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June 2008

Delphi Questions

PayFlex, space guidelines, severe weather alerts

Delphi Question #587 (received April 7): I have a question about PayFlex. Does UCAR have a policy in place whereby it routinely reviews the service levels provided by FSA (Flexible Spending Administration) providers such as PayFlex?

I personally, and several of my colleagues, have experienced nothing but problems with PayFlex. This was not the case with Denver Reserve. For example, it now seems that PayFlex requires receipts on literally every charge. They routinely lose the paperwork, requiring employee time to resend it. Finding a real, live, and helpful person on the other end of the phone is always an adventure in frustration. Even after receiving the paperwork, the folks at PayFlex often turn around and dispute the charges (for example, monthly payments for my daughter’s braces).

PayFlex will only provide one card (whereas Denver Reserve provided two), which makes it a huge hassle to “share” the card in the case of families. It always seems that the card is with the wrong person at the time that it is needed, such as when taking a sick child to the doctor.

Perhaps the last straw for us came this past week. PayFlex waited until the yearly deadline had passed, then sent us a bill for a disputed charge with my daughter’s braces. This was the only communication that we received from them, and now we are spending hours trying to clear up the mess.

To put it simply, the service from PayFlex is horrible. Surely there must be a better FSA available to UCAR?

Response (received April 15): Thank you for your question. We also have seen that the service level provided by PayFlex is not as good as Denver Reserve. (Uunfortunately, Denver Reserve was acquired by PayFlex.) Because of the service concerns about PayFlex, the UCAR Benefits office interviewed several other companies that provide flexible spending administration. PayFlex offers better services and more benefits (such as debit cards) than any of the other companies. We will continue to look for vendors, and if you hear of a good one from a colleague or friend, please let us know.

We have expressed our concerns to PayFlex with its customer service shortcomings. They have assured us that they are working on improving response time.

With regard to your other points, PayFlex is required by IRS regulation to obtain receipts on a quarterly basis whenever a claim is paid with your debit card. The debit card charge must be verified as a qualified expense. If you pay your insurance co-pay with your debit card you should not receive a request for a receipt of that transaction. All other card transactions will require a copy of the receipt. If you have been asked for a copy of your claim, be sure that it includes the service that was provided, the date of the service, and the amount. If you have not sent this to PayFlex, your debit card will be inactivated until the receipt has been submitted to PayFlex.

Participants can order additional cards in the name of their spouse and/or dependents for no additional charge either by calling customer service (800-284-4885) or by logging in to their accounts at mypayflex.com, clicking on “debit cards,” then clicking on “card order” and filling out the online form. 

We apologize for the problems with PayFlex and are working on resolving them. Please contact Cyd Perrone or Konnie Carrillo in Human Resources with any problems you encounter with PayFlex. We can help get the issue resolved.

—Cyd Perrone
Human Resources Benefits Administrator

Delphi Question #588 (received May 21): I have become aware that the Space Planning Committee worked on a master plan and space guidelines for three years. The plan was accepted, but never implemented by NCAR. What was the reason for the change?

Response (received May 27): The guidelines, which dealt with things like how many square feet a visitor’s office should occupy, were accepted by the President’s Council shortly after they were proposed. There was no master plan in the sense of space assignments to specific organizations. Those are handled by the relevant entities: NCAR, UOP, and UCAR.

—Larry Winter
NCAR Deputy Director

Delphi Question #589 (received May 23): I would like to know why UCAR/NCAR does not have a method in place for notifying staff of extreme weather events along the Front Range in near real time.

I was very surprised that staff were not informed about the severe weather conditions outside of the Boulder area on May 22, the date six tornadoes touched down in Colorado. A message was circulated in the afternoon that Boulder was under a tornado warning. However, many NCAR employees live outside of Boulder in the communities to the north that were directly impacted by these severe storms, yet no information was provided about the magnitude of these systems. Primary methods for communicating such information to the public are through television and radio broadcasts, which many of us do not have immediate access to in the workplace. I would like to know the feasibility of implementing a system similar to reverse 911 that notifies employees by phone when events such as these occur.

Response (received May 23): The questioner brings up an ongoing notification issue concerning how much and how best to provide emergency information. We do have the capability to put out an all-staff voicemail, similar to but not exactly a reverse 911. A message is nested in each UCAR phone and the message light is activated. However, it still requires the employee to notice the light and access voicemail. We have used this on numerous occasions, though usually associated with building closures.

In the incident with the tornadoes, we decided to utilize e-mail and the UCAR Safety and Security hotline at ext. 1100. The information was released as soon as we became aware and were able to get it posted. Typically, we take our cue from local area emergency agencies. If they were to recommend reverse 911 system activation, then we would have used our voicemail system. There were no local recommendations and we didn’t activate our system.

In retrospect, I should have utilized our existing voicemail system. Every emergency situation is a learning situation. In this case, I’ve learned to expand my thinking to include notifications that go beyond just the local area. I believe our current voicemail system is adequate for emergency notifications; I just have to use what is available. Thanks for an excellent suggestion.

—Steve Sadler
Director, Safety and Site Services

In this issue...

Measuring the Arctic's haze and smoke

NCAR names three new senior scientists

UCAR readies new financial management tools

Bluefire burns hot - with less energy

Researchers study monsoon in Taiwan

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