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Friday, March 10, 2006

The Letter

I guess I won't be able to argue that I never received the "letter" from PERS. You can see what the whole shebang looks like here. After you've had a chance to look it over (in case you're feeling left out 'cause you didn't get your own today), please note several things: 1) the envelope. I can't say I was overwhelmed by the "notification" on the envelope. For all I knew, it could have been a notice for a Board meeting and simply tossed. The name printed on the envelope is not the same as the way my PERS benefit checks are made out (missing my middle initial). The postage rate smacks of bulk rate and might have led me to toss it out on that basis itself. 2) the letter. It isn't personally addressed to anyone. It's truly a form letter without any salutation at all. The text is boilerplate and contains no surprises.

I'm completely baffled that PERS would choose such a half-assed, cheap, and sleazy way to notify recipients of an impending legal action that could cost recipients, in toto, about $800 million in lifetime losses of benefits. This is just so shabby and impersonal. I wanted them to go to the trouble to actual mail ME a letter, addressed to ME, which then could have had the boilerplate. I'd be hard-pressed to understand how a court could consider this an "official", "legal" notification that is required to satisfy a provision of the Oregon Revised Statutes. This has all the earmarks of the slimy marketing tactics used by vendors processing rebates for products. Offer a rebate, require a zillion forms to be filled out, and then send the rebate on a miniature postcard that they hope will get thrown out without reading/cashing. I wonder how many of these "notices" will simply get tossed by the unsuspecting PERS retirees? Ah, PERS - the trustees of MY retirement benefits - not! I do have to give PERS extra-credit points for their "emulate the White House" (*any White House, not necessarily the current one*) approach. Drop the bad news on a Friday and then run like hell for the hills of the weekend. That's high class! They didn't have the organizational backbone to send the letters out on Monday and then brace for the storm that hits for the rest of the week. Well, what you reap, you sow. I hope PERS is prepared to have its phones, its email system, and its offices overwhelmed by 10 a.m. on Monday morning and for at least the rest of the week.

P.S. Legal question of the day: how does sending a form letter (unaddressed on the inside) via bulk mail and a not-very-clearly marked envelope constitute "service" for purposes of ORS 183.484? And, what is the date of "service" - date of the order (Jan 27), date of letter (March 8), date of postmark (March 9), date of receipt (March 10)? And, for extra credit: how can PERS prove that it sent a letter TO ME and that I received it? (Yes, I know that the actual postage meter reads "Presorted First Class" but that misses my larger point above).

P.P.S. Due to overwhelming email responses to "The Letter", no doubt triggered by the receipt of somewhere in the neighborhood of 37,000 of these ?notices? today, I will probably not be able to respond personally to many of your questions and comments. Please continue to send them and I will try to answer them as best I can in future blogs. And for the record, I don't have a clue what I'm going to do, if anything, about this notice. I promise to continue to use this forum as a "bully pulpit" to rage against the machine, but when it comes to enlightened self-interest, I'm just as bewildered as the next person.

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