Saturday, May 14, 2011

That Answer is NOT Acceptable!

Over the years, just like most of you, I’ve had some frustrating dealings with insurance companies, banks, and big business doing things that weren’t right or just. In my young days, I would stomp, scream, holler, and rant with a result of nothing more than a rise in my blood pressure.

As time passed, my motto became, “Don’t get mad. Get even.” It still caused a rise in blood pressure, but it usually resulted in some other form of justice or satisfaction of having righted a wrong.

I have just today, adopted a new approach. “That answer is not acceptable!” It’s a mellower more mature approach. The getting even part is implied rather than expressed, and perhaps better stated as getting justice, instead of getting even. It might even allow me to resolve problems without a rise in blood pressure!

Let me tell you three short stories of corporate insanity that took place within a one week period that spurred me into action.

Last week, our condo association received a letter from the insurance company’s loss prevention division after a recent visit. They found three fire hazards, offered recommendations, and asked for our response. Two of the recommendations were logical and simple to implement. The first was to test the fire sprinkler system in the clubhouse and the second was to have additional fire extinguishers.

The third recommendation was to not allow grills on or under decks. This recommendation was made despite the fact that there is no prohibition in our policy. The recommendation, in my opinion, is short sighted and would more than likely cost them money and us a lot of aggravation.

Let’s think this threw. If a ban was put in place, there would be only two places for people to grill; the driveway or the commons in back of their house. One look at the backyard commons would makes it obvious that moving a grill through sliders and across ten feet of 1” stone is a piece of cake compared to having to go up and down a flight of stairs a half dozen timed before serving a meal.

Guess what? People will find it MUCH easier to grill in the driveway! Yeah, that’s the ticket. Let’s store explosive propane tanks in an enclosed one car garage a one ton gas powered vehicle and a senior citizen driver!

Now do you want to hear the kicker? It appears that the statute cited by the loss prevention specialist, was improperly applied. It was written for condos composed of MORE than two families and apartment complexes. It does not apply to our two family units.

Our response was to tell them we would comply with the first two items, but we wanted the inspector to review his recommendations and remove the third one entirely.

This week, a letter arrived was on a different topic, made me think that Wall Street, banks, and insurance companies are still conducting “business as usual.”

Someone wants to buy a condo, but the bank said Fanny Mae won’t approve the mortgage unless we raise our dishonest employee coverage to $177,000. That has got to be the height of hypocrisy!

Fanny Mae and others sold bogus mortgages, made huge profits, paid their CEO’s billions, got bailed out by the tax payers for more than $100 billion, continue writing mortgages that tax payers will be on the hook for it buyers default, are still giving big bonuses and making money hand over fist, but are worried about “US” being dishonest. Give me a break!

All I can think of is Arlo Guthrie saying, “Sarge, you’ve gotta lot ‘a damn gall to ask me if I’ve rehabilitated myself. I mean I’m sittin here on the Group W bench ‘cause you want to know if I’m moral enough to join the army, burn women, kids, houses, children, villages after BEING A LITTTERBUG!!! It’s not at all surprising that Fannie Mae was rated the second biggest corporation in the U.S.

With that fresh on my mind, a visit to TD Bank in Epping, NH, prompted me to say “That answer is not acceptable.”

I wanted to get a Visa gift card. When I requested the card, I found out that I couldn’t get one because I didn’t have an account with them. It didn’t matter that we had a half dozen accounts with them for 20 years before we moved from NJ to NH, or that we still have a mortgage through them. Without an account, there would be no card. That’s just plain wrong! I started walking out the door muttering under my breath and then it hit me. “That is NOT an acceptable answer!”

I turned around, walked back in to customer service and asked if they had any accounts that had no minimum balance and no fees. She told about their holiday savings account. I could put in as much or as little as I wanted, draw on it when I wanted, and they would send me a check in the beginning of October for the amount that was in it.

Perfect! I opened the account and deposited $510. When she came back with the deposit slip, I told her I wanted to take $500 out to purchase a gift card.
When I left the bank, I had the card, a smile on my face and two of their free pens in my back pocket. The bank has a worthless account that cost them time and money to set up, and they turned a satisfied customer into a combatant.

NOTE TO TD BANK: Make it easier for your customers to do what they should be able to do, simply because they are YOUR customers!

Oh, you may be wondering about the extra $10. That’s the “get even” justice part. In October, the bank will have to send me a check for $10. If I had thought about it just a little longer, I would have made the deposit $500.01. Of course, the next time I’m at the bank, I could just withdraw $9.99.