Saturday, January 9, 2010

Tip for locals and soon-to-be locals: Avoid Progressive

As you may remember, about three or four weeks ago, South Florida was hit with some torrential downpours, flooding many parts of the city. Streets were shut down, people were flooded out of their houses, and their cars. Unfortunately, some of my friends were among that. My good friend and her husband were unfortunate enough to have one of their cars flooded out while he was teaching a martial arts class in North Miami-Dade County. The parking lot flooded so badly that he and one of his students pushed the car out of the waist-deep water onto a hill, and waited hours before they could even leave, since they were stranded. Long story short, my friends had the car towed to a mechanic and called their auto insurance company, Progressive Auto Insurance, to report the incident.

We were all sure that the car would be totaled out, and she was stressing out about having to buy a new car, since that one, while in great condition, was older. To great surprise, Progressive determined the car fixable and approved the mechanic to work on it. Once they replaced the computer in the car, it wouldn't start, so they replaced the battery. Then the fuel pump. They also approved the car's floorboards and seats to be shampooed, since the water had come so high that it had to be done. I guess when the mechanic turned the car on and the started was broken and the clutch needed to be replaced as well, the adjuster realized he screwed up and should have totaled the car out in the first place. SO he goes back and tells the mechanic that the battery, which was already purchased and installed was not, in fact, approved. Then he said that the clutch and started were not the fault of the flood, which is interesting as that car was not driving like that before. I mean, my friend's husband would have noticed it, as he uses it to drive around to teach at the different studios and fitness centers.

Mind you, at this point, my friend and her husband are living off one car for three weeks. She is carpooling so that he can still get to work so they can still make their bills on time. Also, she has been on Progressive for about 6 years, and has a full-coverage policy on both cars. When she called her adjuster, he told her the mechanic said the problems were not from the flood. When she had both the adjuster and the mechanic on the phone, that never came up. Clearly he lied to her. He also hung up on her when she was asking to speak with a manager. Really? Serious Fail Progressive! You cannot clearly communicate when someone's bills come up, and then refuse to do the work you are being paid to do. That is not customer service, that's corporate greed.

Now the sad part is she finally got a manager on the phone. After she filed a complaint with the corporate office (who never responded), sent out tweets to Progressive's Twitter account (their response: Call the 1-800 number to discuss how we can help you with your policy.... uh, did you read the initial tweet? that deserves a #SocialMediaFail) and called the hotline multiple times. After she threatened to cancel her policy, and filed a report with the Better Business Bureau and Consumer Affairs, they finally decided to call her back. Now the mechanic doesn't want to work on the car because he has not been paid for any of the work.

So what do you do? Do you really have to fight so hard in order to get any customer service? Does Progressive really think that they can cover up their mistake by refusing to pay for repairs? And ultimately, is trying to save a few thousand dollars worth losing long-term customers?

My point here is this. These big corporations are still greedy. Things are not changing. Apparently the customer does not matter to them unless they are getting money. I was always taught that my word should be important. If I promise something, I should always follow through on it. I was under the impression that if you create a business model, you should adhere to it, and these insurance companies, whether they are health insurance, auto or homeowner, think their business model is that we pay them lots of money so that we get a shiny card to hold in our wallet, and a three-week fight to get what we pay for. Most people would have given up by now. Thankfully my friend has not and will not.

So if you are shopping around for auto insurance, be aware that this will probably happen to you if you get Progressive. Because this is South Florida. It rains and floods here. Especially during the summer.


Jan said...

I had a bad experience with Progressive in Miami too. Don't care how much $$ they can save me: their people were rude and self serving.

Christina said...

Yeah, in addition, my boyfriend used to have them and they kept raising his rate with no cause....

catsteevens said...

Had AllState for years and now have State Farm. Never really had any serious issues with either. I have had my car flooded (who hasn't in SoFla?!!), and no matter what you do -- shampoo or not -- that 'smell' never really goes away. The joys of living here :P

Best of luck to your friend.

Carrie said...

That's unreal, What Progressive is doing is completely unethical and ridiculous.

As to 'flood' damage. All carriers have 'rules' surrounding flood cars. If water mark reaches a certain point vehicle is an automatic total loss, (ie into dash, gone! totaled!, half way up doors etc.) Flood cars are never the same, and no repair will every fix the damage.

I worked as an Auto Adjuster for 5 years for Allstate and never seen them not total a flood damage car.


Melissa Marie said...

WOW!!! That is insane!!!Best of luck to your friend!!!