I get ripped-off

The law requires that my monthly shipment of narcotics has to be delivered directly to my door and signed for. If I’m away, it can’t be left with a neighbor, even at my request, nor can I pick it up at a UPS facility. This means that every month, I have to stay home all day waiting for its arrival because although it doesn’t usually come before 6:30, it could come at any time. Last Thursday, it didn’t come at all, but when I checked my email, I found notification that it had. The following is my email to the UPS fraud division, which I contacted when no one else at UPS seemed to give a rip. As it turned out, the fraud division didn’t either.

  “My name is _____. I supposedly received a package containing 60, 10 mg oxycodone tablets yesterday (October 9) at 5:46 p.m. here at my home. Someone named Kahl supposedly signed for this package. Neither my wife nor I have ever known anyone named Kahl. She and I were both home at the time the shipment was supposedly made. We heard no UPS truck, and we heard no knock at our door.

“I have spoken with several of your phone representatives today, three of whom live in India and didn’t understand what the word narcotic meant even after I tried to explain it. They went over the same information and asked the same questions repeatedly because they didn’t understand enough English to do something productive. They all said that it would take 8-10 business days to investigate my complaint, which is the same amount of time it would take to investigate a claim for a lost knick-knack, yet I am in chronic pain, and the theft of Class II narcotics* is a federal crime. I was told that the outcome of the investigation won’t be shared with me, although I will be reimbursed for my $5 copay. Since the UPS is unwilling to keep me in the loop, I have no confidence that it will contact the police either.”

Fortunately, I’m tenacious and vindictive, and it has often stood me in good stead. When I received no help from the UPS, I called the local cops. Detective Marlowe (his actual name) gave me a case number but said he wouldn’t be doing anything to help. He suggested that I complain to the US Postal Service, which was just silly since the UPS is a private company and has zero affiliation with the USPS, which is run by the government. I asked him if I should call the DEA (the Drug Enforcement Administration is a federal agency), but he said they wouldn’t be interested in tracking down sixty pills. I called them anyway with the thought that it couldn’t hurt. Then again, it struck me that maybe it could hurt because enlisting the help of the DEA felt like asking Satan to lend me a hand, this because of my impression that it’s an agency that has ruined the lives of countless people for nothing nobler than justifying its existence. So, I was surprised to find that I was interviewed thoroughly and respectfully by the person who took my call, and by the “diversion officer” who was assigned to my case and contacted me within the hour. When I asked what a diversion officer does, she said she investigates the loss of legal narcotics that were diverted from their intended recipient. Maybe it was a silly question. 

I also called the pharmacy that shipped the drug, and was told, as expected, that they couldn’t replace it without a new order from the doctor. I don’t want to get one because it might give investigators reason to think that I filed a false report in order to get double the amount of pills. Both the local cop and the DEA agent assured me that I didn’t need to worry about this since I have no criminal record (the local cop, at least, had investigated me before interviewing me), but I still hesitate because I’m dedicated to doing everything I can to see someone busted, and I don’t want to take any chance of clouding the waters by making it look like I had a motive for lying. I’m just that way when I've been ripped off. Fighting for my rights can take up a lot of time and get me nowhere, but it’s easier than knuckling under, which is how I interpret letting something go of something before I’ve exhausted the possibilities for correcting it. 

*Both Class II drugs and Class I drugs are considered to have a high potential for severe addiction, but, unlike Class I drugs, Class II drugs have an accepted medical use. They include Fentanyl, morphine, and oxycodone, as well as meth and barbiturates. Class III, IV, and V drugs also have an accepted medical use but a decreasing risk of addiction.


Helen said...

I'm going on sheer faith here that neither the DEA nor your local cops read this blog ~~~ I have leftover OXY from hip replacement surgery way back in 2008. Interested? I have access to carrier pigeons that can make it over the Cascades and down into the Valley! (ok, I'm kidding .. I know this is serious) I hope you are able to get what you need, when you need it.

Stephen Hayes said...

How dreadful. Good for you for doing everything you can to bring these thieves to justice. I hope you don't suffer too much waiting for replacements.

Snowbrush said...

An update. Hours after I talked to the DEA this afternoon, a very young and nervous UPS man showed-up with the missing prescription. He was so scattered that it was hard to make sense out of what he was saying. I did get that it had been delivered to the next street over (there's no house number there to match mine, so I was suspicious about his statement that a high security package had been not only delivered to the wrong street, but also to the wrong house number) and that the man who had signed for the package had called and reported its misdelivery. Later in our conversation, he (the UPS man) said that he had been sent to that particular house based upon information unknown to him, that he had asked the resident if a package had been mistakenly delivered, and that the resident said it had, and that he had been meaning to let UPS know. Still later, he (the UPS man) said that the package had been located through a GPS tracking system, but he said he he knew nothing about the system and therefore couldn't tell me how it worked. I asked if he had been the delivery person that day, and he said that he didn't remember, but that maybe it had been ____. When he left, I decided to open the package, which looked securely sealed, although it had several grease marks, some kind of other stain, and a broken area (as it if had been hit) that didn't go all the way through. When I opened it, I saw that the inner seal of the bottle had been broken ever so slightly, so I counted the pills repeatedly to verify my original count which came up two short. Then, there was another knock at the door, and it was another UPS man (the one the first man said might have made the delivery). He wanted to know if the first man had come by and what he had said. I told him that, plus I told him about the missing pills, and he said he would have a talk with the first man. I don't know for sure what was going on with the first man that had him so flipped out, but since the box didn't appear to have been opened, I think it likely that the pills were stolen at the pharmacy. Two aren't a lot, but if you steal two from numerous bottles, it would, of course, add up.

Paula Kaye said...

