High Five to Faye

fayenalicesmallFaye Ravi, Alice’s mom, was a remarkable woman. She was not the type of person that got her way by bullying others. Yes, get her way she often did. One of my favorite stories about her goes something like this:

The family bought a refrigerator, and it turned out to be a lemon. Faye went through the normal procedures to try to get it fixed and/or replaced. Perhaps because she was a woman in the 1950s, no one would take her seriously. She began a letter writing campaign designed to get the satisfaction she felt she deserved. Mind you, these were in the days of manual typewriters, and if you wanted a copy for yourself, you had to insert a sheet of carbon paper between the two pieces of paper. If you made an error (she rarely did) you had to razor blade the ink off the copy.

When Faye got no satisfaction at one level of whatever organization she was attacking, she tucked the cc (carbon copy) in her ever expanding folder, and went the next level higher. This “dialog” went on for months, while the file folder grew and grew. The story goes the quest ended with the president of the corporation that manufactured the refrigerator. This man saw to it that she not only got a new refrigerator, but boxes of food to put in it, and an apology from the company for all the needless hassle she had encountered.

Something similar happened to me recently. This past summer, Alice, Franko and I made an end-of-the-summer trip to Elkins to visit Steve and John. We rented a car while we were there, and unfortunately, on the way back to Elkins from a trip, the car hit a discarded bungee cord on the side of the road, and it caused significant damage to the car. You can read more about that adventure by CLICKING HERE. Since I had declined to purchase the additional insurance for the rental, I was responsible for and paid the $500 deductible for the damage to the vehicle.

Fast forward about 60 days. I was reading Google News as usual at my computer, and came across an article about, “hidden credit card perks most people don’t know about.” I clicked on it and read the article. It turned out one of the perks was automatic insurance on rental cars, as long as you paid for the vehicle rental with your credit card. I called Visa the next day and learned that indeed we were eligible for coverage, although (there is almost always an “although”) we were to have reported the claim within 45 days. The agent explained this was not a hard and fast rule, however. I told the agent I’d like to go ahead and file the claim and take my chances.

What followed was a blizzard of requests for information. I needed to provide a copy of the credit card statement showing I’d charged the vehicle, copies of all the insured vehicles (to make sure all had $500 deductibles) copies of the rental agreement, copies of the insurance claims, etc. etc. etc. I had a checklist and emailed numerous documents to the Visa insurance company. A few days later, I’d get a form email saying I had not supplied the following, followed by a list. The list always included things I was sure I had included. This went on for a long while. Sometimes I’d call the insurance company and get them to open my case and explain to me exactly what was missing. So back I’d go, calling, digging, scanning, and sending.

The final time I called Visa, I was near my wit’s end. I’m thinking that by this time I’d sent them over 30 documents. I spoke with the rep, and he told me that as far as he was concerned, I’d provided everything they needed, and the claim should be processed shortly. Yay!

Some time later, I got a letter from them, saying my claim had been denied because I had not submitted the original claim within the 45 day period. I am not a violent man, and I’m happy to say I didn’t slam any doors or kick any chairs. I was pretty upset though. If I hadn’t qualified because of the 45 day limit, then why did they put me through the whole send-us-the-documents thing? I let the letter sit for quite some time, and finally called the insurance company back and asked for an explanation. The fellow was very apologetic, but said there was nothing he could do; the claim had been denied.

I asked him if there was a appeal process, and he said there was. I immediately said I wanted to file an appeal. Guess what? I needed to supply them with MORE PAPERWORK; a letter stating why I felt my appeal had merit. I wrote the appeal letter and sent it along to them. Some weeks later, I got a phone call from the appeals department with their determination… my appeal had been denied. She was very apologetic, but that was that. I did tell her that on the last phone call I had made to their company, the agent told me that my claim payment would be processed. “He shouldn’t have told you that,” she said. And she promised to listen to the phone conversation and get back to me.

She called me back several days later with the news that, based on what the agent told me on the phone, they’d reversed their decision, and would pay the $500 deductible. Alice happened to be sitting next to me on the couch when I got that call. When I hung up, I asked Alice to give me a high five on behalf of her Mom. Tenacity doesn’t always pay off, but giving up never pays off. I don’t think I made much per hour for my efforts when all is said and done, but I have to say I got about as much satisfaction from this endeavor as I have in a long time. Thank-you Faye Ravi for being an inspiration to us all.

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