Wednesday, May 20, 2009

How Not to Run a Business

or Allstate Insurance Redux

I just received a phone call from a person named Crystal at Allstate Insurance, the purpose of which was to check that I am still happy with my policy. Um, no. I canceled both our policies over a month ago and took out new ones with State Farm. The question should have been: How was I unhappy with my policies? Let me count the ways.

My agent quit the company and never informed me, resulting in countless messages from me on his answering machine which were never answered. They once received my payment ONE DAY later than the due date and the next morning there was a rude notice from Allstate tacked to my door. After many years of being their customer and never missing a payment. I couldn't believe it. There is a twelve-day grace period, so I wasn't really late by normal calculations. From that point on, I hand-delivered my payments to their office instead of trusting to the mails, and in fact, I left payments on both policies in their mailbox after the office was permanently closed because there was no indication of it. I knew that they normally locked their door for lunch and it was lunchtime, so I made what turned out to be a wrong assumption.

After I changed to State Farm, it turned out that the vin number I had given them for my car, which I got from our old Allstate auto policy, was wrong. In other words, there was no vehicle with that vin number registered in California and if we had been involved in an accident, we would have been considered uninsured drivers even though we paid Allstate for years to keep our policy in effect. Since the vin on the car was hard to read, I got it off the car's title, and I believe we are now legal. (Allstate had changed a letter and a number, which was never discovered although they continued to renew our policy every six months.)

Crystal's call today is yet another indication of how severely out-to-lunch Allstate is. Apparently, they are not aware that I canceled our policies with them, which makes me happier than ever that I did. It's good to know that there is always room for more La-La in La-La Land.


Jo said...

Omigoodness, you would have been in deep doo-doo if you had had an accident. Good for you that you had the insight to change insurance companies.

I have not received a phone bill from my service provider since November 2008. Out of sight, out of mind. In February 2009 I received a nasty letter threatening disconnection. I immediately paid the bill, and I have been begging them ever since then to send me a phone bill. I prefer a paper copy to the on-line bill. In any case, every month I phone them, I ask them what I owe, and I pay it. They always promise to send me a bill, and they never do.

I could go on-line and view my bill except they won't let me sign up because I don't have a paper bill with an account number and a PIN number on it. So round and round we go...

Who hires these people?!

nick said...

I expect they'll ring you again in a month's time, asking you if you're happy with your policy.

I always check my insurance correspondence very carefully for stupid mistakes. We don't need VINs on our policies which helps.

But companies in Northern Ireland tend to be more efficient with paperwork, maybe because the population is only 1.7 million and they're not so overworked!

the walking man said...

I guess you figured it out Hearts. You weren't in good hands.

Bob said...

Hopefully Allstate won't report you to a credit agency for not paying the premiums on your non-existent policies with them.

I got sick and tired of Allstate the time we tried them - for the six months we bought car insurance from them the premium was different each month.

meno said...

This will make me sound like the bitch i am, but i knew where you were headed as soon as you said the name Crystal.

You voted with your money, right on!

heartinsanfrancisco said...


That's quite a story but doesn't surprise me. I have a similar situation with our cable provider. Sadly, those who try to do the right thing and work out solutions always end up paying for the stupidity and incompetence of others. As they say, no good deed goes unpunished.

As to who hires them... it's truly one of life's great mysteries.


I'm sure you're right. I haven't heard the last of Crystal, Tiffany, Brittany, and all the other morons with pretentious names.

Maybe I should move to Ireland.


Funny. Yeah, the Good Hands People strike again. Smite again? Idiots.


Oh yes, that too. It was like a crap shoot - what will they charge me this time?

And now you've given me something else to worry about, my credit rating. Thanks for that! Knowing what I do about them, it could happen.


Yep, Crystal. Hey, somebody's got to say it. That's a hard name to live down to, but she managed.

Jocelyn said...

That her name was Crystal makes this story all the better.

You know what I like about you (amongst 28 other things)? That you can write an email of anger without raging. It's so effective.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Wasn't that the name of your star student awhile back?

Just so you know, I enrage easily. I am woman, see me rage.

the walking man said...

I just remembered why I left All State ten years ago... even though i never made a claim, always paid my premiums but because of my zip code they raised my homeowners 180% and my auto coverage 300%.

The reason we had become high risk after 15 years at the same address was what they said to justify it. No there wasn't anymore theft or arson or crime but there could be...

Anonymous said...

They'll probably check in with you monthly forever. Insurance is funny - they want you as a customer, don;t want to pay you out, then try to win you back with "I am the greatest" stories when you leave....

Anonymous said...

It's asotounding that so many businesses are run just like that and yet don't go under. I've been with State Farm for about 20 years and no complaints.

Cardozo said...

My parents still pay for my auto insurance.

Maria said...

I count on my partner to renew our insurance every six months and she always shops around. We have stuck with State Farm for years now because they simply offered us the best deal.

But, I leave all that shit to her. I have no patience for it...

heartinsanfrancisco said...


That all sounds utterly believable. I passed an Allstate office today which was all large glass windows and thought wistfully of bricks.

Their reasoning powers leave much to be desired.


I had another call from a different Crystal-type who offered me a much better rate if I would come back. Of course, this would never have occurred to them while they had me as a customer. Stupidheads.


Beats me. I am beyond offended by the incompetence and downright sleaziness of their operation and marvel that they stay in business while so many other, better companies have bitten the dust in this terrible economy.


You're a lucky boy. You know that, right?


It's a rough job but somebody's got to do it.

The CEO said...

Insurance companies are the bottom feeders of American business. They have done so well, they turned down TARP funds. On my best day, with the milk of human kindness bursting from me, I consider them to be blood suckers.

heir latest trick...they sell life insurance to corporations on its regulare employees to fund executive benefits.. But that's a digressions from your post. Sorry.

meggie said...

I just have to go, into a small room & scream :
F**k F**k F**k!! I could go on, but it is all pointless, yes??

heartinsanfrancisco said...


None of this surprises me. Insurance is mostly a one-way street -- when you need the help you've been paying for,

Reach out and screw somebody.. it's the American way.


If it helped, we'd all be screaming in small rooms.

Ian Lidster said...

Among the more detestable businesses, insurance companies come in at number 2 for me. They are only exceeded by banks for their uncaring, raised digit attitude towards customers.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


They're way up there for me, too. I am not a big fan of blatant non-reciprocity, and also do not think highly of parasites.

Wanderlust Scarlett said...

Good girl.

State Farm is a very good place to be.
Allstate is notorious for bad claims handling anyway.
Glad that you didn't have to find out the hard way.

Scarlett & Viaggiatore

heartinsanfrancisco said...


So far, so good. Don't you work for State Farm?