Will You Help?I called the Colorado funeral home that cremated Manny on Saturday. I asked for their assistance in obtaining a death certificate. The gentleman that answered the phone explained that the funeral home administrative aide (Judy) arranged for death certificates. Judy would be back at work Monday and call me then.
When Judy hadn't called me by Wednesday, I felt it was time to call Judy. Judy answered the phone. I told Judy that I had called the funeral home on Saturday and explained the reason for my call. Judy put me on hold to get Manny's file. When she returned to the phone, Judy said,
"I'm sorry. I can't help you. John Smith signed the contract.
You will have to go through him."
I replied, "You are unwilling to help the next of kin get a death certificate?"
"Well, with HIPAA regulations we can only work with the person that signed the contract", Judy said.
It's Against The Law To Help.As soon as I heard HIPAA, I asked Judy to have the funeral home manager call me. It's now Thursday at 10:30 AM and I have not heard from the funeral home manager. I expect I won't. The funeral home clearly has no concept of customer service. Funeral homes have no obligation to comply with HIPAA. Further, helping a family member obtain a death certificate isn't a disclosure of private information. Judy, and by extension the funeral home was simply unwilling to help.
Why Lie?It seems many service businesses are using this strategy. When asked to explain a stunning lack of customer service or a new policy that is clearly anti-consumer, the business blames some form of federal or state regulation. Many federal or state regulations are cumbersome, far reaching and difficult to understand. That makes state and federal regulations convenient targets for "why I can't help you." Still there is no law in favor of lazy or sloppy customer service.
Have you encountered someone using regulation as a reason not to help? How does that make you feel? Would you allow an employee or client to use regulations as a shield for poor company policy?