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Wrestling the Gorilla

November 15, 2011

Chris Garlasco, Owner & Managing Partner - Founders Insurance Group

 I was sitting today in Las Vegas’ McCarran airport waiting for yet another delayed flight. I have needed to fly four times in the past twelve months, which fortunately is far less than I have had to do in past years. Of the four, one of my flights was cancelled due to computer problems at the airline, nearly forcing me to miss a vacation that had been anticipated for nearly a year! Another flight was delayed a mere seven hours due to storms somewhere else in the country, causing me to miss the first day of the biggest pipe collecting event of the year. One flight, actually made it nearly on time. And of course today’s flight, only two hours late, leaving me wondering here at 30,000 feet if the lot will be closed where I need to pick up my car.
 
 We all have had experiences like this, and with the airlines, it’s just getting worse. It is a system that is clearly broken. Two of the three hotels on this vacation messed up my reservations. I later found out that one of the hotels made it appear that I was speaking with the front desk only to find out later that I was speaking with someone in another state. A “someone” that the folks at the front desk had never heard of and whose promises were not honored. Of course, a last name wasn’t offered.
 
 Recently , Capital One, a bank my wife and I had be loyal customers to for more than ten years lost our business due to abusive behavior of their fraud unit. Countless times stopping our normal day to day business transactions for fear of fraud. We had made a number of complaints to Capital One. On one occasion they gave us a $50 credit along with the apology. Of course the problem continued. Finally, in frustration and fear of being embarrassed in front yet another retailer, we began calling Capital One before each transaction to make sure that we wouldn’t have a fraud alert stop our transaction. We were assured that there wouldn’t be a further problem due to our “preemptive” call, yet they went on to stop not only one purchase, but two! We cancelled the card on the spot. We had spent unreasonable amounts of time on the phone and often had to give them our card number several times during the same call as we were transferred around the country and possibly the world. It should have raised a red flag when on one vacation we couldn’t get The Capital One representative to understand that we would have to cross part of Canada in order to reach Alaska.
 
 I have had similar issues with Expedia, one time spending more than forty minutes on hold trying to change a reservation.
 
 From credit card companies to airlines and travel companies things on line are fine until there is a problem. I have experienced this with insurance companies too. At many companies like these the company representative will not even offer their first and last name, let alone the state in which they are located. Try asking your “800” number insurance company! It feels like wrestling a gorilla. Wrestling a gorilla is a no win proposition. It’s the feeling of standing in the shadow of a faceless, monster size organization somewhere off in the distance. A destination not offered to the customer and often times the full name of the person that you are doing business with is not offered either. A gorilla is a company with many layers of personnel protecting the actual decision makers from speaking with the customers they supposedly serve. A gorilla is a company that scripts their phone conversations to the point that the “customer service” person when pushed off script is like a politician without a teleprompter.

 

The next time you are on the phone, experiencing a problem with a gorilla, ask yourself this question, “Do I really want to do business this way?” “Is my money being well spent?” “What if I have a serious problem, who will be there for me?” Personally, unlike much of America, I am no longer willing to do business this way. I am the customer and I want to be treated like one! I don’t want to be just another number that matters little if I take my business elsewhere.
 
 Even though Founders Insurance Group has several thousand customers, we never hide the names or faces of our team members. Our customer service team members, their managers and the owners are all with reach of contact. I strongly believe that most folks like to do business that way. When your name and face are out there it means a deeper level of commitment to problem resolution. I am proud of the fact that our company has tripled in size over the past ten years we will not waiver in our commitment of personal service. Even though it would lower our expenses, we will not have a computer answer your call. If you should ever receive the voicemail of one of our employees, you can expect a prompt response. That is our promise, is it your insurance provider’s?
 
 After all, gorillas are for the zoo!
 
 Have a great day!
 
 Chris Garlasco

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