Monday, March 07, 2005

Adventures in Customer Service…

Well, we're back to classic My Side mode here at the Foundation and I wouldn't be too surprised if you heard me reading this on a CD at some point. If that's not possible, I'll put my head up by your bedroom window and whisper it in sweet, sweet tones…

But enough about my hobbies.

You might know I got into a car accident recently. While not on par with the time my brakes failed in my old Saturn (we'll know recognize a moment of silence) ("Hey, Si! How's it shaking?"), it was rather interesting getting rear-ended in the fast lane by a guy who was just answering a call from his son on his cell phone. Did I say interesting? I mean shocking! My teeth felt loose! Thankfully, though, he was fine and my car was drivable.

I contacted my insurance company, Farmers, who I had recently become insured by after dumping Mercury, and was promptly ordered to "Go fuck myself." Apparently, it seemed, that because it wasn't my fault they wouldn't help me… the only way you can get service, I guess, is to go on a killing spree. So, I had to contact the other guy's insurance: Infinity.

Remember these names: Farmers, Mercury, and Infinity. Now, stay away. Far, far away.

I first took my car to a shop in Anaheim, thinking I'd keep things near my home. Unfortunately, though, they had a big poster showing that they'd donated to (burning) Bush. They also displayed guns that had killed "niggers" and pictures of them spitting on the poor.

I left.

The second place I took my car was also close to home. In fact, I walked home after dropping it off, taking the day off of work. And it's a good thing I took the day off, too, because by mid-day, I had to walk back to pick it up. Now, walking one way had been fun but both ways was what the Pakistani's refer to as a "Bitch". (They're such a gentle people.) Why did I have to do it? "Infinity doesn't pay," the shop manager had told me, explaining why they don't work with Infinity. Good reason.

And so, today I was to bring my car to the third place, referred to me by the Infinity adjuster himself, which brings us to the beginning of our story. (Yes. That's right. The beginning.)

I left at lunch and drove to a place called ICC, Insurance Collision Center. A misnomer, actually. They aren't a center for colliding automobiles for the insurance money at all but, rather, a repair shop. When you pull in, there's a big sign that reads, "Lobby at front entrance". Looking at the building, however, you quickly notice that the front entrance could not possibly hold a lobby… But, hey, I'm a man of the 21st Century (another crappy insurance company, or so I've heard). I can deal with change.

I walked into the front entrance.

It was the shop floor. No lobby or anything remotely lobby-esque was visible.

But, heck, I'll play along. I walked to the nearest repair guy, an old (my age old, not elderly) asian guy. Actually, I noticed that they were all old asian guys…. Bizarre. "Excuse me," I called out over the sound of compressors. Lots of painting in there.

He didn't look at me.

"Pardon me," I tried again.

This time he looked at me. He smiled. And then, he turned away.

"I'm looking for the lobby."

He looked at me again, smiling.

"I am looking for the lobby!"

For just a moment, I thought some immense joke was being played upon me.

It was about to get worse.

"Lobby in front!" Honest to God, that's what he said. He looked at me and he said, "Lobby in front!"

It took me a moment to speak. "This IS the front," I told him.

"No," he shouted at me, pointing to the rear of the building. "The FRONT!"

Now, I'm no idiot but it seems to me that the side of the building facing the street, the side in front of the "No Trespassing" signs, the side with the parking lot, IS THE FRONT!

I almost walked out, but someone else rushed up to meet me. A young, mexican man, he asked me, "Do you need help with anything, sir?"

"I was just looking for the lobby."

He ushered me outside and pointed to the back of the building. "It's in the front."

"Yes," I acknowledged, "but wouldn't you agree that this seems to be the front since the customer parking is up here and the No Trespassing signs are there?"

"Oh, don't worry about the No Trespassing signs. That's for the employees so they don't park there."


So, I went to the "front" and entered. You don't work with a mechanic there. You work with an account manager. He facilitates your repair and works with you and your insurance company… to get their fucking money. The first words out of his mouth were, "Goddammit, I hate Infinity Insurance!"

It was the beginning of a long story of woe, which centered on how many hoops this guy had to go through to get Infinity to pay. I wouldn't suggest it as a bed-time story.

"But they will pay, right?"

"Eventually," he said, deflated.

That done, I contacted Hertz to pick me up so I could get a rental car. They have an office at the Embassy Suites on Dyer, close to the shop, and it was to there I was brought to pick up my rental. I had called before to make sure Infinity had set up an account with Hertz and was assured that all I would have to do was go in and get the car. … Um, no. The salesman tried to sell me the insurance and the gas - he would have tried to sell me my own shoes if I'd been biting but I wasn't. The insurance company was paying for this so not only did I not need to buy the gas but I was triple-covered in case of an accident. (Both insurance companies and my VISA card, which I used to clear the car.) In fact, by the time I was done saying NO, time after time after time, he ended with slapping the keys on the counter. "Your cars out front," he snapped at me. "It's the silver one."

Hertz advertises that they rent Fords and Toyotas. What they don't tell you is what I found out when I walked outside and found a silver KIA…. Ugh! But, it's a rental, what do you expect? (The one upside to this story has nothing to do with humans but machines: The KIA drives really well. Color me pleasantly bemused!)

I got in and drove to my next destination… my bank. I used to like going to the bank, smiling people behind a counter giving you money! What's not to like?! But I'm not six any more and times have changed. I walked up to the counter to deposit a check and get some cash back for lunch. Now, before you ask why I didn't just use the ATM, try to understand that beneath this cynical shell I am something of a wide-eyed optimist, wishing the best for human-kind, thinking that I may be surprised one day.

I wasn't.

My check was deposited. My cash was back. I was about to walk away when the manager jumped in front of my teller, a rather quiet, older lady, and shouted at me, "You need loan?!"
I didn't know if it was a statement or a question.

"You need loan!" This time, there was no doubt. It was a statement. Yes, the poor syntax was how he put it. He was asian but fit homogenously into that breed of younger person who has been raised in a society where only the most predatory survive. Quiet respect and manners were shed long ago like snakeskin.

"No," I said, quietly offended.

"You need new car. You need new home."

"Actually, I don't." And, with that, I walked away.

And I went to Taco Bell for lunch. What can I say, even I need a shot of junk food now and then. The girl at the counter couldn't have been more than 18 and I wondered why she wasn't at school. The thought irritated me… and I'm afraid I took it out on her. I thought I'd get a surprise for lunch. The easiest way to do this, of course, is to place a rather complicated order with someone just like this. You don't have to get nasty. It can be very simple.

"Could I have two bean burritos with extra cheese, one green sauce and one red sauce and no onions in the one with green sauce, with a small Dr. Pepper." You could see her brain derail for a second as she overlooked the "SM SODA" button, trying to find Dr. Pepper.

She charged me about three dollars, which would be about right.

I took my bag and filled my soda and walked to my car. I had one burrito supreme and one chicken soft taco.

Based on this story alone, I really hope the human race dies off very soon… I'm terrified by how much less intelligent we can get...

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