Hi, I'm Torrey. Welcome to Left Field, where creativity runs amok and imagination is ALWAYS more important than knowledge. Shoes are not allowed but ties are optional. This is a repository of snippets from my life out here in Left Field. One never knows what shiny bits of creativity will be found here... cards, scrapbook layouts, photography, poetry, recipes, ponderings, rantings and musings. It could be anything! Life in Left Field is always changing, always real, always ...interesting.

December 4, 2013


DISCLAIMER: The following post is a climb-on-my-soapbox rant. If you are an Obama fan/supporter/groupie...I warn you now...read on at your own risk. I am NOT an Obama fan. I didn't vote for him either time, and personally, I can't WAIT until he's outa here.

The rush and chaos of Thanksgiving are over.

Today was the day.

I knew I was running out of time to sign up for health insurance for the upcoming year. I've been REALLY dreading this and, consequently, delaying the inevitable task of finding new supplemental insurance for 2014. Even though we were granted a temporary "reprieve" from the institution of Obamacare, it has already fingered its way into the system...kind of like an all-consuming, creeping poison-green ooze that is slowly advancing and devouring everything in its path.

You know...like one of those slime monsters in World of Warcraft.


The procrastinator side of me took over. I became Scarlet O'Hara. My mantra was "I'll think about that...tomorrow."

And so it went.

Until today.

I figured, I had all but run out of time.

So, I ventured forth onto www.healthcare.gov (insert eerie organ music laced with maniacal laughing).

I have been keeping a semi-watchful eye on the reports about how terrible the site is--how complex, confusing, inefficient and dysfunctional it is.

Ya know what? The reports were not exaggerated. At all.

It all started out so lovely and benign--like when Hansel and Gretel first laid eyes on that witch's cookie house with candy shutters.

But it soon turned malevolent...the cookie facade started to...crumble.

The site required me to register before gleaning any useful information about what choices I have. This (in and of itself) was not a big deal. I had to fill out the standard "welcome" form with my basic demographic information--name, address, age...signing up was a no-brainer.

Then, it very cheerfully asked me to verify my identity. I was presented with a new window with "security questions" to which I had to provide the correct answers before it would allow me access to the heart of the "Emerald City".

Questions like: "Which of the following streets do you currently or have previously resided on?"
  • Lincoln
  • Mariposa
  • Green
  • Balancing Rock
  • None of the above
Well, I've never lived on any of those streets...so I answered "None of the above".

Next question: "Which of the following employers have you had?"
  • Sears
  • Taco Bell
  • National Jewish Hospital
  • Lloyd's of London
  • None of the Above
Easy...National Jewish.

Next question: "What was the name of your favorite teacher?"
  • Brown
  • Henderson
  • Owens
  • Shinkle
  • None of the above
Well darn. I had a really cool art teacher named Owens AND my 6th grade teacher was named Shinkle. I liked them both a lot. I liked Shinkle better...so I took a guess it was him.

Next question: "What city was your mother's second cousin's granddaughter born in?"


Final question: "What is the square root of 44,789?"

Guess what? I blew it somewhere along the way and was notified that one (or more) of my responses was "incorrect" (go figure)...and that they would require additional verification.

They asked for my social security number.

Now, I don't know about you...but I REALLY don't like giving out my SS#, especially online or over the phone. But, at this point, I reminded myself that I was dealing with the government, and that they were the ones who issued it to me in the first place.

So I entered it into the awaiting space that was provided...and I hit "Enter".

I was greeted with a red-colored message (red messages are NEVER good) that read,

"We are unable to verify your identity online. It is necessary to fill out the following form in triplicate and mail it to our center in Athens, Texas...along with 3 forms of identification. According to our system, no such person exists."

This is where it all started to go downhill. Fast.

I quickly ascertained that I needed to speak to a live human at this point.

It took me 2 phone calls (and an eternity waiting on hold while listening to crackling, warped, barely-recognizable 80's Muzak) before I was connected with a human.  I spoke with a very pleasant person who determined the problem originated with the credit bureau--Experian. In order to verify my existence, they were using Experian as a verification tool. Unfortunately, Experian had apparently frozen my credit report account and would not allow anyone access to it. The representative informed me that before I could proceed any further...I had to get my Experian account "unfrozen". She rattled off Experian's website address.

