Progressive Insurance Responds on Snapshot

June 2, 2014

By Karen

In March, I told you about driving around with Progressive Insurance’s Snapshot® device in my car, being monitored for 30 days, only to qualify for no discount on car insurance.

I snail-mailed the link to that post to Progressive’s president and CEO, Glenn Renwick. As you might expect, my letter was kicked to the bottom of the org chart to a “consumer relations specialist” I’ll call Susan.

Susan filled a page with boilerplate babble that didn’t address my concerns, which were:

1. Why does Progressive collect information they claim not to need?

2. What does it take to qualify for a discount if driving only about 50 non-rush-hour daylight miles total, a few days a week, doesn’t?

Susan opened with…

I’m writing on behalf of Glenn Renwick… Thank you for your letter and for taking the time to share your concerns.

Off to a great start, addressing my “concerns” with the usual empty corporate yada yada yada.

She went on to non-explain…

When you sign up to test drive our Snapshot® program, we display rapid acceleration in the overview of your driving habits, but it isn’t used in the calculation of your discount. We also don’t factor turns into our calculation.

She utterly failed to address WHY Progressive collects information it doesn’t need.

Finally, she got personal…

Snapshot® considers overall driving habits including miles driven, time of day, and the overall number of hard braking events. We define a hard brake as a decrease in speed of 7 mph/second. You had 25 hard breaking events within the 215 miles you drove during your 30 day trial. Your results didn’t yield a discount in our Snapshot® program. While we encourage our customers and potential customers to try the Snapshot® program, we don’t guarantee a discount.

She failed to acknowledge how seldom and little I drove, and that my braking behavior resulted in my not hitting anything. With Progressive, stopping for ANY reason must constitute bad driving.

She closed with…

I’m sorry for any frustration you’ve experienced… and gave her phone number in case I “have questions.”

“ANY frustration?” Didn’t my letter to the CEO give them a HINT?

This pathetic non-response didn’t resolve anything, and I stand by my belief that Progressive’s discount program is a sham, and anyone would do well to avoid it, if only to dodge the incessant online advertising it generates.


JC Penney, *$%#!! You!

October 16, 2010

By Karen

This morning I saw that JC Penney is having a sale and I could get 15% off with my JCP credit card.

Background: I worked for Penney’s in college in the, ahem, early ‘70s. Their “Young Moderns” credit card with a $300 limit was my very first plastic. Out of loyalty, I’ve kept a Penney’s card for nearly 40 years, even after they pissed me off by morphing it into another MasterCard.

Now, back to the sale. I hadn’t used my JCP card lately (2006, I later found out), but was surprised to see it had expired last month.

So I called the toll-free number, a multi-level maze of voice prompts that imply, “The last thing we want to do is help you.” Pressing “0” to skip the garbage didn’t work.

When I FINALLY reached a human, she wanted my 16-digit card number, which I’d already entered for the robot voice. Where did it go?

Then she wanted my full name, phone number, last 4 digits of SSN, mother’s maiden name, birth date.

FINALLY, she asked what I wanted.

When I told her about the expired card, she said, “Your account has been closed due to inactivity. You have to go to blah blah to reapply.”

She couldn’t have said that as soon as she had my account number?

I said, “I have no account with you, yet you just collected a lot of personal information on me. Would you please delete it?”

“Oh, yes, of course.”

I heard her striking some key on her keyboard. Yeah, right. All gone!

I’m so disgusted with Penney’s, they won’t see me for the foreseeable future, although just a few months ago, I dropped nearly a grand there on new blinds for my whole house.

Penney’s, here’s why I’ll NEVER carry your card again:

1. You closed my account without notifying me.

2. Your automated customer service sucks.

3. Your human customer service reps aren’t any better.

I hate to say, “Back in my day…” but here goes: When I worked for Penney’s, they didn’t think customers were disposable.


Anthem’s Leaving No Stone Unturned

March 15, 2008

By Karen

After getting Anthem lab results on my benign freckle they required but failed to request from my gynecologist, I thought I’d cleared the last hurdle in my 2 ½-month quest for cheaper health insurance. They said it was the last thing they needed.

Wrong! This week I couldn’t get approval without a blood pressure reading – from the family physician who hasn’t seen me in nearly a year because I’ve been feeling fine.

Naturally, the irony was lost on Anthem. Why the sudden concern about my BP just when they’ve got me about to blow a head gasket over their endless bureaucracy?

Anthem claimed they asked for the reading in January, but my doctor had no record of it. Instead, they said just last week they received a strange call from someone demanding my blood pressure numbers who wouldn’t identify themselves, so the practice refused.

I got my doctor’s assistant to give Anthem my BP reading by phone, then went home and phoned Anthem myself to double-check. Anthem assured me again that now they have everything they need.

I’ve paid the higher premium for March because Anthem sent me a late notice. I’ve soon got two routine medical appointments I’d hate to postpone again, but I doubt Anthem will have my new coverage in place. I can see them screwing up the billings and my premium credits for months to come.

Politicians are insane to think insurance providers, with their ingrained distrust and callous disregard for customers, hold the key to our healthcare mess. Anthem has now painstakingly picked over every piddling physical imperfection listed on my application. Being healthy carries no weight with them whatsoever. In so many words, they’ve said they’re dissecting my app because I might have slipped some major health crisis past them – while they’ve been insuring me for the past 5 years.

Translation: “We’re looking for any excuse to cancel you or continue making you pay through the nose, even with less coverage.”

I don’t intentionally single out Anthem, except by my experiences. They’re no more devious than the rest. Patients’ only recourse is to eliminate health insurance altogether by hounding our representatives in Washington to pass HR 676, the universal healthcare bill.


Pokey Health Insurer Revealed

March 3, 2008

By Karen

Another week has passed since I thought I overcame the last hurdle in getting cheaper health coverage through my insurer, bringing my wait to 2 full months, only to find out today that they’ve done NOTHING to get information they persist in wanting from my physician. Apparently, my word and a solid year without follow-up visits on my record aren’t enough to convince them that I don’t have a cancerous mole on my See-You-Next-Tuesday.

In fact, they suggested I call the doctor’s office myself and ask her to voluntarily send the information.

So now I’m an unpaid volunteer for Underwriting.

I’ve had enough, and I’m ready to name names. The insurer outrageously jerking around this loyal customer – who’s already been with them 5 years with no major claims – is Anthem.

A cheerful, helpful Anthem representative I just spoke to suggested I go ahead and pay April’s premium if March drags on and they still give me no answer. But they’re willing to back-date my new coverage to February 1 so I can recoup the $110/month price difference. The money will come in handy when they’re sticking me with a larger share of my out-of-pocket expenses under my new, lousier coverage – if I ever get it.

I just thank my lucky stars I’m healthy. If I really needed insurance for crucial medical care right now, Anthem’s proven that bureaucracy comes first and I could drop dead for all they care.

But when it comes to health insurers, I guess we all already knew that.


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