Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Tales from the Lost Months: Jury Duty Ice Road Trucking/Subaruing Blues (PART 5)

On December 21, the day before my first jury duty session was scheduled, King Subaru phoned to let me know the car would be ready to pick up on the following day, a full three days earlier than anticipated. The catch, though, was that the cost of repairs had ballooned to over $4k, which they said insurance would have to both approve and provide proof of payment for before King could release the car to me. The other catch, they mentioned, was that while they'd sent the supplemental claim on the additional costs to the insurance company some time back, they'd yet to hear anything about approval. I offered to give insurance a call to get the ball rolling. And this I did.

Insurance put me on hold and called the independent appraisal company to find out what the delay was. The IAC, in turn, claimed they’d had no contact with King Subaru whatsoever, let alone received any supplemental claims for them to approve. I found this a little dubious, as I was the guy who'd given someone from their office King Subaru’s number when they’d called me by mistake.

With me still on hold, insurance then called King Subaru to find out what was going on from their end. Now here's where the story gets even murkier. After the insurance agent came back on the line and told me the above story from the IAC, she said that she was a bit disturbed because King Subaru had just told her that they really hadn't faxed the supplemental claim to anyone because they didn’t have a correct fax number to send it to. This also struck me as odd, because while it was consistent with the story from the IAC, King’s body shop is accustomed to dealing with insurance agencies and being paid by them on a daily basis and getting a fax number for one would be a simple matter of a phone call or a quick search online.

The insurance agent told me that she’d now given King the correct fax number for her own office and she would forward the documents to the appraiser’s office as soon as she received them. The insurance agent also said she would mark it to be expedited so I could get the car back ASAP. Since the time was nearly 5 o'clock, I knew nothing would come of it that day.

The following day, December 22, I headed out early with the wife. She had a doctor's appointment and I had jury duty, so I waited til her appointment was through, then we ate breakfast at our favorite biscuit place before she was to drop me off at the courthouse. I’d called the jury hotline the night before to make sure they still had me scheduled, and they did. However, a quick 8:30 phone call to the hotline, as advised by the hotline the previous evening, revealed that jury duty had been canceled altogether through the first week of January. Merry Christmas, indeed. See ya next year, suckers!

Back home, I kept waiting for a call from someone—ANYONE—regarding my car being ready for me to pick up, but received none. Around 1p, I phoned King Subaru, but they said they’d heard nothing either. So I phoned the insurance company to see what was up.

I got a new agent on the line (who all work for a central insurance agent assigned to my claim), and had to explain the whole case and how my fully repaired vehicle, which I’d not seen in half a month, would not be released to me until the IAC did some approving of funds. The new agent in turn phoned the independent appraisal company to see what was up. After a long time on hold, the agent came back and confirmed that the appraisers had now officially received the supplemental and had given it a cursory review, but were not going to approve it yet because it was for an amount greater than the one they’d initially approved.

“You mean the $700 for the new bumper cover?” I asked. Evidently it was. However, their concerns were not so much that costs were now for $3500 more than they’d approved, but that King Subaru had decided to raise their labor costs beyond the initially approved amount as well. The agent then put me back on hold to call King about this.

An enormous amount of time then passed before the agent returned to the line, sounding thoroughly disgusted. She said that despite King allegedly having admitted that they'd not sent the supplemental until December 21, they were now claiming they’d sent it back on the 16th. This and the increase in the labor costs found in the supplemental were red flags as far as the insurance company was concerned. She said she'd tried to assure them that insurance would pay them for their work, but they would take nothing less than a photocopy of the actual payment check, for the full amount they were billing, faxed to them before they would release my car.

According to her, all the delays were King Subaru’s fault. She then asked if she could put me back on hold and call the IAC again to see if more expedition could be put on the approval process for my case.

While I was on hold, King Subaru buzzed in on call waiting, so I clicked over to talk to them. It was King's body shop guy, let's call him Mr. Loquacious. I quickly let him know I didn't have time to talk much, as I was on the other line with insurance. I tried to ask him about some of the inconsistencies I was hearing about, but he started talking over me and would not shut up. He just wanted to let me know he’d just spoken with the insurance agent and to assure me that it was wholly my insurance company’s fault that things were so gummed up with the car, which he just felt so bad about holding onto.

“Yeah, as I mentioned, I’m on hold with them right now,” I said. “They say it’s your fault for not faxing in the supplemental sooner.”

