On The Medical Billing Snafu

My OB bills my insurance $690 per ultrasound appointment. What my insurance actually pays (their "negotiated rate") is $90, plus my $20 copay. So, it's not wildly unlikely that the lab might just accept the $464, since the billed amount from medical companies seems to have very little to do with what actually needs to be paid. In my example, if I didn't have insurance and received a $690 bill from my OB, I'd be horrified. If they magnanimously offered to give me a 50% discount and only charge me $345, I'd probably feel like I got cut a good break - but meanwhile, my insurance actually only pays $90+$20 for the service, so I'd still be getting ripped off (compared to what my insurance negotiated to pay) even with a 50% discount.

Posted on April 10, 2014 at 9:14 am 1

On How Much Should You Tip for Office Food Deliveries?

@Jake Reinhardt Absolutely! $400 bucks cash for four hours worth of work is an awesome wage. Hell, I'll give these prep guys (whoever they are)$100 and still come out at $75 an hour, which is more than my college-educated, experienced IT freelancer friend charges per hour for his work.

Posted on April 9, 2014 at 10:09 am 0

On Transparency At Work

@stuffisthings I'd even flat-out clarify "Look, suppliers are pushing back and saying it's unreasonable, and they're telling me it's because they've already been billed back 2% for samples and can't afford any more. Is this accurate? And should I be using 2% as my sample budget, then?"

Posted on May 16, 2013 at 1:36 pm 0

On Why Renting an Apartment in NYC Sucks

YES. The bait and switch is RAMPANT. I remember contacting a broker about a place I saw on CL, and they had me come down to their office at a certain time for an "appointment." Being naive as I was, I went down expecting that we'd be going to see the apartment. When we got to the office, a receptionist basically shoved paperwork in our hands and barked at us to fill it out. I asked if this was an application for the specific apartment, but got no response. After providing WAY too much personal info on their paperwork for not having an idea what it was being used for (and waiting for an hour), the broker told us he'd be “in touch." When he called a week later, I responded that I only wanted to see the place we saw in the ad we responded to, and he clearly had NO idea what I was talking about. I told him I'd be interested in working with him if he could show a 1- or 2- bedroom (not a studio) close to Washington Square Park for less than $2500 a month. He said ok, no problem, and set up an appointment with his assistant. The assistant showed me two apartments - one was a studio on 11th ave and 50th street, the other was a "one bedroom" (with no window in the living room and a pressurized wall carving out a bedroom) for $3000 a month in the lower east side. When I asked again why neither of these were anything like what I said was looking for, she just looked at me blankly and clearly had no idea what I was talking about. For this, we were expected to pay a 12% fee?? Another time I contacted a different broker about a listing, and it was the same bait and switch - the apartment in the ad wasn’t available (of COURSE), but he had another to show me. It turned out to be an apartment I'd found on Craigslist the prior week that was being sublet by the current tenant. The broker had NO relationship with the building - he basically just saw the listing on CL and figured he'd "show" it to me and collect $1700 for doing the same thing any idiot can do by browsing CL. I'm sure there are honest brokers out there, but I sure haven't met them yet.

Posted on May 7, 2013 at 3:32 pm 1

On The Ideal Candidate Will Have a Penis

@Lorelei@twitter THANK YOU. I hate the whole "shrug - just sayin'" explain-away people tend to do for this. I remember being young and asking my dad why the Declaration of Independence referred to "mankind", and he explained to me that "mankind" meant everyone and not just men. And I remember thinking, even at 7 or 8 years old, that this was a bullshit rationale. There is NO REASON the "norm" should exclude 50% of the population by its very definition. Jesus, what century do we live in? Language is fluid, it can EASILY be changed.

Posted on May 3, 2013 at 11:58 am 0

On Initially Nice But Later Incompetent And/Or Crooked Landlords

Oh man, I felt all of these so much. I have only once gotten a deposit back in the many apartments I've rented, despite being a clean freak who both cleaned personally and had professionals clean afterwards. I had a great landlord freakout story last year. My husband and I were experiencing a cockroach problem of epic proportions. As in, you couldn't leave a drink unattended for more than a minute because bugs would crawl into it (gross, I know). Months go by with daily phone calls to the management company, who keeps promising to take action but never actually does anything. Finally, it gets to the point where we start withholding rent. The actual owner of the apartment then emails us an extremely angry note, threatening to throw us out in the street us that very day if we didn't give him the money (this is not legal according to NYC tenant law, but whatever). We calmly ask him if he's aware of the roach situation and detail our documented attempts to work with the management company. On receiving our email, the owner (who lives in FL and has never seen our house, which btw was spotless and professionally cleaned once a week)sent the following reply (posted verbatim): "Thanks for bringing the roach situation to our attention. We will be adding the cost of the extermination for your apartment to the late rent that you have not paid. Obviously the roaches are due to your inability to maintain a clean environment which has created surroundings that they thrive in. Again thanks for bringing this to our attention. Please note: we will need to exterminate as often as possible to elevate the situation you have caused and all associated costs will be your responsibility." Later, we received a followup email that again told me he was going to "have the sheriff throw all your possessions in the street" (again, not according to NYC law he wouldn't) and that he'd be contacting his lawyer. Finally I just responded "wouldn't it be easier, and more likely to solve the problem, to just send an EXTERMINATOR?" Two days later, he sent a professional exterminator to treat the entire building which nearly immediately solved the problem. We sent him the money, and never heard from him again. I can't help but wonder if he finally asked his lawyer, who let him know that he was lucky his ass hadn't been sued by now and told him to calm the eff down.

Posted on April 30, 2013 at 2:45 pm 1

On My $10,000 Safety Net (Thanks, Gran)

@andnowlights Haha, I had this - my grandad passed, and his estate was split between my mom and her two siblings. I know for a fact she received a substantial amount, b/c she complained a lot about how difficult the process was. I dropped hints about wanting to go to grad school or put a down payment on a house but couldn't afford it...she decided to renovate her kitchen instead, and didn't share any of the leftovers (she and my father are VERY comfortable). Which, sure, it's her money, but I do get a bit jealous from other friends who have inherited substantial sums passed to them from their parents. Some families are more share-y I guess...

Posted on April 18, 2013 at 1:40 pm 1

On How Reddit Thinks You Should Do Money

This is all good advice, except for the butter part. I SWEAR my fancy organic valley unsalted tastes WAY better than other butters. Their pasture butter is fantastic, too. It just tastes more...buttery, somehow.

Posted on April 16, 2013 at 10:08 am 2

On The Cost of Being a Vendor at a Food Festival

Holy cow! Thanks for this article - this was really interesting. I would NEVER have guessed that it could cost over $1500 just to set up an ice cream booth at a festival. I know some costs were also to hopefully keep the business running past the festival..but still. This was really eye-opening - I'm going to complain much less about food prices at farmer's markets now.

Posted on April 12, 2013 at 10:44 am 0

On 'What's outrageous? Fast food wages!'

@Jeni Vidi Vici Thanks for doing the math on that - the numbers he used clearly didn't add up, but I didn't want to pull out the calculator. Looks like it's just what we expected - a 20% hike works out to literal pennies per item sold. Who wouldn't gladly pay an extra nickel-per-burger to ensure the workers serving them weren't living in grinding poverty?

Posted on April 5, 2013 at 10:00 am 0