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Guide PC Tune Up and Virus Removal (Consumers Pocket Guide to PC Repair Book 1)

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Apologies for being provacative in my first mail! Fair Wear and Tear is excluded from Sales of Goods. You cannot determine what is classed as Fair Wear and Tear as the manufacturer will do this in their specifications. Is it unreasonable for a TV not to last 3, 4 or even 5 years? Maybe, but electronics have a finite lifetime. It will be described clearly in the manufacturers guidelines on the amount of use the TV can have. Upon investigation, the manufacturers manual stated that there was an expected life time in hours, something like hours or so.

After investigation, it was clear that my nephew was leaving the DS on even when not using it and leaving it plugged into the charging socket. Our rights to repair, replacement or partial refund at 14 months were not valid because of the way it had been used. This is a small, bright blue spot in the centre of the screen. Now, it is small but because it is in the centre of the screen it is very noticeable when I am watching films or typing on the laptop and it bothers me a lot.

What I want to know is — does this stuck pixel count as a minor defect under the sales of goods Act? And if so, how can I enforce this right in PC World? I want them to give me a new Apple Macbook that has a perfect screen. This is a difficult one and a crap situation to be in, but because the spec of the product is that in the manufacturing process it is impossible to ensure no stuck pixels. Generally when you buy something with this type of screen the retailer will have a pixel policy available that mirrors that of the manufacturer on pixels, and the acceptability.

So for example Amazon have a pixel policy and when you buy, you are been made aware of the issues in the manufacturing process and that your screen, tv, laptop etc could have dead pixels and because you are made aware of this you have no legal remedy. Your only option is to take it up with the manufacturer and state that it would definitely be the last product you purchase from them and see where it takes you! Anything you are aware of when buying a product, such as you awareness of the pixel policy across the manufacturing process renders the sale of goods useless in a case like this.

Anything you are aware of in the buying process will render the sale of goods useless. It merely states what your rights are at certain times when a product goes faulty. Therefore who is to say that less than 3 stuck pixels does not constitute unfitness for purpose?

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If it is hampering your use and enjoyment of the item, this is grounds enough. PC World only have to offer a repair in the first instance, not a brand new one. If they make it difficult for you ask to see them manager quoting S 48 Sale of Goods. I have a ps3 fat , it is over 4 yrs old, in June of it broke down the disc drive it was replaced free of charge with one of equal quality ie : size of hardrive and age but not my own which i assume was fixed and given to someone as a replacement. Further research has revealed that i am not the only one to suffer this fault called ylod yellow light of death when a soldering joint melts and dislodges the motherboard.

Yes, the repair should be free of charge… but not from Sony, you need to take your console back to the shop where you bought it. Sale of Goods act relates to seller and consumer, not the manufacturer. Hi, The problem i have is that i have bought a fridge freezer from a reputable electronic store on the high street and now its broken down. I call Beko and their responce was to put me straight through to an outside engineer who wants to charge a call out plus any parts which need fixing. I was lead to believe that under the sale of goods act i have a contract between myself and the retailer where i bought the item, and they have a responsibility after selling the item up to 6 years.

My mother recently brought a second hand car for a sales yard. She has contact the seller on many occasions requesting that he either repair the vehicle or provide a refund as it is not roadworthy. The seller has stated that he did not offer a warranty and that he does not have to do anythng. According the the RAC patrolman who attended the breakdown there would have been ample indications of warning that the problem was going to happen.

Please could you tell me if she can do anything and if so how? Hello just thought i would tell you something.. Spooky or what? If you wishto swap the links with us please let me know. Am I entitled to a refund? If the quality is substandard for the price. I would and have, successfully ask for an exchange though, as you presumably want a better pair and they would be more amenable to this, especially if you exchange them for a slightly more pricey pair.

Hello, I think you are right. I currently am facing the same problem. Under the sales of goods act and in your statutory rights a product must be durable. It depends on the product if you can claim a free refund, repair or replacement even if it is outside the warrenty period. For example, a dish washer is expect to last around 7 years.

But if it breaks in 2 years after the warrenty is expired you are able to claim a free refund, repair or replacement. In England and Whales you can claim under this law for a product no more than 6 years old. But in Scotland it is 5 years. You will have to do a bit more research before you contact Sony about this.

Just over 13 months ago I purchased at TV at a well known electrical retailer. The TV developed a fault that has been verified by an independent repair man. As the cost of fixing the fault was more than the TV I was offered a voucher as a good will gesture, but the amount on the Voucher is less than half of what the TV cost, and the cost of the inspection, which I have been told by the independent TV repair man I am entitled to back was included in the price of the voucher. I feel that I have been ripped off by the retailer, do I have any legal right to insist on more of a refund?

I purchased a broken kitchen appliance from a small company. I told them it was broken two days after recieving it. They say no refunds but they will exchange. I want a refund, what do you all think? The TV has now stopped working. I have contacted LG who were not interested in helping me as the TV is over a year old and outside the manufacturers warranty.

I have contacted Currys who said they would get someone to contact me but I am not confident that they will help me. As the TV is only 14 months old do I have any rights as a consumer to a replacement set or a refund? I purchased a CD from my local Tesco Yesterday for my boyfriend.

I got the CD wrong and realised when I got home after returning from Tesco. Today, I went in to swap the CD for the right one had a receipt as proof but got rejected due to the CD not being in Selophane wrapping…When i purchased th CD, there was no selophane wrapping. I would understand if it had been sold in a wrapper and I had opened it, but it wasnt and I hadnt unwrapped it. Obviously, I have no proof of this, but I am returning the item in the way it was sold to me…What exactly would be my rights here?

I purchased a 4. The vehicle is on hire purchase. After only a couple of weeks it was apparant that the vehicle was letting in water. Also the airback fault light keeps coming on. After taking the car back from the garage I was told that no fault had been found and the Airbag light was simply due to seat tentioners. They also told me they had unblocked my door seals as this is what was causing water to leak through the passenger door.

A few nights ago My 33 week pregnant partner and myself ended up waiting for nearly 2 hours by the side of a farmers field for a recovery vehicle due to the cars engine mount giving way. This allowed the engine to drop into the Drive shaft causing sagnificant damage under the bonnet. I have taken the vehicle back to the dealer and stated that I want the vehicle replaced as the goods are clearly neither durable or fit for purpose.

I feel the car is totally unsafe however the garage owner will only authorise repair and not replacement. I have contacted the finance company and told them that I am not willing to accept the goods back and I want replacement however they say there is a lengthy complaint process before a solution will be found. Meanwhile, the garage is repairing the vehicle even though I stated that this was not what I wanted. Am I being reasonable in asking for a replacement car? As far as I am aware, engine mount failure is not a common fault and I feel this kind of quality in a car with only 21, on the clock is totaly unacceptable.

Bought a Refurbished media player from Maplin. The system crash and it lost the software, hard disk etc still worked properly, so after contacting Maplin I returned it with an RMA for repair. They have since refunded my money, but I really would prefer them to repair the unit and return it as they effectively said they would.

What is my position re insisting to receive a replacment? Thanks Roger. Stick with the refund. It may be that the player has more faults showing up. At least you can now buy another. I wonder if anyone can help me please as I am extremely frustrated and do not know how to rectify this? I purchased a samsung nc10 netbook in dec 08 from qvc over the telephone for my 30 year old daughter, as a xmas pressie. I hope someone can advise me of my rights. In the meantime they have loaned me a courtesy car. I asked if I could have another car? I am now waiting for an update from the garage.

At time of sale I was told one of the ports would allow me to connect directly to internal devices externally. This happened under normal use, I used no extra force when pushing the button. The shop has offered to send the laptop for repair which will take 2 to 4 weeks. I have told them that I am studying for a degree in computing and to be without a computer for upto a month is out of the question and that I would, in the least require a replacement.

They have also offered to sell me a device which would allow me to connect to an internal hdd for half price. I have told them I should not expect to pay for extra items to be able to do what I had been informed the laptop was capable of. I also looked at their website description on the laptop which claimed it had a firewire port.

This is also not the case but now the description has been amended and I have no proof. So far I have found PCWorld unaccomodating to say the least. The attitude I get is that they have sold the product and are now not interested. They say that I have to prove that the seller told me it would connect to internal devices.

I am claiming: Not as described. The website description claimed firewire. I am now unable to transfer digicam footage to my laptop. Unable to connect directly to internal devices. PCWorld claim I have run out of time for any of this as it is over 28 days, that they have to prove manufacturer default within 6 months and me after, that I have 28 days to return not fit for purpose and that I need to prove their sales staff told me about the internal hdd connection.

