Thursday, May 26, 2011

Car Crash Time.

"Is there anything else I can do for you today sir?" Yes. Get lost.

Last year we went onto one of those car insurance policy websites which are the subject of a mad UK TV advertising war. I can't remember if it had a meerkat or a mad opera singer but it worked. It allowed us to see various quotes and we opted for the cheapest, thus saving several hundred pounds.

Since then, we get regular calls from the old insurance company who don't seem to know that we don't insure with them any more, even though we told them and cancelled the policy in writing. I have long conversations with them, where I patiently go through all our details, answering all their repetitive questions, listening to he/she click away on a computer, until we reach the point where I'm allowed to speak. I tell them that we don't insure with them any more. Generally, there's a momentary pause, just enough to register a faint degree of embarrassment, and then the phrase, "Is there anything else I can do for you today sir?" I politely explain that no, there is nothing else they can do today as we don't do business with them. And we hang up.

And so it goes on, and on. Now, the calls are been coming shorter, as I'm a teeny bit irritated, so I don't let them bang on with their needless questions, I interrupt quickly to get the damn call overwith. But there is always, always, time to say at the end "Is there anything else I can do for you today?". Even though I'm not a customer, not going to be (ever again) and the whole call is the result of an internal datacrunching mistake. But my mother always told me to be polite.

So the new policy is coming up for renewal and whaddyaknow, on the policy comparison website we can save £200 by changing again. Not £2, or £20, but £200! I call the insurance company to put it to them that if they come down we can renew with them right now. Today.

That's all it will take, a short conversation to discuss price. Do we have that? No. Do we have a short call? No. Do we get to discuss price? No. Do we have time to conclude our pointless, frustrating exchange of information with the phrase "Is there anything else I can do for you today sir?". Yes.

The entire conversation is spent poring over details that are in a written, completed online form. That we both have in front of us. Twice. The price goes UP by £15, then comes back down by 40p. I keep trying to interrupt to explain the purpose of the call but I'm swatted away like a fly. "Do you still do the same number of miles?" "Yes" "Do you still park in the same place?" "Yes" "Do you still......" "Yes, yes yes! It's there, in front of you, in black and white!"

"There's nothing I can adjust here sir" he explains, because my details apparently haven't changed between me checking the form five minutes ago and now. "There's nothing to change"

"That's not why I'm calling" I explain patiently.
"We came to you last year because you offered a better, cheaper deal. If you can offer a better, cheaper deal this year, we'll stay"
"Sorry there's nothing I can do" he says, his hands tied by the fact that I suddenly haven't changed my details and probably the desire to get on with his Tesco snack deal. Not even a flicker of negotiation, not even a second's thought to the possibility that we're about to change companies. We're about to become ex-customers in this very call.
I explain, in less than 10 seconds that that seems to be that then, and possibly I shouldn't even have bothered calling. I'm not even sure he was listening.
"Is there anything else I can do for you today sir?"

No. There isn't today. Nor was there yesterday. Nor will there be tomorrow. Or in fact ever. Goodbye.

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