It started out a lot like any other Monday with me luggung a pile of not quite late bills down to the mail box, and carrying a bunch of threatening notices with me to work so I can call and remind these assholes that I haven’t died/purchased land in Idaho/filed for bankruptcy/or whatever reason it is they claim I owe them money. Not quite late on every bill but my car insurance. It’s funny how most large monopolies or conglomorates will let customers pay a few days late and do nothing more than send out cute little Did You Forget? notices that say “perhaps your payment and this reminder passed each other in the mail – yeah, right like anyone in those corporations even knows how the mail works. Not insurance companies; one day late and you are cancelled! Anyway, so I made a late insurance payment on a car that is in storage. A whole $8.08 for the six months. They cashed my check, cut a check for the exact same amount, and mailed it to me with a notice that my insurance had lapsed. I was slightly miffed; I had been with this company for over 6 years, and at this particular agent for over 3 years, and with two cars and renters insurance, I had sent him a lot more than $16.16 per year. I kind of figured he’d understand, I mean nothing is gonna happen to the car! But before I got around to challenging his position he sent me another notice that my other car, which I drive every day, now was behind by $18 because I lost the multi-car discount, and the due date for payment was two days ago! I stopped at the office after work yesterday and had a little chat with him. He couldn’t reinstate the policy until he called the next morning to get approval from the corporate headquarters. (remember this is for $8) He also couldn’t wait until the policy was reinstated and re-adjust my driving car for the multi-car discount, he wanted the $18 immediately, and then said he’d cut a check for the reimbursement after the multi-dar discount had been calculated! Can you believe it? Now here’s the final bit, the real reason why insurance companies make so much money. I returned today with my checkbook to make the $18 payment (they don’t accept cash or credit cards), and asked him after all the paperwork had been completed, which took about half an hour, the exact amount of the check. He said $18.66. I repeated it back to him and asked if that was the exact amount. He confirmed it. I finished the check and handed it to him. Looking puzzled he said “You wrote this for $18.66; the bill is for $18.67.” I told him what I just told you, and he replied “Alright then, we’ll just add a note at the end of your application that the balance will be added to your next bill.”
The only rational conclusion is that insurance agents get paid by how much paperwork they generate. There can be no other reason.
copyright GRAFFITTI 3-23-1998
Copyright Stupidopolis, 2008
The Corporate Screw, Part II
NOTICE and DISCLAIMER: The events portrayed here are purely factual as they pertain to the actions of First USA Bank (now known as Bank ONE), and in no way may be construed as slanderous. I do not pretend to understand its motives or employees, and am not any less inclined to pick on any one else who would conduct himself as ineptly. A sphincter is a sphincter is a sphincter.
I really ought to be sending this shit in to the Better Business Bureau, but I’m such a cynic.
It all started October, 1997. I’m sure you’ve all done this; I received a letter from a credit card company proclaiming a low low introductory rate of only 4.9% on transfered balances. I happened to have a balance which I could transfer, so I did. I filled out the paperwork, and the amount ($2,900), and signed it. I never stopped to think what would happen if something went wrong, as many of you might, but I was young and niave and trusted banks to be capable of handling numbers with some competence, if not finesse.
You know where I’m headed already, don’t you. To stretch a simple balance transfer into an epic requires some filler, and not a little stupidity. I will provide the filler in the form of my choppy prose, and the star of this epic, First USA Bank, will provide the stupidity.
It was November, and everything seemed fine; the amount had been transfered, I had a letter from the new bank and an initial statement declaring the transfer. I had a new statement from First USA noting the transfer, and my new low balance for which I wrote a check and considered the matter at a close.
I began sending regular checks to the new bank to pay my new balance at the new low low rate.
Imagine my surprise when in January I received a new balance statement from First USA which included the $2900 plus finance charges! I promptly called them and began screaming politely into the phone that banks should know better. Banks should understand money and numbers and the fact that a zero balance has very few digits in it other than zero, frighteningly few. I was dumbfounded when the zombie on the other end of the line told me that the check was returned, and that no balance transfer took place. I asked her, quite rhetorically, what the hell she was going to do about the $600 I had already sent the other bank, and who if anyone could convince them that I really didn’t owe them anything. Trying to be as helpful as possible anyway, she said flatly that she didn’t know.
I quickly called the other bank to get their side of the story, and they politely assured me that the check had cleared, and they could send me a copy of the canceled check so that I could send it to First USA as proof of the transaction. I asked her if I needed to be involved in this matter at all since it was really between these two banks that the misunderstanding had taken place. After the “we can’t do that”‘s were over, and further assurance that this small deed on my part would clear things up, I agreed
When I got the copy, I had to laugh. It was barely recognizable, and I couldn’t photocopy it with any level of readability, so I sent it off with a venomous, but pleading letter (which I can’t find at the moment)
Later, nothing good had yet occurred, and in fact I continued to receive letters and statements imploring that I take care of my now vastly delinquent account. Promptly after each statement and letter, I called First USA, explained the situation, asked that they remove the newly added finance charge, and blah blah blah. I somehow got the idea from someone that First USA never got my letter, so I wrote another one:
I request the immediate attention of whoever is capable of clearing up all the nonsense concerning my account. Apparently, the persons at your customer service are incapable of performing anything beyond courtesy calls. Allow me to take a few more minutes out of your and my valuable time to recap the events of the past six months.
- October 1997: XXXX XXXXXX paid First USA $2900.00 in care of my account (4XXX XXXX XXXX XXXX)
- November 1997: I received my next statement, and paid it in full
- February 1998: I mailed a copy of XXXX XXXXXX’s canceled check to First USA. NOTE: I am not in the business of banking, nor am I any sort of attorney. If the two companies concerned need a gopher, I suggest that they pay for one!
- Present: Enclosed is payment for $12.95, my final usage of this account.
My First USA platinum card is already in the trash, and I will thank you now for, when you have finally straightened my accounts, canceling my acount and never contacting me again for any reason. I want no dealings whatsoever with your corporation. Have a great day.
From this I received a phone call (woo hoo). The man on the other end of the line said he was the guy to write to, and if I would just send him another copy of the canceled check, he would fix things lickety-split. I felt all warm and fuzzy (puke), and called the new bank to ask for another, more legible copy of the canceled check. I got something; it was really small, but I could still read all the numbers on it. I used a photo-quality copier, and made a bunch of copies of it, and sent one off to Mr. Fixit. I never heard from him again.