I have claimed that I am within 6 months for all of the above and that I am not really interested in their 28 days. That if a trained sales staff says it does something, I should expect it do be able to. That they should prove he never told me that. Am i supposed to record all my dealings with them? That they need to prove within 6 months that the fault is due to my use or abuse. It was bought on 6 month free credit so have also initiated contact with the credit provider and asked them what their stance would be should PCWorld continue to be unhelpful.

Initial contact seems they agree why I would suffer inconvinience being without a computer and have instructed me to contact their dealer relations team. This is now no longer getting to a Cold enough temperature in the Freezer section only -5c not the Safe c it needs to be according to the manual so certain foods are not freezing.

Upon speaking with a specialist, they say this is V common with the Beko make as its a cheap brand and its either the compressor or the Gasses have leaked out and it should be scrapped. Even though the unit it about 2yr maybe 2 — 2yr 6m surely it should last for a lot longer?

Would i take this up with Comet where I brought it from or Beko direct? I work for a refrigeration company and would expect a domestic appliance of this nature to last longer than yours has. Under SOGA, because the appliance is over 6 months old, the onus is on you to prove the unit does not conform to contract. Hi, plz can ne1 advice me if I am correct in doing what i am doing… I purchased a lcd tv in june with the normal 12mth warrenty, it started to appear with vertical lines on the screen when i switched it on a few months ago.

Got a rply from them advising me to contact the administration people who are dealing with the company, and wait for a rply from them, before they can look into it further. I have done so today. Just wanted to know what chances do I have in getting a replacment or refund. I purchased an Apple Mac laptop charger from a shop in London.

I signed the receipt which had small print saying that chargers are only covered under their warranty for 28 days. I took it back to the shop and the manager was not helpful and told me to go away as it was not covered by warranty as it was after 28 days. I then explained the Sales of Goods Act to him and that it over rides his unfair contract terms and he told me to go away. I believe that I can legally obtain a refund for this, am I correct? If so I shall send him a legally worded letter. Anyone who can offer any advice I would be very grateful for this. The finance are supply you with the goods not the dealer.

Hi there — Was wondering what my rights are in this instance……. I recently bought a 3 piece leather suite. My partner and I spent a good hour and a half looking through the showroom and trying out all their models just to get the right look and comfort to suit us. We picked a sofa and when it was delivered it was noticably different leather material that had been used on different parts of the sofa.

You can clearly see that the leather is different from a mile off, it looks just wrong. We were not told by the seller that this would be the case. Also the leather is not to the same standard that we saw when we picked the same sofa in the showroom, I asked will it look exactly the same? To me and my partner it looks as if there has been a cheaper leather used when we were shown the different grades of leather and picked a specific one, it is simply not the same and I am very unhappy with it.

Can anyone tell me if I can get a refund or at least an exchange? Since this I have also noticed that one of the arm rests is not as stuffed and full as the other one is and it is clear when you touch it. Is there anything I can do? Many thanks :o. You need to look at the sale of goods act , Section 14 2B. It clearly states: 2B For the purposes of this Act, the quality of goods includes their state and condition and the following among others are in appropriate cases aspects of the quality of goods—.

They suggested I contacted Tamron UK. Ordinarily I would argue that under the SOG act 15 months is not long for a lens to last, particularly as its only been used a handful of times. However, I am dealing with the manufacturer here, rather than the store where it was bought. Please could someone advise me on the best course of action? I fully intend to take it back to the high street retailer from whom I purchased it, but if they refuse to replace, how do I begin the process of taking them to the small claims court.

Technically, the shop can insist on attempting to repair your pram in the first instance, as long as they do this within a reasonable time and at their own cost. If you feel they are taking too long, or that they are messing you about, insist on a refund or replacement. Remember, as your prem was less than 6 months old it is for the shop to prove that your pram is not faulty. Hi, I bought an iphone 3GS on 18th December It has had minor niggles, namely shutting itself down, since a couple of months after I bought it.

Yesterday, it shut itself down and refused to power up again. Is there anything I can do, or do I have to give in to O2? Any advice on this would be appreciated as im skint and i need to find a quick, cheap solution to this!

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Can you please tell me if there is any truth to this and, if so, where I can find an official site stating this? I do not expect to pay that much for a machine to potentially break and not be covered after just 12 months. Are there any other laws I must be aware of? The machine is being purchased in England but shipped to South Africa. Does this change the terms at all? Can anyone elaborate and show me where I can find legal evidence of this please? I purchased a Compaq notebook 14 months ago and within 4 weeks of purchase it developed a keyboard fault they repaired that fault and sent it back to me with another keyboard fault at the time I asked for a refund as the quality of the product was poor but they said needs to be repaired 6 times before a refund would be given.

The notebooks motherboard has now completely failed which has been confirmed by an independent engineer. So would my case stand up and is the success rate high in faulty goods claims? Vodafone said i can cancel the contract within 7 days but phones 4 u has no cooling off period apparently. I simply want to change my network i dont want to cancel the contract that I have with phones 4 u.

Can someone please help me? I will greatly appreciate it! After some enquiries about which mobile phone network would be best for Cornwall, a shop recommended Orange or 3. Unfortunately neither worked in my isolated village. The shop kindly took back the phone and cancelled my contract with Orange. A year later I discover 30 pounds line rental is leaving my account each month for line rental to 3. Not only did I not sign a contract for line rental to 3 but have also never recieved a bill from them.

The mobile phone shop deny liability despite instructing 3 to remove 30 pounds from my account each month. The mobile phone shop also say I am locked into a 2 year contract with 3. Coincidently my first bill arrived from 3 yesterday in the post. Help me please. I bought an electrical item online, I received an initial confirmation of the purchase, a couple of days later I received a delivery notice with the transaction complete money transferred etc I have now received an email telling me that they now cannot deliver the item, as the original price is wrong and the actual price is much higher.

Should I insist that the item is delivered? Tim — yes, you certainly can. When they accepted your payment they accepted the contract terms. You have a binding contract with the firm and they are now in breach of contract. You are perfectly entitled to receive the product you have paid for, they have taken your money so they cannot now re-negotiate the price.

Under contract law, you have offer and acceptance. They have offered to sell you the product and you have accepted this offer by paying for the product. Write to them and insist that they deliver your item, give them a reasonable length of time to do this, say a week. Tell them you will make a claim in the small claims court if they refuse. I always go with the manufacturer that has the best repair service.

Lets be honest no matter how much kicking and screaming, shouting at the retailer about rights in the sale of goods etc they all act in a similar way when a product goes faulty. Each situation will be different, about what a retailer is required to do when a product goes faulty and they will consider, things like fair wear and tear, damage, proper use, time of fault occurring etc. The laptop just blue screened, and the drive made a noise. Now I knew straight away what was needed to fix the issue.

So i knew I had a case. The device did not have an inherent fault i. So i called the retailer and they stated that I should contact Acer which I expected them to do , but I stated that I wanted them to do it as they were responsible as the retailer. I got the usual 28 Day exchange, 6 month faulty rule etc by their front line agent on the phone etc. So I asked to speak to a supervisor with legal knowledge of the Sale of Goods. Supervisor came on and explained things very clearly:. Then came the part that churned me up a little.

That if the drive has failed for wear and tear then they are not responsible. So i calculated the maximum hours my hard drive was in use for, and it was about 8, hours, from an expected 10, — 15, hours life expectancy. The manufacturer also stated that it depends on the workload of the drive and how much is written and read from the drive and the load its under.

Mine is constantly under heavy load arghhh. She stated that she was happy to send for the laptop and ship it for me, but if any of the above applied then, I would be charged for delivery, possibly repair and loan of a laptop. She said the manufacturer repair report would tell us more, but by then they would have me in a position to charge for shipment to and from the manufacturer all done via courier and laptop loan if they finally authorised that. So I changed my mind and went with option 3 in the end, after speaking with the Acer Engineers, within 5 minutes he had organised for a free pickup, a courier came to pickup the next day, and in 5 days I had the laptop back, along with the report, dum dum dum.

It had revealed that the drive had worn out and that the one of the magnetic heads had hit one of the platters, could see the damage. The magnetic heads float above the platter on a cushion of air. So if you say clunk the hard disk down on the desk while its on and it causes the head to hit the platter then it could cause the drive to sort of self destruct.

