Thursday, June 11, 2015

Nurse the Hate: Hate State Farm

Just the other day I was strolling around The Comeback City and walked about a block away from the Magical Casino That Will Do Us All Good to where my car was parked.  The car was parked on a side street of Prospect Ave that was most notable for the three vacant buildings that dominated the block.  This apparently afforded the side street a certain privacy that enabled the local homeless population to use a doorway as a toilet.  The air was ripe with a particular combination of feces, vomit and dank urine that only those that have ventured to the Bernie’s Bagel/Distillery Men’s Room after 11pm know.  This filled me with joy, as I knew that since the street smelled vaguely like New York, it was one more indication we had almost completed our “Comeback”.  Hail Cleveland!

What should be pointed out is that I wasn’t in my primary car as I have yet to retrieve it from the repair that became necessary from its last trip to The Comeback City.  After being towed last Wednesday with two flats and damage under the car, my vehicle continues to sit unrepaired a full nine days after the last incident.  That is thanks to my good friends at State Farm.

When you see the television ads from State Farm one is led to believe that State Farm is “like a good neighbor”.  This is true if your definition of “good neighbor” is someone that takes your money and then becomes MIA when you need him to pitch in on a project.  “Hey Roger… This is Greg.  Remember when I gave you that thousand dollars and you said you’d help me out when I needed to move that stuff in my garage?  Well I need your help and… Hey man, pick up…  I see your car in your driveway.  I know you’re there… C’mon man…”

When the damage to my car happened, I called my agent.  He said, “Greg, call this 800 number.  That’s how we do it now.”  OK.  I will call the 800 number. State Farm has recently moved to the concept of “team coverage” for when you make a claim.  This probably sounded completely awesome when the State Farm executives green lit the completely unfeasible plan when they discovered how much extra money they would make come bonus time.  It doesn’t work so well when you are trying to do something crazy, like actually getting the service you paid them for in the first place.  I have found it not only impossible to get two tires and a muffler repaired in ten days, but I can’t even get anyone to call me back.  Wave after wave of State Farm employees that I reach by phone promise that they will call me back promptly and solve my problem, and then I never hear from them again.   

The idea of “team coverage” probably sounded awesome to whoever dreamt it up.  My guess is that it was a consultant, as most consultants have never spent any time actually working in the field they are consulting.  I bet that the Team Concept of Coverage was enacted with the idea of dozens of eager employees all fully integrated with the latest software to be able to step up regardless of who called and swiftly rise to the occasion.  The fatal flaw in this model is that now that everyone is responsible it means NO ONE is responsible.  No one calls you back because no one can be held accountable.  Hey, it wasn’t me that didn’t call you back.  It was “the team”.  I’m on break.  Let me transfer you to Judy.  If everyone thinks someone else is handling something, that means no one does anything.  Trust me.  I’m watching this in action.

The other fatal flaw is that it is totally dependent on each contact entering detailed information on each interaction with the customer.  I bet they have some fancy software name like “Kustomer Flow” or “Help Web”.  Meanwhile every nimrod I talk to has no idea what is going on because the dipshit I talked to previously entered some sort of half assed account of the situation filled with errors.  Most people can’t write a sentence without a team of experts and spellcheck.  I can say, with great assurance, many of the people at State Farm I have spoken to did not finish at the top of their class.  It is impossible to move the ball forward.  I am at the mercy of a Kafkaesque nightmare.  Even French bureaucrats would look at this and say “Zis ez zo fucked up!  Let us create more permits at home.  Let us get in ze line at Air France to go home to ze land of efficiency!”

I have spoken to nine people at State Farm.  Each one of them has promised me that they are the one that would address my problem and help me get my car back on the road.  Some sounded sincere at the time.  Every single one of them solemnly told me “Sir, I am definitely going to call you back and tell you how we are proceeding.”  Yet, they never do.  Not once.  Nine of ‘em.  I have reached the point now where when I speak to them I say, “Look, I know you are just someone sitting in a cubicle.  I know that you don’t care.  I know that you won’t call me back, so can you point me to someone that will?”  This is when they protest and assure me that THIS TIME IS DFFERENT.  It isn’t.  They never call back.  Alydia.  She didn’t call back.  Some dude named Chris Wolf.  Nope.  He didn’t call back.  Chris got indignant with me when I predicted he wouldn’t call back.  Then he didn’t call back.  You know why?  Because they don’t give a shit and no one will hold them accountable.

I suppose I should look at the bright side.  At least my house didn’t burn down.  Had that happened I would be living out in the woods like a feral dog.  I would be hunched over a small campfire roasting a squirrel on a spit, staring at my cell phone hoping someone from Team State Farm would call me back, or at least spin by and give me a tarp.  Dressed in filthy rags I could forage through my local State Farm agent’s garbage.  And as I picked mold off an old pizza crust and dug into a meal I would think, “What a good neighbor!  State Farm is there!”.


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