Is this for real? The insurance may be good but the customer service isn’t

Elephant InsuranceMy wife has recently gone through the process of taking out car insurance – doing what we are recommended to do i.e. checking out the prices on the comparison websites and making her choice.

Which meant she changed her insurer…something millions of us do every year.  And very simple it was too.  End of story?

Not really.  Yesterday she received a letter from Elephant, her previous insurer.  The letter stated ‘your card issuer could not pay our application…’  i.e. they had tried to automatically renew the policy and hadn’t been paid.

It continued ‘…Please contact us within 7 days to give us alternative card details for us to collect the overdue payment.  Unless you provide us with alternative details your policy may be cancelled.’

She could have left it at that, but being a good citizen she phoned Elephant (on their 8p a minute 0871 number!) and then had a bizarre conversation with the customer services rep (btw these reps must just have such a sh*t job – having to enforce ridiculous company policies that just go totally against fair play and common decency…so don’t blame the rep, blame the company).

The essence of the conversation was that the rep said that we, Elephant need to charge you a cancellation fee.

You can probably imagine the response.  Ludicrous and outrageous.  A scam; were some of the words I heard.

And it is…I can quite understand and appreciate that insurers do automatic renewals if the customer does not contact them and basically that seems like a sensible policy.

I can also understand that they have rules for cancellation fees, when the policy is cancelled part way through the period.

But I cannot understand why they should expect a cancellation fee when the customer has already bought  a policy from another insurer.  And in this day and age, when the UK has a database of insured cars, why the insurer cannot check up on that database to see who the car is  insured with.

Of course, the rep eventually said that the fee would be waived…and could she return the policy documents…which would be possible if they hadn’t already been sent to the recycling centre.

My plea to insurers and other companies is; Free your staff to do what they think is right, that fits with decency and common sense and don’t force your petty rules and straight jacket processes onto them.

Its a shame that the rep couldn’t have approached this in a more accommodating manner and perhaps started from the hypothesis that the customer is probably okay, not a child to be scolded or a mine to be shafted and money extracted come whatever.