Rentals. They also did my CPAP machine and are supposed to do my diabetes testing supplies. Oh yeah. All eggs in one basket. No alternatives without a grievance, etc. etc.

The scooter they delivered in July - the same model as the Nov. 2004 scooter - is called *Merits Twin Front Wheel.* This one is Serial # 3120374, BTW. I'm reading off its little green tag, which I scarfed in advance of complaints.

The reason I gave up on Central is that they're so incompetent there's simply no point in trying to beat a working scooter out of them. That's what I was trying to do all through July and August. No good. No further chance for redemption. Their incompetence is simply stunning.

And: since I've filed three complaints against them, and will add to that because of the CPAP, and will greatly enjoy exploring what, if any, legal action I can take against them - trying to get a working scooter from Central wouldn't actually even be proper at this point. It's a sort of legal nicety, but for very good reasons: 1. Don't do business with your enemy - a. because enemies, by nature, can't be trusted; b. because it gives the false impression that you think they're okay after all. 2. While I haven't sued them yet, I will try to. And while *my lawyer can talk to your lawyer,* it's improper for the underlying clients to talk either to each other, or to opposing counsel. Best to sever communications now.

The name of the *GOOD Scooter Company* (can you hear the heavenly choir singing?) is Chair Care Plus, of Pompano Beach, FL. I got their name from Lincare, a respiratory equipment supplier Cindi told me about. I called Lincare's Ft. Lauderdale office to ask for the name of a good local scooter company; they said Chair Care Plus. I called them on the phone and got a good impression, asked some questions, so forth. The owner/president of the company was the one who talked to me. I ran errands that day, and went by their office on the way home.

I talked to that owner, and was even more impressed. Since I couldn't get out of the car very well, he came out to talk to me in the parking lot, bringing a scooter to show me. The difference in quality between that scooter and the Merits was stunning. I don't think it was a particularly high-end model, either.

He behaved with me the way I did with my old furniture-shipping customers in so many ways. I told him about Central and he refused to bad-mouth the competition: same as I used to do, he tried to find ways to say, --Well, they have their way of doing things; what we do here is...yada yada. It cracked me up and I said, Hey, they totally suck, okay? It's all right to say so, I already know.

This is just a small business. Yet Chair Care is the company that does all the store scooters on our area! That speaks well for them too.

He told me Chair Care doesn't carry the Merits brand because it has so many manufacturer problems, it wasn't entirely Central's fault. (Well, yes, because then they should NOT CARRY MERITS SCOOTERS.)

Where was I?

Oh. So if it breaks down, it's impossible to get parts. He was trying to repair a Merits for another customer of his, one who'd bought it elsewhere for cash. The fool manufacturer didn't even know its own parts - he finally had to email them a photo of the broken part. Folks, as a businessperson, that is an amazing thing to hear about any company.

I left him with this: Is there any way I can transport a scooter or motor wheelchair with my little Saturn? He thinks not, but will call the Saturn people to see. Also: Is he willing to do an interim rental while my complaint gets messed around at HO? Sure, he said, and went off into a lot of technical HMO stuff until he saw my eyes were glazing over. I didn't mind, because I could see he's more than skilled at dealing with HMO bullshit. That matters, hugely.

So. Tomorrow I'll call him and see if he has any answers for me yet. I've no doubt HO won't do an interim rental, but at least I can tell them he is willing, which was my real point.

Next, I can see if there's any way we can set up a short term rental even if I have to pay for it. Certainly I wouldn't mind a used one for that. This would address that *in the meantime* question of Desert Cat's.

I'll also ask him all about the cost questions you guys brought up. I do know, for instance, that Sam's has some decent looking scooters for less than $1000, and that others often run a couple thousand. Generally, whatever our local Sam's carries is very good to excellent in quality, and for superb prices. But scooters I don't know nuthin' about, so comparing cost-for-quality would be time-consuming. I've seen some on the web for less, but they don't look very sturdy.

Chair Care may also have some used ones for sale. If it comes to that, I think I'd rather try to get a used one from him than someplace else, even like Salvation Army or what have you. He also does a lot of repair work, which we discussed in some detail, so I think I'd trust him as a good *mechanic* you'd get a used car from.

Oh! And one last place to check: GrannyJ has mentioned *Freecycle.* Maybe a scooter is too high-end for that, but hey, it's time I checked into them anyway.

Since I certainly don't want to hang with BCBS HO M&M any more, and I must make a choice of a new provider before December 31, I'll be investigating which plans have good scooter coverage. I may even go straight Medicare and no HMO at all. But that's a whole another ball of wax. For now, the ultimate solution may end up being this: get a good scooter from whoever is my provider as of January 1, 2007.

If I have to pay for a rental until then, so be it - at least, I'll try to find the funds. I can't keep letting my life fall apart while I wait. Transporting it in my car is a whole different issue, and much harder to get any provider to cover. But even if it's just for home use, scootering about to the kitchen etc. means my foot has enough *health* left over to do walking to doc's offices and stores. (Maybe.)

