From BrooksLaichyear.com: “With hockey season one week away, plenty of cheap Caps tickets are available through the resale market”

BrooksLaichyear

The Washington Capitals took a break from raising ticket prices this season after being pretty aggressive with some of their increases for several years in a row. I’ve spoken with more than one person who feels it’s become a bit expensive to go to a Caps game during the Rock the Red era and that’s certainly something I can relate to as a father of three.

Demand rose as the team got hot and the days of $10 top row Eagle’s Nest seats at Verizon Center are gone by miles. It would cost about $250 for my family to attend a Caps game this season in the 400 Level seats furthest from the ice (which I don’t mind sitting in at all), if I purchased them through the team. And that’s just for the tickets.

Park the car or pay for Metro, buy a snack and we’d be at over $300 for…

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Stephen Kellogg’s guitars and gear stolen in Seattle – Let’s help him find them

Musician Stephen Kellogg had two Gibson guitars and other gear stolen from his van at the Marriott in Seattle. Here are the details from his manager Jessica Martin:

Stolen was a Gibson Southern Jumbo (serial number 2424030) and a Gibson Hummingbird, plus his pedal train pedal board with various pedals as well as a microphones, cables, harmonicas, etc.

Please keep an eye out. Check your local pawnshops, etc. If you have any information, please email Jessica at jessica AT stephenkellogg.com. Jessica is also on Twitter. One of the guitars is pictured here. Let’s get this information out there and help Stephen find his gear.

Stephen Kellogg with one of the two stolen Gibson guitars

Stephen Kellogg with one of the two stolen Gibson guitars

My post to Zach Braff about the “Wish I Was Here” soundtrack and my music

Zach Braff has a Kickstarter campaign going to fund his next film and you can pledge $10,000 and be a cast member in it. He also writes on his campaign page about putting together the soundtrack for the film and I’d like to know how much I can pledge to be on that.

So, over on my music website at mikeholdenmusic.com, I have a new post up: How much do I need to pledge for a song on the “Wish I Was Here” soundtrack, Zach Braff?

Please check that out and share it if you’d like. Thanks!

An open letter to UnitedHealth Group CEO Stephen Hemsley about my family’s canceled COBRA insurance

4/12/13 Update: Great news! We’ve been reinstated by United Healthcare. Thank you to all who shared our story and to those who made the decision to reverse this. My wife and I appreciate all the support!

Mr. Stephen Hemsley:

I made an honest mistake, wasn’t given a fair opportunity to correct it and now my family’s COBRA coverage has been canceled by your company.

On March 16, I paid my family’s monthly health insurance bill to United Healthcare (UHC) the same way I have for almost a year now, through the company’s website as a direct withdraw from our checking account. But I was using a new bank account that we set up after a recent move. Unfortunately, I entered the account number incorrectly. It turns out I left off three digits that are part of the account number but listed separately on the checks.

I had no idea I’d made a mistake at the time. In fact, I was led to believe UHC had received my money. On March 20, I got an email from your company stating “Your payment has been received.” I continued on with my day-to-day life as a husband and father of three, assuming we still had health care coverage. I’d submitted the payment as usual and gotten the confirmation email. Things seemed good.

But on April 8, I went online to pay my family’s April bill and was unable to access the payment screen on your website. Confused, I called UHC and was told that my coverage had been terminated for lack of payment.

Working with a customer service representative, we figured out my error from March and I was told I’d need to send a request via email to have my account reinstated. And so on April 8, right after hanging up the phone, I did just that, apologizing in an email, explaining what had happened and asking for the opportunity to pay for March.

The customer service rep also explained on the phone that day that UHC had sent me a letter stating that my payment had not gone through. The letter explained that I had until March 31 to correct this.

Unfortunately, that letter, which I now have, was postmarked Thursday, March 27, eleven days after I made my error, and it went to my old address. I’m not sure that mail would have arrived before Sunday, March 31 even if it had come straight to me at my new address. I don’t know about you, but mailing me a letter by standard mail on a Thursday, expecting it to arrive by Saturday and saying that it needs to be paid by Sunday, or I lose my family’s health insurance coverage, strikes me as unacceptable.