Good gracious! It sounds to me like UPS has some kind of scam going on. I would keep this on a police investigation although it doesn't sound like they are interested in getting to the bottom of it. When we were getting narcotics at the pharmacy for my husband, I always counted them when they got here. It wasn't unusual to come up short. I notified the pharmacy every single time...and every time they gave me the correct amount. Then one day I read in the paper that the pharmacist at our pharmacy was arrested for prescription drug diversions...hmmm. If people don't get anything else from this I hope they count their pills.

Charles Gramlich said...

this is why we can't have nice things

lotta joy said...

OR: the first UPS man had been doing the same thing you thought the pharmacy might have done! It also sounds like an investigation was promptly started by the DEA department. Keep names of everyone you speak to in person and on the phone, along with date and time. This is the ONLY way we are getting some attention from a medical billing company down here who is threatening to turn us into a collection agency for non-payment. THEY keep mis-coding the bills, my insurance company keeps refusing to pay, which leaves us on the hook.

When I call them and they open the conversation by yawning, I just start reading my list of names, dates, and times, then asking: And YOU are??

No one has sorted out the problem yet. I'm now on page 2 of names, and willing to go to page 3. So, at least you got some satisfaction. I hope I don't have to hit page 4 before I do.

Strayer said...

Wow, someone had to fess up or try to make a good story. My guess is someone knew the routine on that delivery, suspected what might be in those boxes, decided after some back and forth, in his mind, to go forward, was just too tempting, concocted the records and signature. But then, the cops and ATF got involved.....well who knows. You're a pitbull Snow, a blood hound, someone I'd want on my side if wronged.

PhilipH said...

Worrying situation Snowy. This world is full of scams and scammers, cheats and scumbags and makes one sick to death at times.

Hope UPS take further steps in this matter.

Snowbrush said...

I called the pharmacist today to let him know about the two pills. He said that all pills are photographed while being put into the bottle. The bottle is then sealed by a machine and put into a sealed package without anyone touching it. Then the sealed package is weighed to be doubly sure that the right number of pills are in it.

"Then one day I read in the paper that the pharmacist at our pharmacy was arrested for prescription drug diversions."

Peggy's Oregon State nursing magazine always has about three pages of names of nurses and CNAs who are in trouble, most of them for stealing narcotics. The last time I was in the hospital, a nurse gave me an intravenous shot of Dilaudid. I waited for a rush that didn't come, and told her that the Dilaudid hadn't been given. She chided me for my impatience, which only proved to me that she had stolen my shot because you don't need patience when you get Diaudid directly into a vein. She went away and came back with my shot of Dilaudid. I'm still sorry that I didn't report her, but by the time I was discharged, I had someone else to report for something that pissed me off even more, so I decided to give her the benefit of the doubt although I really didn't have any doubt.

"I hope I don't have to hit page 4 before I do."

I got to either six or eight pages over a fender bender earlier this year. It was entirely the other guy's fault, but his insurance, Liberty Mutual, seemed determined to ignore me. I think it likely that I spent 20 hours getting them to pay up.

"Keep names of everyone you speak to in person and on the phone, along with date and time."

I do. I've also been disconnected so often when being transferred that I now ask for the phone number I'm being transferred to BEFORE I'm transferred. I write that number down, not just for the moment but so that I won't have to go through other people to get there again.

"You're a pitbull Snow, a blood hound, someone I'd want on my side if wronged."

Peggy has often reigned me in, but then I've often reigned her in too. She's much more hot-tempered in the moment, but her anger cools, and mine doesn't, even after years in cases where I've been seriously wronged. I've found that the best way for me to deal with that is to do everything I can to correct the problem that I'm so mad about. Of course, sometimes every legal option will be exhausted without the problem being corrected. I wish I had a law degree just so I could stand up for myself better, but I know I do a fair job without one.

Snowbrush said...

Keep names of everyone you speak to in person and on the phone, along with date and time.

Another thing I do is to handle most complaints all by myself, because it's too confusing for Peggy and me to work on the same problem. I wish we could because it would take some of the load off, but it doesn't seem to go well. She prefers that I do it anyway, and I do too because she's too lax about doing just the kinds of things that you suggested. For a big problem, I don't just keep scattered notes like she does but a Word document that includes names, dates, phone numbers, extension numbers, reference numbers, summaries of conversations, etc. The only time I prefer that she handle a problem is when it involves a lot of math (as with a banking issue) because she has a better head for that kind of thing than I do. I get confused, don't think of what questions to ask, and so forth. Sometimes, we'll both talk to someone at the same time on the speaker phone, and that works well because one of us will think of questions that the other doesn't, but most problems simply don't require that level of information gathering. It's more a matter of trying to get people to do that which both they and I know needs to be done.

"I notified the pharmacy every single time...and every time they gave me the correct amount."

If he did this readily, that alone suggested that he was stealing them, because otherwise, he would have had to have done an inventory to verify that you were shorted. To give them to you readily meant that he knew exactly what had happened to them.

"This world is full of scams and scammers, cheats and scumbags..."

Not to forget those who are indifferent about helping the person who got screwed. I try to be polite so that people will want to help me, but if they really and truly don't care, it's beyond my ability to make them care.

Linda said...

I, too, am tenacious. There is a whole notebook of note with names, dates, and hour of each conversation. When I call to complain about a problem once again, no one can find notes to corroborate what I say happened and what I was promised. So, I tell them the name, hour, and to whom I spoke. Within 10 seconds, the person says, "Oh, I see that right here." When I am that thorough in reporting, I suppose they need to give in and admit that I am right.

If I were you, I would suspect something was up with those two UPS men. Those interactions did not seem right.

For my pain, I get nothing. A few people, one guy mowing my lawn and several friends have asked me if I have one of my pain pills on them because they are in such pain. I fear someone will break into my house trying to find non-existent pills.