Unblogievable

Last year, I wrote a blog entry about my car insurers, and how useless they were being following a minor (non-fault) bump I had been subjected to a few weeks earlier (https://middlerageddad.com/2018/05/04/minor-bloggywork-damage/)

I said at the time, it would probably be unwise of me to refer to my insurers by name, particularly when using phrases like ‘fucking incompetent’, but if I told you they share their name with a famous battle that took place in 1066, you may be able to work it out (clue: it’s not Aviva, although they are fucking incompetent too – oops). As a further clue, here is their logo, which I have doctored to preserve their anonymity:

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Anyway, I try not to repeat blog topics wherever possible – particularly those which aren’t very popular – but since my (now former) insurers recently achieved the unthinkable, by achieving levels of incompetence even I didn’t think were possible, I felt it only right to bring matters to your attention. Not only will it be therapeutic for me (and cheaper than seeking professional help for my anger management), but it may prevent you – and any others you happen to warn – from ever insuring with this company in the future.

To make my dealings with Hastings more entertaining for you (oops again, although it’s not like you hadn’t worked out who they were – unless your knowledge of history is even worse than mine, and you were sat pondering whether there was ever a ‘Battle of Sheila’s Wheels’), I have chosen to dramatise our exchanges.

Enjoy.

Part I – ‘The Renewal E-mail’

Hastings: Hello. Did you know your motor insurance is due for renewal next month? Don’t worry, though, because we’ll automatically assume you want to stay with us, and we’ll renew it for you when the current policy expires, for just a slightly increased premium.

Me: How much of an increase?

Hastings: Not much. Roughly double what you paid last year.

Me: Right, and why is that?

Hastings: Well, you did have that accident, didn’t you?

Me: You mean the accident which wasn’t my fault, where you authorised repairs to my car without my permission, still haven’t told me how much the repairs and hire car cost, ignored my e-mails for six months, have so far paid me compensation twice for the complaints I made about your shit company? The accident which still hasn’t been resolved a year later? That accident?

Hastings: That’s the one!

Me: And do you remember the last time I contacted you, when I said something along the lines of “you must be the worst company I have ever had the misfortune to deal with, so don’t bother contacting me when this policy expires, because I would rather insure my car with that Nigerian Prince who keeps emailing me?”

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Hastings: Oh, yeah. We thought you were maybe joking, or that you might have changed your mind.

Me: I haven’t. Fuck off, and stick your renewal quote up your arse, because I don’t want any more to do with your company.

Hastings: Maybe we can do a deal? You know, reduce the premium for you?

Me: Unless you plan on halving it, there really isn’t any point. Besides, I warned you about this last year, when I said you should always offer your best quote from the start, not wait for the customer to get pissed off and threaten to leave before reducing it down.

Hastings: But we don’t want to lose you.

Me: Then you shouldn’t have been shit.

Hastings: Please? For old time’s sake? It’ll only take a few minutes.

Me: Fine. But this is your last chance.

Hastings: Thanks! You won’t regret this!

[Five minutes later]

Hastings: Good news! We’ve managed to reduce your premium!

Me: Right. Presumably you’ve reduced it by at least £200, otherwise you would have simply disconnected the call?

Hastings: Not exactly.

Me: Go on. How much?

Hastings: £8.23.

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Me: Fuck off, and never contact me again.

Part II – ‘The Expiry E-Mail’

Hastings: Hey there. Erm, we’ve renewed your policy for you, because it was due to expire today, but we’ve not been able to take that extortionate premium out of your account. What gives?

Me: You did WHAT?! I told you I didn’t want to renew my policy, and that I never want to hear from you again. I couldn’t have been any clearer. How could you possibly think that meant ‘please renew my policy automatically”?

Hastings: Well, we didn’t want you driving around without insurance. That’s an offence.

Me: I’m well aware of that, which is why I told you I had already insured my vehicle with another company. I’ll say again: I don’t want to insure my car with you ever again, I didn’t want you to renew my policy, and you better cancel it now.

Hastings: You’ll have to phone us for that. We can’t cancel by e-mail.