“Oh, no,” Mr. Loquacious said. “We faxed that all in on the 16th.” The body shop guy then spent the better part of a minute reiterating his earlier statement about it being the insurance company’s fault and how he was only looking to get paid the amount he was owed and couldn’t release the car until they proved it because they could always say they would send it, but then only approve a lesser amount and then he’d be screwed. While he was doing this, I kept trying to interrupt him so I could tell him I had to go because, as I'd mentioned twice, I was still on hold with insurance. Mr. Loquacious still refused to shut it. Now I could see why it had taken the insurance agent so long when she'd called them earlier.

Finally, I just interrupted him long enough to say, “I’m sorry, but I really have to go now. I’m on hold with the insurance company waiting to hear if they’ll approve the—"

“Well, I won’t take much of your time, then," he began anew. "I just wanted to take a minute to call and let you know…” and then he began right back down the same path of explanation as before in almost exactly the same words. It reminded me of talking to Wal-Mart Jesus from my “Liberry” days.

Drastic steps would have to be taken.

“Listen! I understand that you want to be paid! I want you to be paid, too! But I’m going to need to CALL. YOU. BACK. because I am ON. HOLD. WITH. THE INSURANCE COMPANY. RIGHT. NOW.”

Reluctantly, Mr. Loquacious shut up and let me go.

When the insurance agent at last returned to the line, she said that she’d had no success with the IAC. The guy whose job it was to review documents was out for the afternoon and wouldn’t return until very late in the workday. Chances were not at all good that he’d get it approved and faxed over to King before 5p.

I remained quiet for a long time after she gave me the news. I was frustrated and furious and really wanted to scream at someone, but wasn't sure who precisely needed my ire aimed at them. Everyone was pointing fingers at each other as though covering their own asses, but since I was damned if I could figure out who was in the wrong I figured I’d better just be quiet about it until I figured it out. I thanked the insurance agent for her time and hung up.

After a bit more thought, I decided to call Mr. Loquacious back and see what his explanation for the inconsistencies and price gouging might be.


Mr. Loquacious, you see, is either a certifiable genius or touched by more than a dusting of “the re re.” Maybe both. Throughout our largely one-sided conversation, he displayed a complete yet somehow still polite disregard for the basic rules of common conversation and poured forth such a river of words, with oft-repeated paragraphs floating in it, that it had the effect of driving me so bug EFF insane that I no longer gave a wet damn who was right or who was wrong just as long as he shut up about it.

Oh, believe me, I tried to ask about the inconsistencies in his earlier testimony concerning when and if he faxed the supplemental, but he replied to this with a filibuster Strom Thurmond would have been proud to have improvised. Apparently, there were no inconsistencies at all, because while he might have said something about not having faxed the supplemental, it turned out he was mistaken and his estimator actually had, on the 16th. As far as he was concerned, this was all just a trick by the insurance company designed to keep from having to pay out what they owed. Furthermore, the price increase was dismissed as a simple increase to rates common for our area which the insurance company was legally obligated to pay out at. He assured me that there was no ethical violation there, because all body shops do that sort of thing.

I then valliantly attempted to point out that his rate increase was the very thing that was causing all the delays now, but this was met with an almost verbatim repeat of ALL PREVIOUS SPEECHIFYING, with the added bonus info that the insurance company now had the gall to try and guilt him into providing me with a loaner vehicle until our matter was resolved. He didn’t think he was obligated to because he wasn’t in the wrong. Oh, but he’d do it in a hot second if he had thought he was in the wrong. (This was the first time the word loaner had ever come up and I wasn't sure why he'd brought it up, except that he was probably concerned that the insurance company had suggested it to me and was trying to head me off at the pass.) And then, with stones so huge that he must have been pinned immobile in his chair by them, he managed to end his soliloquy by saying, “I just feel like I’m the guy caught in the middle here.”

“Uh, no,” I corrected. “I believe I’m the guy caught in the middle here.”

He conceded that this was probably true, then went back for take three of his lengthy verbatim explanation from before. And he never seemed angry or upset, even when I’d been confrontational with him. He just calmly and doggedly kept forcing the same information at me until I finally threw up my hands and gave up. I explained that this was my first time going through an accident like this and I didn't know exactly how such things worked. Hopefully it would all work out shortly and he'd get his money and I'd get my car and we could all have a merry Christmas and a happy new year goodbye. *CLICK*


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