And since I revamped my bricks in the nick of time - little did I know it then! - I can take the home scooter outside and WATER and WEED and all those things that play a big part in keeping me happy. Clean up that back yard. Yes, there's a great deal I can do right now without endangering my foot - IF I have at least a home scooter.

I'll also bite my lip and ask any store and doc's office who can, to bring a chair or scooter to my car when I go there. Must needs. A leg is of far greater value than my pride.

I feel ready for battle again. Sleeping so much today helped. But your supportive comments and suggestions and questions went far more toward making me feel strong enough again. I don't know a way to say this that equals what you guys gave me: so, just, thank you.

12 comments:

Livey said...

We want you to have a scooter today! If we have to get a campaign to get k a scooter today going we will dammit! You are not alone in this hun. You know I would get on the horn and fight Congress for one for you if I have to! But I will not do it unless you say so. Just say the word!

Desert Cat said...

Regarding the transportability issue, I was looking around and there are several models out there that break down into parts no heavier than about 25-35 lbs each. Just wondering if you've looked into that, or if there are other issues that would prevent you from using such a scooter.

Granted you have to be standing for a few minutes while you take off the seat, take out the batteries and put the two halves of the scooter in the trunk. I don't know if something like that would create more problems than it solves for you.

Here's a "for example": http://i20.ebayimg.com/01/i/08/c4/1e/df_1.JPG

Granny J said...

k -- I checked out FreeCycle with The Google, found
these groups presumably in your area:

freecycle.meetup.com/lists/us/fl/pompano_beach/

www.broward.org/recycling/donations.htm

http://freecycle.org/display.php?region=US%20Southern#Florida

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/coralspringsfreecycle/

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/davieflafreecycle/

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/HollywoodFLFreecycle/

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/PembrokePinesfreecycle/

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/TamaracFLFreecycle/

Of the lot, Coral Springs seemed to be the most active. Don't know if this helps, but the one item I got through FreeCycle (my fine new mailbox) was pretty good quality. Also: if there are any of those independent living/assisted living places nearby, there is a lot of turnover -- and at Mom's place, fancy scooters are always on sale.
A further thought -- for the meantime. Isn't there some sort of 1)dial-a-ride for incapacitated individuals
or 2) shopping service
that you can call on? Maybe the Sal can give you info on such services.

BTW, I hope you bring the bastards to their knees!

Desert Cat said...

The cost of renting from Chair Care Plus is $269 per month. (Zoiks!!!)

My gosh! You could own a functional scooter to get by with a couple months at that rate...

k said...

Holy smokes! You guys are GOOD!

Livey, hopefully you already read the new post. If not - scroll up! A whiff of possible good news wafted by...enough to be patient till Monday.

GrannyJ, thank you so much for all those links! I love the idea of this to begin with, and I also have so much stuff I'd rather *trade* than bother offloading via a yard sale. If it works out with the insurance company doing the scooter, I wanted all these links anyway. What fun!

And, yeah. I'm out for blood at this point.

Desert Cat, it looks to me like that's a pretty good rental price, for down here. Yikes, huh?

So you found out about that transportability thing. Now: I didn't go into detail at the time, but when I did the written complaint, the part against Central mentions that they didn't explain to me in 2004 that the scooter was made to be taken apart to transport in a car. I mean, I asked and asked and asked about how one transports a scooter. They said no, not possible, it never gets aproved. Then, in an August 2006 convo with Central, the asshole was blaming ME for not knowing they can come apart!!! AND, that if I'd asked for a *motorized wheelchair,* they might have said Yes! Yeah. All MY fault.

I put that in the complaint, too.

Here's the only reason I discovered they break down for transport: In July, I was sick of the edema getting so bad. I called HO to say, Hey, can you break up the $500 deductible into payments or something, anything...and they said I didn't HAVE to pay a deductible because it was a REPAIR. See, on 10/27/04, delivery date of Scooter #1, there was NOT a deductible in place. That only started 1/1/05.

So, I was thrilled.

And as I waited for HO and Central to paper up, I surfed. I wanted to know if there was any way at all Walter and I could afford to get one of those little scooter platforms people attach to a certain type of hitch on the back of an ordinary car.

As I surfed, I discovered - to my astonishment - that most scooters ARE made to come apart in 4 pieces, 25-40 pounds at most.

And I hit the roof.

Because from 10/27/04 till 10/24/05 - Wilma Ground Zero day, when the hurricane came in the house and fried its wiring - that entire YEAR, I had no idea I could transport it. One YEAR of parking lot walking, to the docs, pharmacies, stores.

Permanent extra damage, pain, and susceptibility to new infection.

Desert Cat said...

Livey, I thought it was a silly idea, but Daisycat did also mention calling her Senators. She seemed serious about it as an option.

k said...

With any luck, that won't be necessary. But...well, more on that later.

