Computer says no…

Computer says no...

Computer says no...

I have just experienced a classic case of  ‘computer says no’ when renewing my car insurance with one of the major insurance companies, who shall remain nameless (suffice to say they are not listed on any comparison websites, according to Messrs Fry and Merton).  I will recount the full story as a lesson in how to (eventually) get what you want and how not to take the what the call centre people say at face value. Eventually, it is possible to find someone who can use the computer system properly and resolve the problem, beating the silicon into submission rather than giving in to its edicts. Eventually, after about an hour on the phone (to an 0845 number)…

To put this in context, I took out international recovery for a driving holiday to Ireland and this was automatically renewed last year. When I tried to cancel earlier this year having noticed the exorbitant and unnecessary additional cost mid way through my policy, I was told to wait for the next renewal. The first instance of ‘computer says no’ which I foolishly took at face value. So I waited only to find it was automatically renewed again for next year with no prior notice, only a renewal confirmation which arrived nearly a week after the renewal date. At which point began the labours of Hercules (well, me)…

Take 1:

Phoned the helpline last week from my mobile (fifteen minutes on the phone in total). Gave necessary security info and explained the situation. Was told by call centre person that ‘computer said no’ and that they would have to speak to senior staff and call me back. Confirmed my phone number and waited; return call was promised within half an hour. No joy…

Take 2:

Phoned back today, waited for an answer which came pretty quickly given I was expecting ‘serious delay due to the adverse weather conditions.’ Gave security info and explained situation. Was told computer said that removing the international cover from my policy would make no difference to the cost. Um, I said. Really…? After poking the computer, a ‘manual override’ suddenly offered a £40 reduction. Ok, now we’re getting somewhere, but price is still very high for recovery service compared to eg AA and RAC. The very nice lady tried poking the computer system again, a number of different ways but this was all it would offer. That must be the best price therefore. Hmm. I’m sure it should be a lot lower; what is the price for a new customer? Sorry; ‘computer says no.’ That information is not available. Right… Offer to put me through the breakdown department to get a new quote. Policy left as it stood (allegedly) and notes made on the account. Go into interminable holding system, complete with muzak. Then get cut off…

Take 3:

Before calling back, I took the opportunity to get an online quote as if I was a new customer from the same recovery provider, same level of cover. Rather than a £40 reduction, the cost was less than half what I had been offered as a reduced price on the phone. From £140 to £70. Wow.  Right: Armed with the data, I made the call…

Call answered promptly again. Gave security info and referred gentleman to the case notes. So you want to downgrade, I’ll do that for you now. Erm, no: I want to discuss the cost. Sorry, ‘computer says no’, you need to speak to the recovery department, this is insurance policies… Call gets put through to next person. Very nice lady requests and receives security information (again) and I describe the story so far… This lady actually knows something about how much the service should cost (yippee!) and is bemused at the figures being produced by the computer system and the state the policy has been left in (the international cover had been removed but without reducing the cost or something; ie a mess). More holding and muzak whilst she discussed the situation with colleagues. None of them can understand the spurious figures the computer is giving, particularly as the quote I have is spot on. Even better, this lovely lady has the ability to properly override the computer (she doesn’t take ‘computer says no’ for an answer from a mere machine!). Hurrah: Saving of over £110 made!

Conclusion:

Well, after speaking to four different people and spending best part of an hour on the phone, repeating my details, security info and my situation every time I spoke to someone new, finally someone was able to use their initiative and not take no from an automated system for an answer. Thank goodness for human beings and their ability to take back command from the computer! Result is I have saved £11 per month on my car running costs (or 20% of my insurance premiums), a worthy achievement in the face of adversity.

I only wish I’d done it sooner…

Next on my list, encouraged by this small but significant victory, is my mobile phone provider, who again shall not be named. So watch out citrus based mobile company, your time is up!