In my case this was true. It made me think wow, really make sure when the pc is on not to move it or drop it down too hard on a desk etc. It made me think was I a bit heavy handed.

Acer repaired it free of charge for me though anyway. Way to go Acer!! I thought that in itself was pretty amazing. Could have ended up costing me a few quid. The moral of the story here is, I was in a position where I felt a little hard done by, by the retailer, but it showed me that they were just flexing their rights of what the SOG stated to protect them. Choose a manufacturer that has a good repair service if as in my situation you need to or decide to use them or inline with your legal rights its your only option. Acer for me were top notch, and they could have charged me too. The chair set was just delivered.

The problem is the larger chair in the set cant fit through my door. Which broth me to the conclusion that the chair size might be different from the set I viewed in the store. I am wondering if there is any chance of me getting a refund. Paul If you have a faulty item within 6 months of purchase it is generally accepted that the goods were faulty when you bought them. After 6 months upto 6 years the SELLER can repair them free of charge but its up to you to prove they are faulty and that you have not damaged it.

I would expect a laptop to last at 3 — 4 years as would any reasonable person. Their warranty is an extra and does not affect your statutory right. I would tell them if you do not get a reply in 7 days you will file your claim in a small claims court. Speak to Consumer direct they will advise you how to do it and make sure you tick the correct boxes. This may be enough for them to repair it. Good luck. Within 1 month the Parasol broke and it took a lot of effort for the retailer to replace it. Now less than 3 months since i purchased it parts of the metal chairs are starting to rust.

The product on the website was described as Rust Resistant. I had again had to do a lot of correspondence with the retailer to refund me. I am now being told that the onus is on me to pack the goods up for collection. I explained to the retailer than this was against the Sale of Goods ACT but i was told that i should have retained all the packaging.

In fact the customer services advisor told me that he has packaging in his loft for 7 years. This is surely silly, the table alone is 6 foot across and then there are 6 chairs and a parasol. I have asked the retailer to send me the packaging instead but dont hold much hope. I have had several problems with my renault megane since i bought it 2 years ago from charles hurst its been in the garage ever months since i purchased it — most recently for the 4th time the back window on the driver side is stuck up and needs replaced — the last time this was replaced was 3 months ago, my car has been out of warranty for approx a year but they assured me that the window because it was a new part had another year on it in April !

I booked airline ticket through travel agency and I went to the airpot I find out that my name is not there. So,when I phoned the trvel agency they told me sorry please can you you go tomorrow but I phoned the airlines today they told me there is no seat and there is noone booked at my name. So,can you please help me.

I would like some legal advice please. My Fiance works i a second hand shop. A lady bought a second hand fridge Freezer this year. The shop has a 1 month warranty. It was past the warranty. The shop offered a replacement fridge freezer in exchange and but the person with the faulty fridge turned this down, demanded a refund because apparently the son of that lady already bought her a new one and got rid of the faulty one. Repair, or replace. This lady is demanding a full refund plus the food, and is seeking legal action and saying she will get this shop closed down, and making threats.

I think this lady is bang out of order for not contacting the shop sooner, and asking for assistance and giving the shop an option to examine the fridge. If the buyer no longer has the fridge they have no claim to anything. Furthermore, new or used contents of the fridge are outside of any warranty. Advise your customer they have no rights as they have disposed of the faulty item. Hi Can anyone help. I recently went to retrieve some items of furniture that were in storage only to find that the company cannot locate them.

Does anyone know if I accept the offer from the insurance company, if I can then sue the storage company for what I feel should be the difference?? The manufacturer is only obliged to repair the item or replace it with the same if they can not repair. Change of mind on the first fault 7 months down the line will not grant you any further rights.

I had a workman install a new bathroom suite last month July. After three weeks I noticed a leak from the bath which ran down into the kitchen below. I called an emergency plumber as the handyman who installed the bathroom was on holiday. The emergency plumber said the work was of good quality but a joint or valve must have failed, thankfully he only charged a minimal fee for his work.

Today the original workman has put right the leak, which was caused by a faulty valve. I was told that I have accepted the goods and services, when I signed that the job was finished, and so I cannot make a claim. Hi Anne, I work in a property maintenence company and in my experience, if the valve was fitted correctly by your workman.. What more could he do, he did his job in fitting in. I would recommend contacting the valve manufacturer or the place it as purchased from like you would any other faulty product.

Steph, you are so wrong, what are you thinking? I informed the supplier as soon as this was noticed and asked for a replacement, especially as the old suite had already been taken out. They tell me in written emails that they dont have to adhere to the supply of goods act as they are an online trader. They have no terms and conditions to accept prior to purchase and only send a small link to their terms in a confirmation email once the order has already been placed.

I have tried emailing and phoning, but they are not prepare to replace the faulty item. I purchased 2 x 3 seater sofas 5 months ago. We recently noticed that the front of the sofa under the seat cushions were developing bulges. The retailer arranged for it to be repaired. However the very next day about 5 more bulges became apparent where the chipboard under the seat cushions is coming away all the way along the sofa. I think the sofa is defective. As the retailer has already tried and failed to fix this, can I now demand a refund? I purchased a Toshiba tv from Comet, last November.

The sound is out of sync with the picture. Personally I find it very distracting, especially when following discussions or music. Excuse me if this seems long winded. On 17th May , I bought 3 Bridesmaid Dresses online it also runs as a shop. Waited a long time for them but they did arrive. I returned 1 dress that was marked and had unfinished stitching.

It was also too big. They recieved the returned dress and on the 10th of June they sent an email that they would exchange soon. They made no contact or respond back to me since that email although I had emailed and called numerous times to find out what was happening.

On the 24th August I managed to speak to someone regarding this matter. I have been told that they are now unable to get a dress of that size and colour. The two dresses I still have are now no use to me as I cannot get a match. They have said they will refund 1 dress but will not do anything about the other 2 as I have had them too long!

It seems a long time to wait but I forgot to say on the website they advertise,. So that was why we were allowing them time. I have looked at the sales of goods acts but not sure if they fit with my problem? Any ideas what rights I may have or not have? My machine is now broken, and an engineer is coming to look at it this week.

Surely Comet knew this when sending the letter out? I have contacted Comet and asked why I was sent this letter when I would have been covered by the Sale of Goods Act, and the customer service advisor told me that the UK had opted out the Sale of Goods Act, therefore quoting the Act was worthless and only their guarantee would exist. Is she correct? Did the UK opt out? Any advice would be great. Thank you. It is a UK law that is not likely to be repealed anytime soon.

I am astonished that the customer service advisor stated that. In effect the advisor said that you had no statutory rights and your only remedy was via their warranties. This is a criminal offence. When you accept a retailers warranty, it is an addition to your statutory rights, not a replacement of them. The retailer is under no obligation to explain your rights under The Sale of Goods Act, but neither can they mislead you as to what those rights are.

Has dipped and not fit for purpose. Bensons have said they will replace like for like. I feel the dip may happen again with same product. Are we entitled to a refund as the item is not fit for purpose? The phone company BT have continously failed to deliver invoices and have failed to confirm usage or investigate the problem, I only become aware there is a bill, as each time one was due, I have been disconnected.

I am continouslyting disput this through a call centre in India but with no success and verbal insults. Purchased a designer pair of glasses and lens for work use from Vision Express. After 6 weeks of use, while gently cleaning the lens, one of the screws holding the lens snapped clean in half. Returned the frames the following day and was offered an exchange on good will. Apparently the damage is not covered by the manufacturers warranty.

Returned home, and found the nose pad needed adjusting, and tried to adjust myself and in the process snapped the frame that holds the nose pad. Went to return the second damaged frame the next day and was refused an exchange because I adjusted the nose pad myself.

The staff member said that I should have got them to do the adjustments instore, which would be all well and good, however; I explained that their after care was poor, because on both occasions that I got my frames, this service was not offered, and on the first occasion of picking up my frames I adjusted the nose pad myself in front of their staff member! They apologised and said they would be more vigilant with their service, but on this occasion there was nothing they would do.

After an hour in the store trying to reason with them, called customer services to complain about shoddy service. It was after speaking to customer services that the assistant manager was willing to make a comprimise. Instead he adjusted the arms of the frame. It was because of this I felt very annoyed and wrote an email to their customer services again to complain, asking for a refund for the insurance and excess, to which they replied back saying that because I broke the frames myself, they would not be willing to help.

Hi, I bought a laptop at a well known high street dealer a few weeks back with the advise of one of their sales team in store that it would run certain game titles one of which I purchased with the machine. I have now had a chance to install and try the application only to find the graphics card and processors in the machine are not up to the job of running the game properly.

