Saturday, May 14, 2011

RE: Humor Column About Interacting With Corporate America...

Assured About Insurance

My theory is that interactions with institutions cost you, one way or another; psychically, physically or emotionally. Sometimes it’s a trifecta and, “Ding, ding, ding!” all three are launched.

You’ve got a problem with your bill? Over-billed, schmover-billed. You never received notification on that rate hike? Well, you should have known the rates were increasing. You weren’t aware of the thousand-day cancellation, notification policy? That’s odd because it’s pretty standard.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re right and they’re wrong. Eventually – and it will be eventually – you will be proven wrong. Again.

Seasons will pass, leaves will fall (and grow again) and pounds will pack on, all while you’re still on hold waiting to be told – you got it – that you are oh-so-incorrect.

While the mental price tag is a biggie the real doozy of them all is the sacrificial expense that is the wedge of time you tithed to the institutional interaction.

Nope, it’s not worth the stress and I’ve had that proven to me time and time again. These conglomerates will find a way to prevail and, ultimately, they will come out the victor. (Where are those anti-trust laws when you need them?)

In the end, you’ll still have to pay, stay, or go away, but there will be no successful, “Rage the Machine” moment to tell your grandkids about.

I’ve been there, baby. Save yourself the frustration. The only problem is that I’m often guilty of not taking my own advice and I fail to remember how exceedingly life-sucking these seemingly innocuous interactions can be.

Seasons pass, leaves fall (and grow again) and pounds pack on, so I get distracted and I forget. (Sometimes all it takes is a shiny object to distract me and render me an amnesiac, but that’s probably going to be a different column.)

My Institutional Interactional Lesson (I.L.L.) as in, “I’ll never win,” came to me via my insurance company.

The eternal optimist that I am, I had this silly notion that I would call them with a quick question and it would be answered easily. Painlessly, even.

I shudder to think what would happen if I had an accident to report, or a claim. This particular contact was necessitated by a rather plebian request for clarification of the “other dwelling” rider on my insurance policy. I was looking to ensure that we weren’t paying for more insurance than we needed, so I was seeking assurance in that regard.

A fast look-see at the amount due on our latest statement registered a mite on the high side and left me wondering if the “other dwelling” we were getting dinged for meant that the dog house on the side of our “estate” was now carrying insurance or was our garage considered the car’s dwelling? I rang them up, as the British would say, to get things cleared up.
ME: “Hello, may I please speak with Jacques French’s assistant?”

“He doesn’t have an assistant.”

ME: “Okay. Then, how about Mr. French himself?”

“He’s not here today.”

ME: “Okay. Do you know when he’ll be in?”

“Ummm…[looking at some sort of calendar it would seem, or consulting a clock to note the flying by of time as we have the fun that is this interchange]…he’s taking a vacation day. He’ll be back tomorrow.”

(No doubt this vacation day was necessitated by the unending fatigue he must suffer engaging in conversations like this with the receptionist.)
Seasons passed, leaves fell (and grew again) and pounds packed on, but I persevered.

ME: “Is there someone else taking his place today? Perhaps, Mrs. French?” I kidded.
Seeming not to notice my effort at levity the receptionist intoned monotonously, “No one is taking his place, really.”

Doggedly I pressed on.

ME: “Okay. Is anyone covering for him?”

“Not really.”

I tried another tact. Maybe she needed to take control of the problem-solving.

ME: “Any suggestions as to who I might speak with?”

“Sure,” she answered perkily. “I’ll put you through to Darcy.”
Excellent. I would finally speak with the reclusive and hopefully helpful Darcy via my old school land line. I was sure she would be more than willing to help me with my insurance needs, concerns, or questions. This was my big moment when I was going to be able to direct my burning question to a real, live, qualified person.
Darcy answered the telephone on the first ring with a strong and confident voice and asked me, “May I help you?”

And you know what? I’d forgotten my question.
I hung up and shuffled off to take a nap in my main dwelling.

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