Catch up on the journey with the links below:
Hallelujah! Yesterday was delivery day! I can hear!
But as usual with my experiences through this process over the last 110 days, getting my hearing aides and getting over this final hurdle was not without its issues.
The week following the ENT paperwork debacle, I get an email out of the blue from the TWC person handling my case. She was supposed to let me know when the paperwork from the ENT came in but instead she just opted to wait until it was processed and then send me an email stating that they were ready to process my payment. However, her "we want your money now" email did not provide me with any information regarding how much money they wanted or the accepted forms of payment. It was just a "hey, we've processed the paperwork from the ENT and you can come in and pay when you're ready" type email. That was it.
Luckily for me, I had asked at the previous TWC agent handling my case for pricing information and he had sent that to me a few days later. At least I had an idea of what I would be expected to pay once I got to the TWC office from that exchange. Unluckily for me, I assumed that in today's modern digital world that they would accept modern forms of payment.
I was wrong.
Once at the office, I whipped out my trusty debit card ready to swipe and be done only to be told that they don't accept debit/credit cards as payment. I inquired about cash. Nope, no cash. Okay, what forms are accepted? Cashier's checks and personal checks only. Well, I left my checkbook at the house thinking surely they wouldn't expect me to write them a personal check for $4500 and even if they did that they would likely want to ensure that the check clears the bank before they process my order. That's just another delay and I was trying to pay with the most efficient form available so we could move this whole thing forward faster.
Fortunately, my bank was like 2 blocks from the TWC office. I had the TWC rep write down on a post-it note the exact amount needing to be paid and the exact payee name the cashier's check needed to be made out to. She provided me with the necessary information and off to the bank I went. A few minutes later I was back with a cashier's check made out to her exact specifications. I handed her the money and she handed me nothing back in return. No receipt. No invoice. No purchase order. Nothing. I didn't even so much as get a hand-written piece of paper to show that I had given her a single penny.
I gave her my money and she walked away. For all I knew at that point, I had just made a very large donation to the TWC from my bank account. I had nothing to show that I had given her anything. All I had was her telling me, "I'll get this processed and get your order submitted." That was it. I did ask that I at least be given tracking information for my order so that I could anticipate delivery to the audiologist that would then dictate when I would take delivery. The idea being, as I explained it to her, that it would allow me to give my boss and project managers a heads up rather than the last minute notifications that I've been getting throughout this process.
As a consultant, we have deadlines and target dates that we have to plan around and coordinate with customers. If I continuously get last minute appointments that require sudden changes in schedules that bad for my job. She agreed and said she would try to get me that information.
That was 12/11
On 12/14 I get a call from someone else at the TWC stating that the agent handling my case made an error and the check I gave earlier did not cover the full cost. How the fuck is that possible? They gave me a price in Nov. They gave me the same price 3 days ago. And now suddenly they found more money that I need to pay after I've asked for this information multiple times and had them verify it before I went to the bank to have that check made? You have to be shitting me!
The only good thing about this latest TWC faux pas was that the additional amount owed was $25. I wrote them a personal check and told them to just get it done. But what this also meant was that my order still hadn't been placed. I gave them my check 3 days ago because they were "ready" but my order was still pending. That doesn't sound very ready to me.
I never did get any tracking information. Around 12/27 I did get a phone call from the agent that I guess couldn't do math. She stated that she had requested tracking information but never received it. During that call she also stated that she attempted to reach out to my audiologist's office to see if they had received my hearing aids only to discover that their office was closed until 1/3 and all packages were being held until after their return so there would be no way to confirm receipt until at least 1/3.
On 1/9 I had not heard from my audiologist's office or the TWC agent who said she would check back with their office after 1/3 so I called my audiologist's office directly. When I spoke with them that morning, there was no record of my hearing aids having been received. I paid for these bad boys on 12/11 and here it is 1/9 and nobody knows where my stuff is.
I was not happy!
I contacted the TWC rep demanding that they provide me with the tracking information and a receipt ASAP. I stated that since they placed the order that they are accountable to me for demonstrating that the order was properly placed and finding where my shit was since we had far exceeded to the stated shipping times even with the recent holiday schedule. Naturally, the TWC rep would have to look into and had no information offhand because she hadn't bothered to follow-up on anything like she stated on 12/27
Before the TWC agent could figure anything out, I got a call from my audiologist's office. My devices had been received but were among a number of deliveries that were backed up from the holidays that were still being processed. Now that they knew where my devices were, they could schedule me for an appointment the following morning to get them configured and handed over to me.
Yay! Yes, book that appointment pronto!
Later that day, the TWC agent sent me an email stating that the manufacturer showed them as delivered. This means the manufacturer had the tracking information but the agent never bothered to get it until it was a problem despite my requests for it and her promise to try and get it for me for work purposes. Just another lie or lack of follow through on the TWC's part but at this point its hard to tell which.
Funnily enough, in that same email the TWC agent sent me an appointment confirmation for my appointment with the audiologist but it had the wrong time on it. Why would you send someone an appointment confirmation notice with the wrong time? In her email she even called out that the time might be wrong.What the fuck is the point and what is the value of sending someone that information if you know the data is wrong?
The next morning, I got up and drove to my audiologist's office excited to hear the world as it truly is and how I've not heard it for the last 4 and half decades. After a nearly 2 hour appointment I was free to walk outside with a new sense of hearing. I have to go back in a few weeks to final configurations and tweaking based on my feedback but already this a whole new world for me.
Now that I've taken delivery of my hearing aids I am technically done with the TWC. But knowing what I know now, I probably wouldn't have gone through their program. At the end of the day, the TWC's VR program saved me roughly $1000 compared to what I would have spent if I had just purchased the devices directly through the Callier Center back in Sept. $1000 is a $1000 but I feel like I've spent more than $1000 in time, stress, and frustration trying to get the TWC agents to process my case efficiently.
Between the missing faxes, poor communication, and every other way that they've managed to bungle each step along the way, I don't feel as if the savings match the effort. And the sad part is that if I hadn't been on their ass to get things done as fast as they did, which wasn't fast at all, then I might still be months away from where I am today. They had no desire to see things through. There was no concern for the people they were supposed to be helping. They were zombies going through motions and by that I mean brain dead individuals that I had to lead by the nose to each next step because once they did something they seemed to forget about it until I said something.
From start to finish, it took 107 days from the first day I walked into the TWC office to the day I received my devices. Most people I talk to about this seem amazed that I got through the government process so quickly. There was nothing fast about this. I had completed half of the TWC required steps before I stepped foot into their offices to start this process and it still took 3.5 months. No. That's not going to cut it for me.
People think I'm crazy for doing this but I'm going to reach out to the people over the TWC and bring a few things to their attention. It might result in changes, it might not, but at least I'll feel better knowing that I tried. There is no reason that this process should have taken this long. There is no reason that I don't have any type of documentation showing what I purchased, when I purchased it, how I paid for it, or anything else. I think it is absurd that my case suffered so many faults and nobody seems concerned about that but me. I cannot sit idly by while similar travesties are experienced by other people trying to find work but need this program to succeed. Government is notorious for its maze of red tape but that doesn't mean that we should just accept it and do nothing.