This blog chronicles my life as I try to balance healthy lifestyle habits with my husband's penchant for pizza rolls and my daughter's desire to watch iCarly 8 hours a day. It contains a mostly humorous, kind, and somewhat spiritual look at everyday life and the people who live it.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Arbella - Get the Insurance You Need, Then Get a Big Bill
I can't help it, I must wax poetic (or at least annoyed) about this situation. I haven't been this annoyed since I went 10 rounds with Bob's Furniture to get my account properly credited. In the first corner wearing the white collar we have Arbella Insurance. In the second corner wearing a startled expression and holding her checkbook we have Beth. Who will win?
Well, Arbella won. Let me elucidate:
We have our car insurance, homeowner's insurance and we had our renter's insurance with Arbella. This is not uncommon in New England where Arbella holds a substantial share of the insurance market. They are not the cheapest on car insurance but when you look at the overall cost of all the coverage we have, they are very competitive. Things were going along swimmingly until we bought our house.
First Arbella sends us a bill for the first year's homeowner's insurance. I thought we had paid it with our closing costs but hey, I couldn't find the closing documents and I certainly didn't want to be in arrears so I thought I'd pay first, ask questions later.
Then the refund checks began to arrive. First a check for $68.00. We weren't sure why Arbella refunded us $68 and there wasn't any accompanying documentation so we figured it was an overpayment of some kind. We cashed the check. Then a check for $493.00. I believe strongly in a provident universe but this seemed a little too provident so I called Arbella.
"Why did I get this refund?"
"I don't know ma'am. Your accounts are all paid up. Have you made any recent changes to your accounts?"
"Yes, we added a car and a house and dropped the rental. During the month of June we had 2 cars and 2 houses on the policy."
"Ah, that explains it ma'am. The refund is probably the result of discounts being added to your account and the unused portion of the renter's insurance."
"Okay, excellent! So the money is really mine?"
"Thank you ma'am. Is there anything I can help you with today?"
"Okay ma'am. Have a good day."
That was a lovely little exchange, wasn't it? Very polite. All questions answered. I cashed the check. A few weeks later another check comes, this one is the exact amount of my homeowner's premium for the year. I call my local agent this time. She walks me through my closing documents and helps me to find where I already paid the premium with my closing costs. "Is the money really mine?" I ask. "Yes." Great, I cash the check. Last week Arbella sends me a letter saying that $1,255.00 was applied to my account in error and would be removed. They apologized for any inconvenience this may cause me.
I call Arbella.
"What does this mean?" I ask.
"It means you owe us $1,255.00 by December 22" they reply.
The polite-but-not-apologetic-agent informs me that there was an error. A glitch. It showed my balance paid in full when it really wasn't. They found the error, now they want the money. "But I called!" I wail, "I asked if the money was mine and you said yes!" "Sorry ma'am, we don't have a record of that call and you're the one who cashed the checks," says Miss-Professional-but-by-God-I-won't-apologize.
We went round and round. You owe, yes but you said I didn't, Yes but now you do, yes but you should have said that when I called, Yes but we didn't so you owe, etc., etc., etc.
I called my local agent and they went a few rounds with Arbella but the answer is the same: you owe, regardless of what we may or may not have told you in July, you owe.
I am not looking to profit from a clerical error. I owe. Okay, I already scheduled the payment through my bank, but I am looking for some decent customer service here, is that too much to ask? Would it have killed them to say "well, we'll write off the checks for $68 and $493 because she called, she gave us the opportunity to discover our mistake, we didn't, we lose." I can assure you that if I made a clerical error and didn't pay on time I would be expected to pay whatever late fees they wanted because I made a mistake and sometimes when you make a mistake it costs you a little. Would I be allowed to say "I'm sorry Arbella. I've had a data entry error in my Microsoft Money bill paying software. It showed that I've been paying you when I haven't. Since this is a clerical error you won't charge me any late fees, right?" I think not.
Yet that is exactly the courtesy I extended to Arbella.
"Well ma'am, if you wish to continue your coverage you'll need to pay by December 22."
"Yeah, thanks. Your generosity overwhelms me."
"Yes ma'am. Is that all I can help you with today?"
"Sigh. Yes. If you believe you were helpful, that is..."
"Okay ma'am, good bye."
(This is where I miss the old fashioned phones. Hitting end just doesn't have the satisfaction that slamming down the receiver used to have.)
SLAM! (there, that felt better).