"Why?" do you ask, was my account at Experian frozen? A couple of months ago, my purse was stolen with all my I.D. and my bank directed me to notify Experian so that they could put a "fraud alert" on my credit account and monitor it for suspicious activity. Now, this is NOT the same as one's account being "frozen". It's just sort of a watchdog move that helps identify if your account is being misused...or so I was led to believe (but more about that later).

So, off I went to www.experian.com

I read over their home page and found the links to: Additional Services>Fraud Alert>Removing a Fraud Alert.

So far, so good.

I clicked on "Removing a Fraud Alert".

I was whisked to a page that was NOT in red ink (yay!).

But, my heart sank as I read,

We were unable to honor your request online. 

To add a fraud alert to your personal credit report, or to remove an alert you previously requested, please mail us this letter (or the information in it), along with one copy of a government issued identification card, such as a driver’s license, state ID card, military ID card, etc., and one copy of a utility bill, bank or insurance statement, etc. Make sure that each copy is legible, displays your name and current mailing address, and the date of issue (statement dates must be recent). We are unable to accept credit card statements, voided checks, lease agreements, magazine subscriptions or postal service forwarding orders as proof. To protect your personal identification information, Experian does not return correspondence sent to us. Send copies of any documents you wish to provide to us and always retain your original documents.


Back to square one.

I searched and searched the Experian site for a way to contact a human. I found their phone number and called it. I was immediately thrown into one of those mobius-strip message trees...press 1 for this, press 2 for this, para Espanol, marke numero tres, press 9 to return to the main menu. There was an option for fraud, so I pressed that. It asked for my case# or account# to continue. I didn't have either. So I pressed 9 to return to the main menu.

Of course, there was no other option for my problem. Not one even close. I have learned in my dealings with phone trees like this, that if I press the 0 button enough times, I can usually get to a human. So I pressed 0.

Then I pressed 0 again.

And again.

And then, like a kid playing a video game, I mashed the 0 button repeatedly about 40 times as fast as I could. I think that's the modern-day equivalent to kicking an appliance, that has gone on the fritz, to make it work again.

I was given a new message that said, "We will not connect you with a service representative until you enter your 10-digit case number/ account #, so quit mashing the 0 button, you idiot".

This is all well and good, but I don't have a case # or account #. I thought maybe (just MAYBE) that my account # was my SS#. So I tried entering that (even though it only has 9 digits).


I tried entering my SS# followed by a random # to complete the "10-digit" requirement.


I entered random 10-digit numbers, hoping one would be an actual number that would get me to a live human...so that I could explain my situation.


I hung up in frustration.

I searched the internet for alternate phone numbers to Experian...hoping I could find one outside that accursed phone message tree system.

I found 3 different numbers online.

I called each one. Each one started out differently in the greeting message that was played. But, each one led back to that same evil phone message tree.

I was caught in the dreaded phone tree loop...the mobius strip of modern "convenience" from which I could not escape. I was in the Hotel California. I could never leave.

Now, one of the choices I had to choose from was to get more information about credit scores and how it all worked. I had assumed it led to a series of recorded educational messages, so I had bypassed it as an option.

I was desperate, so I tried it...I was greeted by an actual HUMAN!!!

YAY! Small victory! I actually got to talk to a human!!!

I greeted her and lamented my story to her. I reassured her that I understood this was not HER department, but I implored her to forward me to a customer service rep.

She told me she would be happy to forward me, if I could provide her with my case #/ account #. Otherwise, she was unable to comply.

You've got to be kidding me.

I continued to explain my situation and I informed her that I did NOT have said #s. She told me the case # could be found at the top of the paperwork that I was sent regarding the fraud alert. Now, for those of you know me, you know I'm not the most-efficient filer of paperwork. But, I knew I had that letter...somewhere. So, off I went in search of that elusive file report. After only about 10 minutes looking, I found it. But guess what? There was no case #, account # or any other kind of number on the form letter they had sent me.

Back to the phone.

Back to talking to the "educational" representative...since that was the only human I could get a hold of.