Oh! DC, I just realized I forgot to answer the rest of your question:

If all I can get for transportability is a scooter that does break down, that's okay. Some days won't be good for that, especially with the new damage in the foot. I won't know for a few more weeks how bad the permanent new damage will be, but frankly, it doesn't look hopeful for much more improvement. It's been a month since onset, and it's still way painful, especially where the old 2004 damage was. MRSA is famous for this, I hear.

Anyway: If they say *YES* to the authorization, I'm home free. At that point, it's negotiating details. I'm not even sure my little Saturn could hold the correct hitch and platform.

Decision: -If Saturn is NOT logistically feasible, I can't do the platform anyway. The only solution is after I win the lottery and get a bigger, stronger vehicle.

-If Saturn is logistially feasible, then, twist the HELL out of HO's arm and get a platform.

-If that doesn't work, try to get one out of the next insurance carrier come January 1, 2007.

-If that doesn't work, try to find a used one and pay ourselves.

-Meanwhile, whatever kind of scooter is approved: Make sure it can break down for transport. Once they say yes, I can probably turn that into a dealbreaker.

Then at least I'll have that much. And I'm pretty good at figuring out ways to get things done sitting down.

I'm also very strong. Very. Except when I'm not, of course.

k said...

With any luck, that won't be necessary. But...well, more on that later.

Oh! DC, I just realized I forgot to answer the rest of your question:

If all I can get for transportability is a scooter that does break down, that's okay. Some days won't be good for that, especially with the new damage in the foot. I won't know for a few more weeks how bad the permanent new damage will be, but frankly, it doesn't look hopeful for much more improvement. It's been a month since onset, and it's still way painful, especially where the old 2004 damage was. MRSA is famous for this, I hear.

Anyway: If they say *YES* to the authorization, I'm home free. At that point, it's negotiating details. I'm not even sure my little Saturn could hold the correct hitch and platform.

Decision: -If Saturn is NOT logistically feasible, I can't do the platform anyway. The only solution is after I win the lottery and get a bigger, stronger vehicle.

-If Saturn is logistially feasible, then, twist the HELL out of HO's arm and get a platform.

-If that doesn't work, try to get one out of the next insurance carrier come January 1, 2007.

-If that doesn't work, try to find a used one and pay ourselves.

-Meanwhile, whatever kind of scooter is approved: Make sure it can break down for transport. Once they say yes, I can probably turn that into a dealbreaker.

Then at least I'll have that much. And I'm pretty good at figuring out ways to get things done sitting down.

I'm also very strong. Very. Except when I'm not, of course.

k said...

And, about getting rides from handicap services? The problem is allergies. Over the years I've tried and tried and I gave up.

See, the foot is actually not my biggest disability. The first, and by far the worst, is simply allergies. Very extreme, lethal, never-quite-controlled allergies to absolutely everything. I live a sort of half-bubble life.

Often the inside of the vehicle those transportation services use is coated with so-called air fresheners. Sometimes the sick and disabled aren't as clean as we'd like, and the drivers often complain about their odors. They feel quite aggrieved if you point out that their extreme use of perfumes and plug-in Glade stuff in their cigarette lighters and Lysol and all, may be giving their patients even worse breathing problems than they had to begin with.

And that's just for *regular* asthma and allergy folks.

I am not.

Entering a vehicle like that can kill me, and very quickly. That, despite the high doses of steroids, antihistamines, etc. I use every day.

Now add on the patients wearing their OWN perfume. Or simply washing their clothes in Tide or Surf detergents.

Last but not least: we have recurring problems with drivers raping the disabled passengers. I'm absolutely NOT a Chicken Little type. But frankly, down here it's perfectly reasonable to feel unsafe using those transportation services.

Okay. Have someone shop for me, k not in any vehicle at all?

Perfumed hand lotion. Worse yet? Because I carry CA-MRSA, out comes the most viciously perfumed hand sanitizers they can find.

Then it's all over the bags, and on every single item inside. Believe me, it doesn't wash off.

Then, they want to bring it in the house. With some agencies, they get in big trouble if they DON'T bring it inside, fearing theft, or the disabled person falling down and suing, or some such.

But virtually no one is ever allowed inside my house, because I'm so allergic to other humans. If my one *safe air* environment is contaminated, I'm in deep trouble. Sometimes it requires an extensive and expensive revamping of every HEPA filter, or sometimes machine too, in the place, plus washing all the walls, oh Lord more besides. I don't even want to THINK about it.

And those filters and machines, of course, are NOT covered by insurance. All my cost.

Oh, it goes on and on and on. But you get the general drift.

GUYK said...

Oh we can make a made for tv movie out of this! The woman in the bubble! Be rich! Solve all our problems! Oh my head is spinning!
Sure you don't want me to call Congress?

livey42 said...

Oops that was me, forgot I was working on guys blog and was still signed in!

k said...

Hah! You know, you got a point there Livey! Oh, the gory details are really fun.