Me: I’m not spending my lunch break, at my own expense, waiting on hold to finally speak to someone who clearly failed their McDonald’s Entrance Exam. It’s your mistake, so fucking cancel it.

Hastings: Sorry, we can’t cancel via e-mail once it’s renewed.

Me: But I asked you to cancel it before it was renewed.

Hastings: Yes, but it’s renewed now. So, you’ll have to phone. You should be grateful, really. We were only trying to protect you so you didn’t drive around without insurance.

Me: I have insurance! Just because the policy isn’t with your shit-show of a company, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

Hastings: Phone us.

Me: What happens if I don’t?

Hastings: We’ll keep trying to take the premium out of your account.

Me: Well, firstly, it’s a good job you didn’t manage to take the payment, because it would have sent me overdrawn, and then you really would be in trouble. Secondly, my bank card details changed last year, fortunately for you, so you can keep trying to take the payment all you like, it’s not going to work.

Hastings: Well, if we can’t take the payment, we’ll have to cancel your policy.

Me: GOOD! That’s what I want!

Hastings: So, will you phone us now?

Me: No.

Part III – ‘The Payment Call’

Hastings: Hi. It’s Hastings. Weird one, but we tried to take a payment for your new policy a few days ago, and it didn’t work. Can I take the long number from the front of your new card?

Me: No.

Hastings: Why not?

Me: Do you idiots not speak to each other? I told you weeks ago I don’t want to renew, then you automatically did it anyway –

Hastings: That was to protect you so you weren’t driving around without ins-

Me: Don’t interrupt me when I’m bollocking you. I said I didn’t want to renew, you ignored that, and thankfully my card details have changed so you couldn’t take the payment. Cancel. The. Fucking. Policy.

Hastings: You need to phone us for that. We can’t cancel by e-mail once the policy has automatically renewed.

Me: So you keep saying. Well, we’re on the phone now, aren’t we?

Hastings: Yes.

Me: So cancel the policy.

Hastings: Ah. I can’t. See, I work in the ‘chasing people for payments we aren’t entitled to’ department. You want the ‘we better cancel this poor bastard’s policy quickly, as he’s on the brink of driving down here with an axe’ department. I’ll transfer you through.

[Five minutes later]

Hastings: Hello, you’re through to the ‘we better cancel this poor bastard’s policy quickly, as he’s on the brink of driving down here with an axe’ department. How can I help?

Me: Cancel. My. Policy.

Hastings: Can I ask why? Something we did?

Me: Did your colleague not pass on any details?

Hastings: Nope.

Me: Jesus wept. Right. Accident last year, not my fault, you still haven’t resolved it, fixed my car without checking the cost with me first, put me in an expensive hire car without checking the cost with me first, dicked about for six months doing nothing, ignored my e-mails, sent me two cheques following complaints to apologise for being shit, wanted to renew my policy, I said not to, you did it anyway and tried to take a payment.

Hastings: Oh.

Me: Yes, ‘oh’.

Hastings: Well, I can transfer you through to the ‘utterly-hopeless-at-claims, claims team’ if you like?

Me: I wouldn’t waste your time.

Hastings: Ok. Well, I don’t deal with that side of the business, but what you probably don’t understand, because it is quite technical, is that claims can take some time.

Me: Look, before you patronise me about how long simple non-fault accident claims can take, sweet heart, maybe check your records to see what I do for a living.

Hastings: Erm, ok…… Ah, you’re a personal injury solicitor.

Me: Bingo. So, you can stop with all the lies about claims now.

Hastings: Shall we just cancel your policy then?

Me: What a splendid idea. Let’s do that.

Hastings: The thing is, there should be a charge for the four days of cover you’ve had….

Me: I beg your pardon?

Hastings: …but, as a gesture of goodwill, we we’ll waive it.

Me: I should bloody hope so.

Hastings: And we’ll waive the admin fee. Again, as a gesture of goodwill.

Me: How about this for a gesture of goodwill?

Hastings: I don’t understand.

Me: I’m sticking my middle finger up at you. In hindsight, I realise this is an entirely visual gesture.

Hastings: Well, that’s your policy cancelled. On behalf of Hastings, I’d like to thank you for your custom, and hopefully you’ll consider coming back to us next year…

Me: Not a chance.

