A little history…
After multiple attempts last week, I successfully created an account on healthcare.gov. I had to wake up at 5:15am in order to do so. The process still took me two hours, and at the end of those two hours, when I hit “Submit”, I waited and the screen flickered, then I was left on the same page as though nothing happened. I was never taken to a page confirming the process was complete.
I tried about 6 or 7 times. I even tried logging out and logging back in. Finally, I tried their chat support. They have this handy link at the lower right corner of the page that says, “Live Chat”. I figured their phone lines would be swamped, so I went that route. There was no disclaimer on what their chat did or did not support. Usually, when there is a chat link on such a page, it is level one support and they can help you with at least part of your problem. They can, at least, access your account.
The agent informed me they could not access any account information or help with the application process on chat support. Although I just needed to know if my application completed, the agent could not even answer that question. I had to call phone support.
The agent on phone support informed was friendly enough and asked me if I had an account number. I said, “No. I have an application number. I’m in the very last phase of the application process and that’s where things timed out. I clicked submit but I’m not sure if it worked. I just need to know.” I was told that without an account number she could not pull up my in-process application. She could not pull it up with the application number I had, nor could she pull it up with any of my personal information. My only option was to go through the application all over again on the phone (the same application I just spent two-hours completing and had no desire to go through again). If she took me through it by phone it would take 2-6 weeks for a confirmation; whereas, if I completed it online I got an immediate response.
WTF? Why the difference? Why couldn’t she get the same immediate confirmation? But that’s another rant for another day.
I didn’t want to dig up all the information again, so I logged out and logged in again so I could read through the in-process application and give her the responses she needed. Lo and behold! I received a new message! I had some file I had to download, indicating I’d been approved! I read the message to her and she confirmed this meant I’d receive an email shortly with my coverage options.
I never received it.
Fast forward to today…
I tried logging back in this morning. My username and password did not work. I thought, “Perhaps I forgot one or the other.” So I clicked on the link that said “Forgot Username”. I populated my name and my email address associated with my account. I did not receive an email. I checked my spam folder to be sure.
I contacted their chat support again. Surely, they can at least assist in resetting usernames and passwords.
Now, before I go on, here’s a screenshot of the chat window you see while you’re chatting with the agent. Note the misleading phrase at the top, “Chat with someone who can help”.
Alas, I had no method of emailing the transcript from the chat window. I had to copy/paste. I wish I had something more … credible. Regardless, here is the text from the chat, because they have no method of sending the transcript:
[06:49:51 am]: Thanks for contacting Health Insurance Marketplace Live Chat. Please wait while we connect you to someone who can help.
[06:49:55 am]: Please be patient while we’re helping other people.
[06:50:29 am]: Please be patient while we’re helping other people.
[06:50:59 am]: Please be patient while we’re helping other people.
[06:51:05 am]: Welcome! You’re now connected to Health Insurance Marketplace Live Chat.
Thanks for contacting us. My name is Ada. To protect your privacy, please don’t provide any personal information, like Social Security Number, or any other sensitive medical or personal information.
[06:51:44 am]: (me)
Hello Ada. I’m trying to log back into the website but it isn’t accepting my username or password (I’m not sure which is incorrect).
[06:52:23 am]: (me)
I may have forgotten my username. I’ve been waiting for the email but nothing is coming through. I *know* I’m using the correct email address. Is this something you can help me with?
[06:54:25 am]: Ada
have you attempted to reset your username and password? If you need to reset your username or password, please use the “Forgot your username?” or “Forgot your password” links on the account login page.
[06:54:45 am]: (me)
Did you not read the description of my problem?
[06:55:03 am]: (me)
I tried that. I haven’t received the subsequent email from healthcare.gov
[06:55:31 am]: (me)
and I KNOW I’m using the correct email address for you to send me the information.
[06:56:09 am]: Ada
Thanks for your interest in the Health Insurance Marketplace. We have a lot of visitors trying to use our website right now. This is causing some glitches for some people trying to create accounts or log in. Keep trying, and thanks for your patience. You might have better success during off-peak hours, like later at night or early in the morning. We’ll continue working to improve the site so you can get covered!
[06:56:42 am]: (me)
Ok. So basically the chat agents are only good for sending scripted responses and not for actual assistance. Correct?
[06:57:01 am]: (me)
I’ll stop bothering you.
[06:57:16 am]: (me)
You should take this link off of your website.
[06:58:35 am]: (me)
the chat window even says “Chat with someone who can help”
[06:58:46 am]: (me)
You aren’t helping me.
[07:00:28 am]: Ada
I apologize. We are available to help you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can reach us toll free at 1-800-318-2596.
[07:00:50 am]: (me)
Yeah… because your chat support is useless.
[07:01:09 am]: (me)
I want this forwarded to a manager for a callback.
[07:01:21 am]: (me)
This is not the first time I’ve contacted chat support for assistance.
[07:02:58 am]: Ada
I apologize for the inconvenience.Is there anything else I can assist you with?
[07:03:22 am]: (me)
I want a manager to call me back regarding the problems I’ve had with chat support, overall.
[07:03:49 am]: (me)
Every time I’ve tried to get help through chat all I get are “scripted responses” followed by “call tech support”.
[07:04:08 am]: (me)
If I wanted to call and wait on hold, I would have done that in the first place.
[07:04:26 am]: (me)
If you have chat support, use it. If you don’t have chat support, don’t put the link up on your website.
[07:05:16 am]: Ada
You can reach us toll free at 1-800-318-2596.
[07:06:27 am]: (me)
… wow. When I was over an outsourcing call center, making sure their chat support was functioning properly and our customers were satisfied, THIS kind of thing would never happen.
[07:06:47 am]: (me)
Live chat… more like warm bodies in a chair.
[07:07:25 am]: (me)
Can you send me a transcript of this chat so I can forward it to a manager I reach by phone?
[07:09:35 am]: Ada
I apologize, but we do not have that ability.
[07:09:50 am]: (me)
[07:10:50 am]: Ada
I apologize, but if there is nothing else I can help you with I am going to have to disconnect from this chat.
[07:11:05 am]: (me)
Unless you can give me a survey link, I think we’re done here.
[07:11:18 am]: Ada
Thank you for contacting Health Insurance Marketplace Live Chat. We are here to help you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
And she ends the chat with the sentence, “We are here to help you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.” Just how are they there to help?? As far as I can tell, they’re serving as a bottleneck for phone support. Can you imagine how many calls they’d be getting if the chat link wasn’t on the page?
*(on another note – as I went through the post to remove my name, because I never use real names on my blog, I just noticed.. Ada never used my name on the chat. Just where are they getting these agents? Everyone knows in any form of customer service, you always use the customer’s name; especially if the customer is irate.)