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Six Weeks In and I Already Want to Rewind 2014

I think I’ve pretty much had all of 2014 that I can take for awhile. In fact, if I was wine, they wouldn’t bother to bottle this vintage; they’d just toss it out and hope for a better result next year.

We’v had three deaths in the family over two weeks in January and this past weekend the mother of one of Maggie’s oldest friends – dating all the way back to their university days – died. Just to make sure that February keeps up with January, I had an idiot hit my car earlier today and do somewhere between $2,000 and $3,000 damage to it although I suspect I’m being modest in my estimate considering that most of the front of the car has been sheared off.

I was turning left across two lanes of traffic. The traffic approaching me was backed up, stopped by a traffic light at the intersection I had just come through. A nice fellow waved to let me turn in front of him and I proceeded to cut across his lane of traffic, stopped to check that the next lane was clear – and it was – and then proceeded to start to cross the next lane.

It was pretty much at that moment that a guy in a Dodge Caravan five or six cars behind the Good Samaritan decided he didn’t want to wait any longer and he jumped out of his lane and accelerated into my car. He tried swerving to avoid hitting me but that was as effective as trying to avoid diarrhea after drinking the water in Mexico.

He didn’t want to call the police or the insurance company and offered to give me some cash to repair my car. Yeah, right! I called the police. It turns out the XL Lin, that was his name, was driving with an expired driver’s license and it wasn’t his car.

Initially, the police wanted to charge me with failing to yield the right of way but I wasn’t having any of that and eventually, they decided that it wasn’t my fault. They’d file a report with both versions of the incident and let the insurance companies sort it out. It sort of sounds like federal and state/provincial governments passing the buck (our bucks, by the way) back and forth about who is at fault when it comes to tax increases doesn’t it?

When I got home, I called the Maggmeister and told her what happened and she took it very well once she had determined that I wasn’t seriously injured. She doesn’t normally take stuff like this very well. She tends to treat it like Stephen Harper takes everything – personally.

Then I called the insurance company.

For those of you who continue to cling to the idea that it is only government that is bureaucratic – give your heads a shake. The private sector is reinventing the idea of bureaucratic stupidity and I’m fairly certain more than one senior civil servant has seen what they’re doing and thought, “Wow. I wish we had thought of that!”

Here’s an example of what I mean.

Before Maggie and I met, she and her husband dealt with Bell Canada for internet, phone and satellite services. After she and her husband divorced, she contacted Bell to have him removed from the accounts. There was no problem with the phone or internet accounts. The changes were made in minutes over the phone. It is now seven years later and Bell ExpressVu still has her ex on the account and will not let me make changes to the account that I pay for.

It doesn’t matter how many times we’ve told them or that Ma Bell herself has made the change, they want either a copy of her divorce and other documents or in the alternative they wanted her husband to call and tell them to take him off the account. We get along fine with her ex and he did call and they gave him the same run around.

But I digress.

I tried to tell myself that surely to God, in this country where so many worship the efficiency of the private sector while demonizing the civil service, it is only Bell Canada, Canadian banks and Air Canada that are the only private sector organizations  taken captive by bureaucrats.

I was wrong.

I called our insurance company after the accident. They have a convenient phone number right on the little pink slip for claims and I called that number. Apparently they no longer use that number. I got the voice mail for a nice young woman named Antonia. After leaving her a message wishing her a nice day, I hung up, went on line and looked up the convenient 1-800 number on the insurance company’s web site.

I dialed that number and almost immediately got a very pleasant woman who was only too happy to assist me in filing a claim or at least she was until she realized that we live in Quebec and her department only handles claims in Ontario.

Question #1: If you have separate claims departments for different provinces, why do you only have one 1-800 number.

She offered to transfer me to Quebec if I wouldn’t mind holding for a few minutes. Why not? It’s not like I could drive anywhere.

A few minutes later, another pleasant woman came on the line and once again I was told that she would be only too happy to assist me with filing my claim. After going through the preliminaries, she asked where the accident took place. I told her at which intersection the accident had taken place and thought we were making outstanding progress together.

Oops! It turns out that was terribly optimistic on my part. As soon as she heard the word Ottawa, she told me that she couldn’t handle my claim and that it would have to be handled by the group in Ontario that had originally transferred my call to her. She asked if I wouldn’t mind holding while she transferred me.

I should confess to having a reasonably low patience threshold. In fact, I have a higher toothache threshold than I do for bureaucratic run around but I bit my tongue and through clenched teeth told her that I would hold.

The fourth pleasant woman of my morning came on the line after a few minutes and advised me that she would be able to assist me and we’d get the claim filed quickly.

It turns out she was as overly optimistic as I was.

The car is in Maggie’s name and so is the insurance but having thought ahead for situations like this, I am authorized on the account to handle all matters related to the insurance policy and have, in the past, changed the policy adding and deleting cars as we acquired or traded them in and negotiating levels of insurance. I even – get ready for it  – filed a minor accident claim last year that we later withdrew because the repair cost was less than the deductible.

Not good enough. Maggie would have to call and authorize me to address the claim.

That’s pretty much when whatever patience I had left for 2014 dissipated. I had used up my entire allotment for the year in just five weeks since the middle of January.

I hung up and called the sales department – you know; the same guys that were only too happy to deal with me when I organized insurance for Maggie and her car. I got pleasant young woman #5 who dove head first into our account to look for the authorization. Initially she found the removal of the ex husband but not the addition of the new husband but she was a trooper and kept looking and – voila – there I was.

She offered to call claims and tell them that I was authorized to handle the account before transferring me to them. I thanked her and waited. She came back on the line and apologized for misleading me. And this is where it gets stupidly bureaucratic.

While I am authorized to make changes to the account including taking cars off the policy or adding new ones, if I want to file a claim there has to be a second authorization. This means I have to track down Maggie in between her meetings and get her to call so that I can call to get our insurance company to fix our bloody car.

In Canada, this is referred to as customer service but to be honest, I keep wondering why the customer service is always better when you’re considering buying something than it is when you have purchased it and want something under warranty fixed or you need to file a claim against the original purchase.

It seems to me that are two levels of customer service: premium service for potential customers and third class for folks that are already clients. Sounds like government doesn’t it? We’re always more important at election time than we are when we need and apply for some of the services for which we all pay.

So, if it’s ok with you folks; I’d like to rewind 2014 and start the year again.

Happy New Year.


© 2013 Maggie’s Bear

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  • oldwhiteguy

    if only Lord if only.

    • MaggiesBear


  • CanadaGoose1

    We have moved several times since 2008 and have gone through the usual expensive process of having Canada Post forward our mail to the new address for at least a year and notified all companies that we have moved each time. I got a plaintive facebook inquiry yesterday asking if I was so and so because my original address of six years ago is still getting tax reports and random cheques from the CIBC Investor’s Edge. We also got a call last year from the CIBC because a cheque had come back to them and we requested once again that the cheques be credited and not mailed. Yesterday they insisted that no cheques had been sent since January. I then gave the cheque number of the new cheque that the people who had bought my house recently received. Oh….I am now going through the process of checking all my e-statements to make sure these cheques were actually credited as journal entrees since they were never cashed.

    • MaggiesBear

      It’s frustrating isn’t it? We’re promised service. We pay for service but in the end, we are not served. We are an annoyance. It annoys me that so many private and public sector organizations look on us as a problem rather than the only reason they exist. Without us, they have no reason to operate or make money. They forget that very readily I’m afraid and we… well….we just keep on taking it.

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