I got a different rep this time. Once again, I explained my situation. I explained to her that my paperwork did NOT have the requisite case #/ account #. This new rep said, "Oh, it's easy to get your number! All you have to do is go to www.annualcreditreport.com and print out your credit report. It will be on the top of the report...it's free too!"

So, off I went to www.annualcreditreport.com where I was, again, asked to fill out basic demographic information. No problem. I filled in all the required fields and hit "Enter" and was directed to a new page that read..."UNABLE TO PROCESS YOUR REQUEST"



At this point, I had major chest pains and palpitations. I was physically shaking when my husband walked into my studio where I was sitting in front of my computer. He asked what was wrong. At that point I burst into tears and sobbed out an overview of the situation. He started to offer me advice...and I cut him short saying, "I think I just need to be alone". My head was now pounding in that way a migraine pummels you senseless.

I pulled myself together (as much as I could muster) and re-dialed the ONE number I had that I knew would connect me to a human.

Again, I got an educational rep. 

Again, I lamented my situation along with the new development of the fact that I had no case #/account #.

She told me that there was a way to get me an account # immediately...but that it would cost me $1. She told me I could sign up for their 7-day trial account and that would get me into their system immediately...and from there she could transfer me to a customer service rep who could help me.

I kept her on the line while I signed up for their trial account. When she saw I was in their system, she said, "Ok, I can connect you now to a customer rep that will help you!"

She transferred me to a customer rep named Ramon. 

Ramon greeted me, then he started breaking up...then...the call was dropped..and I was met with a dial tone.



At this point, I started laughing. REALLY laughing. And then, a miracle happened. A wave of calmness washed over me, the chest pain went away, my head quit pounding, I stopped shaking, and a wonderful sense of quiet overcame my being. It was as though God had decided I had enough and gently waved it all away like a cool breeze on a hot summer day.

I called the educational people back...and got a hold of yet another rep who transferred me to Quinn.

I explained EVERYTHING to Quinn.  

Quinn assured me he could lift the freeze on my account. I IMMEDIATELY gave him my phone # in case we got disconnected so he could call me back. He gathered the same demographic information I had rattled off EVERY TIME I had spoken with someone. I could hear him entering the data...again...into his computer. He paused for a moment then said, "Oh, you're not going to like this."

He continued, "Apparently, I don't have enough information to verify you."


As if my birth date, SS#, correct answers to 5 security questions and my first-born child wasn't enough.

He said that if I faxed him a copy of my Driver's License and some "official" document like a bank statement, insurance statement, utility bill...etc...that would verify me, he would be able to take the freeze off immediately. I asked him if I could have his extension, so that I could contact him if need be...he wouldn't give it to me. Figures.

He gave me their fax # and told me exactly what to send him. He said, he'd be looking for it and call me back as soon as he received it...and that he'd be there until 8 pm Central time (it was now 4 pm).

My hubby was kind enough to run out to Kinko's and fax the stuff to him.

I kept the phone right next to me.

He never called back.

And that is where I am as of Tuesday night at this point.

22 phone calls and almost 5 hours spent trying to get this resolved so far.

I figure Wednesday morning I'll start out at the www.healthcare.gov again and see if he lifted the freeze...see if I can get beyond their verification page. From there, I get a whole NEW adventure of navigating the government site.

Wish me luck.

NOTE: I just tried to sign into the www.healthcare.gov site...my account info/password was incorrect and I can't log in.

And so it continues.



  1. Oh my golly gosh Torrey Beth. Have them call me, I'll verify you!

    I am sorry that you have to go through all this, but at least you are seeing the comical side to it in your writing (which as always was a special treat to read).

    I love you - sending prayers today for easy resolution and smooth sailing!


  2. O.M.G. Really?? Ya know what? All that suuuuuuuuuucks.

    But I do have a solution for you. I'd say it's not easy, but, heck, it might be easier than what you're trying to do.

    Become a Canadian citizen. We get free health care up here. When you're born you get sent a free health card. No website worries or nuthin'. You probably have to jump though more hoops if you defect, but hey, not only will you get free health care, you'll get snow for Christmas too.

    Chin up, Torrey. It'll get better.


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