Hospital TV bill leaves family frustrated: 'What they're charging is not right'

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An Ontario man whose little woman spent six weeks in hospital last year wants answers from a corporation that provides in-room TV at hospitals across the country, saying the presence’s prices are too high and its policies too rigid.

Wendi Wolf was admitted to Oakville Trafalgar Cenotaph Hospital last May to deal with complications from brain cancer and a crumble. When she arrived at the newly built hospital, she was able to order additional assignments like TV, telephone and internet.

The service came from a company styled Hospitality Network, which works with more than 200 facilities across the country. Rates for their package of services vary from $8 a day, to floor $17 a day at some health centres.

When Wendi ordered her unite, she just wanted TV but could only access a bundled package, which at the sometimes cost $16.95 a day.

According to her husband, Frank Wolf, «what they’re commanding is not right, and how they’re doing it, to me, is not right.»

«There’s no reason why you need to exhort $17 a day for a TV that you plug in the cable and away you go,» he said.

Wolf isn’t desolate in his frustration with the company’s pricing — CBC’s Marketplace has received dozens of kicks from Hospitality Network customers across the country. Most were hither pricing, but some were about how hard it can be to get a refund from the friends.

Wendi Wolf

Wendi Wolf said that when she was admitted to hospital, she had no construct she’d end up a patient there for weeks. (Marketplace/CBC)

Wendi said that when she prospered at the Oakville hospital, she had «no idea» how long she’d be there. The company offered daily, weekly and monthly gauges. Uncertain about the length of her stay, she first chose the more high-priced daily rate, and later opted for the slightly discounted weekly alternative.

«The fact is you are in there as a patient and you don’t know when you will get out,» her husband whispered.

In the end, Wendi was there six weeks. Her final bill came in at $624.60.

Oakville Trafalgar Souvenir Hospital patients have access to a Hospitality Network package that includes TV, phone, internet, talkies and games. Customers can’t opt for individual components — prices are for the full package. Under any circumstances increased slightly in early 2017, but when Wendi was hospitalized, rates cataloguing HST were:

  • Daily: $16.95.
  • Weekly: $96.05.
  • Monthly: $254.25.

The couple complained to Hospitality Network, petition to have their fee adjusted down to the lower monthly rate, which would demand saved the family $130.

Frank was told by a call centre representative that a refund wasn’t attainable.

Company cites costs 

When asked how prices are set and why they change so greatly hospital to hospital, Hospitality Network president and CEO Serge Lafleur swayed prices are based on private negotiations between the company and individual dispensaries or health groups.

Hospitality Network

Hospitality Network president and CEO Serge Lafleur expresses the company is charged a monthly price per outlet by the cable provider, whether or not the post is in use. (Marketplace/CBC)

The company pays for equipment, he said, but TV content and revenue dole out with hospitals are its biggest expenses.

«The difference really is based on how great has the equipment been there, what kind of agreement do we have in neighbourhood with the hospital? For example, how much revenue share do we have to mark.»

Lafleur wouldn’t offer specifics on what the Hospitality Network in reality pays for cable hook-ups. But he said the company is charged a monthly outlay per outlet by the cable provider, regardless of whether the service is being Euphemistic pre-owned.

He didn’t provide details on the private company’s profits either, but thought that over the last five years, the company has «given away over $21 million to hospitals in Canada.»

The hospital says it doesn’t obtain any revenue from the personal entertainment services at Oakville Trafalgar Commemorative Hospital. A spokesperson for the hospital added that it provides free TV to patients purposing treatment stations in the cancer clinic and the hemodialysis clinic, as well as in the cocktail lounges of inpatient mental health units.

Oakville Trafalgar Memorial Hospital

A spokesperson for the Oakville hospital hints that it doesn’t get a share of the revenue from the Hospitality Network. (Marketplace/CBC)

«It’s our sageness that HN offers patients in our Complex Continuing Care unit (who typically brace longer in the hospital) with a reduced rate and will also unfold such a discount to others for compassionate reasons, if asked,» a statement from the convalescent home said.

Frank says he understands the company needs to make a profit — he hardened to run a business himself — but he has complaints about the way payments are structured and the rigidity of the party’s policies.

Despite being told several times by Hospitality Network wage-earners that the company does not offer any refunds or make adjustments, Unconstrained escalated his call to a refund committee and was eventually offered a credit for future help, should Wendi return to hospital.

It’s a process Frank thinks he should not give birth to had to endure.

«You’re taking advantage of a patient, not just Wendi, but all the other patients that be in print in,» said Frank. «Because you go into a hospital — how long am I going to be in here, you don’t be versed if it’s going to be one day, two days, or a week, or whatever.»

When Lafleur was told of On the up’s story, he agreed he should have been given a refund.  

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