Part IV – ‘The Survey Text’

Hastings: Based on your recent experience of Hastings, with 10 being ‘I love them!’ and 0 being ‘I hope they all rot in hell’, how would you rate the service you received?

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Me: -5

Hastings: The figure must be between 0 and 10. It’s 10, isn’t it?

Me: 0

Hastings: Can we ask why?

Me: No.

***

I sincerely hope my new insurers perform better (not that they could offer a worse service, I suspect). Again, I won’t mention them by name, but let’s just say they’re an anagram of VL.

Thanks for reading x

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Minor Bloggywork Damage

A few weeks ago, I was involved in a minor road traffic incident on my commute to work, when a lobotomised ape in a van, decided to drive into the side of my car – destroying my wing mirror, and causing additional damage to the side of the car in the process.

At the time, he didn’t request any of my insurance details (because he was clearly at fault), and merely offered me his own, however he has evidently realised there were no witnesses, and is now trying to suggest we were equally to blame. I’m not one to get angry and hold a grudge, as you know, but let’s just say that if he were to now contract a flesh-eating disease on his scrotum, I wouldn’t lose any sleep over it. I would, however, visit him in hospital, if only to rub salt into the wound.

When faced with such a situation, it’s always comforting to know that you have a competent insurer, accident management company, and repairing garage on your side. Unfortunately, I have no idea what that might feel like, because my insurers have been useless to non-existent; the accident management company have been utterly incompetent, and the repairing garage have made the other two look thoroughly professional.

Since the claim is ongoing, I probably shouldn’t mention who I am insured with (let’s just say there was a battle there in 1066).  I contacted them straight after the accident, because I didn’t think for one second ‘van scumbag’ was going to try and wriggle out of hitting me – he was, after all, in the middle of the road, and not looking where he was going at the time – so I naively thought there would be a prompt admission from his insurers (again, I won’t mention them by name, but it’s a city in Switzerland), and I’d have my car back swiftly.

I never expected there to be a fight on liability, with my no-claims discount compromised, and my premium likely to rocket next year as a result, but above all I didn’t think it would take more than two fucking weeks to fix one wing mirror.  I’m pretty sure I could have had a decent stab at taking the entire car apart, and then re-building it, faster.

To give you some idea of the incompetence I have been dealing with, let me summarise the chronology:

Monday 16th April – van wanker drives into me around 9:05am. Accident reported to insurers an hour later. Hire car delivered early afternoon. So far, so adequate.

Tuesday 17th April – my car is collected late afternoon, from Poynton, by a recovery company in Crewe, to take it to the repairer in Stoke. Genius.

Wednesday 18th April – bugger all happens.

Thursday 19th April – bugger all happens again. I contact my insurers, and the repairing garage, to find out why I haven’t received an estimate yet. The estimate arrives at nearly 6pm, but is only for the wing mirror, not the scratches down the side. They query whether I want the additional damage including. No, it’s fine, I’ll just stick some pretty pictures over that when I get the car back, dickhead.

Friday 20th April – I email back, to explain that, yes, I would like all the damage repairing (please), and to express my dissatisfaction at the delays – pointing out that, had I used my local repair centre, I would almost certainly have my own car back by now. I demand the updated estimate by the end of the day.

I also phone my insurers to complain, who inform me that once the estimate has been corrected, it could take the accident management company a week to authorise the repairs, then another week or so for the garage to order the parts and actually carry out the work. The reason for it taking a week to authorise the repair? They still had a backlog of work since The Beast from the East two months earlier.

Needless to say, I didn’t receive the updated estimate by the end of the day.

Saturday 21st April – or the next day.

Monday 23rd April – or the next.

Tuesday 24th April – still nothing. At this point, I was getting slightly pissed off, so I decided to contact my local repairer, in the hope they could provide a quick estimate my insurers might be satisfied with. They provide the quote very quickly, but it is higher than I expected, so I phone the repairer in Stoke to see if they have bothered to finalise their own quote.

Having got through to ‘Sally No-Stars’ on reception, she places me on hold to check the present position, following which the conversation goes thus:

‘Yes, the repairs have started, and your car will be ready for Friday.’