I want to take the laptop back, add extra money and get another laptop which after looking at reviews I know will suffice but after phoning the store they say I cannot return the product as I have opened it. Is this right? Surely this is a misleading description. I bought a new 3 piece leather suite from DFS last week. Unfortunately, one of the armchairs has a foreign object between the outer hide and the inner lining, causing an unsightly lump on the top of the arm-rest.

Also, the same arm on the same chair has a length of cosmetic stitching missing, again clearly visible. Both these defects make it impossible for me to enjoy the chair. Do I have a legal right to request an exchange of this chair? The store manager has offered financial reduction, but this is not what I require, as I am like the suite very much indeed. I do not like these two defects. Could you tell me if I am legally entitled to a replacement chair, please? The suite,as I said, was delivered new last week and I have been at odds with the store manager ever since.

Thank you in anticipation, A. I have had some minor software faults which I managed to sort by doing a master reset. I recently had a problem where the phone would not charge because the charging port kept coming out. Anyway, I took my phone to Carphone Warehouse and it has been sent to the manufacturer for repair. Obviously, I was sold a faulty product but chose to have it repairs. If I had chosen to, I could have got a full refund? If the repair is successful within the 14 day period, I will be happy however, what options do I have, in terms of getting my money back, if the fault is not fixed or it takes longer than the quoted time?

I bought a refurbished laptop last year on-line and since then it has broken down 4 times the same problem each time, the graphics card just went and stopped working and each time it broke down I has to send it back to get it fixed. Now the warranty has finished and once again it has broken down again with the same problem. They took the laptop for repair on the 10th and returned it to me on 14th. They then said that i have to contact pc world coz i have bought the laptop from them.

Hi I bought a sofa from DFS that was made to my specification. The sofa was faulty on delivery. I rang them straight away to complain about the faulty sofa. A manager came round two days later to inspect the sofa and found that the back support had caved in and the there was white stitching visible on an all black sofa. I have bought the sofa on credit but I would like to return the sofa.

The manager is refusing to offer me a refund but says I can get a repair or exchange for a new sofa. I just want a refund. Can you please give me some advise. Now Freezer Section is faulty, What are my statutory rights? What should i do? I tried to argue that they werent safe nor fit for the purpose intended the whole stitching around the rubber base came apart and the top half of the slipper came away from the sole, literally.

I was told that the instore Manager deemed them to be over the 28 day period and because i couldnt get back to the shop within this time, i have no right to refund or even a replacement. All I can sugest here is that you request the policy wording for this 28 day policy as it may exclude certain items. Debbie, 7 weeks is totally unreasonable under SOGA, you were fobbed off by an ignorant employee, next time speak to the manager, be persistent and if necessary refer to your local trading standards office…….

The TV is off all day and is only used for about hours at night. We have a main switch which turns all the power off for all our appliances to save energy. When I returned home from work yesterday I noticed my TV had a a dark shadow running down the centre of the screen. Philips told me that they will have a look to see if they can do something out of goodwill and told me they would call me at lunchtime today.

It is now almost 5pm and I have not recieved a phone call. How can we opt out of our own acts. This is one of your statutory rights. You did not have to buy the extra warranty because SOGA gives upto 6 years for repair or replacement only if the goods would normally last this long. A washing machine should last longer than 2 years as long you have looked after it and followed the manufactureres instruction on use and care of the machine. The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations states that a company must not omit information that could make an average purchaser change their mind.

Had Comet have told you, you may be covered under SOGA you might not have bought the warranty therefore they could be in breach of this regulation. I would write a letter with this information and see what they say. Ring consumer direct they will help you word the letter. It only had 1 years waranty with it. They also said that only 0. Wat can i do to resolve this problem with sony? Under the SOGA, you have upto 6 years for repair or replacement depending on the item.

To my understanding a PS3 should last more than 2 years! However, they will probably try to fob you off with telling you that you have to deal with Sony direct. The info from Sony stating that only 0. Therefore the retailer should offer to repair or replace the PS3 at their cost. Unfortunatly if the items warranty has expired and the fault was reported after the warranty expired theres not alot you can do under any act. Rick, have you heard of the SOGA? Whether you have a warrenty or not is irrelevant.

I bought a lamp I saw in the window at a shop in bath. I was given one already boxed and taped up. On opening it I found it was broken, phoned the shop and they deny any responsability. What are my rights? Help needed, thanks. They have refunded the card payment, but deducted the original carriage charge and a further charge for the cost of transport back to them by the haulier.

Is this correct, or can I ask for the rest of my money back? I recently bought a ipod touch from argos and when i got home and checked it there was no ipod in the box. An online auction called bidbid had adverts on its home page saying you can win pound or more auctions for as little as a penny. I had to buy credits to bid with. Each bid cost 50p. They seem to have bidders working for them to out bid you but on at least 3 occasions I won an auction being the last person to bid when the auction stopped yet on all occasions when I won. So it seems that they have the auctions set up not to let you win at all.

So does this mean their advert saying you can win goods worth over a pounds for a penny are untrue and missleading. The reason I know I won at least 3 auctions is because they have a bidding list with peoples names who bid. I was at the top of the bidding list at least 3 times yet it said the person under me won the auction. That has got to be fraud or theft surely. What are my rights. When i recieved it there wasnt a head hugger in there, so i phoned them up and they said they couldnt get me one to match my pram, so i asked for a refund as i didnt recieve what i was told.

I purchased a few bathroom products from Argos in January when I moved into a new flat soap holder, curtain rail, toilet brush etc. The products are supposedly made of stainless steel. However, they have all rusted very badly, even the ones which are not in direct contact with water from the shower. I wrote to Argos along with photographs of the damaged products. A guy from customer services replied to me saying that since it was more than 1 year since purchase, the onus was on me to prove that there was a manufacturing default as per the Sales of Goods Act.

He suggested that I should contact an independent professional who would need to produce a report which asserts the fault, where it originated and whether it is a manufacturing fault. They also said that they would refund reasonable costs. Are they correct not to refund me the faulty products based on the fact that the Sales of Goods act says that customers can claim redress up to 6 years after purchase? I bought a mobile phone 6 months ago from O2. It developed a fault after 6weeks that the shop fixed for me, but then developed another fault.

The shop then returned the phone to the manufacturers for repair. It was returned minus the battery after about 10 days. After anothe week a battery was returned to me, but once again after another few days a fault appeared. I returned it to the shop and they once again sent it back to the manufacturer. I have now had a replacement phone returned that is a reconditioned phone, ie second hand!! I do not want a second hand phone or any other phone from that manufacturer. Can I get my money back from the seller? Hi, I recently bought a game from a game company in a store in my country.

I installed the game, used the cd key given , worked fine, but after I logged out a realized that somebody probably remote accessed my computer and logged made me log onto a false account in order to steal my cd key. As soon as I found out I contacted the companies support by email. They responded but wont provide me with any information where my cd key is registered.

I provided them with the photo of the media, receipt and the cd key but they refuse to help me, even though I keep notifying them about a possible piracy case. I think as a customer Iam entitled to use the product that I paid for, but the company is denying me my right. Is there something that can be done about that, or they can just simply dismiss me saying its my fault? Because I feel that my customer rights are being violated in this case. The electronic timer display started to flicker about 2 weeks ago, getting worse each day and is now still flickering but also the digits are barely visible.

I am not sure if this is the correct way to go, or when the guarantee actualy began and expired. We paid for the item on 27 November , but did not take receipt of it until 5 december If neither party wishes to take responsibility, after only a few days beyond the guarantee expiry, what do i do then? We ordered a sign for our business. The company supplied the sign which was unusable due to the fact that the quality was unacceptable, for instance our logo — a flower with flowing curves -was cut in such a way that it looked as though a seven year old had cut around a template with a fret saw — it was blocky and in no way acceptable.

Furthermore, the other components of the sign were incorrect with the wrong wording and basic grammatical errors. The company delivered the sign and received a cheque, however, the following day I saw the sign for myself anad asked the MD to cancel the cheque — this was done immediately. I phoned the company to inform them that the signage was unacceptable and that the cheque had been cancelled.

They said that they could look at the sign though accepted no responsiblility for teh lack of quality. Later, upon reflecting on the service we had received I emailed them, informing them that I was not impressed with what they had delivered and that we did not wish to have them do this work — effectively cancelling the contract and asking tehm to arrange to collect the signs. Today we received a letter from the company quoting the Bills of Exchange Act — that it was unlawful for us to cancel to cancel the cheque and that they would be instigating proceedings to pass this on to a debt collection agency.