On April 9, I received a reply from UHC to my request for reinstatement, saying that it had been denied. I’ve followed up by phone and email, trying to get someone at UHC to better explain their decision and reverse it. I’ve been told, “United Healthcare Benefit Services follows the guidelines for payments and grace periods defined by the Department of Labor. Your account has been reviewed and the termination remains as payment was not received within the guidelines provided.” But, as I understand the federal guidelines for COBRA, your company could accept my payment and keep me as a customer if they’d like.

I understand that because of my error in typing a new account number you did not get your payment on time. But with something as serious as a family’s health insurance coverage on the line, why did UHC wait until 11 days after an error to snail mail a customer saying that they only have a short time to resubmit the payment? What was happening with my account at UHC between March 16 and 27? And why just send a letter? Why not send also me an email, as that’s how I normally get confirmation about my payments to UHC?

Additionally, I don’t understand why UHC sends out emails stating “Your payment has been received,” when that’s simply not true. And why, after I’ve been a customer for two years, one through COBRA and another year before that as the employee of a company, would UHC want to just terminate our account after I’ve explained my mistake?

No one in our house has made a trip to the doctor or required any medical attention in several months. But in March and early April, we’ve been four times, and one of those visits was for blood work, which likely comes at a steep price. Now that UHC has dropped us as a customer, I fully expect we’ll be receiving the bills for those four visits instead of UHC. Had I not received email confirmation from you of my payment for March, I highly doubt we would have made all those visits without first making a phone call to UHC to confirm coverage.

Perhaps you’ve made some sort of business decision to let us go. But it strikes me as an awful people decision. And it’s really not a great business decision either when you consider the big picture and that I might have chosen to remain a customer down the road once I’m no longer eligible for COBRA, or that I might tell others about my experience.

Imagine the fan I’d have become of your company had you allowed me to correct my mistake. Think about how impressed I’d have been if UHC had done more than simply put a March 27 warning letter in the U.S. Mail 11 days after an error, telling me to fix it by March 31. One of your own customer service reps even told me today that they thought I should be reinstated given that I’d attempted to pay you.

It’s a cliche, but I’m feeling like just a number right now and like I didn’t stand a chance. Upon reading this, I hope UHC will reconsider their decision, reinstate my family’s account and allow me to pay you for March and April, as I’ve been trying to do.

Sincerely,
Mike Holden

A friend has started a petition about this on change.org if you’d like to check that out as well and sign it. Thanks for all the support, everyone!

Thoughts after the NHL lockout

Over on BrooksLaichyear.com, I have a couple of posts about the NHL lockout now that it has finally come to an end. As a long time fan, this is the fourth NHL work stoppage I’ve sat through in the last two decades and the third lockout under league commissioner Gary Bettman.

But I feel most for all the businesses and employees who were affected by the lockout. Those who suffered financially because of the NHL and the NHLPA’s inability to get a deal done faster are the ones I’m most happy for at the moment. And as I explain in the first of the two BrooksLaichyear posts below, my excitement for the NHL’s return currently stops there.

In the second post, I talk about the “Hockey is back” slogan and some signs that maybe the NHL leadership, owners and players still don’t understand what it is that has some hockey fans feeling so uninspired about their brand of the sport.

Uninspired to watch: The NHL is back and I don’t care

With new slogan and simple apologies, NHL still doesn’t seem to get it

Connect with me on Twitter at @mikeholden

WordPress tells me that January 10 was my best day ever for follows of my blog. That was the same day I posted about my recent move to Madison, CT and the PR and marketing work I’m now trying to drum up near my new hometown or remotely.

With new followers on board, I thought now might be a good time to mention my Twitter account. If you’re on Twitter, let’s connect there as well. You can find me at @mikeholden. If you do start following me there after reading this, please send me a tweet and let me know that’s how you found me.

PR and marketing in Madison, Connecticut

English: Sign in Madison, Connecticut

Sign in Madison, Connecticut (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A few weeks ago, my family and I moved from the Washington, DC area to Madison, CT, about an hour and half up I-95 from New York City. I’m now working on generating PR and marketing work in my new hometown and the surrounding area.

This is a quick post to say that if you’re looking for communications help, I invite you to look over some samples of my PR and marketing work, as well as additional examples of my writing. I can also work remotely if you’re based outside the area. I’ve done this before and would be happy to discuss it with you.

Please contact me via email at blog AT mikeholden.com or through LinkedIn.