A couple of years ago, we had our mortgage refinanced. The mortgage company set up our account to hold funds in escrow for our home owner’s insurance and our taxes.
A year later, a representative from my insurance company called and politely requested that we remit the $441.00 we owed for our policy.
“Oh,” I said, “Our mortgage company is responsible for that payment.”
“Oh,” she said, “They said they weren’t and that we should call you.”
“Oh,” I said, “Let me call them and get this straightened out.”
I called my mortgage company and the customer service representative was unhelpful, but did notice that they failed to withhold the funds. Oops, they said. Sorry. We’ll fix that and you’ll have to pay the insurance company yourself.
We live on a very tight budget and at the time, I did not have an extra $441.00 lurking in my bank account or my pockets or even under the couch cushions. I can’t remember how I managed to scrape together the cash, but I was irked at having to do so.
I used to work in customer service in the correspondence department, and I know a thing or two about writing a compelling letter to a company. I whipped up a complaint letter. I asked that they “make me happy.” I demanded an apology and a refund of my $441.00. I did this all in a tone so sweet it could give you a cavity.
Some numbskull called a month or so later. As I recall, I was holding my infant daughter while she cried and he explained to me that there was nothing he could do for me. I said, “Well, let me talk to your supervisor.” He left me dangling on hold for a while, then returned and said, “My supervisor says this is our regular procedure and there’s nothing we can do.”
“Then send my letter to your supervisor and tell her that I want a written response that makes me happy.”
I never heard back.
About six months later, I sent a second polite letter, decrying the insurance company’s lack of responsiveness, describing my unhappiness. I asked again for $441.00 and an apology. In writing. I am unable to accept phone calls during the day as I am busy taking care of two babies, I wrote.
Soon after, I received a phone call. My annoyance abated when the customer service representative asked for a copy of the $441.00 bill. I mailed it in. And never heard back from them.
Six months later, give or take, I sent another letter, still polite, more insistent, suggesting that I would never be able to refer anyone to this particular insurance company if they did not make me happy. I received a generic response telling me they were researching my issue and that they’d respond within three weeks.
Another six months passed. I wrote yet another letter, attaching my previous letters. This time, I researched the name of the company’s president and including a notation at the bottom “cc: President’s Name.” (I didn’t actually send a carbon copy, though–I figured just the idea of him getting a copy would motivate them.)
Yesterday, I received a phone call from the office of the company’s president. She explained my problem (as if I were clueless) and said, “So, we could reimburse you the $441.00 from your escrow account, but then you’d have a negative balance in that account.”
I said, “NO! I don’t want the money to come from MY account. I want the money to come from the company’s account to compensate me for my inconvenience. This was not my mistake. This was your mistake.”
So, she offered to reimburse half the amount to me.
I agreed. (Now, I think I should have held out for the whole amount.)
Don’t mess with this housewife. I have a computer, a printer and a supply of postage stamps and I’m not afraid to use them. If you are a company who crosses me, I will prevail or bug you until I die trying because at some point, composing demand letters highlighting your incompetence and demanding satisfaction becomes a hobby to me. Your “no” only means I need to talk to someone higher in the food chain at your company.
Persistence pays. And so does my mortgage company. Ha.