I believe that under the Sale of Goods Act, we are within our rights to cancel the contract and should the company not wish to collect the plastics that it their decision. Also, if they did bring proceedings would they actually stand up in court? I bought a brand new hand built kitchen made from pine about 18 months ago. Since installation the doors and units have continued to shrink and swell. The company have been out to us on 4 occasions to replace broken catches and shrunken doors. The new doors just shrink the same as the old ones. I would like my money back as this kitchen will never be right.

How do I stand? Is it worth me trying? This act makes it an offence to omit information that could sway you decision to purchase. Any reasonable person would not expect a kitchen door to fall off or need repair within 18 months of use. My husband and I contacted Lancashire Double Glazing to ask for replacement roof panels for our conservatory roof after other workmen damaged the existing panels.

There were roof blinds attached to the roof — I did not know how to remove these as they were fitted by a blinds company. I asked the Double Glazing fitter if he could be careful not to damage these, he said he would try not to damage them. Once he had fitted the new roof panels he said one of the wires holding up the roof blinds had come undone and I should phone a blinds company to get it sorted out.

Very upset there is now yet another job to be fixed due to workmen my husband has asked the double glazing company to sort it out. Do you know if we have any rights in this case? Hello, me again, well I managed to fix the blind myself, which has left me very happy, but I am concerned that the company were quite happy to leave us with a bill for a new conservatory roof blind. Very disappointed there are companies who operate in this way. I specifically asked the tyre fitter if there was any difference between this tyre and a premium brand to which the response was no.

My vehicle has since developed a knocking noise coming from the transmission box. As the tyres had only done approximately I would expect a lifespan to miles based upon previous history I approached the tyre fitter who was only prepared to offer a slightly discounted replacement premium tyre and not refund the cost of the Falken tyres. I have had to take time off work investigating this problem and have incurred garage expenses as well as the cost of the tyres.

Am I not entitled to some recovery. If the tyres are not fit for purpose then you will be entitled to refund under SOGA. The tyre company as professionals should have warned you that the tyres are not suitable for this vehicle. You even asked them if they are any different to premium bands. These are listed in the SOGA. As 6 months have past it is down to you to prove that the tyres are not fit for purpose. You would need to have a specialist report drawn up and sent to the tyre company to prove that the tyres are at fault.

Hi I bought my daughter a North Fact Nuptse jacket for christmas and as it is white it needed a wash last week. I was extremely careful to wash is as per the manufacturers instructions but it still turned out a complete disaster. It is flat as a pancake and covered in what looks like tea stains which I think are probably caused by the colour coming off the down inside. I took it back to the shop a bought it from yesterday and they said basically I have to take it up with North Face and not them.

When turned on for the first time i tried to register the internet security provided by the retailer Mcafee. Before it finished installing the notebook crashed. I took it back to the retailer who ran tests and said it was fine but had a virus. He claimed to have fixed FOC and i took the product home. The second time i turned it on the same thing happened. This time the retailer said he could not help as it was virus related and not a hardware issue. Do i have any rights in this situation?

They just can't distribute the overage to shareholders — because they don't have any shareholders. So, what do these wealthy nonprofits do with all the profit? In a trend similar to what we've seen in nonprofit colleges and universities — where there has been an arms race of sorts to use rising tuition to construct buildings and add courses of study — the hospitals improve and expand facilities despite the fact that the U. They keep the upward spiral going by marketing for more patients, raising prices and pushing harder to collect bill payments. Only with health care, the upward spiral is easier to sustain.

Health care is seen as even more of a necessity than higher education. And unlike in higher education, in health care there is little price transparency — and far less competition in any given locale even if there were transparency. Besides, a hospital is typically one of the community's larger employers if not the largest, so there is unlikely to be much local complaining about its burgeoning economic fortunes. In December, when the New York Times ran a story about how a deficit deal might threaten hospital payments, Steven Safyer, chief executive of Montefiore Medical Center, a large nonprofit hospital system in the Bronx, complained, "There is no such thing as a cut to a provider that isn't a cut to a beneficiary This is not crying wolf.

That was his hospital's operating profit, according to its return. Shocked by her bill from Stamford hospital and unable to pay it, Janice S. They help people read and understand their bills and try to reduce them. Goencz is part of a trade group called the Alliance of Claim Assistant Professionals, which has about 40 members across the country. Another group, Medical Billing Advocates of America, has about 50 members. Each advocate seems to handle 40 to 70 cases a year for the uninsured and those disputing insurance claims.

After weeks of back-and-forth phone calls, for which Goencz charged Janice S. Most of the doctors did about the same, reducing Janice S. But the best the ambulance company would offer Goencz was to let Janice S. That's at odds with a trend toward consolidation that has seen several private-equity firms making investments in what Wall Street analysts have identified as an increasingly high-margin business. But, says Goencz, "I don't go over it line by line. I just go for a deal. The patient usually is shocked by the bill, doesn't understand any of the language and has bill collectors all over her by the time they call me.

So they're grateful. Why give them heartache by telling them they still paid too much for some test or pill? The original version of this article stated that the total annual amount of charity care provided by U. Gilbert, now 66, is still making weekly payments on the bill she got in June after she slipped and fell on her face one summer evening in the small yard behind her house in Fairfield, Conn.

Her nose bleeding heavily, she was taken to the emergency room at Bridgeport Hospital. Along with Greenwich Hospital and the Hospital of St. I saw the resident for maybe 15 minutes, but I got a lot of tests. In fact, Gilbert got three CT scans — of her head, her chest and her face.

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The last one showed a hairline fracture of her nose. Gilbert got the same troponin blood test that Janice S. Gilbert got just one. Also on the bill were items that neither Medicare nor any insurance company would pay anything at all for: basic instruments and bandages and even the tubing for an IV setup.

Even Medicare gets exactly the same charges that this patient got. Of course, we will have different arrangements for how Medicare or an insurance company will not pay some of the charges or discount the charges, but everyone starts from the same place. He subsequently reported back that "it's an historical charge, which takes into account all of our costs for running the hospital.

Running a hospital organization is much more complicated. That made Gilbert one of millions of Americans like Sean Recchi who are routinely categorized as having health insurance but really don't have anything approaching meaningful coverage. She was also turned down, she says, when she requested financial assistance from the hospital. Yale New Haven's Gedge insists that she never applied to the hospital for aid, and Gilbert could not supply me with copies of any applications. In September , after a series of fruitless letters and phone calls from its bill collectors to Gilbert, the hospital sued her.

Gilbert found a medical-billing advocate, Beth Morgan, who analyzed the charges on the bill and compared them with the discounted rates insurance companies would pay. During two court-required mediation sessions, Bridgeport Hospital's attorney wouldn't budge; his client wanted the bill paid in full, Gilbert and Morgan recall. He deducted the superfluous bills for the basic equipment. For her, the chargemaster prices were all too real. That's why in the s Medicare pushed payment formulas on hospitals that paid them for whatever ailment they were treating with more added for documented complications , not according to the number of days the patient spent in a bed.

Insurance companies also pushed incentives on hospitals to move patients out faster or not admit them for overnight stays in the first place. Meanwhile, the introduction of procedures like noninvasive laparoscopic surgery helped speed the shift from inpatient to outpatient. By , average days spent in the hospital per patient had declined significantly, while outpatient services had increased even more dramatically. However, the result was not the savings that reformers had envisioned. It was just the opposite. That includes work done by physicians, laboratories and clinics including diagnostic clinics for CT scans or blood tests and same-day surgeries and other hospital treatments like cancer chemotherapy.

Put simply, inpatient care at nonprofit hospitals is, in fact, almost nonprofit. Outpatient care is wildly profitable. The outpatient visit of someone I'll call Steve H. Steve H. A blue collar worker who was in his 30s at the time and worked at a local retail store, Steve H. The good news was that with all the advances of modern technology, the whole process could be done in a day.

I was not able to interview Steve H. Maybe 10? Under Obamacare, those limits will not be allowed in most health-insurance policies after That might help people like Steve H. That's the marking pen, presumably reusable, that marked the place on Steve H. That's the strap used to hold Steve H.

