Thursday, June 16, 2005

Telus Again and Again

One of my clients has a direct withdrawal on her phone bill because it was getting harder and harder for her to manage her finances, and she didn't want to assign a power of attorney. She would get copies of the bill, but didn't have to worry about paying them.

I looked at her bill the other day. She is renting a phone. I have a phone I can give her. I asked her if she wanted it, she said yes. I told her she had been renting one and asked her for how long. She didn't know.

When I called Telus to tell them to stop the phone rental, I asked how long it had been rented. The woman couldn't tell me exactly, but it appeared to go back at least to 1999. At roughly $5.00 per month it looks like she has paid close to $300.00 for that phone.

This is what Telus says about itself ( direct from their website):

"becoming Canada's premier corporate citizen

"At TELUS, we have a long history of contributing positively to the communities where we live, work and serve. This legacy supports our commitment to become Canada's premier corporate citizen."

When it comes to some of the individuals in the communities where Telus lives, works, and serves, what happened to the commitment? Somehow I... oh well, never mind.

Telus Calling--Again

Well, to follow up on my story of Telus, the other day-- I spoke to another supervisor about this phone being bought for $100.00 month by month at about $5.00 per month, and the fact that the woman is not really able to figure things out like if this was a good investment or whether she should buy a phone for $25.00. They still wouldn't cancel the charge, with just letting it go, even though the thing is probably paid for{but I don't know that}. The supervisor asked me what I want her to do. I said I wanted her to drop the charge and let us return the phone. She said she couldn't do that. I asked her who could. She said no one. I said, Are you telling me the president of Telus could not cancel the charges on this phone? She said no. She explained that they had already bought the phone from a supplier so the couldn't let it be returned. I wonder.

Darren Entwhistle (CEO): If you read this, can you cancel the charge on the phone?

What Really Matters

I bought a car a couple of weeks ago ( That is not what really matters). I had resisted for a couple of years, since I sold my last one, depending instead of my bicycle, my feet, and the co-operative auto network. One of the reasons I liked not having a car was that it reminded me how much advertising and social values were telling me that I needed one. It is almost like, it is hard to look inside these days and figure out what we really need, and what is important, as opposed to what we are told. The pressure and influence aren't subtle, but what is surprising to me is how deep it can go, without our realizing it.

We do not have to buy into bigger, more expensive, the best, the most, the whateverest--we can buy into something different. We just have to stop and think about it--and think about what we really want and need and believe in.

The Director of Care of a nursing home sent me the following, I am not sure where it comes from. But it touched my heart. That is what matters.

"At the Seattle Special Olympics, nine contestants, all physically or mentally disabled, assembled at the starting line for the 100-yard dash. At the gun, they all started out, not exactly in a dash, but with a relish to run the race to the finish and win. All, that is, except one little boy who stumbled on the asphalt, tumbled over a couple of times, and began to cry.

"The other eight heard the boy cry. They slowed down and looked back. Then they all turned around and went back......every one of them.

"One girl with Down's Syndrome bent down and kissed him and said, "This will make it better." Then all nine linked arms and walked together to the finish line.
Everyone in the stadium stood, the cheering went on for several minutes. People who were there are still telling the story...

"Why? Because deep down we know this one thing:

"What matters in this life is more than winning for ourselves.

"What matters in this life is helping others win, even if it means slowing down and changing our course."

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Assisted Living

Oh oh, I feel a rant coming on. I was hoping I was going to be calm, but I think I may lose control about halfway through this.

Good article in this month's Consumer Reports about assisted living. Geared a lot to the American market, but has good tips for Canadians too. It outlines some of the things to be aware of, and ask about. The main problem, common to both countries is really what kind of help is provided and what happens if someone needs more.

It is especially relevant as British Columbia is building assisted living, thinking it is God's answer to ice cream. Or a solution to care problems. The problem is, that people go in needing only some help, and then as they age, many need more. What happens then? Things get confusing also, because a lot of what is available is what is called Independent Living, or Congregate Car, and not assisted living, that is, care with personal needs is not available.

So far so good. I think I am still in control here.

Well, maybe you can pay extra to add care. In the private sector, that is essentially what will happen. Some places have the care too, and that is when they are assited living. But there is only so much care, and then, you pay, or out you go.

Sometimes, it is a matter of safety--if a place cannot keep someone, or his or neighbours safe, they have to act.

But sometimes they just do not make the effort. I recently ran into this problem with a client who is being turfed from Independent Living, when it would have been very easy to work together to solve the problem. 'This place could not get past her behaviour (which was erratic and somewhat aggressive) to look at what the cause was. Had they done so, and understood it, which I don't think is asking too much of a company that makes it's money on the elderly. They just freaked out. It was easier.

Sometimes, it is too easy for for systems such as nursing homes, assisted living, schools, libraries, whomever, to become so wrapped up in their institutional beliefs and systems that they can't bend.

They think they do. But then they tell you something like "Well, what if we did this for everyone?" (It might be a better place.) Or, "What if everyone were to ask for that? (Let's deal with that when we get there.) Or, "If we start with this, where would it ├źnd?" (I dunno, revolution? A new world religion? Parliament being overthrown?"

On the other hand, to be fair, sometimes places do go out of their way to be accomodating, and do go out of their way to meet the needs of families and residents.Sometimes, they put up with things long after they should have put their foot down from abusive family members who treat them like crap.And they didn't, because they care, and because they have the compaasion to understand what it is like for the elderly and their caregivers. So don't give up hope that you will find one of these.

Okay. There. I'm finished now. I feel better. That wasn't so bad, was it?

Telus Calling--To Sell the Elderly a $100.00 Phone

Well, actually, the phone wasn't $100.00. It was only (ONLY????) about $80.00 but the marketing person told my client that it was only about $5.00 per month on time, which made it add up to over $100.00.

Now, Telus thinks they are doing people a favour because they got burned a few months ago when the papers reported that they were charging monhly rental fees for years and elderly people didn't realize what was going on. So now, when they find a customer paying a monthly fee they will offer this deal.

I suppose they have the right not to tell people that they could just go out and buy a phone for $20.00.

the excuses they gave me were amazing. Some people don't want the trouble of having their own phone in case it breaks down. We don't know if someone is in a nursing home or not (well they could figure it out fairly easily). They are being compassionate because they are not endlessly charging a monthly fee. Oh, one good one was something like, maybe she feels she needs all of the features. (Maybe, but the lady receives about four calls a month, and makes not many more).

When a company is telemarketing, they are doing so blindly. It seems to me that maybe there is some kind of ethics that could be employed.How hard would it be to figure out that a person is elderly, in a care facility, may not be able to make good decisions. It is kind of like the charities who blindly send out solicitations for funds, and elderly people with cognitive impairment end up sending money they can't afford until their relative or someone figures out what is going on.

I finally said to one of the Telus representatives--who sounded like a nice young man who probably has a grandmother or two--how would you feel if your grandmother bought a phone for $100.00? I think he got the point.