‘The repairs have started?! And who authorised that?’

‘Erm, hang on, I’ll have to put you on hold.’

[5 minutes later]

‘I’m going to have to get the manager to call you back.’

‘Yes, you do that.’

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Wednesday 25th April – having received no return call, but having had enough of the incompetent bullshit, I send a rather scathing e-mail to my insurers, the accident company, and the repairer, in the hope one of them might actually give me some answers.

My particular gripe, aside from the delays, is the fact the garage have gone ahead and begun repairing the car without my authority. When they finally e-mail back, rather than apologise, they have a go at me, stating that they don’t need my authority, as they get this from the insurers and accident management company, not the customer (typed in such a way as to imply the customer is a repugnant piece of shit). I know this, because that particular sentence begins ‘with all due respect’, which is a term I often use in my own e-mails, to mean ‘listen, scumbag…’

So, despite having no idea how much my repairs will cost (which I argue is important information, in the event my claim is settled 50/50 by the lazy insurers, because I need to know the extent of the claim on my policy), I was at least guaranteed my car would be ready for Friday 27th April.

Friday 27th April – the day doesn’t start well, when I realise the hire car has just under a quarter of a tank left, and since I am obliged to return it with ‘at least a quarter’, this means adding the most meagre of amounts to take the needle above that level.

Having pulled in to Tesco on my way to work, I top the car up with a miserly £5, and set off again. However, as I pull out of the car park, I notice the needle hasn’t moved, and is still below the quarter-mark. Bugger.

I therefore drive around the Tesco complex and back to the petrol station, where I pull up to the same pump and try again to add £5 of fuel, assuming it somehow hasn’t worked. This time, before leaving the forecourt, I start the ignition to check – the needle again hasn’t moved.

Amidst much (uncharacteristic) swearing, I vow to try one final time, and if the needle doesn’t go above a quarter this time, I will keep the receipt as proof, and argue the fuel gauge is knackered when they come to collect the car.

I put a third £5-worth of unleaded into the hire car, get back in, and start the ignition.

At which point the needle goes to a little over half a tank.

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And this:

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Loudly referring to the car as a ‘useless piece of shit’, much to the amusement of neighbouring customers, I drive off and complete my journey to work, reassured that I will at least be driving my own car home that evening.

You can see where this is going.

Having heard nothing by my lunch break, I phoned Useless Fucking Bodywork Repairs Ltd, to enquire about when, precisely, they would be dropping off my car.

‘Oh, the repairs are finished, but you’ll have to come and collect it, as we can’t drop off today.’

Now, in all likelihood, this situation wasn’t directly Julie on reception’s fault, so it was perhaps a little harsh of me to suggest she insert the nearest car part into her anus, but I was becoming more than a little frustrated by this point.

As a compromise (read: me backing down slightly when Julie started to cry), it was agreed that I would drive the hire car to their premises on Saturday morning, pick up my own car, and then the hire company could collect theirs back from Stoke – which, to my amazement, everyone seemed happy with.

All that remained, was for me to use up a quarter tank of unnecessary fuel (to make a point), so I drove the 25 miles home that evening entirely in second gear. With all the windows down. Via Bolton.

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That evening, I took up my usual residency on the porcelain throne,  and checked my e-mails, whereupon I discovered one from the garage. Assuming it was an apology for the terrible service and constant lies, I opened it with anticipation:

‘The wrong part has been delivered for your car, so it will not now be ready to collect in the morning.’

I nearly shit myself with rage (although, had I done so, I was at least in the right place). My response:

‘So, when you confirmed the repairs were already underway on Tuesday, that was clearly a lie, because even I know you can’t repair a broken wing mirror with the wrong fucking part. You’d better let the hire company know of your incompetence, because they think they’re collecting a car from you tomorrow, and it sure as hell won’t be there, will it?’

I did finally get my car back on Monday (30th April), more than two weeks post-accident, and the repairs have been done to a satisfactory standard – however, I still don’t have the first clue what they cost, where I stand in terms of liability, the damage to my no-claims discount; and whether the other driver has contracted scrotum-plague yet.

Fuck ‘em all.

Thanks for reading x

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