That's a blanket used to keep surgery patients warm. In all, Steve H. But that was the least of Steve H. The big-ticket item for Steve H. As Steve H. I did not see Steve H. Mercy Hospital is owned by an organization under the umbrella of the Catholic Church called Sisters of Mercy. Its mission, as described in its latest filing with the IRS as a tax-exempt charity, is "to carry out the healing ministry of Jesus by promoting health and wellness. Suits against Mercy patients are on file in courts across Oklahoma listing Berlin-Wheeler as the plaintiff.

That report doesn't cover the executives overseeing the chain, called Mercy Health, of which Mercy in Oklahoma City is a part. Its hospital in Springfield, Mo. The incomes of the parent company's executives appear on other IRS filings covering various interlocking Mercy nonprofit corporate entities. However, the auditors state that the value of that care is based on the charges on all the bills, not the actual cost to Mercy of providing those services — in other words, the chargemaster value.

Mercy's website lists an member media team; one member, Rachel Wright, told me that neither CEO Britton nor anyone else would be available to answer questions about compensation, the hospital's bill-collecting activities through Berlin-Wheeler or Steve H. Wright said the hospital's lawyers had decided that discussing Steve H. I pointed out that I wanted to ask questions only about the hospital's charges for standard items — such as surgical gowns, basic blood tests, blanket warmers and even medical devices — that had nothing to do with individual patients. Even a surgical gown? We cannot discuss this with you.

It's against the law. Hiding behind a privacy statute to avoid talking about how it prices surgeons' gowns may be a stretch, but Mercy might have a valid legal reason not to discuss what it paid for the Medtronic device before selling it to Steve H. Pharmaceutical and medical-device companies routinely insert clauses in their sales contracts prohibiting hospitals from sharing information about what they pay and the discounts they receive.

In January , a report by the federal Government Accountability Office found that "the lack of price transparency and the substantial variation in amounts hospitals pay for some IMD [implantable medical devices] raise questions about whether hospitals are achieving the best prices possible. A lack of price transparency was not the only potential market inefficiency the GAO found. The circumstances are not always innocent. In , Gregory Demske, an assistant inspector general at the Department of Health and Human Services, told a Senate committee that "physicians routinely receive substantial compensation from medical-device companies through stock options, royalty agreements, consulting agreements, research grants and fellowships.

Other doctors, Demske noted, had stretched the conflict of interest beyond consulting fees: "Additionally, physician ownership of medical-device manufacturers and related businesses appears to be a growing trend in the medical-device sector In some cases, physicians could receive substantial returns while contributing little to the venture beyond the ability to generate business for the venture. The voluntary move came just before a similar disclosure regulation promulgated by the Obama Administration went into effect governing any doctor who receives funds from Medicare or the National Institutes of Health which would include most doctors.

And the nonprofit public-interest-journalism organization ProPublica has smartly organized data on doctor payments on its website. The conflicts have not been eliminated, but they are being aired, albeit on searchable websites rather than through a requirement that doctors disclose them to patients directly. But conflicts that may encourage devices to be overprescribed or that lead doctors to prescribe a more expensive one instead of another are not the core problem in this marketplace.

The more fundamental disconnect is that there is little reason to believe that what Mercy Hospital paid Medtronic for Steve H. Why would it? He did not know the price in advance. Besides, studies delving into the economics of the medical marketplace consistently find that a moderately higher or lower price doesn't change consumer purchasing decisions much, if at all, because in health care there is little of the price sensitivity found in conventional marketplaces, even on the rare occasion that patients know the cost in advance.

The question of how sensitive patients will be to increased prices for medical devices recently came up in a different context. Aware of the huge profits being accumulated by devicemakers, Obama Administration officials decided to recapture some of the money by imposing a 2. The rationale was that getting back some of these generous profits was a fair way to cover some of the cost of the subsidized, broader insurance coverage provided by Obamacare — insurance that in some cases will pay for more of the devices. The industry has since geared up in Washington and is pushing legislation that would repeal the tax.

Its main argument is that a 2. That prediction of doom brought on by this small tax contradicts the reams of studies documenting consumer price insensitivity in the health care marketplace. It also ignores profit-margin data collected by McKinsey that demonstrates that devicemakers have an open field in the current medical ecosystem.

A McKinsey survey for medical-industry clients reported that devicemakers are superstar performers in a booming medical economy. Medtronic, which performed in the middle of the group, delivered an amazing compounded annual return of So if the extra 2. It hardly has to, given its profit margins. Medtronic spokeswoman Donna Marquad says that for competitive reasons, her company will not discuss sales figures or the profit on Steve H.

That's an unusually high gross profit margin — She restricted her list to those she thought were plainly not allowable. The hospital quickly conceded those items. That left Steve H. Sean Recchi wasn't as fortunate. We have seen that to the extent that most hospital administrators defend such chargemaster rates at all, they maintain that they are just starting points for a negotiation. But patients don't typically know they are in a negotiation when they enter the hospital, nor do hospitals let them know that. And in any case, at MD Anderson, the Recchis were made to pay every penny of the chargemaster bill up front because their insurance was deemed inadequate.

That left Penne, the hospital spokeswoman, with only this defense for the most blatantly abusive charges for items like the alcohol squares: "It is difficult to compare a retail store charge for a common product with a cancer center that provides the item as part of its highly specialized and personalized care," she wrote in an e-mail. Rituxan is made and sold by Biogen Idec in partnership with Genentech, a South San Francisco—based biotechnology pioneer.

And in an Investor Day presentation last September, Roche CEO Severin Schwann stressed that his company is able to keep prices and margins high because of its focus on "medically differentiated therapies. The original version of this article gave an incorrect profit figure for Mercy Hospital in Springfield, Mo. That's lower than the incremental cost of sales for most software companies, and the software companies usually don't produce anything physical or have to pay to ship anything. As began, Recchi was being treated back in Ohio because he could not pay MD Anderson for more than his initial treatment.

That seems like a lot until the numbers are broken down. Nonetheless, the company provided more financial support than MD Anderson did to Recchi, whose wife reports that he "is doing great. He's in remission. Penne of MD Anderson stressed that the hospital provides its own financial aid to patients but that the state legislature restricts the assistance to Texas residents.

She also said MD Anderson "makes every attempt" to inform patients of drug-company charity programs and that 50 of the hospital's 24, inpatients and outpatients, one of whom was from outside Texas, received charitable aid for Rituxan treatments in Catastrophic Illness — And the Bills to Match When medical care becomes a matter of life and death, the money demanded by the health care ecosystem reaches a wholly different order of magnitude, churning out reams of bills to people who can't focus on them, let alone pay them.

Soon after he was diagnosed with lung cancer in January , a patient whom I will call Steven D. The crushing question was, How much is time really worth? But I had to be thinking about the cost and how all this debt would leave me and my daughter. Alice responded to my question about the obvious overcharges on the bill for items like the diabetes-test strips or the gauze pads much as Mrs. Lincoln, according to the famous joke, might have had she been asked what she thought of the play.

That's all I can focus on You think I looked at the items on the bills? I just looked at the total. Steven and Alice didn't know that hospital billing people consider the chargemaster to be an opening bid. That's because no medical bill ever says, "Give us your best offer. So we just started putting all the bills in a box. We couldn't bear to look at them. Four months into her husband's illness, Alice by chance got the name of Patricia Stone, a billing advocate based in Menlo Park, Calif. Stone's typical clients are middle-class people having trouble with insurance claims. Her argument was simple: There was no way the D.


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Of course, had the D. Robert Issai, the CEO of the Daughters of Charity Health System, which owns and runs Seton, refused through an e-mail from a public relations assistant to respond to requests for a comment on any aspect of his hospital's billing or collections policies. He also declined to respond when asked, via a follow-up e-mail, if the hospital thinks that sending patients who have just been told they are terminally ill bills that reflect chargemaster rates that the hospital doesn't actually expect to be paid might unduly upset them during a particularly sensitive time.

To begin to deal with all the other bills that kept coming after Steven's first stay at Seton, Stone was also able to get him into a special high-risk insurance pool set up by the state of California. It helped but not much. The D. The bills kept piling up. Stone organized these and other bills into an elaborate spreadsheet — a ledger documenting how catastrophic illness in America unleashes its own mini-GDP. But there was a catch: Medicaid is the joint federal-state program directed at the poor that is often spoken of in the same breath as Medicare.

Although most of the current national debate on entitlements is focused on Medicare, when Medicaid's subsidiary program called Children's Health Insurance, or CHIP, is counted, Medicaid actually covers more people: As Steven and Alice found out, Medicaid is also more vulnerable to cuts and conditions that limit coverage, probably for the same reason that most politicians and the press don't pay the same attention to it that they do to Medicare: its constituents are the poor.

