I suppose you could just consider it reimbursement but I wasn’t ever expecting to get it back and it was a nice surprise.
It was for money outlaid when my Dad was so ill – the hire of a wheelchair, a hospital bed, fluffy bed slippers designed to alleviate bed sores, a revolving cushion to rotate more easily out of bed. The cost mountained up and I don’t think he used any one item for more than three days but we would have paid the world to make him more comfortable, no matter how short the time. My brother bought a walking frame out and out, with the provision it would become a family heirloom. We decided that each pair of wearers of the socks would have their initials embroidered into them. Sort of like a christening gown heritage (such as all the grandchildren in this family have had, wearing the same robe) but with a lot more emphasis on the death side of it. Our sense of humour was (is) very morbid but it helped us get through.
One of the reimbursements was for the ambulance service I booked to take my father home: apparently St John’s have little interest in the ones going home. I felt that about the nursing staff at the hospital as well, actually: their level of care really dropped once it was made clear that my father had limited time left and would be going home.
So a private ambulance it was and it was disastrous (you can read about it here, here, here and here). Because it was something I had organised I felt so guilty. After my father died, I went hammer and tongs for the transport company. it was a long drawn out process but I complained directly to them and to every other organisation they dealt with. I even met with the WA branch manager who assured me that as a result of my situation, they were changing their booking and transport procedures. This made me think better of them but they absolutely refused to refund the fee, claiming that I had got the service I paid for.
The utter falsehood of that statement took my breath away. Luckily, lack of breath meant that I could ponder my reply and I am still proud of it: ‘If I had wanted to subject my father to increased pain, loss of dignity and lack of control in order to get him home, don’t you think I would have just done it myself?’
They refused to back down. I filed a complaint with the Human Disabilities Association.
The HDA pursued my complaint and got back to me, saying that my claim of having ordered a stair chair could not be substantiated, given that the transport company denied it ever happened and they didn’t keep phone logs. As a result they were closing my claim file. I was incredulous when I was informed of this. In short, to sum it up, this official government body wouldn’t investigate my claim because the very thing I was complaining about had no record in the company – surprise, surprise. With no legal onus on them to support my story, there was no way in hell they would ever accept the true facts of the matter when it might result in a negative finding towards them.
Having my complaint dismissed like that made me see red. I had already told the company that I couldn’t feel it a resolution just by talking; that I wanted a goodwill gesture in the form of a refund. They said they couldn’t do that. I privately resolved to cause them as much trouble as possible on the grounds a) that my cause was righteous and b) my time was much less valuable than their WA CEO’s.
By this stage I didn’t even expect to get a refund but I was happy in the knowledge that I had already tied up hours of the time of their senior person; way more than if they had just given me the refund in the first place.
When the HDA declined to take my complaint further I almost lost it. I then sent another email telling them that the he said/she said argument was not valid: they claimed to not have any record of my booking the wheel chair but there was another point I could get them on. That whole ‘you got the service you paid for’ statement. I was eloquent enough to totally reverse the decision and I asked them to pass on my avowed intent to keep pursuing this, no matter what outcome.
They passed it on. 24 hours later and the company had offered to donate the transport fee to a charity of my choice. I was totally fine with that because I had never expected the money back personally at all.
I loved my Dad and he knew it and it was never about the money, only the principles involved. I think I will use those few hundred dollars on a trip for a few days.