Monday, May 20, 2013

The letter I can't send to my client

I have this insurance company client that hired me to represent its insureds in a number of cases over the past year. That's the good news.

The bad news? Where to begin?

First, I had to register with some third party -- a subsidiary of a major legal publisher and research company whose name rhymes with "Hexes" (I first wrote about this in the second half of this post) -- that, in the name of cost containment, interposes itself between me and my new insurance company client, requiring standardized billing, that it reviews first before passing it along to the client. And I'm expected to pay for the delay -- my $275 annual fee is again due.

This company I'm dealing with is not the only one to get euchred by this third party interloper; I've heard similar complaints from some of my old ex-partners. It's apparently an industry-wide scam.

And getting the bill approved is not just a matter of delay.

Oh, no, there is scrutiny, too.

Not on anything useful or substantive; rather, the bill will be rejected if two activities are combined in a single time entry. There must be two entries in that case. I once had a bill rejected because I put mileage and parking together on the same expense entry. Well, it was for the same court appearance, wasn't it?

But, fine, I am adaptable. I can live with anyone's rules as long as I understand them.

But, now, after bills are allegedly "approved," comes major, major delay.

I wrote a 'what gives?' email -- polite, conversational -- but pointing out that, in one case, my bill was "approved" in January. The end of May is nearly upon us. Several other bills are at least 60 days post "approval." I included a chart, complete with invoice numbers and dates to my contact. "Is there something else I need to do?" I asked.

My contact referred the matter to a subordinate who promptly emailed me that he was looking into it.

Ten more days went by.

I emailed the subordinate.

A few days later the subordinate responded that there was a "glitch" in the accounting system and they were looking into it.

That was a week ago. Messrs. MasterCard and Visa won't take those kinds of excuses from me... but I am obliged to take it from clients. Therefore, I did not, and could not, write this letter, though I badly wanted to....
Dear Mr. ------

Thank you for your email advising of the 'glitch' in your accounting system.

I don't believe it for a second.

In my experience, when corporate bills are allegedly approved and not thereafter paid, it's usually because someone has his or her fat fingers in the till. I'm not accusing you personally. But, with each passing day that these checks are not cut, it is increasingly likely that they are not cut because someone in your organization has diverted the funds with which these bills were supposed to be paid.

You have computers. You have this very sophisticated (you think) third party bill approval system that assigns invoice numbers. Your company pays, and I suspect it pays dearly, for this service. If there's a 'glitch' in your accounting system, you should be looking at your accountants or your own IT people, and maybe both because these 'glitches' are probably where money is being diverted from your vendors to someone else's pocket.

I am unwilling to play victim any longer.

Please cut my checks. I enclose a pen in case you don't have one available.

1 comment:

landgirl said...

ooh it is a shame you can't send that, but I certainly enjoyed reading it. Hope it made you feel at least a bit better.