The major difference in the two programs is that while Medicare's rules are pretty much uniform across state lines, the states set the key rules for Medicaid because the state finances a big portion of the claims. According to Stone, Steven and Alice immediately ran into one of those rules. For people even with their modest income, the D. That amounted to most of Alice's monthly take-home pay. Sequoia agreed to do that for most of the bills. This was clearly a maneuver that Steven and Alice never could have navigated on their own.

Covering most of the Sequoia debt was a huge relief, but there were still hundreds of thousands of dollars in bills left unpaid as Steven approached his end in the fall of Meantime, the bills kept coming. Finally," she says, "the doctor told us that the next one scheduled might prolong his life a month, but it would be really painful. So he gave up. By the one-year anniversary of Steven's death, late last year, Stone had made a slew of deals with his doctors, clinics and other providers whose services Medi-Cal did not cover. Some, like Seton, were generous. The home health care nurse ended up working for free in the final days of Steven's life, which were over the Thanksgiving weekend.

Others, including some of the doctors, were more hard-nosed, insisting on full payment or offering minimal discounts. Still others had long since sold the bills to professional debt collectors, who, by definition, are bounty hunters. Alice and Stone were still hoping Medi-Cal would end up covering some or most of the debt. She was still getting letters and calls from bill collectors. It just hangs over my head," she said in December. One lesson she has learned, she adds: "I'm never going to remarry.

I can't risk the liability. In early February, Alice told TIME that she had recently eliminated "most of" the debt through proceeds from the sale of a small farm in Oklahoma her husband had inherited and after further payments from Medi-Cal and a small life-insurance policy.

Scott had successfully sold his small industrial business and was working part time advising other industrial companies. Rebecca was running a small marketing company. On March 4, Scott started having trouble breathing. By dinnertime he was gasping violently as Rebecca raced him to the emergency room at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. Both Rebecca and her husband thought he was about to die, Rebecca recalls. It was not the time to think about the bills that were going to change their lives if Scott survived, and certainly not the time to imagine, much less worry about, the piles of charges for daily routine lab tests that would be incurred by any patient in the middle of a long hospital stay.

Scott was in the hospital for 32 days before his pneumonia was brought under control. Rebecca recalls that "on about the fourth or fifth day, I was sitting around the hospital and bored, so I went down to the business office just to check that they had all the insurance information.


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Because of some prior claims Assurant had processed, the S. And that was before all the real charges were added. It is also used to wet contact lenses. Through a friend of a friend, Rebecca found Patricia Palmer, the same billing advocate based in Salem, Va. Palmer — whose firm, Medical Recovery Services, now includes her two adult daughters — was a claims processor for Blue Cross Blue Shield. She got into her current business after she was stunned by the bill her local hospital sent after one of her daughters had to go to the emergency room after an accident.

She says it included items like the shade attached to an examining lamp. She then began looking at bills for friends as kind of a hobby before deciding to make it a business. These items are supposed to be part of the hospital's general room-and-services charge, she argued, so they should not be billed twice. In fact, Palmer — echoing a constant and convincing refrain I heard from billing advocates across the country — alleged that the hospital triple-billed for some items used in Scott's care in the intensive-care unit.

That's triple billing. We can't apply for charity, because we're kind of well off in terms of assets," she adds. Insurance That Isn't "People, especially relatively wealthy people, always think they have good insurance until they see they don't," says Palmer. Scott and Rebecca bought their plan from Assurant, which sells health insurance to small businesses that will pay only for limited coverage for their employees or to individuals who cannot get insurance through employers and are not eligible for Medicare or Medicaid.

Although the tight limits on what their policies cover are clearly spelled out in Assurant's marketing materials and in the policy documents themselves, it seems that for its customers the appeal of having something called health insurance for a few hundred dollars a month is far more compelling than comprehending the details. Until you have an event. For that reason, Obamacare prohibited lifetime limits on any policies sold after the law passed and phases out all annual dollar limits by That will protect people like Scott and Rebecca, but it will also make everyone's premiums dramatically higher, because insurance companies risk much more when there is no cap on their exposure.

But Obamacare does little to attack the costs that overwhelmed Scott and Rebecca. Much of that overordering involves patients like Scott S. Their tests become a routine, daily cash generator. It's like your version of a news hook But that's hardly the spectacular profit margin we have seen in other sectors of the medical marketplace. The reason is that the outside companies like Quest, which mostly pick up specimens from doctors and clinics and deliver test results back to them, are not where the big profits are. Which means that for hospitals, they are vital profit centers.

Labs are also increasingly being maintained by doctors who, as they form group practices with other doctors in their field, finance their own testing and diagnostic clinics. These labs account for a rapidly growing share of the testing revenue, and their share is growing rapidly. These in-house labs have no selling costs, and as pricing surveys repeatedly find, they can charge more because they have a captive consumer base in the hospitals or group practices.

They also have an incentive to order more tests because they're the ones profiting from the tests. If anything, the move toward in-house testing, and with it the incentive to do more of it, is accelerating the move by doctors to consolidate into practice groups. As one Bronx urologist explains, "The economics of having your own lab are so alluring. This is primarily a move to increase the hospitals' leverage in negotiating with insurers. An expensive by-product is that it brings testing into the hospitals' high-profit labs.

When the taxpayers pick up the tab, most of the dynamics of the marketplace shift dramatically. In July , an year-old man whom I'll call Alan A. He survived, after two weeks in the intensive-care unit of the Virtua Marlton hospital. Alan A. The ManorCare convalescent center, which Alan A. As with all hospitals in nonemergency situations, ManorCare does not have to accept Medicare patients and their discounted rates.

But it does accept them. In fact, it welcomes them and encourages doctors to refer them. Health care providers may grouse about Medicare's fee schedules, but Medicare's payments must be producing profits for ManorCare. It is part of a for-profit chain owned by Carlyle Group, a blue-chip private-equity firm.

About a decade ago, Alan A. He was 78, and his doctors in southern New Jersey told him there was little they could do. Through a family friend, he got an appointment with one of the lymphoma specialists at Sloan-Kettering. That doctor told Alan A. The doctor warned, however, that he hadn't ever tried the treatment on a man of Alan A. The original version of this article stated that the Assurant Health insurance policy of Rebecca and Scott S.

The treatment worked. A decade later, Alan A. He now travels to Sloan-Kettering every six weeks to be examined by the doctor who saved his life and to get a transfusion of Flebogamma, a drug that bucks up his immune system. His actual out-of-pocket cost for each session is a fraction of that. In some ways, the set of transactions around Alan A. First, obviously, there's the fact that he is alive after other doctors gave him up for dead. And then there's the fact that Alan A. Medicare is the core of that insurance, although Alan A.

Here's how it all computes for him using that summer bill as an example. According to Alan A. Pressed on that, Nelson conceded that the profit is higher and is meant to cover other hospital costs like research and capital equipment. The Cancer Drug Profit Chain It's with the bill for the transfusion that the peculiar economics of American medicine take a different turn, even when Medicare is involved. We're now going to see how drug pricing is a major contributor to the way Americans overpay for medical care. But Congress does not control what drugmakers charge.

The drug companies are free to set their own prices. This seems fair in a free-market economy, but when the drug is a one-of-a-kind lifesaving serum, the result is anything but fair. In practice, the average sales price does not appear to be a real average. A spokesperson for Medicare would say only that the average sales price is based "on manufacturers' data submitted to Medicare and is meant to include rebates. Nelson, the Sloan-Kettering head of financial planning, said the price his hospital pays for Alan A. So even Medicare contributes mightily to hospital profit — and drug-company profit — when it buys drugs.

Made from human plasma, Flebogamma is a sterilized solution that is intended to boost the immune system. Sloan-Kettering buys it from either Baxter International in the U. In its half-year shareholders report, Grifols featured a picture of the Flebogamma plasma serum and its packaging — "produced at the Clayton facility, North Carolina," according to the caption.

Worldwide sales of all Grifols products were reported as up Grifols spokesman Christopher Healey would not discuss what it cost Grifols to produce and ship Alan A. However, a doctor familiar with the economics of cancer-care drugs said that plasma products typically have some of the industry's higher profit margins. He estimated that the Flebogamma dose for Alan A. In Spain, as in the rest of the developed world, Grifols' profit margins on sales are much lower than they are in the U. Aware of the leverage that drug companies — especially those with unique lifesaving products — have on the market, most developed countries regulate what drugmakers can charge, limiting them to certain profit margins.

