Knox County woman fights unexpected charge from medical alert co

Knox County woman fights unexpected charge from medical alert company

Posted:
Like many widows her age who live on a fixed income from Social Security, she has to watch her pennies. About 18 months ago, while recovering from a lengthy stay in a rehabilitation facility, caregivers wanted Virginia to wear this medical alert pendant t Like many widows her age who live on a fixed income from Social Security, she has to watch her pennies. About 18 months ago, while recovering from a lengthy stay in a rehabilitation facility, caregivers wanted Virginia to wear this medical alert pendant t
"I wore it for several months, not knowing it wasn't working," said Virginia. "[Yet] I was paying for it," "I wore it for several months, not knowing it wasn't working," said Virginia. "[Yet] I was paying for it,"
Her bank told her, for some reason, AMAC withdrew a larger than normal payment for $134.75 from her checking account on April 22. Virginia says she immediately called the emergency alert company. Her bank told her, for some reason, AMAC withdrew a larger than normal payment for $134.75 from her checking account on April 22. Virginia says she immediately called the emergency alert company.
By DON DARE
6 On Your Side Consumer Investigator

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - When checking your monthly bank statement, finding a charge that's totally unexpected can be pretty upsetting. When you call for an explanation and get little response, that's even worse.

The unexpected charge threw a Knox County senior's checking account into negative territory.

You see them advertised frequently, personal emergency alert devices. The pendants, worn around the neck, can help older adults remain independent in their own homes.

The devices also are reassuring to adult children who know that if an aging parent falls, for example, immediate help will be summoned.

Virginia moves slowly because of a heart condition and a stroke. Nevertheless at 85 years of age, she is still independent. She asked that we not use her last name.

Like many widows her age who live on a fixed income from Social Security, she has to watch her pennies. About 18 months ago, while recovering from a lengthy stay in a rehabilitation facility, caregivers wanted Virginia to wear this medical alert pendant transmitter. It comes with a two way voice communicating system to the medical monitoring center.

Virginia says she slipped in the her kitchen early last year.

"My blood sugar dropped low," she said, explaining why she fell. "When i mashed the button, it went off."

To activate the system, you can either mash the button on the necklace or press the help activator on the main console. Her device is made by the American Medical Alert Corporation, or AMAC.      

Virginia paid the company $26.95 a month.

"I wore this thing up until Thanksgiving of this past year and I didn't know it run out," she said.

Virginia says she wasn't aware that the system had apparently been turned off until there was a second emergency.

"One day I leaned over to put something in the garbage can in the kitchen. I hit the cabinet with this. I pushed the button to say nothing was wrong, no one answered," she said.

Her personal medical alert went off, but no one responded.

"I wore it for several months, not knowing it wasn't working," said Virginia. "[Yet] I was paying for it," 

Virginia says earlier this year she disconnected the system after noticing her monthly automatic payments to AMAC had stopped. 

"I didn't hear from them anymore until I got this call from the bank," she said.

Her bank called 10 days ago to inform Virginia her account was overdrawn. It happened right after she had written a $500 check to fix an electrical problem at her house.

Her bank told her that for some reason, AMAC withdrew a larger than normal payment for $134.75 from her checking account on April 22. Virginia says she immediately called the emergency alert company.

She was on the phone for about two hours before she eventually she got through and tried to reason with them. It didn't work

"He said that I owed it. I said  I want my money back in my checking account and they said no."

AMAC didn't tell her why the money was drawn out, even after Virginia said they had no authorization and that she didn't know about the charge until the bank called.

6 On Your Side called AMAC and left a message explaining Virginia's situation. The New York-based company called Virginia. She said they apologized saying they had made a mistake and there had been a computer error.

They also said that $135 dollars withdrawn from her account will be credited back to her account and they'll re-instate her service at a discounted rate. She hasn't yet decided to take up their offer.

Virginia is pleased she'll be getting her money back and a representative from AMAC told 6 On Your Side Monday they're sorry about what happened.

However, Virginia said what puzzled her is that no one at AMAC took the time to help her last month when she first called. Sometimes it takes younger people, or younger relatives, to pick up the phone and help people like Virginia and make the call on behalf of the elderly person.
Powered by WorldNow

1306 N. Broadway NE Knoxville,
Tennessee 37917

Telephone: 865.637.NEWS(6397)
Fax: 865.525.4091
Email: newsroom@wate.com

Can’t find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Young Broadcasting of Knoxville, Inc. A Media General Company.