Thursday, November 26, 2015

Ultimatums are Risky

Could I see a gentleman at the Omni with an upset stomach?

The dispatcher for International Assistance was delighted to learn that I could. In most cities, dispatchers work hard to find a doctor willing to make a housecall but not in Los Angeles.

I copied the guest’s name, age, room, and insurance I.D. I quoted a fee. That was acceptable. I said I would arrive within an hour. He was pleased to hear that. Then I dropped the bomb. I needed a credit card number.

I could hear the air go out of his balloon.

“We always send a guarantee of payment.”

“And I always receive one. But you don’t pay.”

Some travel insurers pay promptly. Others require repeated phone calls. Pestering the billing department relentlessly usually works, but sometimes I run out of patience, and many visits for International Assistance remained unpaid after six month.

“I’m not sure we have a credit card.”

“Yes, you do. Ask your supervisor.”

All travel insurers have company credit cards but they vary greatly in their willingness to give them out. Some do it routinely. Others require an ultimatum. I hated dealing with Universal Assistance until they coughed up a credit card number. Now I love it when they phone.

But ultimatums are risky. The dispatcher agreed to consult his supervisor and call me back, but I never heard from him.

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