The wonky consumer issues keep on coming. It’s at the point where I’m afraid to open my mail, partly the regular mail. Now going into a store can be downright dangerous – at least if you want to be treated fairly.
Added to this list of consumer woes are the two biggies the past week.
My life insurance premium just went up up and up, thanks to the insurance company’s policy which they never bothered to tell me. Sure, the policy is 30 plus years old, it’s gone through several company mergers and the premium has not gone up for years. But the quarterly invoices have always been the same until now. When I phoned the company I did get a knowledgeable person (where was he years ago, including when I called for some clarification two years ago?) Hw explained the situation and walked me through my now ancient policy…and yes, I kept a copy.
In a nutshell,the way it operates is the premium goes up every year but the policy holder doesn’t know that and it won’t show on the invoices unless he or she phones the company to find out and state they want the increase added to their invoices. The policy holder can also request being billed extra to add in to the investment. It is this latter which would show up as extra in my “insurance kitty” – my words, with each annual year-end amount decreased I receive a letter to that effect annually. That amount ran out this month, according to the fellow I spoke to and that’s what triggered the letter. The “lady” at the insurance company I spoke to two years ago didn’t tell me this. Basically, she said if I miss a payment, the extra in “the kitty” covers that and to just keep on paying what I’m billed and that would do it.
The policy itself has a list of increased yearly rates but no info on how to calculate the amounts it transfers into dollars and sense (spelling intentional). The fellow at the insurance company gave me those figures and went through the calculation with me.
The letter I received wanted post-dated cheques for the next 10 months (remember, I’ve been paying on a quarterly basis) or a lump sum equal to that or the policy will be cancelled. I’m almost 65 so don’t need to go through the red tape for a new life insurance policy. I’d cancel this old policy in less than a heartbeat but the small pay-out when I croak will pay for my funeral expenses, lawyer fees to settle the estate, etc. and give my son a little bit more. On my living-just-above-the-poverty level situation I can’t do this otherwise. Instead I’m stuck with my not-so-open (policy-wise) life insurance policy.
I will do as this fellow suggested. But, I’m taking this insurance company’s (Empire Life) policy issue to the Insurance Bureau of Canada. Insurance companies have the right to raise the premium but they have to let the customer know and change the invoice to reflect this. The utility companies and the insurance company insuring my house and business do this (State Farm for the latter two – giving credit where credit is due).
The other was Shopper’s Drug Mart and I’m a long-time customer here, particularly the one in my area (for 15 years). Last Thursday, they didn’t have any of the cheese on sale so I asked for a rain cheque. They wouldn’t give it to me because as the manager said (and I insisted I speak to him).
- That particular Shoppers is smaller and they don’t carry the full Shopper’s food selection.
- Despite Shoppers allowing rain cheques across the board in stores, Shoppers won’t give out rain cheques for anything that particular store doesn’t carry. Note to manager and I said so: I have bought that cheese product in that size before there. The manager said I could go to the next nearby store a larger one (a 15-minute walk) to get it or the rain cheque. I told him I didn’t have time that day. Which brings me to No. 3.
- Because of the long Canadian Thanksgiving holiday weekend, Shopper’s sales went only to Thursday, not to the usual Friday. Note to manager: Thanksgiving is on a Monday; the Friday is not a statutory holiday.
- Shoppers new screwed-up method of issuing rain cheques. They are done like receipts through the computerized cash register and to do this they need the UPS number from the product or its posted price sign, which the manager said, they can’t do for the cheese because that particular Shoppers doesn’t carry it. All other stores have rain cheque forms which are filled out when a customer requests a rain cheque. Loblaw just bought Shoppers. Perhaps Loblaw should push through some of their procedures – like rain cheque issuing – through to Shoppers.
The customer gets blind-sided into a black hole yet again. At my insistence, the manager gave me the head office number. So I’m not done with Shoppers or Empire Life. Next week I go into action with both. This week I have follow-ups on previous screw-ups – CRA for receipt of my tax cheque; Dell for where is my laptop (again)? And the annual included-in-the-contract furnace cleaning which the first person, the jerk, I talked to at Direct Energy wasn’t going to give me. And I have to visit Service Ontario for an ID Card as I don’t have a driver’s licence.
And people want me to devote 15 minutes of my time to what they want.
My parents are lucky not to have lived long enough to deal with this type of nonsense.
Sharon A. Crawford
Only Child Writes