In fact, the drugmakers' securities filings repeatedly warn investors of tighter price controls that could threaten their high margins — though not in the U. The difference between the regulatory environment in the U. Yet those regulated profit margins outside the U. The pharmaceutical industry's common explanation for the price difference is that U.

Apart from the question of whether a country with a health-care-spending crisis should subsidize the rest of the developed world — not to mention the question of who signed Americans up for that mission — there's the fact that the companies' math doesn't add up. Grifols made a All the numbers tell one consistent story: Regulating drug prices the way other countries do would save tens of billions of dollars while still offering profit margins that would keep encouraging the pharmaceutical companies' quest for the next great drug.

Handcuffs On Medicare Our laws do more than prevent the government from restraining prices for drugs the way other countries do. Federal law also restricts the biggest single buyer — Medicare — from even trying to negotiate drug prices. As a perpetual gift to the pharmaceutical companies and an acceptance of their argument that completely unrestrained prices and profit are necessary to fund the risk taking of research and development , Congress has continually prohibited the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services CMS of the Department of Health and Human Services from negotiating prices with drugmakers.

Similarly, when Congress passed Part D of Medicare in , giving seniors coverage for prescription drugs, Congress prohibited Medicare from negotiating. Nor can Medicare get involved in deciding that a drug may be a waste of money. In medical circles, this is known as the comparative-effectiveness debate, which nearly derailed the entire Obamacare effort in Shouldn't the person or entity paying the bill, e.

Medicare, be able to decide that it will pay for drug A but not drug B? Most states require insurance companies to do the same thing. With that escalating bill in mind, Bach was among the policy experts pushing for provisions in Obamacare to establish a Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute to expand comparative-effectiveness research efforts. Through painstaking research, doctors would try to determine the comparative effectiveness not only of drugs but also of procedures like CT scans.

However, after all the provisions spelling out elaborate research and review processes were embedded in the draft law, Congress jumped in and added eight provisions that restrict how the research can be used. The prime restriction: Findings shall "not be construed as mandates for practice guidelines, coverage recommendations, payment, or policy recommendations. With those 14 words, the work of Bach and his colleagues was undone. And costs remain unchecked. Tell Us Here. Along with another doomed provision that would have allowed Medicare to pay a fee for doctors' time spent counseling terminal patients on end-of-life care but not on euthanasia , the Obama Administration's push for comparative effectiveness is what brought opponents' cries that the bill was creating "death panels.

The loudest voice sounding the death-panel alarm belonged to Betsy McCaughey, former New York State lieutenant governor and a conservative health-policy advocate. McCaughey, who now runs a foundation called the Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths, is still fiercely opposed to Medicare's making comparative-effectiveness decisions. Bach, the Sloan-Kettering doctor and policy wonk, has become so frustrated with the rising cost of the drugs he uses that he and some colleagues recently took matters into their own hands. The burden of this cost is borne, increasingly, by patients themselves — and the effects can be devastating.

The CEO of Sanofi, the company that makes Zaltrap, initially dismissed the article by Bach and his Sloan-Kettering colleagues, saying they had taken the price of the drug out of context because of variations in the required dosage. But four weeks later, Sanofi cut its price in half. After President Lyndon B. That's due to the U. It's also because Medicare's hands are tied when it comes to negotiating the prices for drugs or durable medical equipment. But Medicare's growth is not a matter of those "bureaucrats" that Betsy McCaughey complains about having gone off the rails in how they operate it.

In fact, seeing the way Alan A. The process is fast, accurate, customer-friendly and impressively high-tech.

Capabilities

And it's all done quietly by a team of nonpolitical civil servants in close partnership with the private sector. In fact, despite calls to privatize Medicare by creating a voucher system under which the Medicare population would get money from the government to buy insurance from private companies, the current Medicare system is staffed with more people employed by private contractors 8, than government workers There are two basic kinds of codes for the services billed. The first is a number identifying which of the 7, procedures were performed by a doctor, such as examining a chest X-ray, performing a heart transplant or conducting an office consultation for a new patient which costs more than a consultation with a continuing patient — coded differently — because it typically takes more time.

If a patient presents more complicated challenges, then these basic procedures will be coded differently; for example, there are two varieties of emergency-room consultations. Adjustments are also made for variations in the cost of living where the doctor works and for other factors, like whether doctors used their own office they'll get paid more for that or the hospital.

A panel of doctors set up by the American Medical Association reviews the codes annually and recommends updates to Medicare. The process can get messy as the doctors fight over which procedures in which specialties take more time and expertise or are worth relatively more. Medicare typically accepts most of the panel's recommendations. The second kind of code is used to pay the hospital for its services. Again, there are thousands of codes based on whether the person checked in for brain surgery, an appendectomy or a fainting spell.

To come up with these numbers, Medicare takes the cost reports — including allocations for everything from overhead to nursing staff to operating-room equipment — that hospitals across the country are required to file for each type of service and pays an amount equal to the composite average costs. The hospital has little incentive to overstate its costs because it's against the law and because each hospital gets paid not on the basis of its own claimed costs but on the basis of the average of every hospital's costs, with adjustments made for regional cost differences and other local factors.

Except for emergency services, no hospital has to accept Medicare patients and these prices, but they all do. Similar codes are calculated for laboratory and diagnostic tests like CT scans, ambulance services and, as we saw with Alan A. The part of that process that Kovach and three colleagues, with whom I spent a morning recently, are responsible for involves overseeing the writing and vetting of thousands of instructions for coders, who are also private contractors, employed by HP, General Dynamics and other major technology companies. The codes they write are supposed to ensure that Medicare pays what it is supposed to pay and catches anything in a bill that should not be paid.

Adding to the complexity, the benefit is limited to one visit per year for some services, meaning instructions had to be written to track patient timelines for the codes assigned to those services. When performing correctly, the codes produce "edits" whenever a bill is submitted with something awry on it — if a doctor submits two preventive-care colonoscopies for the same patient in the same year, for example.

Depending on the code, an edit will result in the bill's being sent back with questions or being rejected with an explanation. It all typically happens without a human being reading it. In Shelbyville, Alan A. There, the codes are checked for edits, after which Alan A. The whole process takes three days — and that long only because the data is sent in batches.

There are multiple backups to make sure this ruthlessly efficient system isn't just ruthless. Medicare keeps track of and publicly reports the percentage of bills processed "clean" — i. Even the speed with which the contractors answer the widely publicized consumer phone lines is monitored and reported.

The average time to answer a call from a doctor or other provider is These times might come as a surprise to people who have tried to call a private insurer. That monitoring process is, in turn, backstopped by a separate ombudsman's office, which has regional and national layers. Beyond that, the members of the House of Representatives and the Senate loom as an additional ombudsmen. As a result, Blum's agency has an unusually large congressional liaison staff of 52, most of whom act as caseworkers trying to resolve these complaints. The astonishing efficiency, of course, raises the question of whether Medicare is simply funneling money out the door as fast as it can.

Some fraud is inevitable — even a rate of 0. It's also possible that people can game the system without committing outright fraud. But Medicare has multiple layers of protection against fraud that the insurance companies don't and perhaps can't match because they lack Medicare's scale. According to Medicare's Jackson, the contractors are "vigorously monitored for all kinds of metrics" and required every quarter "to do a lot of data analysis and submit review plans and error-rate-reduction plans. And then there are the RACs — a wholly separate group of private "recovery audit contractors.

Bush Administration, the RACs, says one hospital administrator, "drive the doctors and the hospitals and even the Medicare claims processors crazy. The RACs have an incentive that any champion of the private sector would love. They get no up-front fees but instead are paid a percentage of the money they retrieve. They eat what they kill. This process can "get quite anal," says the doctor who recently treated me for an ear infection. The inspector general's work is supplemented by a separate, multiagency federal health-care-fraud task force, which brings criminal charges against fraudsters and issues regular press releases claiming billions more in recoveries.

This does not mean the system is airtight. If anything, all that recovery activity suggests fallibility, even as it suggests more buttoned-up operations than those run by private insurers, whose payment systems are notoriously erratic. Too Much Health Care? In a review of other bills of those enrolled in Medicare, a pattern of deep, deep discounting of chargemaster charges emerged that mirrored how Alan A.

Another pattern emerged from a look at these bills: some seniors apparently visit doctors almost weekly or even daily, for all varieties of ailments. Sure, as patients age they are increasingly in need of medical care.