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It's difficult to pay bills that never arrive

My husband has sleep apnea and uses a machine to help him sleep. We rent the machine from Apria Healthcare Inc. He has been using a machine for about three years, and until January our Tricare insurance paid for it. At the end of November or beginning of December, the original machine broke, and Apria sent a replacement.

At the beginning of January, we received a letter saying he would be responsible for a monthly portion of the charge. We gave the matter much thought and decided to keep the machine. We made a payment of $60.21 in February.

In March, we received a bill and paid $53.10. Why the difference, I don't know. No more bills came until May, when we got one for $127.45 showing the payment of $60.21 but not the $53.10 payment made in March. The bill was for January through March.

We called to find out what was going on. At that time, Apria had a facility in Tampa, and we ended up going over there. After much explaining, we were more or less satisfied. We did ask why we had not received monthly billings and were told they had gone out and if we had not received them, it was not Apria's fault.

I sent in the payment for $127.45, included a copy of the check for $53.10 and asked if it had been received. I have never received an answer to that letter.

When we did not receive a statement in June, we started calling again. On June 11, my husband was told one would be sent. Two weeks later, I called again. The woman I spoke to looked in the system, saw that my husband had called and said the person he had talked to had not generated a statement. She promised to do so.

Another two weeks went by; on July 6 I made another call. The woman I spoke to this time said an itemized statement had been generated June 15. She apologized for our not getting it and said another would be sent.

As of July 26, we have not received a statement. Our insurance company pays most of the charge, but we do have a portion to pay, and we would like to get our statements so we can do so. Please help. We just want to get this taken care of, and our phone calls don't seem to be doing it.

_ Mrs. Richard King

Heather Ikerd, revenue support manager for Apria Healthcare in Lake Forest, Calif., forwarded a letter that was sent to you from Scott Abram, vice president of collections for the company. In it, Abram stated that after thoroughly investigating your complaint, a billing oversight was discovered on your account. This has been brought to the attention of the Fairfax, Va., billing office, which has issued a statement for your account. Payments are now shown as having been received in January, March, May and August. The balance as of Sept. 3 is $56.68 for the Aug. 22 date of service.

Abram assured you that your credit report has not been adversely affected and apologized for the inconvenience this has caused you. He gave you his direct number to contact him with future questions or concerns.

Charged for unwanted spraying

I had a one-year contract with Tropicare Pest Control, which I signed on April 30, 2003. It was subsequently taken over by TruGreen ChemLawn in Oldsmar.

I was called by TruGreen in late May or early June about having my lawn sprayed. I told the man who called that I was unhappy about the weeds in the lawn. I told him I did not want the service anymore because I could get weeds for nothing. Then a woman called me about having the lawn treated for ants for $207 for one year. I told her the same thing.

On July 1, when I was not at home, TruGreen came and sprayed my lawn without a contract or my consent. I am now being billed $72 for this. I called the company and was told the man did not cancel the contract as I had instructed. As a result of the company's error, I am now being threatened with ruined credit. I am very upset and trust you can help me.

_ Mrs. Doris Bock

Thanks for letting us know that within two days of our forwarding your complaint to TruGreen ChemLawn in Oldsmar, you were called and told you would not be held responsible for the cost of the spraying that you neither requested nor authorized. We have not heard back from the company but are glad we can close your file.

Action solves problems and gets answers for you. If you have a question, or your own attempts to resolve a consumer complaint have failed, write Times Action, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731, e-mail actionsptimes.com, or call your Action number, (727) 893-8171, or, outside of Pinellas, toll-free 1-800-333-7505, ext. 8171, to leave a recorded request.

We will not be responsible for personal documents, so please send only photocopies. If your complaint concerns merchandise ordered by mail, we need copies of both sides of your canceled check.

We may require additional information or prefer to reply by mail; therefore, readers must provide a full mailing address, including ZIP code. Names of letter writers will not be omitted except in unusual circumstances. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.

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